If you could define #SocialMedia in ONE word, what would it be?!

I’ve asked this question of my Twitter followers for the past couple of weeks.Why?! How incredibly simple and great would it be if we could walk into meetings with the C-Suite, and when they ask us what social media is, we can just answer with ONE word. Boom.

Granted, that one word most likely lives in a world of marshmallows and rainbows, but even narrowing it down to a few specific words would help us, right?

Beyond comparison, some version of the word ‘connect’ was #1. This was closely followed by ‘networking’. While these undoubtedly define an aspect of social media, I was highly impressed by the following answers:

  • World

  • Pivotal

  • #YourVoice

  • Crucial

  • Spiders

  • Lawless

  • Innovation

  • Interaction

  • Swiss Cheese

  • Nodes

  • Flirting

  • Impossible

As a social media professional, how many different relevant emotions did you experience as you read through that list? As I saw these unique answers come through my feed, I was amazed at how many point of views there are to social media. NO WONDER we can’t explain it to the C-Suite in one word.



What’s my word? –> Engagement. It is the number one word I use when pitching, or teaching, social media. I love this word for social media because it includes BOTH sides. We, as brands, have to engage our consumers, but our consumers also have to participate in order to be engaged. If I could boil down social media to its rawest form, it would be to occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention) –> The definition of ‘engage’, per Google. Before lives can be changed by social influencers, or brands can raise brand awareness through social media, everyone needs to be ENGAGED. It is the ultimate foundation for social media. If you have not attracted, or involved your consumers, then there will be no further ‘social’ part to your ‘media’. However, after taking a look at all of your words, I would have to say that my own question is actually a TRICK QUESTION! How can you define something that is so powerful and expansive and touches so many lives?

While that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, it still leaves a blank when it comes to  convincing the C-Suite that you are necessary for your brand. There was a contest awhile back to officially define public relations, and I almost suggested that for social media. However, most public relations professionals I knew at the time completely disagreed with the winning definition.

So my advice to you? Define social media as what it means to you, and embrace the individuality of your understanding of it. Honestly, different perspectives of social media are needed for different projects. As a social influencer, of course engagement is highly important to me. Dealing with a global brand, engagement is also incredibly important to me. However, if I were working for a financial institution and could barely breathe a word on social media without the fear of getting sued, I would probably also say ‘Impossible’. The social influencer side of me would also lean towards ‘#YourVoice’. If I encountered the negative side of social media being misused, I would also probably find it to be ‘Lawless’. If I looked at all of the holes still in the understanding of the reach of social media, and experienced the smelly side of it, as well, I would probably define it as ‘Swiss Cheese’.

So what is YOUR definition?!

– Marji J. Sherman