These days, social media is a part of almost everyone’s life. But have you ever stopped to think, “What is social media, really?” Why do we post so much about our lives online? What does it do for us, if anything?

Well, today, we’re going to explore the definition of social media in just 10 descriptive words.

1. Social

Imagine you were thrust back in time; into the 80s, a time when most people didn’t even have cell phones that could make a call, never mind access the internet (what’s that?). Forget for a second how you wouldn’t know what to do with your thumbs when you weren’t texting. Let’s think about how you would interact with the people you knew. Your world just got a whole lot smaller, didn’t it? You probably wouldn’t know what Sally Sue, your sort-of-friend from high school, had for lunch. You wouldn’t be able to recommend something better. Your social circle would be limited to only the people you would have a phone conversation with. And let us not forget about how social media helps us form new connections. This is the element of social media that will help form a community around your brand.

2. Viral

Have you seen the one with the dramatic chipmunk? Do the words, “Leave Britney Alone” mean anything to you? Have you ever been Rick Rolled? Yeah, then you know viral. When you post something on social media, especially video, there’s a chance it will go viral. That chance means that millions of people may see your video, and once the ball is rolling, there isn’t much you can do to stop it. But that’s okay for most social media addicts. In fact, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. Informative

Let’s be honest. How often do you find out about the latest celebrity overdose on Facebook or Twitter before you see it on the news? News spreads like wildfire on the Internet. That’s not to say that you can always trust the news that spreads socially, but it’s often a good starting point. If you catch a story on social media as it’s breaking, it’s always a good idea to check the sources. If you catch it a few hours later, there’s a good chance others have done the fact-checking. The social media definition is informative. If you want your brand to be relevant, you should be on the front end of the information curve.

4. Collaborative

What is the definition of social media marketing if it is not collaborative? Social media is like a living breathing entity from which you can draw ideas and inspiration, and your audience can give feedback and contribute.

5. Fun

Regardless of whether you’re doing it for business or pleasure, if you’re not having fun on social media, you’re doing it wrong. It’s kind of like a cocktail party. Do you think you would gravitate to the person (or people) who are having the most fun or the wallflowers staring at their shoes?

6. Real-Time

Whether it’s real news or just industry buzz, social media captures moments in real-time. Its more than just a flat story. Social media captures and cultivates emotions and opinions. Learn how to harness this power for your brand, and you’ll never wonder about the validity of this medium again.

7. Frightening

If you’ve stumbled upon this page because you are scratching your head over the question, “what is the definition of social media,” you’re probably a little nervous about jumping aboard. It can be frightening, for certain. But when you understand how it works, and how powerful it can be, you’ll likely see that it is also worthwhile. If you’re not a little afraid, maybe you’re not taking enough chances, right?

8. Fleeting

The information generation gave way to the instant gratification generation, and our resulting attention spans are eerily short. On social media, 15 minutes of fame could be reduced to 15 seconds. But still, it’s all about riding the wave. One big hit could bring in a massive amount of new followers or fans. Your job now is to keep those people entertained and convert as many as you can into customers and/or brand advocates.

9. Permanent

How could something so fleeting also be so permanent? It’s an interesting question, but when you get to know social media, you’ll understand. Extreme awesomeness or an extreme blunder on social media will be written in indelible ink, so tread with some level of caution.

10. Productive

You may think that social media is a waste of time, but it can be extremely productive. Think of it as a marketing, customer service and reputation management platform all rolled into one. So, feel free to post that funny video… in the name of advertising.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.