‘Social Media’ or ‘Collaborative Media’? (2009)

I recently had a discussion about renaming social media to collaborative media.

The logic behind the discussion was that the term collaborative might be more accepted and understood by military and business leaders than the term social is.

Using social brings up different mental images for some people, but they all probably have to do with parties, meaningless chit-chat, and other mental images.

Those of us that work in PA/PR understand that personal and professional contacts are often mixed, and that maintaining and expanding that network is often done socially.

But the social in social media is used to describe the interaction that takes place between everyone online.

Using the word social might be misleading to those that are new to the field that immediately think of cocktail parties.

Social media is very much collaborative. It’s putting information, images and links out there that can be digested, utilized and then spread to others.

Just look at the Social Media News Release. The SMNR is all about providing all the bits of information, quotes, and images so that the content can be spread throughout the blogosphere.

All the text ‘fluff’ that normally accompanies a standard press release is gone, and only the stuff that can actually be used in collaborative communication methods remain (which is why it has been suggested it should be called the Social Media Press Kit instead).

The whole purpose of a SMNR is to only provide content that is used within the blogposts or other online products that others make.

There’s too much momentum behind social media for it to be changed to collaborative and it is already a widely accepted term, but I will try using the term collaborative media more when discussing with leaders who are still struggling with the term social.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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