Many sites have been predicting the death of the term “social media” as a trend to watch in 2010. Adam Singer on Future Buzz has a great post about how the genericizing of the term “social media” as a buzz word in 2009 and 2010 will dilute its meaning of any substance so that eventually it describes just what we do online. Intrigued by this thought, I left the following comment on his post and encourage you to add to the conversation there:
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the term “social media” for a while now, and have tried to come up with a better term. It’s not just about semantics. When I tell people that I am a community manager for a large professional network of lawyers they say, “oh – so you’re a webmaster?”
“No,” I say, “I’m a community manager – we have a team that deals with code and development. I’m more the people, engagement, and business development side of things.”
“Hmm,” they say, looking at me suspiciously and thinking that I just dropped a load of crap on them, until I say, “I work in social media.” Then they’re like, “oh, right, like Twitter and stuff.” Tired of the conversation, at this point I’ll say, “yeah, something like that.”
I will not mourn the death of the term “social media” as a buzz word among popular culture, but it does come in handy for the reason stated above, as well as, doing searches and Google alerts for things I want to read about. If I used as generic a term as “online” I would have to filter through even more junk than I already do (I read mabye 15 – 20% of the 150+ articles I pick up in RSS per day searching for the term “social media.”) I agree with you that it is risky to name a business after a buzz word (anyone out there still called “Web Surfers”or “Super Information Highway Cruisers”?), but as with my own blog, putting the term “social media” in the subtitle helps with traffic and orientation for new visitors. Of course, if your post is right and the term social media comes to mean anything online, well then I’m back to square one.
So what do you and others think the term to describe augmented reality, specialized online social networking, community and content sharing should be?
Terms like “information super highway,” “cyber (insert here),” “world wide web,” were aliases we used to describe what eventually became the generic term “online.” Does “social media” describe something else or will it eventually come to be what we know and expect as “online”? Is there any differentiation between e-commerce, gaming, cloud computing, and “online” or do these terms describe a distinct aspect of “online” that has validity even after they have become integrated into our general expectations? I would dare to say that the term “augmented reality,” which we are going to hear thrown around A LOT in 2010 is going to suffer an even quicker death than the term “social media.” As Adam notes in his blog, the demise of social media is perhaps a long way off. Business is just starting to hit milestones in adoption (see Pepsi to Skip Super Bowl Ads in Favor of $20M Social Media Campaign) and as I hinted to in my comment to him, the term is genericizing b/c it is how people are coming to understand this functionality of the web.
So what do you think we should call “social media”? If not “social media” then what search terms should we use to find out about this kind of activity on the web? What are the buzz words of yesteryear that have died and what can we learn from them?