November 18, 2009

Definition

Posted in Social Media at 9:21 pm by R

Being that the field I’m now in is relatively new (it didn’t exist when I graduated college), there’s the issue of definition. It’s been stated here before that there is no “expert” in social media, and I maintain that’s true.

So, the thing to do then, is to define what we who practice in the field of social media actually do.

Like a Wikipedia entry, it’s my sense that this will be an evolving definition, made richer with the various contributions of other as we collectively discover the many facets this new communications industry covers.

Social media isn’t all that different from the traditional definition of PR, which according to my PR 101 professor is:

To build and maintain relationships.

When we are called to be community managers in the social media space, we are building relationships. When we work to engage on an ongoing basis, we maintain. But social media extends well beyond this definition, not because it’s a broader field, but because we are called to master so many tools.

A lot of social media “experts” offer Twitter strategies, Facebook strategies, blogging strategies, etc. But that’s getting too granular to really be effective (which, coincidently is probably how “experts” are earning a bad rap). Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Ning, YouTube, Flicker, you name it, they’re all tools to execute a strategy. And therein lies the real calling and the real challenge: Keep it strategic, don’t be a tool…er, don’t get caught up on a tool.

What’s my definition for social media practitioners/strategists?

One who is tasked with building and maintaining communities, inspiring engagement, creating meaningful interactions and conversations based in the scalable publishing technologies; listening, evaluating and learning from interactions and commentary; continually evaluating strategy to ensure network growth, engagement and resonance to achieve measurable goals.

Sounds nice…but I’m sure tomorrow it will be different. That’s the beauty of this gig!

What would you add to this definition?
~R

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