In February 2006, Chris Shipley, then executive producer of the DEMO conferences delivered an important keynote address. In it, she defined the term 'social media.' At the time there was conclusion between it and Web 2.0.
Simultaneously, there was a new generation of online conversational tools that included, blogs, wikis, video and photo sharing. Shipley's definition was simple and clear:
"Social media were spaces on the web where people could hold public conversations."
I thought it was a great definition for a fast-emerging category of tools that needed their own taxonomy. I wrote and spoke about the term as often as I could. I still do.
So very much has happened since then; so many millions of people have come to social media spaces to share a wide array of conversational elements. The topics are is varied as what gets discussed in email or on the phone.
Lately, I've noticed a new level of confusion. Social Media's definition is getting narrowed down to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and a few other public platforms. Recently, someone who should know better told me that enterprise online communities are not really social media. Earlier today, I go a similar comment on Twitter.
Of course they are. They are public conversations. Large numbers of people can join in on a topic. They make geography less of a barrier to information and ideas.
My consistent view is that people keep confusing a set of interactive communications tools with apps. The answer to the questions of how you use Twitter is "however you want."
That answer changes only slightly when the question becomes, "how do you use SAP's community networks. There the answers is, "in any way that is relevant and appropriate to the overall community."
There is so much these days, which gets clouded by layers of complexity. To my way of thinking social media's definition is quite simple and has not changed since it first came into use.
I hope it remains that way.