BrainTrust Query: Defining Social Media Terms
Commentary by David
Dorf, Director of Technology Strategy, Oracle Retail
a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt from a current
article from Insight-Driven Retailing Blog.
As I talk about social
in the context of retail, I sometimes get tripped up on different terms. I
know what I mean, but the audience may have something else in mind. So I decided
to see if I could find some well-accepted definitions for common terms. While
there are definitions on the internet, I’m not sure they are well accepted.
After reviewing several, here’s what I came up with:
Social Network: A structure of individuals and groups connected together
That seems pretty straightforward. A group of friends, co-workers, music fans,
etc. The key here is that they have something in common that connects them.
Social Media: Internet channels that support the collaborative publishing
of information by and for social networks.
The key here is to differentiate between traditional one-way media, and conversational
social media. When it’s social, it’s two-way, allowing both the publishing and
consuming of information. Examples are blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Social Marketing: The use of social media for marketing, public relations,
and customer service.
Wikipedia actually includes “selling” here but I think that’s separate
from marketing, as you’ll see further down below. Most people look at social
media as entertainment, but the marketing angle adds business value. This is
where retailers discover and engage customers to build a relationship.
Social Merchandising: The integration of social media and product discovery.
Whereas marketing is focused more on brand image, customer engagement,
and promotions, merchandising is more directly trying to convert browsers into
purchases. This includes deciding what customers want, often by asking the
social network, and deciding how to position products in the social network.
Social Selling: The incorporation of e-commerce into social media.
While on a social media site, social selling enables the purchasing of goods/services
in the user’s context, without leaving the social media channel. If a user
clicks on an advertisement and is taken to an e-commerce site, then that’s
really just web advertising and not social selling.
Discussion Questions: Which “social” terms remain too vague
or carry varied meanings? Do you agree with the definitions offered here? Have
the lack of common definitions played a part in impeding progress in the “socialization” of
companies and brands?