Putting the “We” in Social Media

We have a branding challenge.

Those of us involved in social media are breaking new ground, and with that, there’s a certain degree of messiness. As in, a proliferation of terms used to express this new world where there is no barrier to entry for any and all of us to publish and participate.

Social Media. Web 2.0. New marketing. User-generated media. Conversational media. Or, if David Armano had his way, Socialstainable.

And one difficulty that we all face is: how do we explain this…stuff…to people who don’t “get it” yet?

I’m not sure the current set of terms is getting the job done. There are too many of them, and often they sound “techie” instead of providing an easy and intuitive handle for the newbie to grasp.

Whenever I look at a branding challenge like this, I like to stand back and ask, “What’s the point?” What is the core, central message that undergirds this new approach (and its tools)?

One random thought while weed-whacking today (first time this spring!) – it’s all about the We. The old web was THEM talking to ME, or maybe ME to THEM or another ME. But this emerging web is about Us – We are building it, We are participants and contributors and publishers, We are self-organizing at the grassroots.

It’s not the Web. It’s the Web (or WEb if you don’t have access to bolding) [note: the point gets made by the formatting, not by pronouncing it “weeb”!]

We have Web tools. We create Web media. And when we try to explain to newbies, we simply say – the new web, the new marketing, is the Web – We are feeding it and evolving it and tapping into the collective wisdom as we go along. A little formatting trick like Web implies both 2.0 and social media, without introducing yet another neologism.

So, there’s my off-the-cuff idea. What are your thoughts? Can we tap into the collective wisdom and come up – together – with an effective way to brand this thing we’re all using?? Add a comment!

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

5 Responses to Putting the “We” in Social Media

  1. saulcolt says:


    This is a great observation.

    Saul Colt
    Head of Magic

  2. Paul Chaney says:

    They (whoever “they” are) tried coming up with better names for “blog.” Didn’t work. Blog stuck.

    Unfortunately, a lot of these names get started by geeks (not marketing folk) and, as such, are almost immediately lost in translation. Case in point, wiki, which mean “quick” in Hawaiian. Huh? What’s that got to do with what the thing actually is.

    If marketing or branding people had first rights of refusal for such terms a collaborative authoring tool wouldn’t be called a wiki, that’s for certain.

    Personally, I like the WE in Web. I don’t think it’s going to stick though, as some will begin spelling it “weeb,” (and pronouncing it the same) and that’s about as bad as blog or wiki, don’t you think?

    Personally, for reasons that would become clear to anyone who clicked the link on my name, I prefer the term “conversational media marketing.” 🙂

  3. @Paul – I agree with what you’ve said (mostly!). There is a danger in WEb, of course, and you’ve identified it. But I also think that longer, more technically accurate labels (such as conversational media marketing and others that can be constructed of two-three-four words) will lack in uptake for what they offer in precision.

    The true art of branding is distillation. How can we pack the core concepts into a very compact verbal handle that will express the meaning?

  4. Karen Swim says:

    Steve, your post is so timely. This week on more than one occasion I have found myself attempting to explain social media to the uninitiated. These conversations helped me realize all over again that there are still many who are not part of these conversations and don’t really understand why they should be. While I could simply choose the Elitist position of “if you don’t know, you don’t know” , I’d rather find a way to adequately explain how these tools can be useful to their business and allow them to become part of the WE. It also illuminated for me that just as there are business people who don’t understand this new media, there are many more of our customers who are not also on board. As we charge forward we must also maintain connections to those who are not moving quite as fast.

  5. About 7 years ago I was producing a radio spot and needed some royalty-free, canned music. It occured to me that the term “needle-drop” was no longer valid because the world had converted to CDs. I started calling them “laser-drops.”
    Never caught on. Never will.

    Logic and a bit of creativity would tell us that we should call social media, wedia or MEdia, but logic and creativity have little to do with it. I’m thinking out loud here, so please build on my thoughts.

    We don’t say, “Let’s do an internet search and find the answer.”
    To 60% of web users, it’s known as Googling. Same for Twittering. Yet, folks don’t say MySpacing or FaceBooking or YouTubing, or, for that matter, TVing. Why? I haven’t a clue.

    Who named classic media (another term I coined that hasn’t caught on)? Newspaper – radio – television?

    As for trying to describe modern media to clients, I haven’t had much luck and don’t suppose I will until it becomes mainstream. You have to live it to understand it.

    Right now, modern media is a whole lot of ingredients boiling in a big pot, and the ingredients keep changing. When and if it ever becomes soup, a name will rise to the top.

    BTW, I’m a writer, marketer, web addict, strategist, and finder of possibilities.


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