Over the past few months I’ve been listening to many colleagues, peers, and researchers debate the value of social technologies in work, learning and play … and in this discuss what they “mean” by social media or social technologies and what is or isn’t a social technology. This exercise has a danger of getting caught up with trying to put things into boxes and missing the richness of what is happening in real-time around us – with, through and about the social web. The dynamic interactions, the practices and discourse in our culture that is so important to reflect on.
However, I do agree with many that it is important to have some insight and shared meaning as to what we mean by X or Y. But imagine if we sat down and debated what is knowledge? or What it is not? or What is communication? and What is not communication? I am sure there were once debates as to “What is the printing press and what is not the printing press!” or perhaps not given the differential in both functional and network complexity we are faced with in technological contexts emerging today (I’m hoping my good friend and mentor Dave Harrison has some thoughts on this historical context). As an academic I am always interested in these debates, but I also see that they can also constrain our collaborative practices.
We are all doing our best to learn from each other across organisations, industries and countries, the wonderful things people are doing, to help us all improve in how we communicate, engage and collaborate … be that face to face or through digital social technologies. We all have a shared interest in the role and impact digital social technologies are having on us and around us (professionally-personally), so I thought I’d offer something to the discussions to see if this offers some food for thought as to the debate about … defining social media, social technologies or an approach I’m increasingly adopting in my work with organisations … “Communicating with, through and about The Social Web”.
In 2012 I was asked to provide a number of entries for the Wiley Encyclopedia of Management forthcoming edition about digital and social technologies in business, communications and marketing. One of these was an entry about social media and marketing. I called this article Social Web Marketing. To discuss this, I had to define it and in this I reflected on what is the social web, how does it fit with social technologies and the mass use of the term social media in business and wider society … In its crafting I considered it from a number of ways – how does a user see it, how does a business see it, and how do technology providers see it. Often, there is much divergence in our thinking and the language we use, posing both challenges and opportunities for cross-fertilisation.
A few notes …
- In this encyclopaedia article, I don’t talk about “internal” and “external” … as for those that read my blog post on “Social Ways of Working in Higher Education” … I strongly believe this dominant discourse around organisational communications is fundamentally changing.
- You may also note one consistency across all these terms is the use of the word “social” … something perhaps more suited for another blog post, but something perhaps more important to reflect on … What do we mean by “being social?”
With permissions from Wiley, please see a brief extract of the definitions from the article below, I welcome comments and thoughts.
I share it not as a way forward … but for discussion about how difficult defining something so complex, complicated and fluid can be … and in this perhaps there is a need for us to accept that The Social Web is about much more than “media” or “technology.” It is grounded in the emotional, behavioural and philosophical contexts through which we see, experience and co-create it.
Article shared with permissions. To cite, refer to: Page, K. L. (Forthcoming, 2013). Article: Social Web Marketing, in Volume 9, Marketing, Nick Lee and Andrew Farrell (Ed.). In the Wiley Encyclopedia of Management (3e), Cary Cooper (Editor-in-Chief), Wiley.
Social Web Marketing
Cardiff University, UK
This article provides a definition of social web marketing and an approach to the use of social technologies such as social media and social applications to build social brand capital.
Keywords: social web, social technologies, social media, social media marketing, social brand capital
The Social Web is a term used to refer to the interplay of social behavior with and through social technology and the philosophy of socialising through social technology with members of a social graph. It is about people and our use social technologies to share opinions, stories and experiences with others irrespective of geography and outside the control of an organisation or individual (Kaplan and Haelein, 2010; Page and Pitt, 2011)). Central to the social web are social technologies, sometimes called social media, a group of Internet-based social technologies that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 that enable the creation and exchange of user-generated or co-created content (Kietzmann et al, 2011). Examples include social networking sites, blogging platforms, or specific platforms for co-creation such as Wiki’s. In addition are social applications, also called apps &/or widgets, are specific pieces of code or script technologies that increase the social functionality of social media platforms like Facebook or a website.
Social web marketing is the use of social media and social applications for developing stakeholder relationships, community engagement, consumer generated marketing and a brands’ social capital (Page and Pitt, 2011). Whereas human capital can be defined as embodied in the skills and knowledge acquired by an individual, social capital is in the relations among individuals, the social structures and networks within which we live (Coleman, 1988). Social brand capital emerges from the relationship and engagement between of curators of a brand within stakeholder communities through conversation and interactivity (Kane, et al., 2009) and consumer generated marketing activities.
Kietzmann, J.H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I.P. and Silvestre, B.S. (2011) Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media, Business Horizons, 54, 3, (May-June), 241-251
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