Social Media: Not Just “Media”

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Sometimes what we consider “social media” is just media. At least that is what the co-founder of Twitter and Medium Ev Williams tackles in this essay which decries the overuse of the term. He defines Social Media as “Media for which the consumer’s relationship with the creator is relevant for understanding or value.”

I agree. Most of what we call “Social Media” lacks the first word–social. Connections need to be taking place for it to warrant the term. But this is more than just fussing over semantics, what I really want to show is how this relates to acquiring customers.

Knowledge is Doubling Every 13 Months

Many brands think that if they are active on Social Media, then people will notice. Well, on average, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.

What does this mean for your brand? Consumers are getting smarter and more educated about their surroundings and interests and expect to have real-time interactive experiences with their favorite brands all the time. This is good news. They want to be engaged with your brand. All you have to do is capitalize on their intellect and desire to connect. But it’s not easy. It takes time, creativity, and a thick skin.

You really can’t fake your way into Social Media. There is no “going through the motions.” Consumers are too smart. You need to connect to them in authentic ways, because their bullshit meters are higher than ever. Engage with them without having an angle. Put yourself in their shoes. Strive to make every interaction with consumers as human as possible. If they see that you’re genuine in your pursuits, they’ll want to engage with you until a relationship is built.

Value is The Operative Word

People buy from those they know, like and trust, and as brands produce more ‘value’ for their customers, they grow those three important things. Customer acquisition is quicker and easier when brands produce value. It’s all about creating value for the consumer–keeping their needs in mind all the time.

But value is extended beyond just basic marketing needs, and goes all the way down the value chain to product development, sales, and HR. It’s like the butterfly effect–they all affect one another, sometimes simultaneously. Because of its resounding effects, value is one of the most important things any brand can produce.

Bridging the Gap

When it comes to Social Media, it may seem like a numbers race. It’s easy to solely focus on how many followers, likes, favorites, retweets and shares were gained each week. But none of that matters if consumers can’t understand your product or message. The only way you can ensure they understand is by having meaningful conversations with them directly. That’s the “social” in Social Media.

Think of it this way, treat your [potential] followers as a source of constant feedback, like a virtual focus group. People don’t share or like what they don’t understand (unless they’re getting something in return, like in a promotion or giveaway). So be actively engaged. Ask them questions. Their answers will let you know if they truly understand. Fortunately, there are some definitive ways to help them understand your message.

These four approaches below build trust, which results in loyalty, leading to increased engagement and sales. They are simple things but the difference they make is tantamount.

1. Be professional

If you’re trying to reach a younger audience or seem “cool,” it might seem like a good idea to use internet slang. It’s not. When a brand does, it almost always comes across as dated and corny. And they end up looking like a dad who wears sagging pants and a fitted hat to stay relevant with his kids. It’s just pathetic. Instead, write in a way that is true to your brand while using good grammar. Bad grammar is the fastest way to miscommunication, especially if you confuse “your” and “you’re.”

2. Listen

It doesn’t matter if your consumers are criticizing or praising you, you must always listen. That’s the easiest way to figure out if your brand message is being heard and understood.

3. Be consistent

Use the same tone, personality, and writing style across all platforms. This not only solidifies your professionalism, but it allows for brand recognition. So that even if the consumer was unable to see your icon or name, they could pinpoint that a post is from your brand because of your defined voice and style.

4. Know when to post

It’s the Goldilocks conundrum. What is too little or too much? With the former, the consumer doesn’t know you exist. But with the latter, the consumer feels overwhelmed and like you’re trying to spam them, turning them off from your brand for a long time. What makes it worse is that there’s no consensus on the magical number of times to post. Thankfully, tools like Buffer exist to help you figure out the best times to post and how frequently you should post for optimal engagement.

Do you agree with Ev Williams- Is what we consider “Social Media” just media?

About the author:


Renee Warren is the Co-founder of Onboardly, a company that helps entrepreneurial minded lifestyle companies (Saas, E-Commerce, and retail) grow by doing three things: Acquire customers, increase conversions through key revenue-generating channels and turn those customers into brand ambassadors. You can reach her at

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