Social Media Is Not Social Media Marketing | A Growing Issue

social networking pie

Knowing the difference illustrates social media literacy (or lack of).

A few years ago I created the above graphic for a client to explain why social media is not social networking (full blog post). Three years later and the new frustration is the growing use of the term social media when in fact folk mean social media marketing.

A few months ago I met the social media manager for a high-profile telecommunications brand here in NZ who literally couldn’t tell me what else they were utilising social media for other than marketing:

They weren’t exploring saving time and money through collaboration platforms…

They weren’t using it to monitor and track latest news and developments in the industry…

They weren’t using it to cut print and other associated costs in their operations…

They weren’t using it to augment their professional development of the staff…

They weren’t using it to celebrate and reward their customers / clients / audience…

Marketing through social media is not bad / evil / wrong, it’s just a part of the social media pie and should be described appropriately—this also goes for the increasing growth in social media events who only talk about marketing (call them social media marketing events!).

For everyone who has ‘social media’ in your title please consider if you have that right. And the next time you hear someone talking about this subject, ask them if they actually mean social media marketing (or send them this graphic):

social media is not social media marketing




  1. You know where Carl and I are at on this well enough DK. There’s quite a lot of PR and ad agencies who are now saying they ‘do’ social media, when actually all they are doing is Marketing. And it’s a constant battle. Almost all of our client work involves this misperception.

    1. Hey Tom – read your comment with nodding head… as you attested, it’s a real issue which is hurting the industry and needs more of ‘us’ to point it out. Onwards (with pointing fingers)!

  2. As way of a follow up:

    Check out the recent Social Media Examiner 4th Annual Top 10 Social Media Blog Contest where all the judges are marketeers—erm…?!?! (plus last year they gave an award to our friends at SplashMedia).

    A more personal example was a recent trip I spent with the social media manager for a BIG telecommunications brand. Said individual spent all of their career in advertising (that’s cool) although when asked what else they use social for he had no response.

    And most articles online about social media is actually about social media marketing (a FastCompany example).

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