There's been some online chatter about doing away with the term "social media" and just calling it "media". I can appreciate where this comes from. With hundres of millions collectively communicating online that new car smell has worn off for many of us. The keenest observers of this space are right to point out that this isn't a trend or a new technology--it's the new normal.

From a communications consulting point-of-view, the term "social media" is still required. It's shorthand for all this web-based interaction that's filled with a gooey centre of shareable content and enveloped with a sweet coating of dialogue and served on a platter of hype and hysteria.

At the expense of clarity, the term "media" has become the shorthand for the particular ways the various communications disciplines see their involvement with it. We all call it media, but we really mean the following:

  • Advertising = paid media (space you buy)

  • PR = earned media (space you deserve)

  • Interactive = owned media (space you create)

(Note: 11 a.m.--hat tip to Matt DiPaola from Proximity for turning me on to the term "owned media")

My experience on integrated agency teams usually leads to some sort of clarification of what we all mean by "media" at some point, because of this uninspired shorthand that we use. We confuse each other...imagine what we're doing to our clients.

I like the term "social media". It's different and distinct from the others and demands its own strategy and approach. The best part? it sits right in the middle of paid, earned and owned media.

But if I did have to vote for a name change, I'd go for "collaborative media". That way, our clients would expect their various ad, PR, planning, interactive, search and SEO agencies to work together with each other so the client can work together with their stakeholders.