‘Social blah-blah, Social blah-blah’

As usual, Doc Searls has helped me clarify something that’s been bothering me lately.

Despite the fact that Hammock Inc. uses, and will continue to use, the term “social media marketing” to describe aspects of the services we offer clients, I’m expecting a major “bust” in the prefix “social-” in a couple of years.

My problem with the word “social-” in the context of online marketing and media is the same as my problem with the term “Web 2.0”: When something means anything, then it means nothing.

Personally, I prefer the terms “conversational media” or “conversation media” over the term “social media.” Conversation implies communication among individuals. To me, “conversation” captures the tools individuals now have to express themselves online: everything from blogs to photo-sharing and book-marking. I think the word “social” implies (at least to the marketers and media companies) that new forms of self-expression platforms are merely “the next” iteration of “audience” — they miss the transformative nature of individuals (customers) who are equal players in the marketplace.

Doc Searls is interested in this phenomenon as part of his work involving the concept of “vendor relationship management” — a mirror concept to the notion of “customer relationship management,” in which the buyer is empowered with equivalent tools and knowledge to that of the seller — and who, one day, will be able to leverage that knowledge in the marketplace.

Here’s the “quote of the day” from Doc:

“One more thing, and this is personal too. I am not anybody’s “capital.” You or your company may call me an “asset” or think you have “acquired” me, or “own” me as a customer. But I am and wish to remain a free, sovereign and independent agent of my own soul. There is no price on that. But there is far more value in it than anything you can measure with the economics of transaction alone.

If you’re not following this, don’t worry. One day, you will. But by then, the whole social-hypen thing will be a quaint notion from the early 2000s.