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April 07, 2008


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» Words Mean Things from Business Blogging Pros
David Meerman Scott on Web Ink Now wrote a great post yesterday about the definitions of some of these terms we bandy about like New Rules of Marketing, Web 2.0 Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Social Network Marketing. I'm pretty [Read More]

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So, I had a few dates with Twitter this past weekend and it looks like love is in the air. I know youre probably asking, Where the heck have you been, Maria? Twitter has been around for ages and youre... [Read More]

» Who's Talking About You on Twitter? from CustomersAreAlways
So, I had a few dates with Twitter this past weekend and it looks like love is in the air. I know youre probably asking, Where the heck have you been, Maria? Twitter has been around for ages and youre... [Read More]


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Tatiana Tugbaeva

social media marketing & PR" and "social network marketing & PR" are surely two different terms. But both of them are marketing&PR tools and should be included into a company's online marketing strategy. In my opinion, if a company wants to establish long-term loyal relationship with its customers and prospects, it needs to penetrate social media and social networking sites in one way or another.

mike ashworth

I think this is the dilemma when a shift occurs. All these terms flying around. Look at what happens in the music world, everything has to have a tag so it can be nicely boxed off, categorised. yet their are only two types of music, great music and cr@p music.

I am referring to the changed world as Marketing and PR, no new, no this, no that, as it's still about Marketing and PR.

Often things tagged as the latest this or the new that can be thought of as a fad and all of the above are definitely not that at all. If the people who have practised marketing and PR for years fail to want to learn new things then they are going to find themselves falling out of favour as ppl come to realise that they are not effective anymore.

I see far too many people who claim to have been in Marketing and PR for years bandying phrases around yet have little idea of how to use them within a well constructed framework of Marketing and PR for a Business.

When all of the above are adopted as Marketing and PR with no prefix, suffix or alternative tags then people will have got it and even more amazing things will happen.

Objectives, Goals, buyer personas/ getting under the skin of your customers, talking in their language, appropriate spaces to inhabit, listening for the conversations, this is all "just" Marketing and PR now.

keep pushin' the message on

Mike Ashworth

Joseph Thornley

Thanks for the thought provoking post.

The entry in Wikipedia has had a tortured history. I have not found it helpful.

Here's the definition I apply: Social media is online communication in which individuals shift fluidly and flexibly between the role of audeience and author. To do this they use social software that supports production of content without the requirement to know how to code.

I'd welcome your thoughts about this working definition of social media.

Lauren Vargas

Too often people get caught up in the buzz words and not the practice. Good to see the record set straight.


I enjoyed understanding, myself, about Web 2.0 - from Wiki:

"Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users use webs."

That clarifies alot - I had thought it had something to do with an update that I hadn't downloaded yet!! ha

Enjoy the blog!

Daljit Bhurji

David, I agree with your definitions entirely. I think the issue for those of us working in PR and marketing is that in many cases we are speaking to clients who's knowledge of this space is well below ours, hence the catch-all term of Social Media has become firmly established.

As has been pointed out above, the complexity of Social Media can be scary and having just launched a new agency focusing on this space I am conscious that we are talking to people at very different stages of the journey.

There has even been debate on other blogs regarding abolishing the term Social Media altogether and replacing it with just media "because all media in now social". I can see the argument and it makes for a worthy intellectual position, but it also reflects being out of touch with the average marketing director who has yet to grasp what Social Media actually is. As ever, we need to make sure we don't get too far ahead of the people paying the bills.

Steve Wilkinghoff

Hi David.

It seems to me that the way many people (particularly the Marketing Dinosaurs) throw these terms around simply demonstrates their weak effort to make it appear that they are keeping up with trends. They think a few buzzwords will impress the people they talk to.

While it might sound impressive to some people, all they are really doing is selling the sizzle, and not the steak.

People like you and your readers, however, have taken the time and made the effort to understand the differences.

At the end of the day, these terms are excellent descriptors of tools that are highly effective at further developing deep relationships with the right kind of customers and prospects (those who are profitable and who "fit" with any particular business' style and goals).

The way most Marketng Dinosaurs use these terms, however, strikes me as acting like the loudmouth who drinks too much at a party and starts throwing around buzzwords about, say, Formula One racing to impress people. How much horsepower they have, paddle-shifters, average speeds, etc.)

Their loud use of buzzwords might actually impress those who know even less about the topic than they do.

But, anyone who really knows about the topic the loudmouth is going on about instantly realizes the facade being put up, and loses a lot of respect for the "loudmouth".

Steve Wilkinghoff

Chris Applegate, Outside Line

David, a good post trying to pick apart what is a very dense field. However isn't there a lot of overlap between what a social media site and a social network site? Users of Facebook and MySpace write blog entries, upload videos & photos, while many social media sites like Flickr and even Twitter these days have social characteristics - friend adding, personal or group conversations. I do nearly as much socialising online via Twitter these days than I do on Facebook.

All the best social sites incorporate both media and networking. Instead of trying to categorise one or the other, I think it's better to look a bit closer: think in terms of what messages have social currency on the site you want to engage with - whether it be photos, video, wall posts, Tweets, pokes etc. and then from that formulating a strategy.

David Meerman Scott

Wow, thank you all for these terrific comments. With your help, I am learning more about how to define these things (and when to give up and just say "it's all marketing").


Sachin Uppal


Though I agree with you that the social media marketing and social network marketing is different and also the phrase Web 2.0 Marketing may be meaningless, however, why would you NOT call the new phase of marketing as the "Marketing 2.0" or "PR 2.0"?

As I see, "New rules of Marketing and PR" should be the subset of Marketing and PR also pointed out by Tatiana in comments.

In my opinion, I use these phrases to indicate the change in the "method" or "technique" of marketing. So it's more like Marketing and PR are still being done but in a "New" way (with new rules) as you wrote in your book too!

How we can denote "New" is by calling it "2.0" as a major influence is from software and web based services. Softwares have versions so we say "2.0" to indicate the next generation!

Just a thought! What's your take?


Mordechai (Morty) Schiller


How about putting a New Marketing glossary on your site? Maybe as an ebook?


Fisk Gawsen


Whether I'm reading your blog, WoodyMaxim.com, MichaelFortin.com or any other blog for that matter the key to today's marketing practices is the "social" aspect.

I don't care how many spins people put on social marketing, media or networking. It all comes down to the power consumers now have with this medium.

The new rules of marketing and PR is simple:

People now have powerful platforms to speak their mind - good and bad.

As a person who does business online these platforms gives me an edge when I know what my customers and prospects really want or don't want.

Fisk Gawsen

Martin Diano

Hello David!
I read your book cover-to-cover about 8-9 months ago and believe it to be a very accurate portrayal of the public relations profession. Your advice should be heeded by all young upstarts who wants to have a successful career in PR.

I've been in the PR business some 40 years and certainly recall the days of the two martini lunch you were required to do with an editor in order to get -maybe- a one paragraph mention in a trade magazine.

I'm 60 now and semi retired and love social media.

Have you another book in the works?

-Martin Diano

David Onoue


I think you are 100% correct in your article. The main problem with these terms (Web2.0, social media marketing/pr and social network marketing/pr) is the fact that many people use them as "buzz" words. Wanting to sound and seem smart they use them interchangeably.

Bob Lancaster

Hi David,

I come to this post from the technology/entrepreneur perspective. I have read your book ““The New Rules of Marketing & PR” to help me begin marketing my software startup company.

I agree with those who are put off by the over use of buzzwords and those that use them merely to improve their social standing. Being in the software industry it sometimes seems to me that our industry invented the buzzword parade. It’s often very difficult to distinguish between the hype and the meaningful.

On the other hand, I agree with Sachin’s comments “I use these phrases to indicate the change in the "method" or "technique" of marketing…” Like our industry, your industry is seeing significant change because of the Web 2.0 tools and their social implications.

I think describing your book as one of the first Marketing 2.0 books would be entirely accurate. I don’t think you would have many chapters in your book if you eliminated the Web 2.0 aspects.

Marketing itself is going through this significant change because of Web 2.0 tools. Not because all traditional marketing fundamentals and techniques are now invalid, but because there is a new marketing branch that is based on Web 2.0 technology. This new 2.0 branch offers great opportunity and promise for BOTH traditional and Web 2.0 techniques.

Bob Lancaster

David Onoue


After reading some of the posts, most of us feel that the terms are being used wrongly as buzzwords.

However, I think it's interesting how we interchangeably use marketing and advertising. While I am no expert, in fact I'm still in college, I see a fundamentally difference between the two. Marketing deals with markets and advertising is more or less tactics.

What do you think? Do we interchangeably use Marketing & Advertising?

Jonathan Goodman

One of my favorite characteristics of the social media space is that it's forcing marketing and public relations professionals to learn the others' jobs to some degree.

Marketing & PR has become one big mash-up of a job - at least in the online social space. Such that you can get away with a disclaimer in your intro, "feel free to substitute 'PR' for 'marketing'..." Sure... no big deal there!

Great post David - thought provoking as always.

Benny Greenberg

I wonder if creative and productive new strategies that become mainstream suffer from becoming "buzzwords” and as someone once said "gobbledygook." Maybe when thoughts and ideas and concepts become so universal or popular in their fundamental usage - "gobbledygook" happens?

Sometimes we suffer from our own greatness?

BTW: Thanks – the book and the e-book (on the New Rules) were fantastic reads!



David, interesting post and great book... I started reading it recently and it is definitely helping market our hosted
website management service. For marketing folks I might add :) www.designapps.com

I believe the reason there is so much ambiguity with terms like these, is a result of how they are created. They are new and constantly evolving, much like the technology that they describe. With every new technology comes a new technique,
as an innovative person uses it in a slightly different way or perhaps combines it with another technology.

As these new techniques get used and more popular, they need to be described to others in words. And yes,they will be used loosely and many will never make the dictionary. (does anyone know how a word makes the dictionary, by the way?)

I agree that Web 2.0 is a very broad and non-exact term, and it does mean something different to most people. But it does describe something and serves a purpose. To me it describes a generation of technology available on the internet. It is very popular term, even if it is interpreted so differently. I believe that is ok and the key is if you are going to use it, be prepared to describe what it is you mean by it.

You have titled your book "New Rules of Marketing & PR"
and then backed it by a great description of what it means. But just to make an example of how words can have different interpretations, are they really rules? Rules, according to dictionary.com, might imply "1. a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, ") But are the ideas and techniques you describe rules? Or can they be interpreted and applied in creative ways? To me, I did not interpret them as rules (of course I could always say rules are made to be broken) I’m merely trying to make a point that words can frequently be interpreted differently. ( part of the reason we have wonderful lawyers :S)

As another example, I use the term “Business Web 2.0 Management” to describe our hosted service. And if anyone asks, I have a strong definition of what I mean by it. It is a software platform to help Businesses leverage the latest techinques when publishing a website. But overtime, I better change it because Web 2.0 at some point will mean the "old" technologies and techniques. What will be next? Will it be Web 2.1 or Web 3.0 ??

To sum up my ramble – many words are interpreted differently and I think that our language needs to have loose terms. It is the process for defining new ideas. It would be impossible to avoid them anyway. Some will stick and some won't. I would just prefer that when people use a term, they back it up with a very good description.

Allen Voivod

Hi David,

Our mutual friend Kevin Skarritt did a podcast with us on the whole Web 2.0 thing, at http://www.epiphaniesinc.com/blog/2007/08/30/web-20-in-5ish-minutes-an-add-info-summit/. In it, Kevin said, "If you talk to 100 technology people and ask them for their definition of what Web 2.0 is, it is an extremely overused phrase, and you’ll probably get 105 answers."

But the generalized gist he threw down is that, whereas Web 1.0 is characterized by websites with author-generated, one-way-communication content, Web 2.0 is characterized by websites with user-generated, dialogue-encouraging content.

"Web 2.0 marketing," I agree, is a sort of catch-all term people use. But rather than just meaning "new," I think people use it to absorb the idea of employing social media, social networking, social bookmarking, and other user-driven websites to promote products, services, information, and personalities.

Though in all honesty, that's my attempt to assign meaning to a phrase that, like "Web 2.0" itself, is used by a lot of different and well-meaning people to stand for a lot of different ideas.

David Meerman Scott

Wow. Many more thoughtful comments. Thanks all of you.

I don't know about you guys, but I just love that we're making this stuff up as we go along. Everyone who commented has thoughtful ideas and together we are defining what marketing & PR is on the web.


Anderson Lima


Your post was really timely and it will definitely help me as I am starting to research and writing on the same subject now. Shame I will not be able to quote Wikipedia or use it as a reference, never mind, your post is giving me food for thought! Thanks,

Robin Avery

Hi David,

Like any profession, I think the field or discipline of Marketing and PR has its idiosyncratic jargon for professionals to effectively describe its tools and techniques of operation. This makes for a more efficient method of communication among professionals and holds true for the unique terms in the new world of online marketing. These terms, when used accurately enable professionals to accurately analyze a project and effectively create an online marketing campaign using the various strategies available to them.

Social media and social networking are different in that, as I understand you, social media refers to news that is being communicated and social networking has to do with how people attempt to meet and connect with one another online. What are similar are the interactive possibilities. It seems to me it is the interactive quality where the lines get blurred and confusion sets in. The purpose, intention and usage of the online activity or strategy are different and dictate what strategic category it falls into. This is important as a marketer develops his or her overall marketing campaign for goods and services.

I personally appreciate online social media marketing in that I feel that when marketers recognize the value in their customers’ perspective it becomes a quick and inexpensive way to do market research and development on their product or service. Customers also like to feel valued. I know I do. And it makes me want be a return customer.

It’s my experience that most professions have “armchair” professionals bandying words and terms about but who typically misuse them. You see this often in the medical profession. As a retired psychologist I find the misdiagnosing of friends or family members by people not in the field, as pejorative labeling or just confusion about a diagnostic category or the behavior that they’re observing.

As a musician, I’ve noticed that a good understanding of music’s theoretical terminology facilitates easier communication among musicians in the pursuit of creating music’s universal language.

I believe that when marketing professionals know and use the terms of their profession to communicate meaningful information amongst them, are accepting of their clients’ level or lack of sophistication in the marketing field, and gently and thoughtfully guide their clients through the decision-making process with regard to their projects, professional terms can be useful shorthand to communicate effective ideas for creating and thinking broadly about the projects at hand.

Robin Avery


I’m still confused. While your definitions helped clear the air with the terms as used today, “social networking” gives me problems. “Media networking” is helpful because it actually alludes to the fact that we are using media (as that term has come to be understood) to network. My problem comes from the use of the term “social networking”. As it is being currently used, it seems to be something of an oxymoron. I know that someone will argue that “network” pertains to the use of the internet however, I often network socially, in a more personal way by actually meeting with people. And the term “network” has been in use for a long time, much before Al Gore invented the internet. So my beef is with “social networking” as a description of what we do online through LinkedIn, Biznik, Ecademy, Facebook, My Space, etc. That activity seems to be more of “internetworking” or some other cool term that would be more descriptive of what is actually going on.
I like your grouping of the tools and activities that are described and I like some of the distinctions made by others who have commented. I even like the idea of tossing all the adjectives and just saying "marketing, networking, PR". I’m just not happy with one of the basic terms, “social networking”. Terminology should be used that clearly conveys thought and allows for easy distinction between ideas. I guess that’s just the result of inertia that comes with being a grumpy old man. I’m trying to keep up. Good stuff, though.

David Meerman Scott

Yeah. The terms may not be the best. But they are what's being used these days.


Dear David,
I´m a fan of your last book "the new rules..."
I really enjoyed this post and in fact answered me some questions regarding these social media and the application of new rules. So I translated to portuguese and published in my blog. Hope you don´t mind. If you do, i´ll remove it. Thank you

Muegge Marketing

While I think we all love semantics, what we miss when we get wrapped up in the words is the applicability for businesses. When you consider that a greater portion of the B2B space is looking to experiment with blogs, interactive newsletters and more customer-oriented communication but often have no visibility into the expected results of such forays or how to budget for such in a recession, the conversation should be less about what the precise terms mean and more on what the concepts mean to business and how even small businesses can leverage them.

Kim Patrick Kobza

David, Your comments are right on. These terms as used are confusing because they mean very different things in application.

One way to think about it from our experience.

Step 1: Lose the term Web 2.0. Not sure that in any longer means a lot though all of Tim Reilly's faithful might have a different point of view.

Step 2: Develop definitions and characteristics for "Engagement models" that are mapped to specific business objectives.

Example: Social networks/Social media drive relationship networks that in turn drive commerce, entertain, and aggregate relationships.

These are very different from discovery and knowledge networks based on peer to peer learning, product and service improvement and consumer recommendations. Each build collective intelligence.

The big idea is that it is engagement in many forms that drives value in many ways. The next wave of transformation is not necessarily about "social" relationships. It is about different forms of engagement that are driven by many types of dialogue supported by many types of technology delivered in many ways.

The challenge is that engagement is both simple and complex, but its application is infinite. The labels don't work.

Brian Clark

Nice post David. I tend to think of "social media marketing" as synonymous with "online content marketing," since generally we're supplying the substance that new media transmits. "Social media networking" is analogous to the real-life networking we do... personal social interactions with a marketing goal (a la Twitter).

David Meerman Scott

Hey Brian,

I agree with you, but the word "content" is misunderstood by so many people. I used to use the word content all the time (hey my last book was called "Cashing in with Content"). But it is so misunderstood as a term...


Alex Griffin

As a person who does business online these platforms gives me an edge when I know what my customers and prospects really want or don't want.

Bill Seaver - MicroExplosion Media

So is Twitter a social network or social media? I say social media because I view it as a micro blogging platform filled with content yet I have friends who disagree strongly with me because of the follow feature that feels like "friending" in social networks.

Leo Wurschmidt


I love your "New Rules..." book and have really enjoyed reading your blog articles. Most of the time I agree with what you say and really try to think how your comments might apply to how we market ourselves; however, this time I have to disagree with your article.

I think the Web 2.0 definition has grown (through community) since O'Reilly's original statement in 2004. But, if you are limit us by only allowing Tim O'Reilly to be the sole individual who can define Web 2.0 then you should also note he said one of the themes of Web 2.0 was that it leveraged the "long tail" for small, niche companies. As you well know, the long tail is a strong (web) marketing concept you referenced in your "New Rules" book (Ch 2, page 17).

Furthermore, O'Reilly also states that Web 2.0 has data (or content) as its driving force. Again, this is something that I remember you being an advocate of for a strong marketing presence. O'Reilly also says that Web 2.0 allows for more networking because of the increased ability for user participation. As best I remember, your new rules of marketing address using social networking sites as part of a marketing initiative (Ch. 19).

I agree that just throwing out Web 2.0 for the sake using random catch phrases in the form of gobbeldygook is pointless, but I disagree with completely discarding the phrase as a marketer based on a single quote that O'Reilly used four years ago. As I said before, the definition has grown since then (even by the original author himself) and for a programmer like me, there are some great "technologies" available that are associated with Web 2.0 to help end-user participation on websites.

Thanks for the great opportunity for discussion and I look forward to continuing to read your posts.

By the way, enjoyed the camels video. I think that is where my next niche market will be one day. :)

David Meerman Scott

Hi Leo, Glad you liked the camel video! I agree that the term has evolved and that more people are using Web 2.0 in different ways. My ideas have changed in recent months, However I still see countless people use the term as a catch all marketing phrase to mean "cool".

Bill -- Fascinating question. I'd have to say Twitter is both. How's that for being wishy-washy?


Leo Wurschmidt

David, I have to agree with you on that. Web 2.0 is the new hip phrase right now.

However, after chewing on this post a little more and re-reading some of the Web 2.0-based text on our own website I did realize part of what you were saying. There is a fine line between providing good content for the client (explaining how Web 2.0 can help them) and just sounding really hip and techy. I am in the process of tweaking our text to accomplish the former. :)

Have a great day!



A great, thought provoking post David.


I'm new to the field of marketing but i completely agree with what you are saying and woould ask you to read the posts i write for my company blog http://roimm.com/category/blog/

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