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September 30, 2010


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Rachel Heath

This is an interesting idea. I can see how using "real-time media" would be better when dealing with corporations or large businesses. On the other hand, my clients (mostly small businesses) tend to be attracted to the idea of social media. It's the latest thing. Everyone is doing it. And they feel like they need to do it, too.

Tara Isaacs

This is the first time I've ever responded to a blog post. I feel compelled to tell you that I agree 100%! Using this language with my clients will have a significant impact on their perception. Excellent observation. Cheers, Tara Isaacs

David Meerman Scott

Rachel - Good point on small businesses.

Tara - Glad this blog was your first.

Ann Marie Brucia

I think you are missing the point of the title "social media". What about the ability for the population in general to have 'influence' and power in brand viability. The term social is just that....back and forth communication and tools that facilitate that. Those tools exist now, but will only continue to morph and grow. It's about reaching the population or 'buyers' of your program, service, information....where they are looking or located. They are in the social mediums of today....the communities on-line. Go there and spend some time and money with really...much less investment required....just more ingenuity.

Keith Jennings

You are capturing something that is strategic. I hope folks don't take what you are saying as merely tactical (i.e. a name change).

Your main point here is that smart marketers should emphasize their PURPOSE for using today's online media tools, when communicating its value to their organization's stakeholders.

Great post. And tweet.

Amber Avines

David, this is a really interesting approach! I like it a lot. Real-time media does sound more powerful and business-like in tone.

In my dealings with colleagues and leadership, I'm always very careful to use language that is in their vocabulary and stay away from acronyms, lingo, and jargon. I intentionally use words that they would use.

As is the case with selling products to consumers, such is the challenge with selling ideas to upper management. If a mere change in words can secure buy-in for the wave of the future, I'm in! I will try this tactic in my next conversation with a reluctant stakeholder. I bet it yields results.

Thanks for suggestion!

David Meerman Scott

Keith and Amber -- thanks!

Ann Marie -- I completely and totally agree with you. My point is that it is tough to convince management at some companies that this is important when you use the term "social media".

So for those who are facing pushback in their companies, I am suggesting a new approach.

Carolyn Winter

I find in discussing this topic with a cross section of clients, colleagues and friends there is definitely something of an internal evolution for individuals or evolving awareness of exactly what social media and brand journalism is and how it applies to business and for that matter everyday life. A lot depends on an individuals starting point. This is not as much to do with management acceptance or rejection but of an awareness of how the world is evolving, and how the internet is shaping our relationships, thoughts, reactions, and other elements of being a social animal. A lot of people have been so stuck in old ways for so long on simple things ... like buying a paper (but no longer actually reading it cause they read it online) they aren't seeing the bigger picture - yet.

David one of the best opening lines ever in this discussion is the survey you pose to audiences about "when was the last time you bought something by..." Everybody is doing it - looking at the internet before they make a decision. I think we've always asked other people about a buying decision but never has that feedback been more immediate or plentiful than today. When someone is stuck in "nope not my workplace" and I share your lines - I notice a radical internal shift from that to "OMG" I am doing it and losing out business wise. Where do I begin?

Real time media hits home because it fits with the current model of understanding. It's like a fishing hook or on ramp that allows the many who are still living the old rules to make a shift. In fact by just accepting the notion of real time marketing opportunities, I believe a person internally shifts almost immediately to a fuller understanding of the next concept - social media.

Kenny Madden

makes great sense to me.


David, this makes great sense and you've done a great service to a lot of people by the suggestion.

"Social media," in the eyes of enterprise businesspeople, is what mommy bloggers do. It's writing about your cat.

"Real time media" to those same people is instant, actionable, course-correctable, market-pulse-taking monitoring and 2-way dialog with actual people who interact with your stuff.

One is a hard sell. The other solves a difficult problem.


I think referring to social media as "real time media" is another good strategic maneuver to use for those executives who haven't yet seen the light as to the need to get engaged in the "social" channels. There are always going to be the laggards who think the disruptive forces, such as the rise of the Web and now the rise of social media, is only a fad and they will dig their heels in resisting the behavior changes these shifts bring with them. Eventually, they will run to catch up with everyone else who saw the changes and embraced them earlier in the game. Yet, if the skeptics can be brought along a little faster with even the simple adjustment of terminology, well that's a win-win.

Kelly Monaghan

Excellent point.

Shakespeare said "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

David Meerman Scott adds, "Maybe even better."


Great post. I see an additional attribute to real time - "action oriented". Real time often creates immediate opportunity. The person who reacts first is in the best place to capitalize on that opportunity This ties back to having "real time" be a strategic concept that requires management to set a framework that supports enabling each person to think and react to those opportunities. So lot's of listening and then moving very quickly - individually - to a trigger event that creates the opportunity. With today's information flow being so real time reaction times and opportunity often requires "real time" action.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks so much for tall the comments. Glad that this idea has sparked interest.

Carolyn - I agree on my "5 questions" as an opening. Yet, remarkably, many traditional execs still resist. These are people who have spent 2 or 3 decades at the same company and are reluctant to change.

Cliff - great point that the real-time name implies opportunity and action. I adapted the term from the financial markets where real-time is essential.

Stacy Lukasavitz

I'm right there with you, David. I've been anti-"social media" as a term for a couple years, because 1) it means so many different things to so many different people, 2) it's redundant -- if you think about it, ALL media is "social" in one aspect or another, and 3) it just plain sounds douchey.

There. I said it.


I absolutely agree with you about changing the name of “social media” when dealing with professional companies. Personally, I don’t use these social networking sites because frankly, I could care less what you are doing every hour of your day. With sites like Facebook and Twitter for example, I don’t really care what you’ve had for breakfast or what movie you watched last night. I’m not even a professional and I don’t find these social networking sites all that serious. I can’t imagine how or rather, why so many of these businesses would want to associate themselves with this type of “social media.”
I work at a YMCA near home and our branch just launched their Facebook page. It’s amazing how social networking sites like this have evolved over the last couple of years. And now, even companies and non-profits like the YMCA are using them to generate proceeds and bring awareness to their products. At the YMCA where I work they even had a “launch party” to celebrate their entry into the new world of what you call “social media.” Personally, for me, I thought it was a little much.
I just can’t seem to understand why businesses like the YMCA would want to associate themselves with these social networking sites when people like me take them as a joke. This is why what they are calling “social media” should be edited and renamed something else like you say, “real-time media.” I think simply by referring to it as that, it would give the company a better reputation and clients will perceive it as a serious and most importantly, professional business.
On the other hand, most people I’m sure are rather intrigued by this idea of “social media.” I mean come on, who today doesn’t have a Facebook account. (Well, someone other than myself). Maybe making these corporations apart of this phenomenon is great for generating business. But again, I think it would be “more professional” to rename it something else like you’ve suggested. I understand what people like Rachel are saying about clients being attracted to the idea of “social media.” In today’s age, you have to find new ways to compete with other companies and to stay on top of your game. Corporations must conform to this new wave of media and start exploring the Web. “Going viral” is essential for companies these days. I feel like these corporations are compelled to staying up-to-date with the latest trend.
In order to emphasize their purpose for “social media”, corporations should take your advice and consider changing the name. I don’t know if “real-time” is the best name but it is definitely more fitting. Companies need to be more careful about the vocabulary they use if they want to be respected. It’s amazing how merely words can affect the way in which people conduct business. In order to be taken seriously, it is vital to act and speak accordingly. If someone as insignificant as me, who is “anti-social media” can’t find the seriousness in these networking sites; I can’t imagine how professional clients will.

Rich Jurek

David - this is one hell of a great post. In management, we do this all the time to strategically argue our position. Semantics is everything when it comes to getting upper management's buy-in. If a semantic nuance helps them to see the light of the value add proposition that means the most to them (i.e., immediacy, etc), then I am all for it. "Social Media" is maturing as a concept, and as such, it is moving itself up higher on the ladder of abstraction as a marketing practice, opening up sub-levels of tactics, that beg for a name or a category. I find that when I am suggesting a strategy or tactic, that many in the management audience get hung up on a term to the point of blindness to the strategy. If this helps, and I believe it would, the more power to it.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks Rich -- great to have managements perspective on this!

John Bottom


I'm a little late onto this comment thread, but just wanted to say that I heartily agree. The phrase 'social media' is a turn-off for many people. In client presentations, I tend to use the following 'euphemisms':

Online community: you can then focus on the people in it, rather than the technology.

Recommender networks: again, the positive benefits are highlighted.

Online engagement: starting to get a bit cliched, but preferable to the SM word.

Words not to use [or at least, to steer away from in B2B conversations with sceptical audiences]: Twitter, tweet, twitterers, tweeting. Let the client say it first, or you run something like an 80% chance of trivialising all the hard work you have done to outline the real benefits of - oh go on, let's say it - social media.

You've raised an important point - thanks for posting


David Meerman Scott

Thanks John - you've offered some other ways to get around the "social media" term that so many people don't fully understand.


wow good post I agree with you about changing the name of social media thank bye

Maria Payroll

Interesting post. Thank you for sharing this. I definitely learned something new. Social Media definitely does not give a business-like impression. I would start to use the term 'real-time media' now when in meetings or interviews.

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