What the heck is Web 2.0 / social media / social networking and how do these concepts relate to the new rules of marketing & pr?

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Social Media  |  New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Public Relations  |  Marketing

Recently I've noticed that many people have been using a bunch of definitions, including "New Rules of Marketing", "Web 2.0 marketing", "social media marketing", and "social network marketing" interchangeably. (Feel free to substitute "PR" for "marketing" if that’s appropriate for you.)

I don't think these concepts are the same at all, and I think that using them interchangeably creates problems for all of us.

Here's a summary from my perspective: "social media marketing" and "social network marketing" are two different things. From the marketing & PR perspective, both are subsets of "the new rules of marketing & PR". On the other hand "Web 2.0 marketing" is essentially a meaningless phrase. See below for details of where I'm coming from.

I wanted to spark some dialog about this as I think that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what some of the various phrases mean. Additionally, the tools and techniques vary.

Please jump in with your thoughts.

Here are mine:

The new rules of marketing (and the new rules of PR).
These phrases were not used prior to me introducing them in 2006. If you Google either phrase today, you'll see that links to my site, blog, and work dominate the top results.

I say that the old rules of marketing & PR were that you either had to buy expensive advertising or beg the media to write about you. Prior to the Web, there weren't other significant ways to get noticed. The Web has changed the rules. The new rules of marketing & PR are that you can bypass the gatekeepers and publish your own content online in the form of content-rich Web sites, blogs, YouTube videos, photos, ebooks and the like and reach buyers directly.

Web 2.0 marketing (and Web 2.0 PR)
The term Web 2.0 is credited to Tim O'Reilly of O'Reilly media.
"Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform."

Many people have taken the "Web 2.0" phrase and slapped "marketing" or "PR" on the end to designate something new. My opinion is that the term Web 2.0 (as coined by O'Reilly) was meant to describe how people use the Web and how software companies are creating applications that are Web-based instead of requiring downloading to your PC or delivered via a client-server environment.

I'd say that people who use the terms "Web 2.0 marketing" and "Web 2.0 PR" (or the related "marketing 2.0" and "PR 2.0") are using those phrases as a catch-all to describe "new" and most can't really define exactly what they mean except to say that "it includes blogs and YouTube and Facebook and other stuff like that."

Personally, I steer clear of using Web 2.0 when describing marketing and PR because it is imprecise and confusing.

Further reading – the Web 2.0 Wikipedia entry.

Social media marketing (and social media PR)
I'd suggest that the term social media describes online media with a participatory or interactive component.

A news story that is delivered online becomes social media if there is a place for readers to comment on the news story. Blogs, forums, Wikis, and chat rooms are all social media in my opinion because they include an interactive component.

Marketing and PR using social media involves creating social media content (starting a blog perhaps) and participating in social media (by leaving appropriate comments other people’s blogs or forums).

Further reading – the Social Media Wikipedia entry.

Social network marketing (and social network PR)
I'd suggest that the term social networking describes online networking tools and the ways they are used to connect groups of people on the Web.

By my definition, social networking sites include Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, SecondLife, Bebo, and others similar to these. People use these sites to network and stay connected with friends and colleagues and to meet other like-minded people.

Marketing and PR using social networking involves creating personal profiles, creating and joining groups, and building applications for others to use. It involves participating in social networking sites.

Further reading – the Social Network Wikipedia entry.

Here's something important.

By my definitions, "social media marketing & PR" as well as "social network marketing & PR" are two different things and both are subsets of the "new rules of marketing & PR."

The way I see the world, as marketing and PR people we need to think about the new rules as including lots of tools and techniques and social media and social networking are two of those. But there are many others.

What are your thoughts?