How We Talk About Social Media

Reading Eric’s recent post about HelloTxt, I went back to some old files and opened up a presentation I gave last summer at BizJam Seattle and was treated to some entertaining content. At least, it was funny to me. I just had to laugh at the way I struggled to come up with compact, clear ways of categorizing and naming social media tools.

How easy it is to forget that everything we use and talk about every day now — just one year later — didn’t have a set of agreed-upon terms. I thought I’d share some slides from my old presentation to show how difficult it is to come up with ways to describe the tools that we use.

I discussed what I called Social Media Aggregation Broadcasting Tools or SABTs. I defined SABTs as third-party applications that allow you to both aggregate and broadcast messages — or status updates — to your other networks.

I divided those into four categories:

  1. Active
  2. Passive
  3. Niche
  4. Integrated

So here is how I grouped applications that were available last summer:


Active SABTs were the applications that let you actively broadcast your updates to multiple networks. At the time, was still in private beta by invitation only.


Passive SABTs were the applications that you could add to your blog to allow others to update update their own social networks. All you had to do was make those links available to your readers and provide content worth sharing. Then you could sit back while others shared your content with their friends, fans and followers.


Niche SABTs were the applications that began popping up that were exclusive to a single network. The most common were the clients being developed for Twitter to make it easier to tweet without having to constantly visit the web site to access your account.


Integrated SABTs were the built-in broadcasting features that some of the social networks were adding on as integrated features.

Despite the chuckle that I got when I read my earnest attempt at crafting these terms, I actually feel that my theories still hold up. My attempt to “name” these tools was definitely more than a little awkward, but the intention was clear.

We are all facing a huge influx of apps and tools that we are struggling to understand, to learn how to use, and to integrate into our everyday work.

Seeing how far we’ve come in less than a year’s time is not just amusing — it is downright fascinating.

What are some of the ways you explained social media “back in the day” that gives you a little chuckle today?