Social Media Explained in Plain English

What is “Social Media”? How did it develop? What does it do? How does it benefit consumers and companies?

That is, if you want to define the term “Social Media” to someone who does not work in technology, how do you explain it?

For example, SearchEngineWatch defines Social Media as a technical definition that assumes the reader is tech-savvy.

Social Media: a category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. They include social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, social bookmarking sites like, social news sites like Digg or Reddit, and other sites that are centered on user interaction.

Maxi Bongio of CommonCraft uses a less technical definition of Social Media. He explains Social Media in plain English in the animation below, using ice cream and ice cream producers as a metaphor for the phenomenon. He explains how Social Media can help customers promote, rate, and provide feedback for current and new products. Primarily, it is a way for people to communicate with each other.

I thought the explanation of Social Media using ice cream and ice cream producers simplified the topic and made it easily understandable for non-techies.

What did you think of this metaphor? Does it fully explain Social Media? Would you delete or add in any information?

Jewel Ward
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Jewel Ward

Founder and Consultant at Impact Zone Consultancy
Nice to meet you! I am Jewel Ward, founder of Impact Zone ( Our specialties are search engine optimization and digital stewardship for creative industry websites.

We work hard to serve our clients’ needs so they can solve their technology problems. Our goal is to enable our creative clients to succeed digitally in whatever form success means to them.

Here are three fun facts about me. I consider coffee and chocolate food groups. I am an INFJ. I love longboard surfing.
Jewel Ward
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