Social Media Definition in a Cloud

I met Adam Vincenzini (@adamvincenzini) when he shared his newspaper experiment with me, which has been featured by international media including El Mundo.  Adam decided to go 365 days without reading a newspaper and began to share his experience through his blog, The Comms Corner.  I thought it was a creative and very difficult experiment (at least it would be for me at this point in my life).  Then, Adam asked me to participate in another creative exercise called 140 Characters from 140 Comms Characters.  He gathered 140 communications professionals and asked them to, in 140 characters (or less), give their definition or meaning of social media.

This was my definition/meaning of social media in 140 characters:

@dbreakenridge Social media means listening carefully and learning to share valuable information that bonds people and builds strong relationships.

A few interesting definitions that caught my attention included (of course there many more but I just wanted to give a sampling):

@trevoryoung Social media is a catalyst for change – change in the way we connect with each other, change in the way businesses communicate with the world

@DannyBrown Social media is the human engine oil. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Mini or Mercedes, you get an equal shot to compete in the race

@leeodden Social media is technology that facilitates community & word of mouth. But what makes the social web work are the people

@carolinebosher SM lets me traverse the globe and meet amazing people from my living room. Its a constant support network full of opportunity & serendipity*

@BarbaraNixon Social Media provides a new way for us to listen to, learn from, laugh with, and (lol) even loathe each other.

@PRBlog Social media is a circuit completed through personal interaction. So marketers must realize it’s a commitment vs. campaign.

@Monsty a revolution, a shift, the changing of the guard, the return of communication to it’s native form -> conversation <- the beginning

After Adam shared the completed post with all 140 definitions, @valeriesimon made an interesting observation.  She immediately commented on Adam’s blog that it would be interesting if there was a word cloud to capture what words were the most popular in the 140 definitions (I immediately agreed).  @emilycagle was nice enough to construct the word cloud which appears below:

Click to enlarge

Before I even looked at the cloud, I had in my mind that the following words would be the largest (perhaps this was based on my own PR bias):

Engagement or Engage

I wasn’t surprised to see Social, Media, Share, and People as really large words, but I was surprised that words like relationships, communication, community and listen were considerably smaller.  It’s interesting that there are so many different definitions and varying levels of emphasis we place on words.  Is the word cloud what you expected it to be?  Did it encompass your definition of social media and do you think that there are certain words that should have been given more prominence or perhaps were not even mentioned at all?  The 140 Characters from 140 Comms Characters is a great experiment (thank you Adam!) and it was also great to see how the people interacting with Adam shared their definitions and enthusiastically took the experience a step further to design a word cloud.  Now that’s truly the meaning of social media and community!