The term “social media” has roots in the late 1970s with the Usenet and electronic bulletin board systems (BBS). A few other social media synonyms have emerged, but according to Google Trends, none of the primary alternatives are mentioned quite as often by people who love or use social media.
There are three primary social media synonyms. An “online community” refers to individuals or companies connected over one or more interests. A “social platform” concerns the technologies and systems used to connect on the internet. A “social network” maps the connections between people and groups.
Let’s go through these synonymous terms and dig deeper into their meaning. I’ve also included some lesser-known alternatives for social media you should know, along with the most common words in other languages.
Synonyms For Social Media With Definitions
Each synonym for “social media” has the same loose definition with subtle differences.
First, social media refers specifically to the content shared between users. The types of social media sent between linked accounts include:
- Audio clips
- Interactive games
- Reactions or Likes
- Photos and images
This media is electronically shared over an online connection and primarily via a browser or mobile app.
A social platform or social media platform combines technologies that allow users to communicate and share media. Everything from the smartphone app and the website to the servers and third-party vendors comprises the social platform.
As large companies acquire rival or complimentary internet services or companies, they link the data and offerings, expanding their platform. For example, Facebook bought and combined data and capabilities from Whatsapp, Instagram, Oculus, and Onavo to expand its platform of tools.
This video (4m36s@2x) from The Hated One YouTube channel digs deeper into the impetus and goals of Facebook’s growing social platform.
Before online communities, there were just communities—people who were geographically nearby or would gather around specific activities or common goals.
In the internet age, an online community is a group of users that collaborate around many topics or goals now extending past their locality. Members can:
- meet without being tied to real-world meeting locations
- communicate across time zones consuming and producing media asynchronously
- use a growing number of tools making the experience as good or better than before
Social platform technologies facilitate, record, and maintain the connection of online community participants.
The term social network refers to the mapping or relationship between two or more accounts, users, companies, etc. This term is the primary synonym for social media. However, the word “network” is an important differentiator.
Social networks also measure the strength of the connection between any two points in the graph or social web through
- Engagement: such as likes, shares, comments, and return visits
- Distance: the number of nodes or hops between two measured points
Social networking is using a social network to get to know and expand your social graph.
To sum up:
As an online community shares social media across a social platform, the way users interact with each other alters the social network of connections.
There are other lesser-known phrases for “social media” that can help writers and readers alike.
Other Less-Common Words For Social Media
I managed to find some additional terms for social media while researching this article:
- social communication
- social media platform
- social media site
- social web
- social networking website
- social network service
- interactive media
- online network
- social networking service
- social networking platform
Synonyms For Social Media From Around The World
While “social media” emerged from English, other cultures have adopted their own words to describe the concept. Here are the basic social media world synonyms in different languages:
- sociale media: social media in Dutch 🇳🇱
- des médias sociaux: social media in French
- mtandao wa kijamii: social media in Swahili
- 社交媒体: social media in Mandarin Chinese
- Sozialen Medien: social media in German
- وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي: : social media in Arabic
- Sosiale media: social media in Afrikaana
- redes sociales: social media in Spanish
- Pradhāna bhāṣā: social media in Bengali
- mídia social: social media in Portoguese