To me it is a red bike, like my new cruiser.
The term isn't social-media or socialmedia; each would refer to mean a single concept. But rather, it is an adjective describing a noun.
Social media is a special type of media, just as my cruiser is a specific type of bike. As such we should look at the two terms distinctly as David Cushman described earlier in a post: Social + Media = Change. What does each mean? What does the combination mean?
Media, like bike, is a broad term covering a wide range of types. What is common is that all bikes and media do the same thing - they are vehicles for carrying something. Bikes carry people; media carry messages. It's only when we throw an adjective in front of bike or media do things get really interesting. This is when segments, skills, and best practices emerge.
I don't ride my road bike the same way or for the same reason as the red bike. The road bike is used for long, solo rides - think of mileage or speed as media tonnage or reach. The red bike is for the neighborhood where meet and greet is the objective - it's a conversation starter; it's social. The purpose, and thus tools, are very different.
So putting the concepts together:
- Social Media: utilizing human interactions to convey a message