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20 Metaphors That Explain Social Media Perfectly

Jan 14, 2016 4 min readSocial Media Marketing

We talk about Social Media a lot!

Everyone wants to be part of it, everyone tries to keep up with it and understand it, and everyone tries to find the latest tips and tricks to be better at it.

But what is social media really like? How does it feel to be part of it? What if an alien came to earth and you had to explain social media and what it feels like to them, how would you do it?

We have gathered 20 metaphors that we feel explain social media perfectly (okay, technically they are similes, but metaphors sounds better so please indulge me here ?). Because sometimes it really helps to take a step back and put things into perspective.

And if you ever do find yourself in that (very unlikely) circumstance of explaining social media to aliens, hopefully this list will help.

Shall we dive in?

social media metaphors 1

Social Media Is…

…a water cooler — People come to talk about the latest news, Game of Thrones’ latest jaw-dropping episode, and to make a connection.

…the 21st-century version of a town square — There are lots of people there ready to take part in the next exciting event.

…a dinner party — Everyone who follows you or your brand is there to engage and exchange thoughts about a specific topic. (AdWeek)

standing in the middle of the room and yelling ‘I LIKE BAGELS!’ and one person yelling back ‘I LIKE THAT.’ — I think this one is self-explanatory ? (Public Health and Social Media)

…planting a tree — It takes patience, persistence, caring for a continued period of time, and then suddenly one day you start seeing the first sprout of what you planted so long ago. (FindAndConvert)

social media like water

…water — “On its own, water does some cool things, but when combined with another compound it enabled the evolution of all forms of life.” (Mike Volpe via Verve Search)

…the act of fly fishing — You might look like you don’t know what you’re doing and that your efforts are scattered, but they are all part of a thought-out coordinated effort. (SearchEnginePeople)

…a box of chocolates — “You never know what you’re gonna get.” Each platform offers its own advantages. (Business 2 Community)

…wind energy — Wind is free but the wind generator is not. (Kevin Mullett via Dragon Search)

…the spokes of a wagon wheel — They all connect and serve your brand (aka the hub of the wagon wheel) and are limited by your online influence (aka the rim of the wheel). (The Blog Herald)

…cooking — Keep the ingredients (your content) fresh, offer a variety of dishes, keep it simple, experiment, and always provide tender loving care. (Daniel Hebert)

…a puppy — It’s cute and cuddly and looks easy to take care of at first, and then you realize that it needs constant attention and care. (NextGov)

…the TARDIS — (Any Doctor Who fans out there?) It can provide you with some amazing experiences and connections from around the world (and I would even argue through time!)

…Ironman — It’s about being efficient, not the effort put into it, taking it slow and steady, having a purpose, having a plan, and pushing yourself further than you think you can. (SocialMediaToday)

…The Force in Star Wars — In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi explains the Force to Luke Skywalker as “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” In social media, the Force is the “relationships and engagement” you create which binds it all together. (Eric Tung)

…Parenting — “Just when you think you’ve got figured it out, they change the rules of engagement.” (Katherine Keller)

…dating — You have to build a connection/relationship first before starting to push your product onto someone. (Peg Fitzpatrick)

…eating like a hummingbird, and pooping like an elephant. – Eat information like a hummingbird (according to Guy Kawasaki they eat 50% of their body weight in food a day) and poop it out like an elephant aka share it with the world. (Guy Kawasaki via Dysart & Jones Associates)

social media like ancient egypt

…ancient Egypt — “writing things on walls and worshiping cats.”(George Takei)

…Aesop’s classic fable “The Wind and the Sun” — As Dr. Miller explains to Don Draper in Mad Men, “kindness, gentleness, and persuasion win where force fails,” so you will most likely see better results if you share your warmth (like the sun) instead of your strength (like the wind). (I have included the full fable below for those not familiar with it. (Business 2 Community)

Aesop’s classic fable “The Wind and the Sun”:

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

Over to You!

All of these are of course very fun and I’m sure you nodded your head “yes” at quite a few of them, and I think what this shows is that while social media might seem easy it is complex, hard, takes patience, and offers many approaches to success!

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