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6 Metaphors to Describe Social Media

Social media is its own frontier, and frontiers can be intimidating! Understanding social media and itsimplementations for marketing can be a task. To help, we’ve got a few metaphors to describe social media here to make it less overwhelming.

Keep in mind—while we associate the word “frontier” with concepts like “unknown,” we also connect it to ideas like “opportunity.” Consider each of these metaphors as an opportunity for your brand to make connections and use social media to the best of your ability!

The workplace water cooler

Are water coolers even a thing anymore? Maybe not in pandemic times. But, the water cooler in the workplace used to be the spot coworkers would meet, gather, and take a minute to catch up. It was part of a daily ritual in the office.

That’s where it aligns with social media. Your social platform(s) of choice are a metaphorical water cooler where—on a daily basis—you meet, “gather” and catch up. What was the outcome of last night’s ball game? Who is engaged to who? What’s everyone doing this weekend? Check in on social media to find out.

The dinner party

From the office to social hour—here’s another spin on our metaphors to describe social media. Whether it’s among friends or clients, the nature of a dinner party is to make connections. These connections in turn serve to enrich our lives, either personally, professionally or both.

Social media works much the same way. Especially as a brand, it’s your space to make meaningful connections with your followers. Showing your human side on social media is key to building lasting customer relationships.

The bulletin board

Think about passing that bulletin board in your kids’ school lobby or at the entrance of the community center. It’s likely plastered with event flyers, business cards and tear-sheets sharing information about a variety of community happenings.

Your social media timeline also serves as a bulletin board where information is shared and exchanged in much the same way. Unlike a bulletin board, however, which is limited to one-way communication, social media allows us the ability to instantaneously respond to and engage with the content we are seeing.

The newsstand

Shifting focus from community content to harder news, social media is a newsstand where people go for information on what’s happening in the world. Engaging with this type of content as a brand can help you start conversations among your followers while painting you as a resource for helpful information.

The shopping mall

The beauty of the traditional mall setup is having all types of shops under one roof. Think of social media as an online shopping mall—with practically anything you could want available for purchase at the click of a button. As a brand, social commerce is a convenient way to reach consumers in the space where they are already spending their time.

The time capsule

This one is bordering less on metaphor and more on literal, but let’s just roll with it. Social media platforms give users the ability to make records of their lives. From displaying photo albums, to documenting significant life events, to sharing everyday stories, all of this defining content is captured in the social media landscape. Rather than an actual time capsule that will one day be dug up, this archived social content is preserved for future use.


Thinking about each of these metaphors to describe social media helps us to better-understand its societal functions, and how we can apply those functions to our marketing strategies.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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