I've noticed a lot of chatter here recently around how companies should categorize social media. After all, the more that businesses get involved in social, they'll need to allocate budgets from somewhere. And when something draws from a departmental budget, the purpose of that thing is usually aligned with the goals of the mother ship.
For example, most people here consider social media as marketing and it should therefore be funded through marketing and then, like traditional marketing, prove a return on the investment.
But if you've spent any time in this space, you know damn well that marketing is only part of it. A small part. In fact, your sales are only likely to increase as a direct result of engaging here if A) you have a great product and B) you develop trust with people. If you come into social media thinking you can drive sales through Twitter like you do in the Sunday circular, you're going to fail.
Yes, it's more than marketing. Social media also part public relations. From customer support to crisis management and everything in between, true public relations (not promo heavy stuff) is not marketing either.
Social media is also content sharing, but that doesn't mean it's journalism.
The fact is, social media is nearly unbucketable. Let's call it a hybrid. A range of communications disciplines that exist in a wide-open digital platform that's as individual in its commercial applications as the people you're trying to sell. Because when you get right down to it, aren't we all just human hybrids anyway?