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…

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

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

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

like 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)

…like 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

…like 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)

…like 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)

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

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

…like 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)

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

…like 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)

…like 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!)

…like 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)

…like 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)

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

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

…like 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

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

…like 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!

Social media, streamlined

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Written by Sandrine Sahakians

Multimedia Producer at Buffer. TV Lover! I could talk about my favorite shows all day (and I do!). Love spending time with my dog Tardis, he’s bigger on the inside ;)… sorry that was a TV reference… did I mention I like TV a lot? I also love creating videos on YouTube and am so happy to be part of that amazing community.

  • Kirsten Grosman

    Best read for a while – love the metaphors and can relate to most of them. Also have inspired my on thoughts

  • Emma James

    That sounds interesting, thanks for great job.

  • … like a fish on a bicycle.

  • CurryPRProf

    Yep…pretty much sums it all up. I’ll be sharing with my Curry College “Social Media Communication” students this semester!

  • Hahaha – my FAVE: …like Parenting — “Just when you think you’ve got figured it out, they change the rules of engagement.” (Katherine Keller)

    This one took me a moment: …like ancient Egypt — “writing things on walls and worshiping cats.”(George Takei)… But it’s TRUE! lol

  • Nice roundup, Sandrine. Here’s an item I wrote last summer comparing social media to a river: http://natie.com/blog/float-upstream/

  • Nice post! I have never read such kind of blog post before. Social media is really important, and understanding these metaphors is very important in using it effectively.

  • arvind sahu

    nice info…………


  • felicia.cristofaro


    If aliens somehow made it to Earth, I hope they would have the wherewithal to share at the water cooler when the next Game of Thrones book is going to be published! My favorite relation had to be that of ancient Egypt (grumpy cat makes my Monday’s) .I really enjoyed this post; it was light, humorous, and relatable. Thanks for a great read!

  • Alejandra Chapman

    love the one like a puppy. 100% true!

  • Fisha Beattie

    none of these are metaphors, they areall similes because they use the likeword like.

  • love ‘cooking’ metaphor – it’s just imply true – fresh and original content but easy to understand increases readership

    and that’s how we try to promote our freelance wriitng website http://acewriters.org/ ..still not always the results are what we expected them to be but patience is important and there’s no way you can get an immediate result from anything

  • Had fun reading all metaphors. I read an article where an author compare social media with Angry Birds. I’d like to add the metaphore that social media is like a work according to one of Forbes’ articles which says that professionally-angled social media platforms similar to LinkedIn is usual deal nowadays at work where you grow your account by adding connections, skills, etc.

  • Lisa

    These aren’t even metaphors. Rather similes.