Or is it an oxymoron?
Social media - the art of sharing. This is nothing new, arguably social media has been with us for tens of thousands of years. The media might have changed but the reason stands.
The difference today, primarily, is the web.
My point is this: Social media from an individual is, by default, sharing and, therefore, justifiably comes under the correct heading "social media". It is done with intent to share and make someone else's life richer in knowledge. The individual who "receives" this information will do with it what they want.
They may be influenced in a purchase, or in thought, etc but point of fact, they have had their lives enriched by content.
But the action remains the same, sharing without intent other than.
I don't think so. I think companies can use the social web (and there is nothing wrong with this) but if there is pre-meditated intent behind it then it can't be called social media as what they're doing is not sharing unconditionally. They ultimately have a commercial agenda. Again, nothing wrong in that.
If this reason is to get business, gain mindshare, gather PR, gather live R&D then, by default, what they are doing is "piping the social web" - not engaging in social media.
Now if we can separate the two methods then we have two methods. Moreover, these two methods dictate a completely different process that we must bring to bear, whether that might be as an individual or as a company that has intent.
This would make life easier as we can "pigeon-hole" method.
To conclude: Social media is an action that is the sole domain of an individual for the practise of "unconditional" sharing - there are no rules here as it's 1. social and 2. personal.
Piping the social web is an action that a company participates in with the ultimate intent to pipe consumers to a "call to action" - there are rules here for successful action. 1. relevant volume (otherwise no one will find you - in which case why bother?) 2. A full understanding of the companies entire web strategy from top to bottom (starting a "pipe" on the social web means there can be no "blockage" due to a part of the companies web that has been overlooked.)
Social media is a convenient term. It has achieved what it needed. Now we must "break down" the nuances of the action.
For companies to interact on the social web without this "break down" and understanding, they may cause themselves and their brand more harm in the long term.