Social Media Lexicon - What is a POP?

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In social media, what is a "point of presence" (aka a POP)?

Simply put, it's a general way of trying to reference the various sites, blogs, accounts, pages, boards, channels, streams, etc. that can represent someone or something online. In trying to reference all these various places where a brand – personal or corporate – may be be represented, it was challenging to find one word that can stand in for all those thingumajigs.

Specifically with social media, each platform provider has chosen a descriptor to capture how it is different from the others in this field; so, when you hear one term or the other, you think of specific platforms: blog = Wordpress; page = Facebook or GooglePlus; board = Pinterest; channel = YouTube or Vimeo, etc. The term "account" was an early contender but not all "points of presence" are accounts. For example, on Facebook and Google+ a person has an "account" (and personal profile) but their business has a "page". In these cases, the account and the page are distinct things but both are POPs.

At Brandle, we needed one word to refer to this class of things. When we stepped back and asked "What are they?" the answer that came back was "They are places where a brand can have a presence on another platform to connect and communicate with members of different communities."

This immediately brought to mind the similarity to earlier phases of the Internet when the dial-up service providers (DSP) and later the internet service providers (ISP) had their own "points of presence" or POPs. A DSP or ISP would establish a point of presence at a local telecom to provide their service to the customers served by that telecom. The analogy seemed natural to extend to today's social and syndicated web. Today, it's not just networking companies but every personal and professional brand that has multiple points of presence at diverse locations around the web.

Thus, the term POP evolved again and once we settled on this new term, it became much easier to craft a straightforward sentence about this class of things the social web has given us. So whether we're talking about a website, a blog or some social presence, we just call them "points of presence" or "POPs" for short.

Try it. It works.

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