In this paper, we highlight some of the challenges and opportunities that social media presents to researchers, and offer relevant theoretical avenues to be explored. To do this, we present a model that unpacks social media by using a honeycomb of seven functional building blocks. We then examine each of the seven building blocks and, through appropriate social and socio-technical theories, raise questions that warrant further in-depth research to advance the conceptualization of social media in public affairs research. Finally, we combine the individual research questions for each building block back into the honeycomb model to illustrate how the theories in combination provide a powerful macro-lens for research on social media dynamics. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.