||Our understanding of how, why, and the circumstances under which animals use social information has been facilitated by three principal areas of research, social learning, public information use and social eavesdropping. With few exceptions, these related concepts have remained remarkably distinct within the literature, with little discussion or integration among them. Are these distinctions warranted? We tackle the issue by exploring similarities and differences between the concepts with respect to how animals gather and use social information, the type of information gathered, how information is packaged, and the relative payoffs to individuals involved. We contend that none of the currently dominant paradigms, social learning, public information use, or social eavesdropping, provide a unifying theme for studying social information use. Instead, we favour the central characteristic of the three concepts, social information use, as the overarching umbrella, and advocate a broader conceptual framework for understanding more comprehensively how animals behave with their social environments. Our intention is not to revolutionize the fields of social learning, public information use or social eavesdropping, but rather to stimulate discussion among researchers investigating the abilities of animals to extract information from the social environment.