Social Media Vs. Social Networking

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I found an article to today on twitter that really hit a nerve. I’d never thought there was a difference between social media and social networking, I’ve just been using the terms interchangeably as I assume most people do. However, David Levine defines these two terms as to different entities. Social media allows anyone to broadcast content that others can discover, share, and comment on, while social networking allows people to connect around shared interests. Both types of software are used as part of broader marketing campaigns and both generally rely on viral marketing to bring in new users and so can grow at exponential rates.

I still feel as though these lines are blurred, but it seems social media is things like youtube, blogging, stumbleupon, digg. Where as social networking are sites more like facebook, myspace, friendster,, linkedin. I am still slightly unsure as to where I would classify twitter. I do follow people based on similar interests, yet I also find myself discovering, sharing and comments on others ideas. And come to think of it you do the same thing on facebook.

Lets see what Wikipedia has to say…
Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.
Social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. […] Online community services are sometimes considered as a social network service, though in a broader sense, social network service usually means an individual-centered service whereas online community services are group-centered. Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks.

Anyone else still lost? Social Media Today, provided me with another great article. 5 Differences Between Social Media and Social Networking. So, Social Media is a means to transmit/share information to a broad audience. Everyone and anyone has the opportunity to create and distribute as long as you have an internet connection. Conversely, social networking is engaging groups of people with common interests, like minded ideas online a site that helps to build their relationship through a community. It is clear that there are some lines being blurred here. I don’t believe social media or social networking are defined by the website being used, but how they are being used. Are you using Facebook to connect to friends, or to promote your brand and start a conversation, the same goes for twitter or a blog.

According to Matt Goddard, social networking is the “what,” and social media is the “how.” Social networks are made up of peers seeking and giving advice to make better decisions. Advanced social networking science can even tell us which people give out the most advice in the network and have the most influence. These people are called opinion leaders. social networks connect through traditional means, like face‐to‐face conversations, but we also use new‐fangled approaches, such as blogs, syndicated videos, social bookmarks, and more, which we call social media. Unlike social network theory, which involves decision behaviors based on patterns of advice seeking, social media pertains to how this information can be shared online.

To be honest, these answers may have made me realize that there is a difference between social media and social networking, but I’m still not completely convinced by any of the answers. Anything thoughts welcome!


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