Friday, 24 December 2010

Social Media vs Social Networking

We all use social media and are part of social networks, “we tweet, we friend and we blog”, but I often ask myself do we really understand the distinction between the two? At first glance they seem to be the same, but after digging deeper I found out that they are as different as chalk and cheese. Understanding the differences makes it easier to decide how they will work better for individuals and businesses.

By Definition

Social media is seen as the “what”; a way of communicating. Information is distributed through this medium to a mass audience. All you need it a computer and an internet connection and you’re ready to go. Social networking on the other hand is the “how”. This is a platform for engagement between people who share the same opinions and ideas. It is a circle of friends, family and colleagues.

Interaction

The communication line in social media is one way. That is why social media is said to be a medium of delivery. Information is distributed to the audience for their perusal. There is no interaction between the distributer and the reader. This is completely different when it comes to social networking. Communication is very much two way, where the reader can leave comments on what has been posted. Facebook is a perfect example of this, users share their thoughts through posts and all those in their network can comment on it, thus creating a back and forth communication line.

Organisations seem to understand this notion and have taken advantage of it by having Facebook pages. There is one obstacle they are facing though, which is updating their pages on a regular basis. Organisations should consider having a designated person to monitor their various pages and offer responses to better relationships with their stakeholders.

Timely Responses

Unlike social media, responses on social networks are easy to track since the messages are between a network of people who share the same views. Conversations are of the same interest. This is much more difficult when it comes to social media. All because communication is one way and there is very less interaction amongst users.

The above mentioned are just some of the major differences I found in my quest to understand the two concepts. Despite them overlapping at times, they are quite different from each other. They can be used parallel to each other to create relationships, which will increase brand awareness for individuals or organisations. If it still not clear what makes the two different here are video clips to help clarify matters.

Social Media in Plain English

Social Networking in Plain English

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