It’s called “social” media for a reason

Social media and social networking. The terms are often used interchangeably. But, are they the same? Which should you be using for business? Does it really matter? Well, while the difference between the two is subtle, I think there is one…and it’s worth talking about.

Think about the contexts in which you hear the two terms. When you hear people talk about “social media” isn’t it usual in the context of business or marketing? You don’t see too many business books using the term “social networking.” Conversely, when you hear the term spoken among users of these social platforms, they don’t often say “social media.” The users call it “social networking.” Why is this the case?

Well, I think the key difference between social media and social networking lies in the intent of the people using it. Here’s the bottom line:

  • Social media is about content.
  • Social networking is about conversation.

If you want to broadcast, you’re doing social media. If you want to discuss, you’re doing social networking. The tricky thing, and probably the reason why people confuse the concepts, is that both social media and social networking can be done on the same platforms.

Example of Social MediaExample of Social Networking

Both of these examples are using Twitter as a platform. But, do you see the difference? In the “social media” example, I’m just sending out information for people to consume. In the “social networking” example, I am have a discussion with Robin Sentell (ironically, it is about social networking). With social media, you inform/entertain. With social networking, you connect/engage.

So, the million dollar question is, of course, which of these two should you really be focusing on in business? You have a limited about of time and money to invest in the socialsphere. Should you be doing social media or social networking?

You Need to Do Both

In my opinion, social networking earns you the right to do social media. People aren’t going to pay any attention to the content you are sending out until they believe you are worth paying attention to. Or, to say it in the more eloquent words of Theodore Roosevelt, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

On the other hand, if you really do care about your customers and social contacts, friendly banter only goes so far. You at some point need to start delivering on content. Provide them some useful information.

Do social media. It isn’t a bad thing. Some people say that interaction is everything. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a huge piece of the ongoing relationship and pretty much all that goes into opening the relationship. But, if you want to be seen as a valuable resource, you should start sharing content as well.

What Say You?

What are your thoughts on social media vs. social networking? Have I nailed it…or am I making too big of a deal out of the semantics?

And speaking of semantics…

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