Your first reaction to this question might be “Nothing”. The terms “Social Media” and “Social Network” are often used interchangeably. When we use these terms, we generally mean an online platform that lets us connect with other people and share information with them, no matter how far they are from us. While this is true, it only covers a certain aspect of online social platforms.
These platforms have become an important part of our everyday lives. Thanks to the progress of technology, there are dozens of different social apps, all with their own distinct features that let us communicate with each other in unique ways. This applies to businesses too. By building an active presence on these platforms, brands keep a close connection with their customers and try to find new leads. The way they leverage these platforms makes the difference between social media and social networking.
Table of contents
The word “media” can give us a glimpse of the true nature of what we’re trying to define. Media is means of communication through broadcasting and publishing. There’s a sender of information and a receiver. Think about traditional outlets like TV stations, newspapers, or magazines. The connection between the publisher and the audience is one-way.
When you add “social”, you add a whole other aspect to this concept: Interaction. The same connection exists here, but the audience has powerful options available that could change the way they consume the content. People at the other end of the line don’t just see or hear content. They can interact with it.
This interaction is possible thanks to technology. Internet-based platforms bring the opportunity to find, share, and comment on content with great flexibility. You can find what you want on almost any device and there are tons of social platforms to try out. The important thing is, although readers now have the option to engage with the content, the publisher still uses these platforms as podiums.
It’s about how you use it
Social platforms provide different levels of interaction. Some are full-fledged social networks, like Facebook. And some are online publications that let users interact with the content to some extent. In this type, there’s not much room to have conversations with the content maker. Whichever it is, brands only use them to talk, not listen.
Companies use platforms as social media to maintain a steady flow of helpful, informative content that users can engage with. They could have different goals for this usage like increasing brand perception, generating leads, directing readers to other channels, or encouraging them to take an action. Regardless of the objective, they don’t actively engage in conversations with them.
What about networking?
Social networking is all about using social platforms to the fullest to establish close, two-way relationships with people. The more options the platform gives you to engage with your audience, the better. The goal is to expand your network, so the communications are bidirectional or even multidirectional.
When using social platforms for networking, it’s important to talk and listen. You’ll build a strong network of fans by constantly engaging with them. You ask questions, take feedback, start heated discussions, and create an open, trustworthy image of your brand.
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are the perfect platforms for this. They provide both businesses and users with multiple options to establish meaningful relationships.
Is it really that different?
It’s easy to mistake social media with social networking since they could overlap. Specifically, brands could use social apps for both of them. From a marketing point of view, it’s important to distinguish the two. Adopting each one in your strategies means choosing a different tone, content type, and marketing objectives.
For social media, you need to keep the audience engaged. You should grab their attention with interesting and helpful content. Informative articles, exciting photos, videos, and infographics can be of great help.
On the other hand, social networking requires active engagement with people. You have to drive them into conversations. Giving followers a hot topic to talk about, asking questions, and running polls are the way to go for social networking. Remember that you need to participate in conversations as well.
Xino team appreciates your attention!