Social Networks vs. Social Media in Digital Marketing

Marketing sign and books on shelf

Is there any difference between Social Networks and Social Media and how this should reflect on your strategies in Digital Marketing? This is an interesting topic which we are going to discuss today.


Is Social Network same as Social Media with regards to digital marketing?

It sometimes happens digital marketing strategies applied to Social media, to be unsuccessful and incomplete, because they were designed and built for social networks, but are not suitable for social media.

Knowing the difference between Social Network and Social Media is crucial because it allows marketers to choose the correct strategies applicable either to social media or social networks.


At present both terms are often mistaken, but I will try to clarify the differences between Social networks, Social channel and Social media.


The term “Social Network” refers to Social Networks, which are part of Social Media.

Social Networks are a group of individuals with some relationship or interest in common, who share information through a medium or social communication platform, known as Social Media.

Let’s make it shorter. See what the bolded text reveals:

Social Networks -> a group of individuals-> who share information through a medium->known as Social Media

In other words:

Social Network represents a group or groups of individuals , who share information through a medium known as Social Media.

Social Channel (aka social media channel)is not the same as Social Networking either. Social channels (also social media channels) doesn’t only represent well-known social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or Facebook but also other social media, such as blogs or forums.

Social Media channels as their name suggests are part of Social Media, while the social networks are one of the channels of Social media.

The term “Social Media” represents a set of tools, platforms, applications, and online media that aim to facilitate the interaction, communication, relationship, and distribution of content among the users.

Check the below visual diagram by Don Crowther in order to understand better the relationship between social media, social channels, and social networking.

The social media landscape
Social media landscape [Author: Don Crowther ]
I would suggest you have a look onto the Conversation Prism by Brian Solis, inspired by the Social Media Starfish, created by Rob Scoble.

What is Social Media?

Social media are the platforms on which people and communities socialize and interact, share ideas, news, and interests in common. They increase the impact of word of mouth and also make it measurable and, therefore, profitable through digital marketing.

Unlike other traditional media, where a large broadcaster generates information, in social media, the content is created mostly by the community itself, and it is precisely their participation that makes users be social media. If there is no interaction or participants, then there is not a social medium.

 Amongst most used types of social media are the microblogsthe blogs, the mobile social media, and social networks.


What are the characteristics of a Social Media strategy?

Among the principal characteristics of the social media marketing strategy are the accessibility, the interaction and the audience.

In addition to using Social Networks for promoting a brand or publicize a product, Social Media marketing strategy includes blogs and different formats for each type of audience, since there are different audiences for every niche.

For instance, some users prefer to read, while others prefer visual information – i.e. video clips, images, infographics, etcetera. For this reason, it is essential to exploit and cover each medium to reach broader audiences.

Social Media marketing strategies use measurement tools that help to control the approach and provide the necessary information to know if the tactics used are appropriate.


Image : How to Build a successful marketing strategy
Building a successful marketing strategy [Image: Shutterstock]

How Social Networks work for Marketing?

Building a presence only on Social Networks is often not enough because it leaves the marketing process incomplete. Social Networks should be considered as an intermediate point before it is necessary to create the content to share and interact.

Building a successful Social Media strategy

The process of building a Social Media strategies workflow is shared below.

1.Creating useful content

The first and most crucial part includes the process of creating valuable and attractive content. Creation of content includes articles published on blogs which also helps the marketed targets to be found by the search engines.


2.Sharing the content

As a second step, the created content has to be promulgated via Social Networks, which allows the interested members of your communities to click and get directed to your website. The latter generates traffic and increases the visibility of the marketed targets-websites, blogs or company web pages, etc.

Once the person reads the article and it seems interesting, it makes it viral through Social Networks, now becoming part of their database of people interested in their topic.


3.Using various types of content 

Many marketers often underestimate this part. Not all people digest information in the same way – some prefer to read, others to watch, and some others to listen.

For this reason, it is vital to work in audio and video multimedia formats to improve the users’experience and facilitate the audience in accessing the provided content.


Image of Various types of content for marketing
Using various types of content must be part of every digital marketing strategy


4.Consistency with the Strategy

In the end, if all these processes are maintained consistently, it is very likely that that person already knowing the product or company from other platforms or social websites will approach to get in touch.



Wrong understanding of both terms Social media and Social Networking and the difference between them could lead to a mistake of creating wrong or not suitable Digital Marketing strategies, which will not work since they are incomplete, based only on plan useful just for Social Networks, for instance.

For a Digital Marketing strategy to be successful and to work, marketing specialists should be able to understand what is Social Media and what is the difference between social media and social networking.

Social Networks are only part of Social Media.

Thus, by integrating the different platforms and identifying the target audience, digital marketing tactics will make sense and will work.


Do you want to read more? Check these articles: 

The Best Social Media Channels for Any Business Marketing
The Ultimate List of Social Media Management Tools
The disputed origins of the term “Social media”


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1 comment

The Ultimate Social Media Channels for Marketing | UpMixed March 29, 2019 at 09:59

[…] available ways of creating, sharing, collaboration and interaction in a community or communities. The social media channels are not only the marketing channels but they include the various social networking sites, the […]

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