As a frequent user of the World Wide Web, I occasionally observe there is a clear misuse of popular terms such as Social Networks, Social Networking, Social Channel and Social Media. Apparently, they are often employed as interchangeable words, but are they really synonyms?
The main topic of this post is to explain the main differences between social networks, social media channels, and social media.
We will discuss also the meaning of network and networking.
What is Networking?
What is a Social Network?
What is Social Media?
What is the Difference between Social Network and Social Media?
Social Media vs Social Network vs Social Channel.
Final thoughts: Social Media or Social Network?
What is Networking?
The process, or processes of exchange of information or services among groups, individuals or institutions are called (online) Networking.
Online Networking Example.
The Internet is a public global network consisting of other networks and these networks are interconnected.
What is a Social Network?
Social Network Definitions
Now it is the time to mention that Social Network can be of either On-line or Off-line type.
The first denotation for a Social network (imagine an offline social network) is: “A network of personal correlations or community-based interactions.”
The second meaning of Social network (now imagine an online social network) is: “A dedicated web app or site, which validates end users to exchange ideas and information with each other on the Internet by means of sharing mixed types of information and data. The data includes images, videos, blogs, files, comments, etcetera.”
The participation in online Social Networks and access to them is possible by using computers or mobile technologies such as phones or tablets.
As these definitions, the term Social networking can be used for describing two, to some extent different things:
Social Network as a Social Structure (Social relations)
Online Social Network as a Web Site or Web Application (Web App).
Social Network Examples
See below examples of the two meanings of Social Networking as a term.
Example for Social Network as a Social Structure
This image represents an offline Social Network as a social relation between an individual and different circles or different groups of people, which are part of the life of the same individual.
Example for Social Network as a Networking Site or Web Application (Web App).
This image represents Social Network as a Website or Computer application, which allows communication between different people by using a mobile device or computer.Here you can see a list of all popular social networking sites.
Network vs. Networking
There is a difference between the terms network and networking and here is the place to mention it. The difference between networking and network is:
- Networking refers to creating, maintaining and other related activities involving a network.
- A Network is a group of computing devices connected together to interact with each other.
What is Social Media?
Social Media Definitions
The literal meaning of Social Media will be presented right now.
Let’s not forget Media is plural for Medium.
Taking into account Media is plural for Medium, a Social Media is a combination between websites and web or computer software which allows individuals to exchange ideas and a variety of information, not limited to opinions and observations, notes, news, digital videos and photos, and many others.End users can participate in this collaboration and use Social Media services if they use a mobile device. Such a device can be a phone, tablet or computer.
Social media makes possible people to share information on the internet by using their mobile devices or computers, to interact with others and to participate in Online Social Networking.
But does it mean if no Social Media there will be no Social Networking?
When there was no Internet, Social networking was still existing, but in different forms.
If there is no Social Media, then there will be no Online Social Networks.
This is because the medium for their existence will not be available. However, bear in mind there still be existing offline Social Networking.
See image Social Network as a Social Structure above.
Social Media Examples
The below illustration elucidate what is a Social Media and how it is related to Social Networks, Web 2.0 standard, and the Internet (the World Wide Web).
As explained above a Social Media is the synthesis between websites, networks and computer software, which lets users create digital information (express themselves in different forms) and share this data on the Internet by using computer-mediated technologies.
The Difference between Social Network and Social Media
The evolution of online Social networks by connecting an individual or user with other individuals or social groups is possible due to the existence of Social media.
Web 2.0 internet-based interactive applications represent Social Media.
They include user-generated content such as videos, comments, images, blogs, tagging, podcasts, microblogs, and other digital data. Online Social networking is an example for Web 2.0 (Web 2.0 standard refers to websites that emphasize user-generated content, interoperability and the ease of use and this is what is next.).
Social media is the medium for generation and further development of online Social Networks.This is just before the end, so stay with me for one more minute.
Social Media vs Social Networks vs Social Channels
In order to make things even more confusing, I have included also the term Social Channel (aka Social Media Channel) at the end. I did this because social channels is another popular and frequently used term that is often misused.
In another post related to social networking, Martin Bell explained what are social channels, so I will not keep you busy for a long time. I would like to summarize something that has been already said.
Social Media vs Social Channel
Social media channels are part of Social media.
Social Media vs Social Network
Social Network vs Social Channel
Social Networking is one of the Social Media Channels.
Final Thoughts about Social Media vs. Social Network
Today is very difficult to imagine life without Social networking, a Social Media or Internet. This is normal, considering the constant evolution of communication technologies and standards in communications.
Social networking would be possible even if Social Media was not available, but it would exist in other forms. The online Social Networking, though will not be possible without the existence of Social media.