There is much debate about the differences between these two variations on our favorite pastime. 4 out 5 American Active Internet Users frequent Social Networking sites on a regular basis (at least weekly). The real question is…if we are on the Social Networking Sites…what are we doing and what is Social Media? The main difference as illustrated in a post from Social Media Today, Social Media is an opportunity to “transmit, or share information with a broad audience” while Social Networking is “an act of engagement”.
For me, I see opportunity and challenge in both the concept of broadcasting my opinion but also building and strengthening relationships (both business and personal) through the use of the Social Web. What is all to often missed by businesses and individuals is that there needs to be a balance struck between the two practices. If you are standing atop your soap box, you may get people to listen for a while…but if the message is always about YOU…well really…YOU are not that interesting.
Engagement is the key. A two way conversation. Building trust and interacting with those who actually want to hear what you have to say…that is the true power of the Social Web. When I made the move from the Old Krispy’s Rants that was based really on my Name…well I found it very cathartic that I was no longer “broadcasting ME” but letting my Rants be seen for what they are…MY OPINION!
The very nature of the Social Media vs Social Networking debate seems to be centered around the types of Social Networks used. Facebook is very personal, Twitter is built to broadcast, LinkedIn at its heart is about well the ME factor in all of us. These Social Networks are built to display our wants, likes and desires and the connections that come from them become the extended Network that allows us to SHARE and that sharing is key. If I share an interesting piece of information that someone else thinks is also interesting then they share it to…their network becomes interlinked with mine. But what makes this act become so powerful is when that act of Sharing becomes a way to connect the two networks.
For anyone trying to get your feet wet in the world of Social Media…first build value. Know what you want out of the “Broadcast” so that you build an opportunity to extend your ability to communicate from one Network to another. From one medium to another. If you have a great message, that message will extend beyond just a simple Retweet, Like or Share and become a source of engagement that will either add to profits, extend your network or build trust in what you have to say.