Social Media and Social Networking Sites Do Not Mean The Same Thing. See Why

Social networking sites (SNSs) are interactional platforms used to generate, share and disseminate information among users. Such platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace, have grown in popularity as communication and information sharing tools for internet users all over the world. According to Hussain, Ahmad and Yaseen (2017), these web sites have attracted diverse users worldwide than ever before, resulting in the social media revolution which has created a trend to have a user profile on these sites.

Social media and social networking sites are two terms people use interchangeably but there is a slight difference. This difference has to do with the usage, aim an individual want to achieve and the mechanism of communication. Froehlich (2020) social media is a platform for broadcasting information, whereas social networking is a platform for communicating with one another. “Social media is a communications channel, whereas, in social networking, the communication has a two-way nature (p.1).” The two terms may overlap somehow as they are but interactive in nature and engage the audience. But social networking site seem to involve money community information generation and dissemination than social media. Here is what Froehlich (2020, p1) says again about the two concepts;

Facebook as a social networking site is an example of how the terms can differ and yet somewhat overlap. You register and post your profile, connect with friends and comment on topics in a generally interactive way. On that same social networking site, companies set up a presence and use Facebook as a way to communicate their brand and gain a following. This is distinctly a use case for both social media and social networking.

Froehlich argues that there is a clear difference between the two terms. Social media requires a social network in order to disburse content to those that wish to consume and interact with it. Thus, the social media network is the underlying technology and human connections, while social media focuses strictly on what is being published and consumed within the social networking platform (Froehlich, 2020, p1).

Social media combines a technology component and flexibility in the process of consuming, sharing and collaborating with what information being presented. Thus, social media can best be described as an internet-based way to publish or broadcast digital content that readers can fully interact with. Social media could be used by anyone (Froehlich, 2020, p1). For instance, traditional news media outlets, like CNN and Fox News, as well as businesses and organizaitions publish their own content for digital consumption. Social networking requires a platform also, to function.  Common examples of social networking sites or platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Users join a social network platform and begin connecting or networking with other users. So usage of the platform plays a key role in determining whether the platform is social medium or social network (Froehlich, 2020, p1)

Social Networking is how you use Social Media. Social Networking is the process of opening up lines of communication with customers or potential customers. This may be two way communication between you and another person or a group of people. Social networking gives you the avenue to build continuous relationships that allows you to build trust and loyalty that can be very difficult to create online. Connecting with your peers or customers may come in a variety of methods, a few examples may include, connecting via Linkedin, befriending on Facebook, groups created on social sites such as Facebook, Yahoo, Linkedin (Innovision, 2021, p.1).

The two terms overlap. Essentially, social media makes it possible for users to broadcast your message as broad or specific you wish to be while social networking consists of the process of opening a dialogue and build relationships. As Innovision (2021) concludes, social Networking is how you utilize social media.

Hussain, Ahmad and Yaseen (2017) defined social network site as a web-based service that allows individuals to present a profile within an organized framework, create a list of other users with whom they share a connection, navigate their own list of connections, and view those made by others within the system. According to Boyd and Ellison (2007), social networking sites are profile based websites that allow users to maintain social relationships by viewing, visiting, and sharing their lists of social connections with other members. Singh and Gill (2011) define a social networking site (SNS) as a web-based service that allows individuals to become part of a specific group and establish profiles within a closed system, manage connections with other users and share activities, ideas, interests and events‖. According to Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) state that social networking sites make is possible for users to connect by creating personal information profiles, inviting friends and colleagues to have access to those profiles, and sending e-mails and instant messages between each other.

Social networking sites provide avenue for people who have common interests to create their communities online to always exchange and share ideas, data, information, knowledge and even wisdom through voice, text, images, videos and what not (Hussain, Ahmad & Yaseen, 2017). These sites are used to build personal blogs, personal websites, discussions forums, chat rooms and other social spaces in virtual environment accessible to users for communication and exchange of information. These sites indeed have changed the nature of interaction and collaboration among individuals and organizations (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2013).

According to Aharony (2012), the emergence of social networking is traced to Six.Degrees.com in 1997, followed by others such as LiveJournal, Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. Now, there are special categories of SNSs dealing with different fields of life like business (LinkedIn), education (Classmates), research (ResearchGate), writers (MyCreativeCommunity), books (Shelfari), travel (TravBuddy), religious (MyChurch) and many more (Hussain, Ahmad & Yaseen, 2017). Even there are content specific SNS also like Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (text sharing), Last.FM (music listening habits) and YouTube (video sharing). People, now use social networking sites to connect with others in many ways, including dating, meeting others with common interests and sharing information (Hussain, Ahmad & Yaseen, 2017).

 

References

Aharony, N. (2012). Facebook use in libraries: an exploratory analysis. Aslib proceedings: New information perspectives, 64(4), 358-372.

 

Boyd, D. & Ellison, N.B. (2007). Social network sites: definition, history, and scholarship.

Journal of computer-mediated communication, 13(1), 210-230. Accessed 10-07-2021 from; http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

 

Froehlich, A. (2020). What’s the difference between social media and social networking? Tech target. Accessed 10-07-2020 from;

https://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/answer/Whats-the-difference-between-social-media-and-social-networking

 

Hussain, M., Ahmad, F. & Yaseen, G. (2017). The use of social networking sites by the

postgraduate students. International journal of digital library services, 7(1), 72-84.

InnoVision (2021). Social media vs social networking. InnoVision. Accessed 10-07-2021 from;

https://innovisionbiz.com/2014/02/social-media/social-media-vs-social-networking/

 

Kaplan, A.M. and Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and

opportunities of social media. Business horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

 

Singh, K.P. & Gill, M.S. (2011). Use of social networking sites by the research scholars: a study of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Library herald, 49(3), 229-241.

 

Veletsianos, G. & Kimmons, R. (2013). Scholars and faculty members’ lived experiences in online social networks. The internet and higher education, 16(1), 43-50.

 

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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