Social Media Vs Social Networking: What’s the Difference?

In our growing culture, technology is thriving, giving way to amazing advancements. Internet technologies have improved communication one hundred fold, allowing people from all over the world and all walks of life to engage in discourse.

Social media and social networking have had some profound effects on the way businesses are run and how people interact with one another. Although most use the terms “social media” and “social networking” interchangeably, there are some distinct, subtle differences. Let’s take a look at these differences.

Defining the Terms

Simply put, social media is a means of transmitting or sharing information with a general audience. As long as you have a computer connected to the Internet you can partake in social media. Everyone has the opportunity to create and distribute information. Consider the concept of media in the past as dominated by TV, newspapers, magazines, and so on. Social media broke away from those static forms to create a real sense of interactivity.

Social networking is an act of engagement and connection. Groups of like-minded people with common interests as well as people with totally different world views come together through various social networking sites to build relationships through that online community.


Both social media and social networking encourage communication, but the style of communication is a bit different. In the world of social networking, communication is a two-way street. People may congregate around a central topic of interest to share in their similar experiences, but it is all much more akin to a simple conversation. Through those conversations, users develop relationships.

Social media is more of a communication channel, like TV or radio. It’s a format meant to convey messages and information. Social media isn’t a place you visit but simply a means of distributing information.

Responses and Effort

Between the two, social media is hard work. Unless your business is already well-established, you can’t create an overnight following nor can you automate conversations. Getting into social media is a continuous task.

Social networking is direct communication between parties, often leading to much richer, personal conversations. Even better, your network grows the more you interact. Creating a “social network” does not take nearly as much time, though you still have to invest a great deal of time with that network.

Blurring the Lines

Twitter and Facebook-probably the most popular social platforms out there today-have made discerning between social media and social networking a bit difficult because they essentially make use of both. They perfectly straddle the line between the two, allowing users to have unique, personal conversations while also sharing interactive information.