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What's the difference between social media and social networking?

Many people view the terms social media and social networking as interchangeable. UC expert Paul McMillan offers his definitions of the two terms and advice on their proper use.

What's the difference between social media and social networking? These terms seem to be used interchangeably, but I want to know how to use them correctly.

Like many new technologies, the discrete definitions are hard to come by. I generally refer to "social media" as what the second word in its name implies -- a form of media. Essentially, 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.

Even with the description I have just given, there are nuances that can be pointed out. As an example of how they can differ and yet somewhat overlap, Facebook is a social networking site. 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.

Have a question for Paul McMillan? Send an e-mail to editor@searchunifiedcommunications.com.

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