Navigating the Digital Landscape: The Difference Between Social Media and Social Networking

If you’re new to the world of social networking, you might find yourself wondering what the difference between social media and social networking is. Whilst some social media sites can be used for social networking, the two terms are very different.

Stats show that social networking is incredibly important, allowing people to gain connections within their chosen industry, which may help to further their careers. For example, more than 80% of professionals say that networking is crucial to the success of their career, so it’s something you should really consider.

At Embryo, we’re a digital marketing agency based in Manchester, focusing on all aspects of the digital marketing arena. If you decide you’d like to use social media marketing within your campaign strategy, our dedicated team will be delighted to help. Our paid social services can help you to improve your online reach, increasing profits and customer satisfaction as part of the process.

To find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch with us today by completing our online enquiry form. You can also email us at [email protected] or phone us on 0161 327 2635.

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So, How do Social Media and Social Networking Differ?

In order to effectively utilise social media and social networking within your career, you need to understand how the two terms differ. Whilst they’re very different in some respects, there are also some similarities between the two. 

In this section of our blog, we’ll run you through the two terms, giving you greater insight into how they work.

What is Social Media?

Simply put, social media is an online form of communication, in which people converse online. Social media first came to prominence in the 2000s with the emergence of Myspace and Bebo – whilst those sites are now largely defunct, other social media pages have become popular since.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are some of the most well-known social media websites at the moment, amassing millions of users. Whilst many people use these sites to communicate with their friends, they can also be used for digital marketing purposes. You can create pages for your brand online, which may help you to advertise your products/services online, as well as communicate with potential customers.

What is Social Networking?

Social networking is the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships. Whilst networking has been practised for decades, in recent years it’s made the move online, as dedicated social media sites such as LinkedIn allow people to network from their own homes.

Some social media sites can be used for social networking, although you should consider using specific networking sites like LinkedIn to do this.

How Do Social Media and Social Networking Differ?

There are several ways in which social media and social networking differ from one another, although you may also notice some similarities. 

In this next section, we’ll give you an overview of how the two terms vary – this understanding should allow you to use the two systems more effectively within your business.

Overall C0mmunication Style

Whilst social media and social networking sites may look fairly similar at first, the overall communication style is rather different. On typical social media sites (such as Facebook or Instagram), the aim is usually to talk about yourself. There can be an element of ‘showing off’ involved, depending on the person using each site. You’re essentially trying to create further interaction and engagement with your followers and fans, with little communication on the customer side of things.

However, with social networking, the communication style is more even, focusing on both listening and communicating with others. For example, LinkedIn takes more of a collective, collaborative approach than something like Twitter. Two-way communication is also encouraged, in order to further develop relationships.

Of course, when using traditional social media sites, you can still listen to other people and comment on other people’s posts, but there’s generally less of an emphasis on that side of the conversation. 

You need to learn the correct etiquette when you use social networking, as this will increase the overall effectiveness of your communication and networking techniques.

Content and Formatting

Adding content to your online presence is extremely important for any modern business. As well as your website content, you should also think carefully about the copy you’d like to add to your social media pages.

However, what you write on a social networking site (such as Linkedin) will be different to what you write on a conventional social media site. And of course, the content you create should be tailored to each individual social media site.

With social media, you should be creating concise content that isn’t too word heavy, so that your readers don’t get bored. Attention spans on social media sites tend to be very short, so it’s important to ensure everything you upload is short and snappy, getting straight to the point. 

Instead of written content, you may find it more beneficial to add the following things to your social media pages:

  • Videos
  • Images
  • Infographics

However, with social networking sites, longer written content is encouraged. On LinkedIn, you can create a whole host of different post types, including articles and newsletters. 

Your target audience is usually different on social networking sites, as the focus is placed on other people within the industry. Whereas with social media, your target audience tends to be focused on customers and followers of your brand. The people you interact with on social networking pages tend to have more in-depth knowledge about the industry you work in, so deep and informative content/conversations are often preferred. 

Your Goals

One of the main differences between social media and social networking sites is your main goals and objectives when using these sites. 

For example, social media tends to be aimed more towards marketing your brand, as well as the products and services you provide. You’ll usually be communicating with customers, followers and fans, so your content should be tailored towards improving engagement with them.

On the other hand, goals are usually very different with social networking. Instead, the aim is to build relationships and networks with people within your industry, instead of marketing your products/services to them. Instead of promoting your brand to potential customers, you’re promoting discussion and fostering relationships within your network.

Improve Your Online Presence with Embryo

As you can see, there are many factors that differ when comparing social media and social networking. Whilst both types of sites can be useful for promoting your brand, your content and strategy should be individually tailored towards each site you use.

At Embryo, we’re masters of the digital marketing field, able to help you with your paid social plan, as well as a range of other solutions.

If you’d like to get involved, all you need to do is head to our contact page and get in touch with us. We also have a dedicated LinkedIn page if you’d like to network with our team.

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