I am an adherent admirer of the way people (especially talented writers and authors) are able conjure and carry elaborate imagery throughout their writing. This is especially true when I am reading a piece of fiction and my mind is able to take over and create an almost movie-like state for the words on the pages to recreate themselves.
Right now, especially in the B2C and B2B realms of business, when it comes to online social networks, I see a lot of misuse of the terms “social media” and “social networking”. I want to do my best to set the record straight on what these terms actually mean to us online marketers.
Breaking it down
The term “networking” (when searched in Google) comes up with these results:
verbgerund or present participle: networking
- 1.connect as or operate with a network.“the stock exchanges have proven to be resourceful in networking these deals”
- link (machines, esp. computers) to operate interactively.“networked workstations”
- interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, esp. to further one’s career.
The idea behind the act of social networking seems to be the idea of building networks of like-minded and influential individuals in a related field or area of interest to, in fact, gain something out of it all.
Social media, on the other hand, is the actual vessel in which all this “networking” takes place. It isn’t an action like networking; it is more of a canvas upon which we paint our content. It is comparable to the way that television and other forms of media convey a message to an audience, and, in a sense, it serves as a medium for that purpose while social networking is born of that.
Can you have one without the other?
Social networking was around long before social media. Keep in mind, these are two different marketing concepts, and beyond concepts alone have two different meanings despite the obvious tendency to implicate one another.
The idea of social networking isn’t new. Churches and schools have potlucks to foster comradeship and to create networks. Presidential campaigns hold dinners to bolster the growth of symbiotic relationships between candidate and contributors. Even on the local scale, the act of social networking in the modern age can be seen yearly up in Cleveland at each annual Content Marketing World event, as contemporary social media marketing experts and content strategists converge on one spot to literally meet face-to-face to share ideas and form new mutual business relationships.
The difference between the two is that social networking involves direct communication and requires conversation between two or more parties. Social media offers channels by which the content we put as marketers and content strategists can be acted upon.
It all comes back to having conversations with our audiences and those who we think can benefit our cause. We can put content out all day on social media sites much like how television networks can blast ads and shows all day long, but if we do not take the time to literally converge on the subject and talk about it with others then we aren’t really networking.
You can post content on your business’s page until you are blue in the face, but until you make the effort to actually use your content as a tool to engage your audience, then once again, you truly aren’t engaging in the act of social networking.
Remember, social media is a noun. Social networking is a verb. To fully reap the benefits of these two as online marketers, you must use your social media content as a starting point to be able to start the action of conversation.
Without conversations there is no such thing as social networking.
Image credit: http://mackinstitute.wharton.upenn.edu/