Social Media vs. Social Networking: What's the Difference?

I have also often heard "social networking" and "social media" interchanged. I think the important element to consider is "marketing." The way I look at social media, it is a channel for marketing much like any other medium. Largely, social media marketing is about branding, visibility, reputation management, sales, etc... while social networking is all about connecting, sharing information and collaborating. Connecting with friends on Facebook is a form of social networking. Connecting with a brand on Facebook is a form of social media marketing for that company. My colleague at Perficient, Mike Porter, is very experienced in the social media and social networking space, particularly when it comes to social collaboration tools such as those provided for the enterprise by companies like IBM and Microsoft. He weighed in recently in a blog post here. I agree with his analysis. I think it's important that as both of these continue to grow and evolve, we should use the correct terminology to help distinguish between what is inherently a more internal, private or personal connection (social networking) and what is a more business directed activity (social media marketing). What do you think?

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So I’ve seen a lot of people change up how they use these two terms.  In my minds, they are very different although the base technologies used as people going about networking and working the social media may have a huge overlap.

social media: the use of tools like twitter, facebook, blogs, etc to both monitor how your company is doing with your customers and to market your company.

social networking: the use of web 2.0 tools like twitter, facebooks, jive, sharepoint, lotus connections, wikis, blogs, etc to keep up with colleagues, share information, and find information.  This is a natural evolution to the social network you probably already have when you call people, engage people around the water cooler, send emails etc.  These new technologies make it easier to find people and find answers even if your legacy social network is small.

As people continue to make use of web 2.0 tools to to do both, I think we’ll see a maturation of thought around it and of additional tools like social analytics to measure both the quality of social media efforts as well as how a company is using a social network and who is important to that network.  Can you imagine a time when HR will use a social analytics tool to look up a person before they allow a counter-offer to be made in order to keep him or her?