Basically, social media refers to a social network for sharing information, whereas social network is basically a channel for communicating with others. Social networks adds quite a technological element – and flexibility – to the way in which a user interacts, shares and consumes what’s being presented. With this said, there are some differences between these two channels that would be discussed. The discussion below touches on a few of them.
Social Media As a Social Network Social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare provide a host of different ways in which users can communicate, share and connect. Social media networks provide the means to create a personal connection through building strong relationships, influencing people and creating lasting impressions. While these platforms provide for a wide range of interacting, it’s safe to say that the majority of users will not take the time to really think before they click, respond or share.
Social Networks As Web App Social networks provide users the ability to connect and share their content through the use of a web app. Social networks are used mainly as a means to share and connect with others – not for building massive organizations or influencing consumers. This means that web apps are typically used to enhance the overall experience of using the social network. An example of a web app would be Facebook’s fan page.
Social Media As a Service Social media services provide users with a highly customized experience. Users interact with media that is chosen and then shared by the user based on his/her interests, demographics and personalization. These personalized experiences provide a unique and richer means to engage. Social networking sites like Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook are good examples of this type of service.
Platform as a Service Platforms include software applications designed to run on a specific operating system and browser platform. Platform platforms provide the bridge between user interactivity and the delivery of media. Examples include Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows, Safari and Google Chrome on Macs and Linux. There are no definitive rules to follow when developing a social network platform. However, most experts advise that developers choose a platform that allows easy portability.
Social Media As a Service Social networking platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare are all social media as a service (SaaS) operations. That is, users sign up for an account and then login to use their account. They can then post updates, send messages and collaborate with other users. Social media as a service business opportunity might allow you to develop a product that you would not otherwise have the time or resources to develop if you developed it internally. Additionally, because social media features a lower cost per sale than other types of marketing, you could stand to save quite a bit of money if you develop a top notch application using this model.