I made a comment a few months ago regarding the social networking success of Corey and Liam at irishfireside.com. Corey responded and used the term social media. We were talking about the same topic and yet we viewed it in two different ways. That made me think I should be more careful about terminology such as Social Computing, Social Software, Social Networking, and Social Media. All four of these terms seem to be used interchangeably at times. I’ll attempt to give a very simplistic definition of each term.
Social Computing – This term tends to be used for the entire space of social interaction using computing technology.
Social Software – The computer software that enables social interaction.
Social Networking – The act of building, maintaining and utilizing relationships with people facilitated by social software. You can draw these networks with individuals as nodes and lines connecting the nodes depicting relationships between individuals.
Social Media – The information we publish, share, discover and re-purpose using social software. This process leverages our social networks or enhances our networks while sharing information. You can relate the use of the word media to how people refer to traditional vehicles such as television, radio, and newspapers focusing on content, communications and the ability to reach and influence an audience. With Social Media, it is possible to drive deeper relationships and build more effective communities than with traditional media.
Positioning Social Networking and Social Media – I think Social Media is the term that is more in vogue. You also sound less like a computer geek if you talk about Social Media. However, if you are focused on the connections more than the content, Social Networking is more appropriate.
I hope that helps simplify the landscape. In a future post, I’ll position Social Media vs Collaboration. No computer science degree required, just a simple explanation.