You Are What You Eat: Optimizing Content ConsumptionQuality? Or Quantity? Content Marketing Struggles with the Right Path Forward3 Ways to Take Brand Advocacy to the Next Level with User-Generated Content5 Reasons Why Your Content Marketing Isn't Working
Let's Measure Social Media ROI in a Way That Isn't StupidTo Grow Your Social Marketing Budget, Determining ROI Is a Critical Job SkillWe Need to Rethink Our Definition of Engagement
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Change Agent Survey: Passion, Skill Set, and Persistence Lead to Career GrowthSandy Carter's 6 Social Business Lessons to Learn from Candy Crush5 Tips for Creating a Company Culture that Connects with Your Sweet Spot ClientsWhy Leadership Should Be a Collaborative Exercise
8 Internet User Statistics Every Small Business Should Know AboutCan't Find Time for Social Media? This Approach Will Help6 Ways to Turn Your Small Business into a Media Hub
- Social Organization
Beyond Engagement: Why Advocacy Is Always About the PeopleFormer IBM Senior Advisors Launch Brands Rising to Build Employee Advocacy ProgramsPerformance and Risk Management Through Social Media TrainingEmployee Advocacy Summit: Advocate Stories from the Field
- Customer Service
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Social Network vs. Online Community: What Is the Difference?
Posted on July 25th 2014
I think it’s fair (although somewhat annoying and unfortunate) to say “social media” as a buzzword is here to stay. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn… what is what and where does it all end? With everyone from executives and professionals to college graduates and soccer moms throwing the word around, I thought it was about damn time someone do some explaining.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Underneath the large, all-encompassing term of social media, there are two types or sub-categories - Social Networks being the first and Online Communities the second. Both have their perks and common uses, but what really are they and who should be using them? Here’s the breakdown.
Social networks, in the simplest of terms, are much like your offline social networks. We all have groups of friends, relatives, coworkers and acquaintances that we speak to and see on a regular basis, right? This is the key to Social Networks – they revolve around a group of people you already know or have already met. Social networks are inherently unique to each and every person who has one for this very reason.
So when it comes down to it, what makes a social network a social network is the fact that you have already made each of the relationships. Your preestablished connections have been built one by one, directly by you and an online social network is where those connections can have a place to live collectively. Once you wrap your mind around this, you can start putting social media platforms into their respective categories. It should now be easy to understand why LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace are considered Social Networks.
The biggest difference between social networks and online communities is that communities form out of groups of people from all different backgrounds and histories. From a social and anthropological standpoint, these are the most interesting to study because they consist of people who probably have never met yet are held together by a common interest or goal. People join online communities for all sorts of reasons – perhaps they share a preference for similar things or a similar lifestyle.
Furthermore, just about anything can bring a group of people together but it’s what makes each person stay that is polarizing. There are two things that compel online community members to stick around:
1. The urge to contribute to the community
2. The perception of benefitting from the community
In addition to compartmentalizing and retaining groups of relative strangers, online communities can also overlap with each other and even nest within one another. Is it easy to see now why Yelp, Wikipedia, Follr, Digg, Flickr, blogs and YouTube are online communities? People who love the dining experience congregate on Yelp. Those who are proponents of the internet-dictionary-search engine movement use Wikipedia. Anyone can create an online community for their topic or interest on platforms like Follr. In short, these are online platforms where people with a common interest or purpose interact.
In summary, the biggest difference in social networks and online communities is the origination of the connection. If it was made offline, likely you’re dealing with a social network. If the connection was made online, that’s definitive of an online community.
1. Bound together by pre-established interpersonal connections
2. Each connection has his or her own social network
3. Characterized by a spider web-like “network” structure
1. Bound together by a common interest or topic
2. ANY person can be a part of ANY community
3. Characterized by a more complex overlapping and “nested” structure.
Hope this helps! Let me know in the comments section below if I left anything out you might like to understand more clearly. For more quick info, visit Community Managers.