Social Networking VS Social Broadcasting

John Hope-Johnstone

Bon ami, the famous salesman Zig Ziglar once said “networking is getting what YOU want by helping others get what THEY want”. This is as true in joining a networking club such as Rotary or Kiwanis, as it is joining a social networking platform such as facebook or Linkedin and making friends virtually.

So here is what confuses me. When does social networking become social media broadcasting? Aston Kutcher and  Ellen DeGeneres together have more Twitter followers than the combined populations of Ireland, Norway and Panama. I would have to say that it must be very difficult to network with that number of people. This is no critique of folks that have thousands of followers, I think it is very impressive and maybe all those followers want out of their relationship is a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, in which case they are getting what they desire.

Personally, I prefer a closer relationship, where I connect with the people that follow me and have a conversation and see how the community can grow. Is this a better way? No, I think both have their place but from a true networking point of view I think the smaller more intimate number of followers containing key influencers who will then in turn influence others in their own circles is the way I prefer to go.

I only have about 250 followers on Twitter, but I have hand-picked most of them because they are people I respect in the industry and if they re-tweet something I say then it means more than 2,000 people most of whom don’t really care.

So in my weird world of social media, I use Micro Blogs as social broadcasting tools (with exceptions). I use the value of re-tweets more than obtaining large numbers of people I don’t really know. What I broadcast about, (usually), is a link to my blog or my facebook fan page or my Web site where I can help people get what THEY want and hence start up a deeper relationship.

Don’t misunderstand, I do have direct contact with people who have become friends on Twitter and using Twitters advnces search I have found people who have had genuine questions about social media strategy and I have tried to point them in the rights direction. However, by and large, I still use the micro blogs more as a broadcasting tool than a networking tool. 

Here is a piece I found in the Portland by Mark Stelzner  He quotes Lon S. Cohen who attempts to provide an explanation in a recent post on the cohcom blog:

“Social Media can be called a strategy and an outlet for broadcasting, while Social Networking is a tool and a utility for connecting with others. 

The difference is not just semantics but in the features and functions put into these websites by their creators which dictates the way they are to be used. There’s also a kind of, which came first, the chicken or the egg kind of argument to be made here. I suspect that Social Networking came first which evolved into Social Media.”

Lon further distinguishes which sites/tools fall into which category.  LinkedIn?  He calls that social networking.  YouTube?  It’s social media.  And what about Twitter and Facebook?

“Twitter and Facebook are Web 2.0 sites with the whole package. They straddle the Social Media and Social Networking divide perfectly.”

Still confused?  Mark Selzner continues to say that there’s perhaps a simpler way to process the divide.  Social Media are tools for sharing and discussing information.  Social Networking is the use of communities of interest to connect to others.  You can use Social Media to facilitate Social Networking.  Or, your can network by leveraging Social Media.  If you’re still scratching your head, be sure to watch this terrific Social Networking 101 video.  Don’t be daunted, because knowing the web, I’m certain we’ll be wrestling with new terminology soon.



  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t media in itself a “[tool] for sharing and discussing information”? As Mike Kasprow says, isn’t all media social?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: