DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL NETWORKING AND SOCIAL MEDIA – THE WHATSAPP STEREOTYPE


When it comes to social media everyone think they are in the know of all that goes up and down, some people simply assume from there browsers or spend time on online junks and some make premonitions out of what they know and do on their personal social networking pages. The reality of those who bank on premonitions sometimes outweighs the facts that exist in this electronic stratum of life.



I’d been in an office argument on social media and my colleagues who just see things from the superficial and others who have never sought to know about the intricacies and underlining of social media stood me up to a stiff brawl of words as regards new media and the realities of social media. The main crux of the argument was my position that WhatsApp as a digital medium should and can now be seen or addressed as a social media platform.


The above statement gave me a tough day as i sought to convince my beloved colleagues that the dynamics of Digital media, Social Media and New Media is based on the principle that nothing is stereotyped and nothing remains the same from the way it was a previous night. As a new day heralds; a new App, concept, idea and medium may have berthed or an old App or Concept may have evolved.


Somewhere within our chat and argument, I found out the dilemma with my colleagues was that like many people out there they couldn’t differentiate the difference between Social Networking and Social Media.


In lay terms, SOCIAL MEDIA simply should mean ANY digital medium that allows you COMMUNICATE and INTERACT SOCIALLY.......  It is again ANY medium that allow you to create, exchange and share Text, Visual Image, Video and Audio while leveraging on the Web 2.0 platform.


Social Networks or Social Networking Sites on the other side typifies Apps, websites or web-based pages that enable social media activities as defined above.


From my definitions, Social Networks wholly depends on Social Media principles of connecting and sharing text, images, videos and audio and all these are done INSTANTLY. These WhatsApp supports.


Now my question is, does WhatsApp allow you connect with people while you share text, images, video and audio?


If your personal WhatsApp does this and your answer is YES, then WhatsApp is a social media platform.


But my colleagues thought otherwise, they preferred to call it an INSTANT MESSAGING platform. But my argument is, it usually was an Instant Messaging platform but as soon as it began to allow more (Social Messaging) it seized to be only an Instant Messaging platform it became a Social Media Platform.


One of the fundamental facts and dynamics about Social Media is that it is a platform that allows whatever message you are sending happen INSTANTLY and a reality about Instant Messaging is that they are not social e.g. SMS, MMS. When an instant messaging platform becomes social it must be accorded that space.



Now, the difference between Social Media and Social Network is just like that of the relationship between a King and his errand men. Social Media being the King, the base, the platform that holds the aces and therefore is the principle on which all its activities are being sighted while the social networks are his errand men who make use of the kings paraphernalia (Principle & Ideology) to disseminate its message.


Today, WhatsApp allows us have a PROFILE, share STORIES, share STATUS MESSAGE; exchange FREE TEXT, IMAGE, AUDIO and VIDEO same as you can do on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


WhatsApp also gives us the option of having a Mobile App, Web Version and Desktop App. What again does Social Media Offer that WhatsApp does not offer?


If Instagram could be seen as a social medium platform and it does not completely allow instant messaging on the web browsers just like WhatsApp then WhatsApp and BBM which are Mobile based and allows connections and sharing should be seen as a social media platform just like Instagram is.


To all Digital and Non-Digital Natives out there, join me to kill the stereotype that continuously sinks WhatsApp as only an instant messaging platform. Just like BBM, WhatsApp may not be a social networking (site) yet, but it is a social medium, it is so because it has borrowed and currently leverages on the social media tenets for its current existence.


To marry the idea of Social Media and Instant Messaging is to say the world has a new digital ideology that could be called SOCIAL MESSAGING. Social Messaging keenly expresses a platform that offers us two opportunities which are: Social Media + Instant Messaging. In all, be it WhatsApp Messenger, IMO, Skype, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, Blackberry Messenger (BBM) or Telegram Messenger SOCIAL MESSAGING platform are SOCIAL MEDIA platforms.


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