The Difference Between an Online Community and a Social Network

Posted by David / on 02/03/2010 / 2 Comments

People get these confused and I think it is a good distinction to make.

The differences between social networks and on line communities are listed below.
Social Network                                                

A social network is a social structure made             
of nodes (which are generally individuals or
organizations) that are tied by one or more specific
types of interdependency, such as values, visions
ideas, financial exchange, friendship or trade.

Large and distributed with many nodes (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
Social ties = weak
If you are NOT there, you probably ARE NOT missed

Online community

A virtual community, e-community or online community is a group of people that primarily interact via the computer for social, professional, educational or other purposes.

Smaller, generally focused on a specific topic or goal (Community of practice, learning community, project community)
Social ties = strong
If you are NOT there, you ARE missed

I would say that our group is a community but Groupsite is a social network.



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  • Jim says:

    That is a good distinction to make. "If you are NOT there, you probably ARE NOT missed" That is a great question to divide the two.
    Humor for both types of groups:
    Q. One thing you can give away....and keep. A. Your word

    February 8, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

  • Shaun says:

    David - I love your distinction of being missed or not. That is spot on. The only correction I would suggest as it relates to, we are not a social network. is simply a platform that allows our clients to build their own Groupsites. 80% of these are private, professional online communities. The other 20% have been buuilt by our clients to create their own social networks but we are not one ourselves. Hope that helps.


    March 30, 2010 at 7:05 AM | Permalink


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