What are the differences between Chat, Forum and Social Network?

Since the Internet has entered the daily lives of millions of people, we have completely revolutionized the way we relate to others.

Once upon a time many things that today we take for granted did not exist at all. There was no reviews on amazon for purchases, no facebook to get information about the pretty girl glimpsed at the university, and even tripadvisor to find the perfect farm for a trip out of port the weekend.

In short, until recently everything was different and the only way to get information was to relate to others directly, ask around opinions and compare all possible solutions.

Ok, many nostalgic detractors of technological progress say that all this is negative, “it was better when it was worse, internet deteriorates social relationships and compromises the ability of individuals to interact with each other, etc. But it’s not like that at all!

In reality, the network is a very strong means of social aggregation, and the ever-increasing number of Chat, Forums and Social Networks demonstrate that, if used intelligently, they can achieve results that were unexpected until a few years ago. But what differentiates these three types of social platforms? Today we will try to provide an answer to this question.

Objectives and different goals

Anyone who recognizes the enormous potential of the internet knows perfectly how important it is to know the many different tools contained in this boundless “toolbox”. In fact, the comparison fits perfectly: just like in a toolbox every type of accessory meets a different need, so it happens on the internet. Every software, app or site has a different underlying goal. Chat rooms, social networks and forums,  as they may have similar functionality, have the main purpose of meeting different needs.

They are certainly all tools to communicate with other people on the Internet, but they are used in different ways. While chats let you communicate with people in real time, forums are better suited for discussions where not all participants are online at the same time. Speech aside for the Social, which instead are real entertainment platforms in which you interact with people who share interests and passions similar to their own.

Chat Room

The chat rooms are an asynchronous method of online communication, meaning that conversations take place in real time with all participants present in the communication channel.

They are certainly one of the very first online communication tools and offer the possibility to exchange text messages and sometimes images. The concept of chatroom has evolved over time, however, continues to identify a virtual representation of a physical space: a real “room” in fact.

The peculiar characteristics of a chat room are the following:
– Only people in the room can participate in the conversation
– Everyone can see who is in the room
– At any time you can enter or exit the room


Forums are an instrument of asynchronous communication, because the discussions take place at a much slower pace because not all the participants are always on-line, in fact visitors can log in and answer after hours or even days.

The forums are like social mixers, where everyone is at the same level, and each user can provide valuable information on a given topic.

The contents are organized and schematized by theme, this to facilitate a quick consultation even after months after the closing of the conversation by a moderator.

The discussions are therefore longer-lived and the contents are archived and scanned by search engines. The forums have an integrated search function, through which you can find discussions or messages related to certain keywords.

Social Network

In business lunches, during large business meetings/conferences, usually a table is assigned to each table with the main theme/interest written that should entice the guests to choose to sit there. People interested in that topic, willingly occupy one of the places, encouraged by the opportunity to relate to people with common interests.

Here, the social work exactly like this. The concept of “interest” is at the base of the functioning of facebook or instagram for example.

Social networks allow users to organize their relationships and interactions around certain interests. People who know each other (or who are interested in getting to know each other) are in fact connected by a variety of common interests.

For this reason, social media differ from Chat and Forum, offering a much wider but different service.

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