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Social media marketing vs. content marketing: Know the difference

The terms “social media marketing” and “content marketing” are often used interchangeably. While they do have some similarities, they are two different digital marketing channels with some important differences. Each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a look at how these two popular marketing channels measure up.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing got its start around ten years ago with the advent of Facebook. Since then dozens of other social media platforms have cropped up, some popular and others not so much. Besides Facebook, some of the other notable platforms are Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube. What all of these have in common is that they are online communities where businesses and consumers can interact in a casual way. Businesses quickly learned that when using the social media channel, self promotion simply didn’t work. Rather, social media became a way for businesses and consumers to communicate with each other, typically on the consumers’ terms. It also became a great way for businesses to seek valuable feedback from customers and to handle customer service interactions.

Content marketing

Content marketing has a lot of overlap with social media marketing. That’s because content marketing is, simply put, the creation and sharing of content to promote a brand. Content includes surveys, videos, and text that can be posted on any number of social media platforms. Essentially, businesses that are doing social media marketing are probably doing a bit of content marketing as well. Content marketing isn’t necessarily a new thing, but it is a newer term for an old practice. The governing idea behind content marketing is that businesses can create content to educate and entertain consumers so that when they have a need, they will look to the business that provided information regarding it. Content can take many forms from videos, to blog articles, to ebooks. As with social media marketing, self promotion doesn’t work well with content marketing. Publishing reliable, unbiased information does.

Integrated marketing

The big mistake many businesses make is thinking they need to choose one or the other. In actuality, digital marketing efforts are most successful when multiple channels such as social media and content marketing are integrated. The two together can be more effective than either can be alone. For instance, social media platforms are a great outlet for various forms of content. A business might create instructional videos and choose to upload them on a youtube channel. Or a business might use Facebook to conduct surveys and post informational content. On the other hand, other content marketing efforts such as a company blog can be used to drive consumers to a business’s social media profile(s). When these two popular marketing channels are integrated, they benefit each other and contribute to each others’ success.

If you’re thinking about which marketing strategy to use, consider a strategy that will combine the best from social media marketing and content marketing.

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