Digital Marketing Vs. Social Media Marketing: What’s the Difference?

When exploring advertising options for your small business, you will come across many terms, two of the most common of which are “social media marketing” and “digital marketing.” Many sources, you may notice, use these terms interchangeably. The truth is, however, that they’re not one and the same, and proceeding as if they are, could cause you to miss several advertising opportunities.

1. What Is the Difference Between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing?

The key difference between social media marketing and digital marketing is that social media marketing describes a single online marketing tactic. Digital marketing, on the other hand, is an umbrella term for several online marketing tactics, including social media marketing. A digital marketing strategy may consist of email marketing, SEO, blogging and Google advertising in addition to social media marketing. A social media marketing strategy, on the other hand, would entail marketing strictly on social platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

A Breakdown of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing refers to the process of using all appropriate digital channels to promote brand awareness and/or advertise a product or service. Digital marketing can be performed both online and offline and utilizes multiple channels. Below is an overview of which channels you may use to promote your message:

  • Online Digital Marketing Channels: Website marketing, mobile marketing (i.e., Apple Store and Google Play), SEM (search engine marketing, such as PPC and SEO), online banner advertising, video marketing, email marketing and social media marketing are all examples of online digital marketing channels.
  • Offline Digital Marketing Channels: Popular offline digital marketing channels include television, radio, digital billboards, and SMS.

For your digital marketing strategy to be effective it needs to do two things. First, it needs to make use of the most popular digital channels for your particular audience. Attempting to broadcast your message on every available channel may prove to be a waste of your time, money, and resources, as most demographics only use a handful of platforms. Identify the channels your audience uses most and focus on those.

Second, your digital marketing strategy needs to broadcast one cohesive message. This is where the distinction between digital marketing and social media marketing becomes important. If you approach social media marketing as its own entity, you risk creating entirely unique content for your social channels. While you want to be unique in your content marketing, you want to be unique from others — not from your own brand.

When creating your digital strategy, you can come up with a single, unique message. From there, you can determine how to deliver that message for the most impact across your chosen channels. While the delivery may differ between, say, radio and Facebook, the missive will remain the same.

An Overview of Social Media Marketing

At the risk of sounding repetitive, social media marketing is just one component of digital marketing. Social media marketing refers to the use of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and the like to engage your audience, grow your following, increase brand awareness and promote your products or services. There are dozens of ways to engage audiences on social media, including the following:

  • Post fresh, unique content
  • Create and post polls
  • Ask questions, and respond to answers
  • Follow industry influencers and engage on their feeds
  • Live stream behind the scenes and other footage
  • Host contests

The most effective way to use social media, however, is as an extension of your customer service department. According to the stats, 80% of consumers surveyed use social media to engage with brands. Another 54% said they prefer social media for customer service over email or phone. Of consumers who complain on social media, 60% said they expect a response within an hour. If this is not reason enough for you to use social media for customer service, know that it is 83% cheaper to resolve a complaint through social media than it is via any other means.

2. Why Make Social Media Apart of Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing, when used properly, offers numerous benefits. Before we delve into those, though, consider how many people use social media.

As of April, of this year, 72% of the American public uses some type of social media. As many as seven in 10 social media users login to their favorite platforms at least once a day. When logged in, the average user spends at least two hours and 24 minutes online. The bottom line is, people use social media, and they use it often. This should be your primary motivation to make social media marketing an integral component of your digital marketing strategy. Some other reasons to do so include the following:

  • Social media helps your reach your customers quickly.
  • With social media, you don’t necessarily have to create your own content — you can share content created by others and still achieve the same results.
  • On social media, you can tweet influencers, join conversations, ask questions, and host contests. In short, you can get your name out there.
  • With social media, you can post as much or as little as you like, though you should find a happy/medium that works for your audience.

Most importantly, social media can be used to bolster your other digital marketing efforts.

If you’re still thinking of terms of digital marketing versus social media marketing, remember that social media is just a single component of a well-rounded digital marketing strategy. For help making the most of your social platforms — and to integrate them seamlessly into your digital marketing plan — contact to discuss building a custom strategy today.