What is the difference between social media marketing and digital marketing? It is not uncommon to use the two terms interchangeably, even though they do not refer exclusively to the same thing. Here is the difference:
- Digital marketing uses online technologies to create campaigns that appear on a phone, computer, tablet, or other devices. Video creation, search engine optimization, social media, and online advertisements are all examples of digital marketing.
- Social media marketing is essentially a single aspect of the digital marketing sphere. It includes creating and posting content, engaging with influencers, responding to comments and direct messages, and more via different social media platforms.
But with so many people using the two terms interchangeably, let’s dive in to discover if social media marketing and digital marketing are truly the same concepts.
What is digital marketing?
Let’s start with digital marketing. It refers to using various digital channels and avenues to promote your brand or product, boost sales, generate consumer trust, engage your target consumers, and more.
A digital marketer:
- Evaluates the brand and its target market to develop strategies
- Tests and implements strategies
- Evaluates metrics
- Analyzes insights
This process helps them understand what strategies work best for a brand and then tweak the effective strategy for maximum ROI.
Generally, each marketing strategy would include one or more different techniques designed to fulfill its purpose. These include:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- PPC (Pay Per Click)
- Content marketing plans
- Social media marketing plans
- Website tracking and analytics
Now, just because you have the option to add the techniques mentioned earlier into your strategy doesn’t mean that you have to use them all. This is one aspect of customizing your social media strategy. For example, a business that targets the younger demographic would find better results by marketing via TikTok than a brand targeted toward the older demographic.
That is what digital marketing truly encompasses.
Social media marketing and why it is essential
On the other hand, social media marketing is solely about marketing via different social media channels, including:
Depending on your brand or product, you can choose what social media channels to use within your strategy, explicitly based on your target demographic.
Incorporating Facebook within your social media marketing strategy is a no-brainer. Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms used by people of various ages, geographic locations, and socio-economic backgrounds. Snapchat is a young people’s social media platform and should only be used if your target demographic is younger.
Similarly, many businesses that cater to the gaming community now feature the Discord logo along with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on their websites. That is because Discord was created predominantly for the gaming community, as evidenced by the design of its symbol.
Besides your target audience, your brand voice is another factor to consider before choosing your social media channels. An experienced marketer will always try to evaluate which social media channels best compliment your brand voice and the ones that allow you for maximum visibility and engagement with your target audience.
Social media is a very powerful tool in a digital marketer’s arsenal. Consider the fact that as of 2018, Twitter had over 330 million worldwide active users, and the number has only increased in the previous years.
Do you need social media marketing in your digital marketing strategy?
As we discussed earlier, social media marketing is an essential branch of digital marketing. As such, we can say that while social media marketing and digital marketing are not the same, it's important to note that incorporating social media into your strategy can help you grow a lot faster. To understand the concept better, let’s look at what social media marketing does for a business.
Social media marketing benefits
Social media marketing has many benefits that can help a business grow and engage its consumers. As of 2022, 92.1% of companies in the US use social media as part of their marketing strategy. And if you too incorporate it within your digital marketing strategy, you too can enjoy the following perks.
- Easy engagement allows you to establish a solid brand persona and trust quickly. Connect with your followers, establish leadership within your niche, hold polls or ask questions from your community. This is easy if your brand has a solid social media presence.
- Content curation is an essential part of the social media experience. Social media allows you to use user-generated content. You can easily share and interact with user-generated content related to your brands, such as memes, positive reviews, shout-outs, and much more.
- Social media means instant communication with your audience. When a customer reviewing your product tags you on a post, you will be notified, and you can respond. If it’s a positive review, you could thank them. You could reach out to offer help if it's a negative review.
- Post when you want, how much you want. Keep in mind that different platforms come with different expectations for post frequency. If you post too often on one platform, it might annoy people; however, frequently posting on Twitter is generally expected.
Doing social media marketing the right way can be a bit of a hassle, especially when you do not have a dedicated social media manager handling your accounts. But there are great examples of businesses who had established themselves in the industry for decades by incorporating social media marketing to boost their engagement and customer loyalty, like Wendy’s Fast Food chain’s Twitter.
Wendy’s and others like Taco Bell often engage in meme wars, and Wendy’s is especially known for their sharp wit and funny replies. This helps them connect and engage with their customers in a way that brands with no social media marketing cannot hope to match. And the result is that these socially-savvy brands can establish themselves in the minds of their consumers, boosting their brand loyalty.
While there is definitely an overlap between social media marketing and digital marketing initiatives, they are not the same thing. Social media is a part of digital marketing, which itself is a vast field that covers a host of different digital avenues and techniques besides social media. While they may not be the same, they do go hand in hand. Since most people are connected on social media nowadays, developing a social media strategy is no longer an option.