The Difference Between Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing

There are many similarities between social media marketing and content marketing, and perhaps that’s why people so frequently battle to understand the distinction between them. But despite how much they intersect, these two techniques do have their own focal points and can be used to reach different objectives.  

In this post, we’ll outline exactly what defines these two types of marketing and what their key differences are. Don’t let the fluidity of marketing jargon throw you off, keep reading to understand how to distinguish between social media marketing and content marketing.

What is social media marketing? 

The focus of social media marketing is in the name: it’s all about connection. Here brands publish content where potential customers already exist, with the hopes of interacting with them directly and building an audience. 

The goal of a social media strategy is to increase brand awareness amongst that audience and let it develop into a community. Brands then encourage consumers in that community to engage with each other, and with them as a brand, over shared interests. From there the goal is to convert members of those communities into leads, through organic campaigns and targeted ads. You could say the overall goal of social media marketing is to drive behaviour through participation.

What is content marketing?

The focus of content marketing is consumption. It’s all about creating and sharing valuable and creative content that will interest a targeted audience, and then aligning this interest with a brand’s product or service, in order to drive profitable action.  

The goal of content marketing is to generate leads for your business using search and content distribution tactics. Brands will create content that targets a specific audience who is already looking for topics related to their product or service. With this content, they’ll then nurture this audience through their buyer journey and build trust until they are converted into customers. You could say the overall goal of content marketing is to drive behaviour through consumption.

What are the key differentiators? 

In summary, the key differences between these two strategies are their focuses and approaches. While social media marketing aims to create a space for brand engagement and interaction, content marketing aims to educate and inform while drawing attention to a brand. This differentiator also drives them to take on different forms. Social media content will more frequently be shorter content, optimised for two-way conversation, such as an image post accompanied by post copy. Whereas Content Marketing is more likely to take the form of a longer piece of content optimised for consumption, such as a blog post. 

Many people will tell you to see Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing as two parts of the picture. And they would be right, you should, because these strategies possess parallel objectives, even if they achieve them using different methods. Social media marketing and content marketing both have the objective of increasing brand awareness, and both aim to build relationships with an audience with the goal of converting them into customers. Despite their differences, a great strategy involves both of these tactics, as they can work to support each other. 

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