Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Which One to Choose

Content marketing vs SMM blog

Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Which One to Choose

Have you ever asked yourself which marketing strategy will work best for your company? With so much noise and robust competition in the industry, you may feel pressured to choose one. But you should try asking yourself, which marketing strategies will elevate my brand and ultimately make my company the best?

In this blog, we’ll go over two marketing strategies and how they can strategically be used simultaneously to ensure your brand is well-represented on all fronts.

Understanding the importance of digital marketing and its core components, including the difference between content marketing vs social media marketing can be confusing. However, you should consider their differences and similarities before setting your marketing strategy in stone.

Let’s jump right into dissecting the differences between content marketing vs social media marketing, and how you can leverage their power to your advantage.

What is content marketing?

The Content Marketing Institute defines content as:

A form of marketing that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, applicable, and uniform content that is meant to attract and obtain a target audience – with the goal of driving profitable consumer action.

What is content marketing?

Essentially, content marketing is a tool of attraction. By publishing original, engaging content, whether in the form of blogs, articles, infographics, etc., you’re boosting your chance of attracting new prospects. The content should ideally be something that people will want to share with their own network.

Ever heard of Spotify?

Someone on their marketing team got it totally right when they came up with Spotify Wrapped. This viral content marketing strategy took users’ listening data at the end of the year and made a trendy statistics list for every Spotify user. The list showcases listening habits along with top artists and genres.

Spotify content marketing

The genius part about the campaign is that Spotify made something so personal for its users that people shared their Wrapped lists willingly, eagerly even! The influence-driven content marketing campaign increased sales by 21% in December 2020.

This is just a glimpse of the power that content marketing holds.

Now that we’ve covered content marketing, you’re probably still wondering, what’s the difference between content marketing vs social media marketing. Before we get to their differences, let’s first understand what social media marketing entails.

What is social media marketing?

According to Investopedia,

Social media marketing (SMM) is the use of social media platforms and websites to create a company’s brand, promote a product or service, thereby increasing sales, and drive web traffic. SMM provides companies a means of engaging with existing clients while giving them a way to reach prospective clients on social platforms. Additionally, social media marketing has purpose-built data analytics designed to allow marketing experts to track the success of their existing campaigns while finding new methods to maximize engagement on social platforms.

What is social media marketing?

The goal of SMM is to generate leads, and ultimately, to drive sales through insightful and relevant content. The content can later be advertised to a highly targeted audience to maximize exposure, and accordingly, drive even more sales.The use of targeting tools in SMM makes it possible to do exactly that – to zero in on curated prospects.

Take this example from Guinness:

Even the pioneering Irish beer company isn’t above promoted advertisements. They’ve taken advantage of the customization and targeting features (in this case, on Twitter) to ensure their non-alcoholic beer ad is met by the right consumers.

Social media advertising is a huge part of the social media marketing process, giving brands access to social media users all over the world.

Now that you know what each individual tactic entails, let’s take a look at the differences between them.

What is the difference between content marketing and social media marketing?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to make sense of all this music and (non) beer talk. So let’s get to it – content marketing vs social media marketing.

The key difference between content marketing and digital marketing is that content marketing is focused on engagement, while SMM is sales-oriented.

Content marketing focuses on generating brand awareness and stimulating customer interest.

Oftentimes, a company’s content marketing strategy is free, meaning they’re not running ads. They’re putting out engaging content to stimulate the attention of prospects. By doing so, content marketing builds deep relationships between a company and its community while simultaneously feeding to the social platform algorithms, and being rewarded with organic growth.

differences between content marketing vs social media marketing

Think of Spotify’s Wrapped – people see their yearly stats as social clout, making the feature a valuable resource to its users. This takes consumer loyalty and engagement through the roof.

Now think of Guinness’s promoted ad. Guinness used a social media channel to target prospective customers and make a sale. A key consideration is that the ad had a link to their website, upping web traffic and, in turn, maximizing conversions.

So, when comparing content marketing vs sales marketing, think of Spotify and Guinness.

Spotify generated brand awareness by giving its existing community shareable content. It’s focused on business for the future – nurturing a community, building loyalty, and eventually turning prospects into loyal customers. Think of a bell curve.

Guinness, on the other hand, used a targeted ad to encourage sales. SMM is focused on “now” business – target an ad, land a prospect, turn them into a customer. Think linear.

How are content marketing and SMM similar?

So we’ve laid out the foundation for the battle between content vs digital marketing. But, it’s really not much of a battle, considering both of these marketing strategies aim to eventually generate growth.

Both marketing methods aim to reach audiences, and both methods, whether long-term or instantaneous, aim to generate sales.

One does so over time and with trust, while the other uses market data and research to reach a calculated audience.

similarities between content marketing vs social media marketing

The similarities between content marketing vs social media marketing are not only in sales but internally as well. Both marketing styles ultimately come from your business objectives.

Having a well-developed marketing strategy is critical to your company’s success, and utilizing a content marketing strategy along with SMM will become a huge part of your overarching business plan.

Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing Infographic

If the differences between content marketing vs social media marketing are still fuzzy, check out this infographic.

It outlines the key distinctions between content marketing vs social media marketing with a mutual center. Kind of like a Venn diagram, but not really. Just take a look!

Content marketing vs SMM infographic

Final Thoughts

Turns out, the more marketing, the merrier! You can use content marketing vs digital marketing side-by-side for maximum lead generation, sales, engagement, and growth.

We hope this blog has helped you distinguish content marketing vs social media marketing. In spite of the differences between the two, using these marketing strategies together is crucial for your business. If you’d like to talk to specialists in either or both of these areas, feel free to reach out!

Oh, and P.S., if you’re wondering about content writing vs copywriting, stay tuned to read about the differences. Turns out, the world of marketing isn’t so black and white.

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By Angel Poghosyan

6+ years of doing content, marketing, and strategy for startups & businesses. Specializing in social media, entertainment, and tech.

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