Today, most online marketing campaigns feature various strategies that are consolidated into one overarching plan. Despite many marketing strategies operating seamlessly as one, it is essential to understand the distinctions. Social media marketing and content marketing are often mistaken to mean the same thing. This is due to a significant overlap between the two strategies. Having said that, both marketing strategies have distinct focal points, goals and processes. To help you understand these strategies better, let’s have a look at the differences between social media marketing and content marketing.

What is Social Media Marketing?

In its simplest form, social media marketing is the marketing process of gaining attention or website traffic through social networks. The basic most general goal is to reach new customers and increase brand engagement with existing customers. It is a form of direct and indirect marketing that promotes a brand through sharing and interactions across social channels. This is executed through the use of channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin.

What is Content Marketing?

As opposed to social media marketing that focuses on strengthening brand loyalty through interaction, content marketing strengthens it through knowledge. Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content to a target audience. With the goal of acquiring new customers and developing a strong reputation in your industry. This is generally original content that is relevant enough to be shared and produced to educate or entertain audiences.

What are the Differences Between Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing?


Social media marketing is implemented to increase awareness of your business, convert your community members to leads and grow your audience. This goal is generally achieved through organic campaigns and targeted advertising. Conversely, content marketing aims to generate leads, nurture leads, and inform and educate your audience to therefore foster trust over time.

Focus Channel

Both marketing strategies differ in their channel focal point. A social media strategy focuses on your active social media channels. The social media channels you employ will determine the content tone and style, depending on the channel’s ‘culture’. This means that content composed for Instagram may be too informal for the professional tone of LinkedIn audiences. On the other hand, content marketing focuses on your website. The website is your primary medium that you want to drive prospective customers to.

Content Style

Content style is a significant difference between social media strategy and content strategy. Social media entails a short-form content style with a blend of text and rich media tailored to each platform. Whereas, in content strategy, the style focuses on long-form content such as blogs, articles, podcasts and videos.

Which Marketing Strategy is Best For You?

Although it is important to understand the distinctions between both strategies, it remains valuable to view them as interrelated parts of marketing’s ongoing evolution. Having said that, both are valuable strategies on their own, and the most effective one for your business will depend on your business goals. If your business only has the current capacity to choose one marketing strategy, it is beneficial to be mindful of your immediate goal.

The initial step is to evaluate your marketing channel. This will ascertain areas you are performing well in and the areas you need improvement. You should focus on social media marketing if your business goal is to raise awareness and build an audience. On the other hand, you should focus on content marketing if your business goal is to assist consumers to make their buying decision and convert existing audiences into customers.

It is also significant to note that the effectiveness of content marketing for goal achievement takes time. Therefore, social media marketing may be more beneficial for a new business. However, if you are looking to maximise your content, keep in mind that social media marketing and content marketing go hand in hand.

How Can You Integrate Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing?

Businesses can integrate social media marketing and content marketing to form a comprehensive marketing strategy and effectively grow your business. Without the substance of well thought out content, using social media marketing without content marketing is unlikely to be effective. Likewise, if you employ content marketing without social media, it is likely you will only reach a small portion of your target audience.

Therefore, if companies have the capacity to employ both marketing strategies, the first step would be to implement social media marketing. Due to the shorter pieces of content required for social media marketing, it is relatively easier for businesses to begin here. Your business can then implement content marketing, as you become more familiar with producing content. This will involve producing longer-form, higher-quality original content that endeavours to engage deeply with your audience.

The Buyer’s Journey

The differences between social media marketing and content marketing

Both strategies operate in two distinct phases of the Buyer’s Journey. The Buyer’s Journey is the buyer’s path through a process to purchase your business offering. This process has three stages that outline the buyer’s path to purchase: the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage. Social media slots into the awareness phase, and content marketing in the consideration phase. Integrating both social media and content into your strategy will allow you to target the different stages of the buyer journey. Ultimately, allowing you to nurture leads and build trust progressively.

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