You may wonder whether there truly is a difference between digital marketing and social media marketing, and the short answer is yes.
Simply put, “digital marketing” is an umbrella term comprising various marketing channels – including social media. On the other hand, social media marketing is only one type of digital marketing.
One of the main reasons people confuse the two is that even industry professionals often use these terms interchangeably.
So, if you’re running a digital marketing campaign, you will most likely implement numerous channels into your strategy. These include various email marketing, content marketing, SEO, custom web development, PPC and Ads and social media strategies.
However, if you’re engaging only in social media marketing, you can’t say that you have developed a complete digital marketing campaign.
You only use a single online marketing channel if you rely on social media marketing. But if you’re developing a digital marketing campaign, you depend on numerous online marketing channels that include – but are not limited to – social media.
What is Digital Marketing?
In short, marketing can be defined as an act of a business or an organization promoting its products or services to an interested audience in hopes of making a profit.
The same applies to digital marketing. Unlike traditional marketing, here, digital outlets are the ones being used for promotion.
The main goals of well-developed digital marketing efforts most commonly include:
- Growing your business profitability
- Building and raising awareness about your brand
- Developing a relationship with your audience
- Offering value to your audience
- Promoting your endeavour
It’s also worth noting that businesses don’t need to implement every single digital marketing strategy to reach these goals. Instead, they will need to determine which digital marketing channels bring in the most leads and focus their effort on those channels.
Additionally, they will need to create custom strategies that will work for their business in particular, with special regard to their audience, brand and budget.
Because not all marketing channels will bring the same results and have the same impact, businesses will need to create the perfect blend of various media.
On top of that, the audiences vary significantly from one industry to another, which is yet another factor you need to consider.
That’s why simply creating a digital marketing campaign is never enough. Instead, businesses will need to implement and test different strategies, make necessary changes, try them again and track and measure which turn out to be the most fruitful.
Experts from a top web design agency in Chicago advise that after fast growth and the best possible ROI, businesses carefully analyze all of their digital marketing efforts and drop marketing channels that are not delivering satisfactory results.
That way, they can focus all their attention on the ones that bring good results instead of wasting their time on channels and strategies that don’t work.
Does Digital Marketing reach beyond the Internet?
Another thing worth noting is that digital marketing is not a new concept. The fact is that digital marketing wasn’t born with the internet, contrary to popular belief.
Instead, it’s safe to say that digital marketing is as old as television and even radio.
Now, while the primary outlet for digital marketing is the online world, there are other mediums and outlets businesses can utilize aside from the ones that live on the internet. As mentioned, these include radio, television, digital signs, and billboards.
So, in short, digital marketing does reach beyond the internet.
But because modern-day consumers mostly resort to online searches, the most extensive digital marketing efforts are mostly being made in this space.
What is Social Media Marketing?
As previously mentioned, social media marketing is just one digital marketing channel. This term denotes all digital marketing efforts made on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and other similar sites.
Social media marketing includes (but is not limited to):
- Seeking out influencers and experts in the field to promote your business
- Engaging with the audience
- Posting content
- Holding contests and giveaways
- Anything else that grabs attention drives engagement and provides relevant (And regular) updates
Compared to other forms of digital marketing, social media marketing often brings quicker responses and results, but these are commonly not enough on their own. So, it’s more prudent that businesses combine their social media marketing efforts with other forms of digital marketing to drive the best results.
Why use Social Media Marketing?
One of the most notable advantages of social media marketing is that it enables direct communication with your audience. Take any social media platform, for example, and look at the number of its daily users.
Depending on how well you establish your presence on the said platform, you can expect a certain percentage of those users to learn about your business and even interact with it.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t simply choose the most populated social media platform, create a business profile on it and hope for the best.
Instead, you will need to research your target audience, see which social media platforms they inhabit the most and build your presence there.
That way, you’ll ensure that the right people will be presented with the right promotional posts instead of trying to advertise to an audience that doesn’t care about your business.
And considering that social media presents one of the best and fastest lines of communication, building your presence there and engaging and interacting with your audience will only work in your favour.
Other reasons to rely on social media marketing
- No need to create social media-specific content
While it is true that you’ll want to share quality content regularly on your social media profiles, the fact of the matter is that you don’t need to create social media-specific content.
Instead, you can share content you’ve already created for other digital marketing channels and even share other people’s content and encourage them to do the same.
In social media, content curation is more important than content creation.
- Engagement helps your marketing efforts.
Since attracting attention is the name of the game in social media marketing, you should jump on board.
Engage with your audience, reach out and collaborate with influencers, hold contests and encourage your audience to talk about your brand. This way, your business will gain great exposure, which will certainly positively affect your bottom line.
- It’s easier to find your audience.
If you’re running a business selling pet products, search for people posting pictures of their pets.
Like, re-tweet, follow and engage with them in any way you can. That way, you’ll be able to showcase your business to the audience that will most likely be inclined to interact with it.
Simply put, there’s no need to conduct long, elaborate research to find your audience.
- You control what, when and how much you post.
Because every social media platform has its own culture and norms – so to say – when posting is concerned, you can easily organize your posts to reach the golden middle.
If you post too often, you risk annoying your audience. On the other hand, if you don’t post enough, your audience may forget about you.
So, make sure you research the optimal posting frequency on a particular social media platform and stick to it as much as possible – but don’t sweat it if you miss a post or two.
- It’s the fastest way to reach your audience.
There is no faster way to reach your target audience than by engaging with them on social media. It’s also the quickest way to present your offer to your audience and the fastest way to gain feedback.
So, which is better: digital marketing or social media marketing?
If, by this time, you’re still asking this question, chances are that you weren’t paying attention.
Since social media marketing is only one part of digital marketing, the answer to the question would be both.
It’s essential to realize that digital and social media marketing can benefit your business.
You can develop a robust digital marketing campaign without including social media marketing.
And you can also create a social media campaign without having any other digital marketing strategies in place – but this is not advisable.
Therefore, to grow your business and ultimately make it more profitable, you should invest in both of these strategies, provided that both make sense for your business and your audience.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.