You may be wondering whether there truly is a difference between digital marketing and social media marketing, and the short answer is yes.
Simply put, the term “digital marketing” is an umbrella term consisting of various marketing channels – including social media. On the other hand, social media marketing is only one type of digital marketing.
Probably one of the main reasons people confuse the two is due to the fact that even industry professionals often use these two terms interchangeably.
So, if you’re running a digital marketing campaign, you are most likely implementing numerous different channels into your strategy. These often 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 really say that you have developed a full digital marketing campaign.
Basically, if you’re relying on social media marketing, you’re only using a single online marketing channel. But if you’re developing a digital marketing campaign, you’re relying 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 endeavor
It’s also worth noting that in order to reach these goals, businesses don’t need to implement every single digital marketing strategy. 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 regards to their audience, brand and budget.
Considering the fact that not all marketing channels are going to bring the same results and have the same impact, businesses will need to aim at creating the perfect blend of various channels.
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, test them again and track and measure which ones turn out to be the most fruitful.
Experts from a top web design agency in Chicago advise that businesses that are after fast growth and best possible ROI carefully analyze all of their digital marketing efforts and drop marketing channels that are not delivering satisfactory results.
That way, they can focus all of their attention on the ones that do bring good results instead of wasting their time on channels and strategies that simply don’t work.
Does digital marketing reach beyond the internet?
Another thing worth noting is that digital marketing is not a new concept in any sense. The fact of the matter 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 main outlet for digital marketing is the online world, there are also other mediums and outlets businesses can utilize aside from the ones that live on the internet. As mentioned, these include radio and television, as well as digital signs and billboards.
So, in short, digital marketing does – in fact – reach beyond the internet.
But because modern-day consumers mostly resort to online searches, the biggest 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 is used to denote 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 the fact 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 manage to 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 keep in mind 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 simply 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 favor.
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 really need to create social media-specific content.
Instead, you can simply share content you’ve already created for some 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 really 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 that sells pet products, simply start searching 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 partake in long and elaborate research to find your audience.
- You control what, when and how much you post
Due to the fact that 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 run the risk of annoying your audience. On the other hand, if you don’t post enough, your audience may simply forget about you.
So, make sure you research what would be an optimal posting frequency on a particular social media platform you’re using 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 really is no faster way to reach your target audience than by engaging with them on social media. It’s also the fastest way to present your offer to your audience, as well as 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 really 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 extremely important to realize that both digital marketing and social media marketing can bring various benefits to your business.
That being said, you can develop a strong digital marketing campaign without necessarily including social media marketing in your efforts.
And you can also create a social media campaign without having any other digital marketing strategies in place – but this is not advisable.
Therefore, in order to be able to grow your business and ultimately make it more profitable, you should really invest in both of these strategies, provided that both of them 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 a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.