What Is The Difference Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing?

Most people have probably heard of social media marketing but have you heard of content marketing and do you know the difference between the two?  Content marketing is a (relatively) new term, and a new practice for many.  They both have a lot of overlap but are actually two distinct entities with different focal points, goals, and processes. To help clear the confusion, let’s take a look at the major ways in which they differ and figure out if and or it matters.

By J.Scott MacMillan | October 24, 2016

The Difference Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing

Both content marketing and social media marketing are the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion for a targeted audience, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to a sale. Social media marketing’s main focus is the marketing activity located within the social networks themselves. You are working inside of Facebook, inside of Twitter, inside of Instagram, etc. As you produce content, it’s placed inside of these social networks.

In contrast, content marketing’s main focus is a branded website. Social media platforms are vital to the success of content marketing, but here, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are used primarily to distribute links back to the content on the website — not as containers of the content itself.

Content marketing includes strategic planning, high-quality content creation, a distribution method, and goal metrics for the many stages of the buying cycle to multiple customer personas. A complete content marketing strategy would include social media concepts, but also take a more holistic approach to a business’s overall marketing goals.

Social media channels can be looked at as the tentacles from which your website based content extends its reach while also opening up a direct line of communication with your customers and prospects.

 

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In contrast, content marketing's main focus is a branded website. Social media platforms are vital to the success of content marketing, but here, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are used primarily to distribute links back to the content on the website — not as containers of the content itself.

 Content Type Determines The Difference

When using social media marketing, content is created to fit the context of the chosen social platform, i.e., short messages of 140 characters for Twitter,  images, and videos for Facebook, etc. On the other hand, in content marketing, because the website is the delivery vehicle, it permits much longer and varied forms of content. You can publish blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, and eBooks, just to name a few.  So this makes content marketing channel-independent, which means content marketers should be looking at ALL available channels that make sense to engage with customers.

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What Are The Main Objectives Of Each Social Platform?

Social media marketing tends to focus on two main objectives. Generating activity and discussion around the companies brand, which is used for customer retention and satisfaction, and as an open forum for direct communication with customers.

In contrast, content marketing’s website-based center of gravity enables it to focus more on lead generation and sales.  Just think of content marketing and the website as the hub that uses social media as a distribution method that points readers back to the website where transactions can happen.  Social media is not a place to sell your products and services.

So you can see that the two strategies are not two separate options, but more as two interrelated parts of a holistic marketing strategy.

Now That I Know The Difference What Should I Do?

First, you need to map out a good strategic content marketing plan before you create any content. Then you can determine the appropriate social media channels and prepare them for the short form content that will be curated from your long format content housed on your website.

Then plan and create your high-quality long-form content which can be distributed to your social media channels.  The planning and creating of this type of content is more difficult, but the rewards and results are also more powerful.

With this type of planning, you will now be able to engage more deeply with your customers through these types of content marketing efforts. And by driving consumers to your website, you have a greater opportunity to gain leads and move them through the conversion funnel.  Not to mention, protecting your content from any of the current social media networks pulling the plug and denying access to your content or go out of business, leaving you with no access to what you thought was your content.

As businesses become more familiar with their new role as publisher, the natural progression will be to move toward a robust content marketing strategy. The bar is set a little higher, but higher quality long form content will inform and engage readers more effectively which will ultimately get them to know, like and trust your business enough to actually buy.

So as you can see, content marketing and social media marketing are different, but it doesn’t really matter as long as you know how to use each effectively. 

For a deep dive into how to use content marketing in your business, check out my new online course “Content Marketing For the Rest Of Us” on the Monetize Your Message online academy.

 

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