Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Differences and Peculiarities

One of the most confusing distinctions in the digital age of blurred and yet undefined lines is the differentiation of each separate direction of online marketing. If we can clearly understand the differences, it will also lead to the more efficient application of useful practices for each. Two aspects that are most often confused are content marketing and social media marketing. The two are so interrelated in their operation that it is sometimes very difficult to define the line where one ends and the other begins. Let’s first see what content marketing is.

1. Where does it start? 

2. Where is it anchored? 

3. How does it reach the end consumer?

4. And,most importantly, what is its goal? 

Content Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing. Image source – Slideshare, Brian Cliette

Content Marketing 

Content marketing starts with industry know-how

Let’s say, you are a tour agency specializing in tours to East Asian countries for pilgrimages, meditation tours, spiritual retreats, religious sightseeing, etc. You are aiming to cater to a specific niche. Naturally, the customer, who is interested in exploring one or all of these during their vacation, would prefer a tour agency capable of guiding them, minimizing their research and offering them the best possible options to efficiently use their time and financial means with the most benefit. They would probably choose your agency over thousands of others, who have a different niche or are more broad service providers.

So, given the situation, how do you use content marketing to attract leads and consequently increase sales? You prove what you have the know-how that would make you qualified as the best tour operator specifically for their dream vacation. And you prove it through content.

Content marketing is based on industry know-how. Image source – NEILPATEL

Content marketing is anchored in your company website 

The content your company produces is like a vast, most detailed resume, divided into easily consumable sections and presented in formats that are most effective for your target audience. And all this information that speaks volumes about who you are, what you believe in, what your knowledge is, where you have been and what you have done sits on your website. These include pages where your existing and potential customers can find the relevant information, your blog section, any content you have produced in the form of white papers, books, magazines, video and audio materials. Video and audio sharing platforms like YouTube can also be considered drives where your content sits (so it is important to link those to your main lead generation point – your website).

Content Marketing is anchored in your website. Image Source – RaraTheme

Channels used for marketing content to reach target audiences

Here, pay attention!!!, is where social media come in and all the confusion starts. Your content produced for marketing purposes now needs to be spread to reach its audience. Today, instead of newspapers, print magazines, radio or television, around 80-90% of the content is shared via social media. This IS NOT social media marketing. It is sharing of marketing content with the use of an available channel – social media. This is a preferred channel (others could be online business directories, forums, same newspapers and TV) because it allows utilizing most efficient targeting tools and reaching VAST audiences of billions of people, part of which is your specific target market. When the content reaches its target audiences, the link takes them back to your website, where your content is anchored.

The goal of content marketing is to generate leads and convert them into purchase

And finally, when your target audience has reached your website, whether you have used social media or any other channel of dissemination for your marketing content, it then serves the purpose of reinforcing your industry know-how, your authority and credibility. It is an affirmation that you can give the potential customer what they need. Thus, your content triggers them to make the first purchase.

Social media marketing is all about communication, engagement and brand recall. Image source – AUSIT

Social Media Marketing

Now that we are clear about what content marketing is, let’s examine the same 4 fundamental characteristics, but now for social media marketing.

1. Where does it start?

2. Where is it anchored?

3. How does it reach the end consumer?

4. And most importantly, what is its goal? 

Social media marketing starts with representation

It’s like having your country’s embassy or consulate in a foreign country. Better example yet, it’s your office, your customer support department online. You provide basic information about what country you represent, what mission and vision you have, what you offer. Just like you would hardly furnish your law firm office with bean bags and contemporary abstract paintings, your social media pages (tailored to the specifics of each social media platform) need to represent who you are, what you stand for and your values. This goes for the descriptions and post text you use, the visuals, and the overall tone of communication you keep to.

Properly identified social media platforms will allow finding and connecting with your target audiences. Image source – JeffBullas

Your social media marketing is anchored on your social media page/community

And here is where confusion takes place concerning the differences between social media and content marketing. Your social media marketing is anchored in your social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. Yes, you can use the content created and anchored in your website for your social media marketing purposes, but in this case, social media marketing is not an auxiliary or a channel, the auxiliary is your marketing content, which, in this case, helps social media marketing efforts.

Social media marketing components, which are visuals, video or text, have their own specific length, look, and purpose. They are triggers for communication and brand recall. They are not meant to educate and prove know-how, which is the domain of content marketing.

Channels used for social media marketing to reach target audiences

This one seems to be pretty obvious. The channels used are the social media platforms themselves, but there are also some nuances here. Firstly, it is the choice of the specific social media platforms a company decides to be on. You would most probably be wasting your time trying to engage with potential customers of luxury high end watches on Snapchat. You, however, would likely choose LinkedIn if you want to be part of your industry community and conversation. So, knowing the specifics of each social media platform is one of the core functions of social media marketers.

In addition, there is a variety of available marketing and engagement tactics within each of those platforms. For instance, you can create an engaging post on Facebook and leave it at that. You can also invest in promoting your point of contact among wider audiences through paid promotions. Since recently, you can also utilize Facebook Messenger in your promotional efforts.

Social media platforms are diverse to fit your company’s specific directions, visions and target audiences. Image source – SocialMediaBlogster

The goal of social media marketing is to maintain an open line of communication

The main goal and the core purpose of social media marketing are finding and connecting with your relevant audiences and keeping them within the reach of your hand (through page likes and follows).

This basically means being on the line. Your call center operators should be on guard all the time to communicate, answer questions, listen to concerns, spread information and news, accept applications, issue promotions, announce events, etc… In this case, you should have minimum regulations and open doors every day.


As you can see, there is a world of nuances and a separate very specific set of knowledge and skills needed for each of these individual directions of online marketing. As mentioned before, the lines are blurred and most of the time companies (even bigger ones) have only one employee dealing with both content and social media marketing. Along with a better understanding of the new opportunities that the digital age presents, there will hopefully come a better differentiation and designation of roles and functions, leading to making the best of what online marketing can offer.

Need a good strategy for your own company? Contact us today!

By Viktorya Mirzoyan

How Smart Content Strategy Will Benefit Your Small Business: Major Milestones to Define for Best Results

70% of B2B marketers planned to create more content in 2017 than in 2016, recent research by Content Marketing Institute shows that Meanwhile, 45% of marketers state that blogging is their #1 most important content strategy (Social Media Examiner). This can only mean that correctly planned and executed content strategy will significantly increase your sales.
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70% of B2B marketers planned to create more content in 2017 than in 2016, recent research by Content Marketing Institute shows that Meanwhile, 45% of marketers state that blogging is their #1 most important content strategy (Social Media Examiner). This can only mean that correctly planned and executed content strategy will significantly increase your sales.

This means that today most people are online and active on social media. When the information they search for is not readily available, they will ask for and get it from others, most likely from your competition. This only proves how important it is to pay attention to how you present yourself as a company on your website, in the description of your services, in your blog or your responsive social media pages. If you’re not active, not engaging, not shaping your company’s image, you’re allowing it to be shaped by others and you have no say in it. That’s not what you want, right?

Making the right content available for your potential customers is the only way to go beyond the idealistic approach of creating a great product and sitting on it waiting for the word of mouth to bring in new customers.

Here are a few major milestones you need to set for yourself for better results:

1. Knowing what you’re selling to whom and how

When you came up with the idea of creating your valuable product or service, hopefully you had based your decision on the existing market demand. You’re filling in a gap for content, offering fresh seafood in town, or the most advanced daycare service in the city… you know your niche. Before you go and demand that your Marketing or PR Team generate sales, you need to define the specific target group you are planning to cater to.

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For instance, your amazing non-stick sauté pan will most probably be targeted to: women over 30, housewives, living within X miles of a location, with annual income of XXX. You can get as detailed and specific as possible. All this information is extremely important for you to know who you are talking to, what channels and what words you need to use (keyword research) for best efficiency.

If you don’t have all this information, taking steps to define it will actually lead to improving your product and making it more marketable.

2. Coming up with a unified image and content strategy 

Once you have accomplished the step above, everything will go much smoother. Company logo should reflect your vision and mission, connect to your target customer. The website should be easy to find by searching the right keywords in search. It should also be easy to navigate. Your blog should give valuable information to keep attracting your customers. Tap into the power of social media to reflect your values and be another channel to spread content and get feedback.

If you are a yoga instructor, having a website with classes and prices is not going to do it for you. It should show your authority in the field. Sharing knowledge does not make it less worthwhile for customers to sign up for your service, but makes them do that to get a personal experience with you BECAUSE of your knowledge.

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3. Make it personal: engaging is key 

Social media platforms allow making that very important personal connection with your customers. Be responsive, be engaging, go that extra mile to show you care about your customers’ worries, possible issues with your service or product. Presenting how great your product is and not responding to reviews will simply show that all your efforts are there ONLY to guarantee sales and you do not really care about the quality of your product or the well-being of the people that invest in your company.

4. Make it easy for your customers to share their experience with your product or service 

In reality, they are going to do it anyway. It is just that if you don’t respond to messages, don’t comment on reviews, don’t seek feedback, you’ll be left out of the conversation. Having a blog on your website allows customers to give you that valuable information. This turns potential customers into active ones and active customers into your brand’s evangelists.

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5. And finally – the technical part of it

  • Make diverse content: some people like to read, others watch a video on YouTube, some will check out your website, social media pages, and others yet might do a thorough Google search in business directories and review sites before their first purchase. Based on your research, you should cater to different tastes and styles of receiving and processing information.
  • Make it regular: Don’t make a big deal of launching your website and follow it up with 30 days of inactivity, when your potential customers will forget about you. Be consistent in reminding them of your active work on a regular basis.
  • Be patient: Once you’ve used all the right keywords, posted a couple of great articles on your blog and launched your website, you’re not going to appear on top of the Google search page. Be patient, be passionate and continue SERVING your customers. Trust is built gradually, but once you have it, you’re set for a long-term friendship.

We hope this helps you get started. Want to engage with your customers through winning content? Contact us on Facebook or Here.

By Viktorya Mirzoyan