Ready, Set, Convert: Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

Digital Marketing
Ready, Set, Convert: Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing
Article by Szabolcs Szecsei
Last Updated: May 23, 2024

Imagine the digital landscape as a vast ocean of opportunity, with digital marketing and social media marketing as two powerful currents navigating businesses toward success. But which current should you ride? These phrases are often used interchangeably, yet the two strategies represent distinct approaches to engaging with consumers online.

To clear up the digital marketing vs. social media marketing debate, we asked our marketing experts to help us unravel the two strategies, where the waters are teeming with potential, and the right choice could mean smooth sailing or turbulent seas for your business's online journey.

Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

Today, businesses rely on digital and social media marketing tactics to promote their brand, products, and services. Both social media and digital marketing use the same tools and platforms for their marketing, but there are a few subtle differences.

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Digital Marketing

Digital marketing refers to any online marketing strategy that relies on digital technology. As such, digital marketing includes many different approaches, such as affiliate marketing, video marketing, social media marketing, paid advertising, and more. Digital marketing channels include not only social media platforms but also search engines, websites, email, mobile apps, and other digital mediums.

Digital marketing allows you to reach your target audience in a cost-effective and measurable way, leveraging various online channels to engage with potential customers throughout their buying journey. It involves a diverse set of tactics, including search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, influencer marketing, and more.

Social Media Marketing

When addressing the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing, it’s essential to point out that social media marketing is actually a subset of digital marketing. It refers to the online marketing strategies carried out on specific web apps like TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram.

As a marketing strategy, it encompasses creating and sharing content on social platforms, interacting with potential and current customers, raising brand awareness, and crafting a strong online social presence.

At a Glance: Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

As we’ve determined, at its core, social media marketing is a specific variation of digital marketing. To summarize, here are the key differences, but we’ll also delve into distinct strategies in a bit.

Aspect Digital Marketing Social Media Marketing
Platform Marketing activities carried out on online digital platformsVariant of digital marketing that uses specific social platforms
Audience Target audiences at various touchpointsPotential customers on social channels almost exclusively
Technology May incorporate advanced technology and specific skills such as web design and app developmentIn most cases, only requires a well-rounded content strategy and ad campaigns
Goal Boosting salesBoosting brand exposure and creating more meaningful brand-customer relationships

The Essentials of a Social Media Marketing Campaign

Social media marketing has become a versatile tool that requires you to oversee several and manage processes to maximize its benefits. These include:

Creating a Strategy

Achieving success on social media hinges on crafting a meticulously planned strategy. Each social media platform requires clear guidelines dictating business objectives, content selection, and brand persona representation.

Being Consistent With Content

Consistency is also essential for achieving success on social platforms. You should strive to post on social media daily, or at least a couple of times per week. You can keep these processes more optimized if you consider creating posts in advance using weekly or monthly calendars and automated publishing tools.

Maintaining Engagement

Apart from regularly sharing content, you should also be an active and helpful brand on social media. Address every comment where you’re tagged, reply to both positive and negative reviews, consider creating a Facebook group, and more. Social media is a great place to establish more personal connections with your followers and eventually transform them into loyal brand ambassadors.

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Looking at the Data and Analytics

Tracking your social metrics can help you assess whether your current strategy is aiding you in reaching your marketing goals or whether you need to tweak some aspects of it. Closely examining the data you gather from your social platforms can also help you identify new marketing opportunities and trends.

Opting for Paid Advertising

When applied effectively, investing in paid social media ads can yield substantial profits. To ensure a worthwhile return on investment, allocate funds towards tailored, top-tier campaigns that resonate with your target audience. Remember, strategic spending maximizes results.

The Essentials of a Digital Marketing Campaign

So far, we’ve talked about the characteristics of social media marketing campaigns. Now, let us learn more about the different processes that are usually included in a typical, comprehensive digital marketing campaign.

  • Search engine marketing: Using either SEO or paid advertising coupled with an engaging content strategy to generate more traffic and conversions.
  • Social promotions: Regular social media posting, along with reputation management and paid ad campaigns on Instagram, Facebook, and more.
  • Mobile marketing: Creating mobile applications and uploading them on Google Play or Apple Store.
  • Email marketing: Using email newsletters to promote your products or services.

Leveraging Social Media Marketing in Your Digital Marketing Efforts

Today, no serious digital marketing campaign is complete without a social media strategy. It has become a must for brands if they want to build a more meaningful relationship with their existing clientele and want to broaden their reach.

When compared to other digital marketing efforts, social strategies and campaigns tend to generate leads and responses more quickly for most brands. However, if you wish to maximize your online potential, you should focus on creating a comprehensive digital marketing strategy where social is only one of the cornerstones of your approach. For instance, SEO and paid advertising along with other valuable strategies like affiliate marketing to make the most out of their marketing budget.

Digital or Social?

If you are considering only social for your digital marketing plans, with a proper social presence management strategy, you can generate a substantial number of conversions and sales. However, you will only be utilizing one of many approaches that combined can boost your ROI even more.

Still, if you are trying to better understand which one would benefit your brand the most, consider the following:

  • Business goals: Clarify your business objectives. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, drive sales, or improve customer retention? Understanding your goals will help determine which marketing channels align best with your objectives.
  • Target audience: Who is your target audience, and where do they spend their time online? If your audience is highly active on social media platforms, investing more in social media marketing might be the way to go. However, if they primarily search for information through search engines or engage with email newsletters, a broader digital marketing approach could be more effective.
  • Budget: Evaluate your budget and resources available for marketing efforts. While social media marketing can be cost-effective, especially for small businesses, digital marketing encompasses various tactics that may require different levels of investment. Consider what resources you have available in terms of time, personnel, and budget to execute your chosen strategies effectively.
  • Content strategy: If you have a robust content creation strategy in place, you may be well-suited for social media marketing, where content plays a central role in driving engagement and interaction. On the other hand, if you are running an eCommerce store and still developing your content strategy, opting for paid advertising or affiliate marketing may be a better start.

Social Media and Digital Marketing Takeaways

Social media marketing is a part of every smart digital marketing strategy. That said, business owners are usually encouraged to use social marketing in tandem with other digital strategies to get the most out of their online presence. Paid advertising, SEO, email marketing, and other digital marketing approaches all help you achieve one goal: to maximize the online potential of your brand.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t focus solely on social media with your brand. Especially, if you are running a small business, you can easily maximize your reach and generate more sales with social only. You can always schedule a meeting with seasoned experts to see which strategy would fit your needs best.

Social Media Marketing vs. Digital Marketing FAQs

Which is more effective, digital marketing or social media marketing?

Digital marketing generally tends to cover more ground and as such, helps you generate more revenue, but will probably cost more as well. Social, on the other hand, is more focused on a few platforms where you can fine-tune your efforts more effectively, letting you get the most out of your channels.

Usually, marketers advise using several different marketing strategies together online to reap the benefits of each approach.

What is best for my business, digital marketing or social media marketing?

Social media marketing can be highly beneficial for smaller businesses with a tighter budget that want to get a better feel for conducting business in the digital landscape. For larger organizations and enterprises, a comprehensive digital strategy will probably be more suitable as they will be able to cover more ground and get a better return on investment.

What role does content play in digital Marketing and social media marketing?

In both strategies, content acts as a powerful tool for conveying messages, educating audiences, and influencing purchasing decisions. Compelling and relevant content tailored to the pertinent platform is essential for attracting and retaining followers, ultimately leading to increased website traffic and conversions.

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