Social Media Versus Content Marketing [Chart]

Social Media versus Content MarketingSocial media and content marketing are often used interchangeably, so what’s the difference for marketers and why should they care?

At its core social media is about engaging and building relationships that form a community where the greater good is more important than the needs of any one individual.

Social media is dependent on content marketing because distributing content and encouraging conversation about the information conveyed is at the heart of the community. Often these translate to stories. These interactions are important to marketers since social media enables marketers to associate with prospects, customers and fans in a non-purchase environment.

By contrast, content marketing is about creating engaging information that results in positive brand recognition while encouraging prospects and customers to become familiar with products and services free of promotional messages. Marketers create content to persuade prospects, support purchase and enhance product usage. In the process, content can become currency for social media interactions while supporting search.

To help you understand the differences between social media and content marketing, here’s a chart laying out how each is used across a range of categories.

Social Media Versus Content Marketing

Social Media
Content Marketing
Type of marketing Mainly B2C, B2B, Not-for-profit, Solopreneur Mainly B2B, B2C, Not-for-profit, Solopreneur
Business goals Build brand awareness, Attract new prospects, Create relationships, Provide post purchase support, Engage fans Build brand awareness, Attract new prospects, Help close sales, Provide post purchase support, Engage fans, Support SEO
Marketing objective Support search optimization, Help purchase process Feed social media, Support search optimization, Help purchase process
Target audience Prospects, Customers, Public Prospects, Customers, Public, Investors, Regulators
Media platform Mainly social media, Owned media – blog & reviews Owned media -Website, email & blog, Social media, Third party media
Branding Logo, Colors, Images including photos, Voice, Language, Presentation Logo, Colors, Images including photos, Voice, Language, Presentation, Context
Format Micro-content, Images including photographs, Videos, Podcast, Posts (blogs), Presentations (Slideshare), Live events (meetups) Micro-content, Images including photographs, Videos, Podcast/audio, Posts (blogs), Conferences (slideshare), Live events (non-conference), Ebooks/white papers, Website/microsites, Webinars/webcast, Newsletters (email & print), Magazines (including custom), Infographics, Mobile app
Distribution Social media networks, Social sharing None
Longevity Limited time Longer time
Creators Participants: Customers, Business Marketing, Customer service Marketing: PR/Communications, Agency, Customers
Resources required Content creation, Community management, Monitoring Content creation, Technical support
Main metrics Shares/earned impressions, Time/engagement, Brand impact/mentions, Sales, Expenses Visitors/leads generated, Time/engagement, Brand impact, Actions, Sales, Expenses
©2012 Heidi Cohen – Riverside Marketing Strategies – All rights reserved

As a marketer, you need to integrate both social media and content marketing into your overall plans and strategies to ensure that you reach your target audience and close the sale. Monitor the social media ecosystem to ensure that you’re engaged where necessary and can respond quickly to any issues that may arise. Further, don’t forget to incorporate relevant call-to-action and tracking to help close the deal.

Is there anything else that you’d add to this list? If so, what would you include and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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3 Responses to Social Media Versus Content Marketing [Chart]

  1. Ozio Media says:

    You make the important point that successful online marketing is a combination of both social media and content marketing. The first is to engage people in a relationship with your business and then to present your services to them. The importance of including some sort of call to action in all of your content, social or otherwise, is something that many people miss.

  2. Tanya Smith says:

    Great article there Heidi, and shows clearly that although the lines are blurred between them – there are difference, and this day and age businesses need to be strong in both areas. I would add that both provide social proof, which is a very powerful trigger for prospects and clients who see this for a company.



  3. I really like this chart, Heidi. It’s incredibly useful.

    I think your introduction is helpful as well. Content marketing and social media are interdependent; they are not the same thing, though the line between them is sometimes fuzzy, but you need both in order to have a comprehensive online marketing strategy. Social media engagement without proprietary content can be helpful in some contexts (i.e. customer service) but is ultimately much less robust than a combination of the two, while content without social media sharing is doomed to be mostly unread.

    If I could add one thing, I’d add “establish expertise” under business goals for content marketing. Your online content is a great opportunity to establish to prospective clients/customers that you know what you’re talking about and that you have a broad and deep base of expertise in your business.