What’s the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing?

What's the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing and, as we enter a new decade, will we see the demise of the word 'digital'?

The difference between digital marketing and social media marketing

A key branch of marketing is digital marketing. It has transformed the way in which businesses communicate with and promotes to customers. Digital marketing has the capability  to place businesses in front of a global audience and allow international expansion much more easily than it previously has been.

Digital marketing is often confused with social media marketing, likely due to their shared online nature, but the two are in fact very different.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing refers to marketing that uses any electronic channels. This can be internet-based or non-internet-based, but the overall aim is to promote a business, product or service. Internet-based digital marketing might include content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing or social media marketing. Non-internet forms of digital marketing include radio, television and mobile marketing.

Digital marketing aims to reach an organisation’s target audience through various platforms, raise brand awareness and promote the organisation and its products or services.

The main components of digital marketing are online marketing, social media marketing and mobile marketing.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing that utilises social networks as marketing tools. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are often used, as well as various website blogs and forums.

The generally accepted aim of social media marketing is to produce content that users want to engage with to increase brand awareness, rather than explicitly promoting the business or its products and services.

Social media marketing can be free or paid for – with the free element including content sharing to increase awareness and engagement and the paid for element including sponsored advertisements on social media platforms.

Digital marketing vs social media marketing

Digital marketing Social media marketing
Promotion through all digital platforms – both internet-based, and non-internet-based – such as social media marketing, email marketing, SEO, CRM, search engine advertisements, television and radio Form of digital marketing that uses social networking channels, forums and blogs for promotion of a business or product
Wide reach through all digital platforms Limited reach – only social media users
Aims to reach target audience at various touchpoints through all digital platforms Aims to create engaging content on social media to attract users to the business
Raising awareness by reaching target audience on different platforms Direct engagement with social media users
Easily trackable results Easily trackable results

Essentially, social media marketing is a key aspect of digital marketing, which can be used in a digital marketing campaign. Digital marketing is an effective method of promoting your business which has various elements.

Digital marketing activity should be carefully considered to decide upon the best elements for your business to make use of. If you need advice on which measures are most effective for your business, get in touch – Kinetic can help you create a fit-for-purpose communications plan.

Will the phrase ‘digital marketing’ exist in the future?

Digital marketing is the future of marketing, as all methods are slowly moving towards being entirely digital. Digital marketing will gradually gain more ground in the online and offline world, as the general consumer’s methods of communication are becoming exclusively digital – from mobile phones to podcasts to television – all forms of communication are electronic.

In a world where everything is moving towards digital, will our obsession with dividing non-digital and digital limit the thinking of marketers? Or will we find ourselves eventually deciding that the word ‘digital’ is redundant?

Do you need advice on creating an effective digital marketing campaign, tailored to the specific requirements of your business? Get in touch.

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