In the marketing industry, we still come across people who aren’t familiar with the term ‘content marketing’. Even those that have heard of it will associate it with social media.
While the two have many similarities and can often overlap in terms of content, purpose and process, they should be seen as two entities.
Let’s take a look at the major ways in which they differ and settle the confusion, once and for all.
Channel vs. Tactic
Put simply, social media is a channel and content is a tactic. Social media marketing is the channel through which businesses can find potential customers. Although it has become of the most popular marketing channels for companies, it needs to be combined with other marketing tactic for the strategy to work best.
Of course, you could say that social media marketing is only possible with content. This is true, but when we consider content marketing as a separate thing entirely, this can change.
Content marketing enables businesses to add value for potential customers by creating and sharing useful content. This could be in the form of blogs, videos, infographics, web pages and much more. This collateral is designed to inform and entertain audiences – maybe even solving their problems. The knock on effect is generating organic interest in the business’s products and service offerings.
Type of content
As we mentioned, social media depends on having content to share. However, the tactic in social media marketing comes with creating the content to fit the context of the chosen social network.
For example, you’d typically use LinkedIn to share business related posts. You might use Twitter to promote an event you’re hosting or to post shorter messages. And of course, you’d flock to Instagram to post photos of your new product. The tone of voice used by companies here usually imitates the language of other social media users.
Because websites usually accommodate long form content, it is easier for brands to post blogs, eBooks and web content. Here, the tone of voice is usually more suited to the brand itself – whether it’s conversational or more formal.
While there could be some overlap here, it is important to be able to differentiate between the two.
Social media marketing tends to be used for brand awareness and generating a conversation about the company. It is also important for customer retention and satisfaction. Showing your customers a human side to your company will help them to see the people behind it. You shouldn’t just focus on the products or services you sell. The conversational style of social media means it can be used as an open forum for the company to talk directly to customers and answer their questions.
On the other hand, content marketing is more focused around demand generation, pushing a visitor to convert and make a purchase. As this is usually based on the company website, it is a great tool to direct readers to other pages on your site that might interest them.
So, we’ve established the social media and content marketing are two separate entities, but have overlapping traits. However, they should be used in conjunction with each other. Social media marketing supports content marketing, and vice versa.
By using social media to amplify your brand and create interest in your people and products, your content marketing will have its time to shine and help to push potential customers to convert.