Content Marketing Vs Social Media Marketing: The Low Down

By on July 26, 2013
content marketing

Content marketing is the latest buzzword, with expert bloggers calling it the ‘new social media marketing.’ But is it new or has it been around since before social media ever rose to claim the online throne? Today I’m destroying the myths about content marketing and setting the record straight for once and for all.

The Content Marketing vs Social Media Marketing Debate

The debate that is going around sounds a little something like this: content marketing is different from social media. It’s new. Though social media has elements of content marketing in it and vice versa – the two are not the same. Confused? So is everyone else!

That is why for once and for all I want to clear this up!

Content Marketing defined: This is an umbrella term involving any marketing strategy that revolves around the creation and sharing of content in order to acquire, attract or engage customers. We’re talking about infographics, ebooks, guides, articles, white papers, videos and photos.

Social Media Marketing defined: The process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites. This includes creating or curating content for the direct purpose of attracting, acquiring or engaging a community.

Now, if you don’t see the similarities here, you’re missing something. Content marketing IS social media marketing, only it works on different platforms. The goals are more or less the same. Here’s what I mean.

How Are Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing Different?

• Content marketing and social media marketing use the same goals, directives or general strategies with content.

• The difference is that content marketing encompasses all content that is NOTon social media sites, whereas social media marketing is focused directly on these platforms.

• A secondary difference may be that social media marketing is more community focused, with sales as a secondary concern. Content marketing is more sales focused, with community as a secondary concern.

content marketing

Courtesy of marketingadept.com

In many ways both kinds of marketing are the same. This is where the confusion comes in. You can’t talk about content marketing on Facebook, because it is then social media marketing. You can’t talk about social media marketing on a website or sales page, because then its content marketing.

The History of Content Marketing

Remember those old, ugly yellow and red sales letters that screamed at you when you landed on one of those terrible pages that urged you to buy whatever product they were selling?

That’s an early form of content marketing. Marketing with content on the internet is as old as the internet itself. Don’t quote me on that, but it’s been around for a long, long time.

It’s certainly not something new, and it’s not the ‘latest’ thing to replace social media marketing in any way. How can it be? Social media marketing is the offspring of content marketing.

Social media grew so dynamically and enthusiastically that content marketers had to create a new process to sell or engage a new audience, and that is how social media marketing was born.

And like any decent parent, content marketing grew and changed with the development of the ‘social’ internet. Now they both exist in the same space, selling to a ‘social’ audience on different platforms.

Understand? Now you can giggle at the next person that tries to tell you content marketing is the new pink!

Do you use content marketing on your website and other online properties?

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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