The difference between digital marketing and social media is that social media marketing is just one of the available channels of digital marketing. Many people believe that by engaging on social media they are doing digital marketing but this is not 100% true, there are many more channels to utilize in a digital marketing campaign.
What is Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing is the marketing process of building awareness and promoting a brand or product online using all available digital channels.
The major components of digital marketing are:
Online Marketing Channels – Website marketing, SEM (search engine marketing – includes SEO and Pay per click advertising), mobile marketing (i.e. Google Play, Apple Store), email marketing, online banner advertising, video marketing, and Social Media marketing.
Offline Digital Channels – Television, Radio, SMS, digital billboards (indoor and outdoor)
The diagram below shows exactly the relationship of the different components that make up digital marketing.
What is social media?
Social media is the most popular buzz word in Internet Marketing for the last couple of years. The success of the new generation of social media platforms, mainly Facebook and Twitter, changed the way we socialize, interact, and shop. This also brought new channels to digital marketing as well.
Social media is the term we use to describe platforms that bring people together for the exchange of information.
The most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Some interesting statistics about social media:
To get a better idea of the impact social media has on marketing, have a look at the number of social media monthly active users (in millions), per platform.
What are the advantages of using social media in your marketing campaigns?
There are many advantages of utilizing social media for promoting both your online or offline products and services.
- It’s a fast way to spread your message – If you have a big fan base, you can tweet or post on Facebook and your message can instantly go to thousands of users around the World. In fact, social media is the fastest way (even from TV and Radio) to make an announcement or spread a message.
- It’s good for SEO – There are more and more signs that social signals are indirectly used for ranking purposes by both Google and Bing.
- It’s a trend – Social media is a trend you cannot ignore if you want to stay close to your customers and in synch with the latest developments in marketing.
- It’s one of the ways to interact with your customers and find out what they want – With social media your customers can show that they like a product or piece of content by voting (Like, Tweet), commenting and sharing. As a marketer, you can analyze these statistics, talk with your customers, and find out how to make your products, content, or services better.
Digital marketing VS Social media
It should be clear after reading the above definitions that social media is a major component of Internet Marketing which is part of Digital marketing.
If we compare the two side by side we will find that:
- Digital marketing goes beyond the Internet and tries to reach people in the off-line world using digital means while social media is limited to the boundaries of the Internet.
- A digital marketing strategy may include one or more components (Internet Advertising, Mobile ads, TV, SMS, etc.) while a social media strategy may include one or more social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Social media is strongly associated with a content strategy i.e. you create content and use social media to promote it while digital marketing can rely entirely on banners (either on the Internet, TV, or billboards) for promotion.
Resources to Learn More
Marketing Strategy Examples – Find out how known brands use social media as part of their overall digital marketing strategy.
Which is more important digital marketing or social media?
It depends on the type of brand, products, or services you want to promote. There are cases where other forms of digital marketing will be more appropriate to build awareness than social media. Social media is a must of every product, brand, or service that has a wide audience.
For example, if you are selling a software product, social media can help you find new customers, educate your existing customers (by sending them tips and tricks) and keep them informed about new updates, upcoming releases, etc.
If on the other hand, you are selling custom tools for farmers you can use social media as a resource to find out more about the products but your main selling point will be billboard ads on rural areas and Radio ads.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is the process of promoting a product or service through various social media channels. In general, there are two ways to perform a social media marketing campaign.
The first way is free and has to do with building followers, fans, or connections by sharing useful content, running contests, and generally engaging with your users.
The second way is through paid advertising. You can use Facebook ads, Google Ads or Twitter promoted accounts to advertise your product or services on Facebook, Google, and Twitter respectively.
Are social media marketing campaigns successful?
There is the misconception that social media traffic does not convert but the latest statistics show otherwise.
The success or failure of any campaign depends on many factors including the experience of the digital marketing consultant so choose wisely.
What does a typical digital marketing campaign include?
While the digital marketing components are a lot, a typical campaign includes mostly items from the Internet Marketing family. It is very common to see an online marketing campaign with:
Search Engine Marketing – Either through content strategy and SEO or through Paid Search Advertising (Adwords)
Social media promotions – paid advertising on Facebook, promotion on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Mobile market promotions – Development of native apps and submission to the Google Play and Apple Store
Email marketing – Promotion of products or services through email marketing campaigns
It is important to know the differences between the different marketing theories so that you can select the most appropriate tools to use in your campaigns.
Digital marketing is the future of marketing and will gradually gain more ground in the online and offline world.
Social media, on the other hand, is the new way to connect with other people, it is part of digital marketing and it’s here to change the way we find new customers and promote our products.
Mary at Media Touch says
Thanks! This will be quite helpful in educating our clients about the difference that is often confused. In regards to ‘mobile’, you have it under ‘Internet marketing’, curious as to why that is and do you believe it will eventually evolve into its own sub-category (i.e. directly under ‘Digital Marketing’)
Mary @ MeciaTouchCa
Shubhendu Ranjan Deb says
Now days, we access internet through mobile predominately and therefore Alex has classified mobile within internet marketing. Therefore a lot of media campaigns are built keeping in view mobile internet consumption.
I agree with you that is about time to have mobile marketing as a category on its own under digital marketing. It is much more important today than it was 5 years ago.
Jerry Liang says
Thanks for this great article
I am currently in a career of marketing and wishing to specialize in digital marketing, you article has definitely helped me define my career and goals, thanks again!
That’s great! Glad I could help you understand digital marketing.
Hey Alex, indeed very nice and informative article and me belonging to a start up firm will help me a lot to explain my clients the same. All i want if you could also add some basic difference in a table format which could be just simply referred in one stroke, still no doubt about the information you have shared.
Thanks for your comments and suggestions. That’s a good idea for an updated version.
All the best
Mark Williams says
This a great read. It was really insightful into the world of digital marketing. All the important aspects of digital marketing was covered.
Alex Chris says
Thank you Mark. Glad I could help you understand what is the true meaning of digital marketing.
Jade Nathan says
I am a beginner in SMM and the information provided is great and will help me with my consultations with customers.
Kiran Zaffer Iqbal says
You did a very good job and you just eased the word for any new SEO student who want to learn it for professional purpose and please carry on your work. Thanks
Welcome to the existing World of SEO!
I am looking forward to seeing how many more companies adapt their strategy to revolve around social media marketing and advertising over PPC in the coming year!.
Maruthi Dasar says
After reading this article I Understood what actually Digital Media Marketing. Social Media Marketing is one of the channel in Digital Media Marketing.
Now I am working in Digital Marketing Media and plan to start Social Marketing …..
after read this article I understood Digital Marketing is one of the best job …….
Thanks & Regards,
This article is clearly showing the difference between digital marketing and Social Media although these both terms are similar their niche is totally different and I appreciate the author while discussing the main factors of the both things.
Angelina Smith says
Really very informative article with lots of suggestion. Now I need to adapt these things which will improve my marketing skills.
Thanks & Regards,
James Mathew says
For any organization, social media is a key to brand building. Therefore, I must say that any agency or in-house team needs to develop a core marketing strategy, see their social signals because what I measure is that my company generates quality traffic from it.
I loved reading it, particularly because it’s simple to read and gives a clear understanding on the difference of both. I must share it for budding digital marketing enthusiasts.
Daisy Morton says
Hi Alex, thanks for explaining the difference between Digital Marketing and Social Media. It becomes easier for marketers to select where to promote their campaigns for better reach. Very informative and thanks for sharing.
Hi Alex, The difference between digital marketing and Social media is understood in these blog. It is very important to know the importance of different platforms and run the campaign accordingly.
Hariz Ken says
It’s a really good article.
Currently I work as a Social Media Strategist Coordinator, and I’ve been thinking to learn more about Digital Strategist. And this article shown me a lot explanation of details about both of them.
Thanks and regards,
Alex Chris says
Good luck in your Digital Marketing Career!
rohit bargav says
very helpful,I have never thought about the difference between digital marketing and social media but your post made me clear about the functions of dm and sm.thanks for sharing this post
Ryan Smith says
The difference between digital marketing and Social Media is very Big. Social Media is a part of Digital Marketing. Digital Marketing Includes Following:
1) Google Analytics and Webmaster
2) SEO( Search Engine Optimization)
3) SEM(Search Engine Marketing)
4) SMM ( Social Media Marketing)
5) Email Marketing and Mobile Marketing
6) Lead Generation
7) Growth hacking
Above all is just the Overview of Digital Marketing. Social Media Contains paid campaigns, Promotion, Lead Generation, To increase traffic to the website and for Brand Building.
Great explanation!! Now I can clearly understand the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing. Thanks a lot.
Drell Torres says
This article simplifies the answer of a lot of questions about Digital Marketing Industry especially to our clients. This would be very helpful in explaining the hierarchy of Digital Marketing and what’s under with it. Great job! Many would love to learn about the clear difference of Digital Marketing and Social Media. Thanks!
I really like how you have briefly explained the difference between Digital Marketing and Social Media. The article has improved my understanding on Digital Marketing, thanks to you. I am a Communications Specialist and currently working with my husband to market our new tour and travel company. I believe this information will help us a lot.
Alex Chris says
All the best with your promotion campaigns.
I am currently doing a 1 year course in Marketing specialisation in Social Media. In your opinion, do you think in the next 5- 10 years will social media marketing still be a big thing or not? Do you think it is here to stay?
Alex Chris says
Yes, I do believe it’s here to stay. There might be some changes on the way people interact on social networks but it will still be a big thing.
Praveen Kumar says
Such an awesome article, Alex. Thanks for writing and sharing it. Even people with zero knowledge of digital marketing and social media can understand this article and know how digital marketing and social media differ.
Thank you Alex! This is so far the easiest to understand article I encountered that gives one the difference between the two. We have no choice in the coming years but to adapt to changes otherwise we will be left behind. Digital marketing is a must to learn especially when you are in the business.
Alex Chris says
Correct, digital marketing is here to stay and it’s necessary for all marketers to built digital marketing skills.
I consider digital marketing as a whole while social media is a chunk in a digital marketing category. Thanks for providing such differences
Alex Chris says
That’s true. Social media is a part of digital marketing.
Social media is important part of digital marketing. Very Helpful and Informative Blog. Thanks for writing and sharing it.
Praveen Kumar says
An excellent post explaining how social media marketing is a part of digital marketing. Thanks for writing and sharing this.
Jonathan May says
This is a great source of information!The article did explain well on the difference between digital marketing and social media.
Priya Sharma says
Thank you Alex to clear my doubts between Digital marketing and social media marketing. I was quite confused between them. But now i am clear about each of them.
sampada Deshmukh says
You have explained things beautifully, thanks for this help..
Amazing article, keep sharing valuable stuff.