Digital Marketing

Differences between digital marketing and social media marketing

Apr 25, 2019

Differences between digital marketing and social media marketing Header Background

Whilst technically social media marketing IS digital marketing, these two variations of contemporary marketing have different goals and methods, making it important to choose the right one when beginning a new marketing campaign. Before you can start to appreciate the differences, you need to know what each type of marketing is.

Digital marketing is any type of marketing that is done via a digital form. This includes online advertising that can be viewed via laptop, desktop, mobile phones or apps, as well as non-internet channels such as TV, radio and SMS campaigns. Social media marketing comes under the banner of digital marketing, as previously mentioned, and digital channels might include email, search engines or even your own website.

Social media marketing covers advertising that is strictly done on social media platforms including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

Social media marketing is becoming more popular with businesses of all kinds, with many companies beginning to eschew other forms of digital marketing in favour of reliance on social media advertising only.

Advantages of digital marketing

It is important for any business to understand digital marketing before they attempt any other marketing activities, because it encompasses literally every form of modern marketing. Other advantages of this type of marketing include:

  • Global reach. A website has the potential to reach millions of people around the world for a very small initial investment.
  • No hidden costs. Where traditional marketing requires money to set up and gain visibility, digital media marketing requires little more than time and understanding once the campaign is set up.
  • Easily measurable. Digital marketing offers the most measurable way of marketing, with analytics making it easy to determine whether or not certain campaigns are working, making it easy to decide your next move.

Benefits of social media marketing

Social media marketing is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing in recent times, offering exciting new benefits such as:

  • Relevance. More people are on social media than ever, and it is popular with all age groups. With traditional print media and even television channels being less and less appealing because of cost and reach, social media feels like a advertising platform with a very strong future.
  • Improved visibility. Google rankings have been proven to improve for companies who are active on social media.
  • Communication. On social networks it is possible for businesses to interact directly with customers and get feedback, as well as show an informal face. Consumers typically enjoy a fun interaction with a business, and showing personality on social media is a great way to peak people’s interest.

What are the differences?

The Goals

Digital marketing can have more diffuse goals than social media marketing, as it is an umbrella term for so many channels of advertising, but goals can include:

  • Sales growth
  • Building brand awareness
  • Adding value and standing out from the crowd
  • Building a relationship with existing and potential customers
  • Promoting the brand

However, social media is almost entirely focused on building a relationship with customers and communicating. Social media marketing is about building a sense of community amongst fans and followers, and increasing customer engagement with the brand.

For this reason, whilst social media is key to defining the relationship between customer and company, it is too narrow to cover all marketing needs. Some businesses get this wrong and try just to stick with social media advertising because it feels new and fresh, but this may not be a savvy marketing choice.

Active vs passive engagement

Social media marketing offers a very active approach to engagement, directly communicating with customers in a public forum. The business will have a forum in which to answer questions, advertise deals and new products or services, and deal with complaints in a public and transparent way.

Meanwhile, digital marketing takes a more passive approach to engagement, and needs to be more inspired in how it goes about getting customers engaged.

Active engagement in digital marketing might include:

  • Getting email addresses via a giveaway or website form
  • Asking for feedback after online purchases
  • Promotions and discount codes
  • Holding events
  • Pay Per Click Advertising


Social media is a popular option for contemporary marketing because it offers the potential to reach thousands of people instantly. However, social media marketing is limited to the confines of the internet, whereas digital marketing can be everywhere. An advertising campaign that includes a banner on your Facebook page, a television ad with a catchy song and a memorable billboard is more likely to creep into the consciousness of your target audience than putting out 20 posts on Facebook per day.

Thus, many people think that social media marketing has the best reach, whereas it is actually better to use it as just one part of your digital marketing strategy so that you maximise the number of people who hear and act on your message.

How can you improve your social media content?

Use as many social networks as you can

Don’t just focus on Facebook or Twitter, get your brand onto every social network and tailor your content to each platform from the beginning. You can then track your engagement on each, as well as share counts, to find out which platform is the one that you need to focus on.

Create a unique brand identity

One of the biggest benefits of social media marketing is your ability to give your brand a personality. Decide what this will be and then use this personality in all of your advertising and interactions with customers. There is so much content on social media, that users are constantly following and unfollowing businesses that don’t keep them interested. Base your entire strategy around building a fascinating identity for them to follow.

Talk to people

If you’re going to use social media as part of your marketing strategy you need to understand what it is there for. Be prepared to put the hours in to talk to customers, replying to comments as quickly as possible and responding to problems within a small time frame. Responding quickly has the additional benefit that posts with rapidly updating feeds tend to jump to the top of users’ newsfeeds, keeping you relevant and helping your audience to grow organically.


There are hundreds of different digital advertising channels now. The sector has experienced exponential grown over the last decade, and it looks set to be the dominant force in the advertising arena.

Having a coherent and successful marketing strategy is definitely a full-time job in itself. Requiring dedication and knowledge to harness it effectively means that sometimes smaller business struggle to come up with an advertising plan that works. The friendly staff at MaxWeb can assist and advise you in this respect. To find out more please call us on 0151 652 4777 or email and ask to speak to our website development team.

Previous Article

Are Google ads a waste of money?

Next Article

Guide to B2B Email Marketing part one

Featured Article

Differences between digital marketing and social media marketing