Social Media or Digital Marketing? A Rose by Any Other Name?

3 min read · 7 years ago


digital marketing strategy

If you’re a regular reader, maybe you’ve noticed a subtle (or not so subtle) shift from using the term “social media marketing” to “digital marketing”. This was a very conscious shift on my part, but is it simply semantics or does the shift show something more fundamental happening in this area?

Social media or digital marketing

Well, there is some confusion here.

Some define digital marketing as marketing through any electronic device (including TV). I’m not crazy about this definition because the tactics of traditional media are different from new media in fundamental and significant ways.

Others define the distinction in a way I’m more comfortable with. For instance, Roadabode Productions defines digital marketing as:

Tactics such as the development of a keyword universe, search engine optimization (SEO), e-newsletters or what a recent seminar attendee interestingly called “digital direct mail”, websites, blogs, local marketing including Google’s Local Place Pages, AdWords, banners, and other methods of paid online advertising, and even review sites all fall under the heading of “digital marketing”.

Using this definition, social media is but one tactic within digital marketing. Thus, digital marketing is the entire strategy of reaching consumers online, while social media is limited to your efforts across social platforms.

A rose by any other name

So, is this distinction between social media and digital marketing meaningful or is it more semantic?

I believe the distinction between social media and digital marketing is meaningful and significant for your market performance. Here’s why:


Not so long ago, advertising was not integrated well with the rest of marketing and even advertising on different channels was always integrated. Today, most firms operate using the notion of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) where every aspect of the business communication is integrated under the umbrella of the brand (including graphics, positioning, and messaging). Not only does IMC mean all communications share a similar look and feel, they reinforce the brand and support the mission of the firm.

Digital marketing similarly encompasses integration across social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc), your website (blog), content marketing, digital advertising, email marketing, SEO (which is fundamentally content marketing), digital PR and influencer outreach, podcasting, and several other online marketing tactics.

Integration across digital marketing efforts not only means tactics share similar look and feel, but promote the same brand image. Digital marketing integration also means you share blog posts (content marketing) across social networks on a consistent basis and re-purpose content from one social network on other social networks. For instance, you might transcribe your YouTube video or podcast and post it on your website. Or, you might take a post published as a guest on another site and revise it for a post on your website.

Offline support

Digital marketing includes marketing efforts aimed to support your offline commerce, such as customer support. An effective digital marketing strategy uses social channels as a two-way communication to offer customer service and answer consumer questions. The value of using social platforms for customer support is two-fold:

  1. social customer support heads off problems before they get amplified by social sharing
  2. social customer support harnesses the power of community to reduce the load on your customer support staff, while building stronger community ties.

Market research and consumer insights

Digital marketing strategy should include gathering customer insights to not only optimize your digital marketing performance, but gathering market research to guide your overall marketing, including new products and improving existing products, pricing, positioning, messaging, etc.

Create a digital marketing strategy

Now that you know the distinction between social media and digital marketing, it’s important to create an effective digital marketing strategy incorporating social media along with other digital marketing tactics.

Here’s a brief outline of the digital marketing strategy I create for clients. Learn more about completing your own digital marketing strategic plan here.

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Objectives
  3. Situation Analytics
    1. Target market – personas
    2. Competitive analysis
    3. Economic analysis
    4. Technological analysis
    5. Legal/ regulatory analysis
    6. Cultural analysis
    7. SWOT analysis
  4. Proposed strategies
    1. Branding/ messaging
    2. Digital engagement process
    3. SEO/ keyword strategy
    4. Content marketing
    5. Digital advertising/ promotion
    6. Email marketing
    7. Social media marketing
  5. Budget
  6. Metrics, KPIs, Analytics plan
  7. Timeline

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Social Media or Digital Marketing? A Rose by Any Other Name?

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