Zehnder Communications, Inc.

Social Media Marketing vs Content Marketing

Today, most digital marketing campaigns combine different strategies to create a cohesive plan. However, when it comes to Social Media Marketing vs Content Marketing, it can be hard to tell the two apart. Though social media and content campaigns are often implemented together, they are distinct strategies.
Social Media Marketing vs Content Marketing

Social media is a channel whereas content marketing is a tactic, but both are tools every marketer should have in their toolbox. And to market effectively, you must understand their differences. While content builds confidence through knowledge, social media builds trust through interaction. In simple terms, content is what you show to a customer, and social is how you interact with them. 

Despite their differences, marketing technologies work better together. Social is more conversational and reactive, often used as a customer support channel. But to garner attention and encourage engagement, your content must be worthwhile. So, how can social media and content marketing work together?  Is one strategy better than the other? Do you need both? Read on to learn how social media and content marketing can help you fine-tune your strategy and drive conversions.

What is social media marketing?

To understand the difference between social media marketing and content marketing, let’s look at the terminology. 

Social media marketing is a delivery mechanism that disperses content, extending its reach via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and many more.

While every social media platform has its distinct audience and tone, the common denominator is customer engagement. Social media marketing is both direct and indirect, encouraging brand-to-customer interactions and nurturing customer relationships. Brands start the conversation by sharing content, and users like, comment, and share to boost the content’s reach. This not only generates brand awareness indirectly but also allows customers to interact directly with your brand.

Social media marketing can also help you target and engage prospective customers. It’s an excellent tool for keeping your finger on the pulse and staying abreast of trends. Attentive social media marketers can gather invaluable business insights from customer interactions on these platforms, tailoring their marketing strategy to meet consumer needs. 

But to keep customers engaged, you need thumb-stopping and click-worthy content. Ultimately, social extends the reach of content, allowing you to engage directly with your customers. But without strong content to back it up, social media marketing doesn’t have the same impact. So, how can you create content that is engaging and constructive?

What is content marketing?

A strong content marketing strategy not only bolsters your social campaign, but also builds familiarity, likeability, and trust between you and your customers. At its core, content marketing attracts new customers by pushing creative (and original) content that is both valuable and engaging. Content is designed to attract and retain target groups, supplying information that prompts them to convert or further engage with your brand. 

Content marketing collateral is exceptional and credible, from blog posts to web pages and videos to infographics. Content draws attention to an organization by adding value to an industry discussion, often offering solutions to problems and challenges. This is especially true of long-form content like blogs. Blogs establish you as a thought leader, convincing customers to do business with a true expert. However, content should also be approachable, fun, and beneficial to share. Valuable content drives conversions, and readers may share with a business partner or backlink your piece in their content.

However, content is not standalone - it supports digital marketing and other initiatives. Content boosts exposure for a new product or service, raising awareness and influencing customer attitudes. Additionally, content positions your organization or business as a thought leader while adding value. This “value” builds trust between you and your customers. Good content should not only educate - it should also inform, entertain, and inspire your readers.  
What is the difference between social and content marketing

What is the difference between social and content marketing? 

Both social media and content marketing aim to increase awareness of your business and drive conversions, but there are a few key differences between the two strategies. 

While social media marketing drives engagement through consumer interactions, content marketing drives traffic and visitors to a brand’s site. A social post encourages likes, retweets, comments, and shares, creating a dialogue between the brand and its customers. This means that consumers have a hand in the relationship, exercising control over the brand’s image and reception on social media. Content marketing, however, is a well-researched lesson. Consumers learn from the content, but they have no hand in its creation or dispersal.

While social media marketing lives on social media platforms, content marketing lives on a brand’s website. However, content marketing often extends to social platforms and other distribution channels. In this way, content marketing and social media marketing can work in tandem. But even when content is distributed via a social media network, the primary goal is to drive traffic and house links back to the brand’s website.

The form of each strategy dictates the content. Social media marketing is often short-form, using language sparingly but impactfully. Think of 280-character tweets or visual-heavy Instagram posts. Content marketing, on the other hand, is often long-form and more in-depth content that raises questions and responds to customer concerns. However, these long-form pieces can be broken down into bite-size social posts and captions for a cross-platform campaign.

These two marketing tools also have different, though complementary, purposes. Social media marketing aims to increase brand awareness, customer retention, and satisfaction by creating an open forum for brand-client interactions. This makes a brand more relatable, and thereby more likable. Content marketing helps a brand generate demand and position itself as an industry thought leader, building familiarity and inspiring trust. However, while social media marketing and content marketing have their unique strengths, they are both designed to drive conversions and generate new business.



Drives Engagement

Drives Traffic

Generates a Dialogue

Teaches a Lesson

Lives on Social Media Platforms

Lives on a Brand's Website

Often Short-form

Often Long-form

Increase Brand Awareness
and Relatability

Build Trust as a Thought Leader

Which Marketing Strategy Should I Use?

Social & content are part of an integrated marketing strategy. You don’t have to choose between them - but for maximum reach, you need to use both in tandem. Social is a modern distribution channel for a time-tested strategy. Content is the story, and social media is how we tell those stories. They support one another - understand the tactics separately, but use them together.  And once you understand their strengths and weaknesses, you can align your efforts and get the most out of your marketing.

Without strong content to back them up, social media posts won’t have the same weight and trust-building ability. And without social media, content won’t have the same reach and impact. To capture people’s attention via social media and cultivate the content to back it up, reach out to the experts at Zehnder. Shoot an email to

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