The Difference Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing


The overlaps are rife, and only a thin line separates them.

It’s almost impossible to talk about social media marketing without considering content marketing and vice versa. 

Quite simply, after having done all the research, you should

a)know what your typical consumer likes to read

b) find a way to relay it to them as such.

A solid mix of both is crucial for success.  

And getting it right doesn’t come down to luck but rather an in-depth understanding of your target audience. 

What’s Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a blanket term describing the process of building brand visibility through social networking websites.  That includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Social media tends to rely heavily on user-generated content and on encouraging consumer conversation.

Who Needs Social Media Marketing?

Any brand or business that wishes to gain a following online would benefit from social media. In fact, if you’re not already on Facebook and Twitter, then it’s probably time you started.

Suffice it to say, social media is for anyone with an online presence. And by anyone, we mean:

  • Bloggers and web admins managing their own blogs and websites
  • Small businesses with a long-term marketing approach
  • Large corporations who want to engage the public through their social media outlets
  • Educational institutions with active alumni associations 
  • Non-profits with an ambitious outreach program
  • Business owners who run their operations offline

Social media has such a big impact on modern marketing that it’s impossible to ignore it.

Make a mistake of ignoring it, and your competitors will use it to their advantage.

What Are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing?

Let’s highlight some of the benefits of social media marketing:

  • Increase brand visibility and awareness 
  • Engage with customers on a more personal level  
  • Gather customer insight for future marketing campaigns
  • Increase social engagement and traffic 
  • Build relationships with influencers in your industry     

So, as you can see, there are several benefits to social media marketing. It goes beyond making sales.

What Do I Need to Get Started?

You don’t need much to get going: just a good idea and some free time. As soon as you sign up for a social media account, it’s time to get innovative.

How Does It Work?

In essence, the idea is to promote your content through user-generated content. For instance, if you’re a clothing store and have some new designs on offer, post pictures of them on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Ask your customers to give you their comments, thoughts, and feedback.  Elicit conversation by asking questions or sharing witty content that will send people to your website. It’s an indirect form of marketing that’s highly suitable for small businesses that are still struggling to gain a foothold in the market.

How to Set Up a Social Media Marketing Campaign

You can go through one of our previous posts on how to create a social media marketing campaign. But for the sake of this post, we’d like to examine the basic components of creating a social media marketing campaign:

Decide on Your Business Goals: The first step to developing any strategy (not just a social media marketing strategy) is deciding on your business goals. Do you want to make more sales? Get a lot of people to subscribe to your blog?

Identify Your Target Audience: That is where the majority of your research will take place, and it’s also where you’ll get a lot of material for content development. 

    • Who is your product or service meant for? 
    • What are their goals, desires, and fears? 
  • And lastly, how can you tap into that?

Set Your Social Media Marketing Objectives: After you’ve done your research and identified your target audience, it’s time to set your social media objectives. Take some time to figure out what exactly you want to achieve from your social media marketing campaign.

Develop a Content Strategy: Once you have gotten a general idea of what you want to achieve, it’s time to develop a content strategy. Make sure the content will be useful and, at the same time, make sense to your target audience. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but it should generate engagement.

Create Your Social Media Marketing Plan: Your social media marketing plan is the final step before you embark on your actual campaign. Take some time to consider what activities you’ll need to do to achieve your goals. Will you post original content? Or would it be better if you reposted content from other people?

The Importance of Tracking Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

If you don’t measure your efforts, then there’s no way you’d know whether or not it’s effective. 

By just looking at the statistics and marketing metrics associated with a campaign, you can tell so many things about your target audience and whether or not they’re engaging with your content.  

You don’t need to know every metric, but it does help if you can measure some of the basics:

Reach: The number of people who have viewed at least one of your posts 

Engagement Rate: % number of audience members reacting to your content

Net Likes: Number of people who’ve clicked Like on a particular post

Followers: The number of people who have signed up as fans on your social media pages.

With these statistics, you can easily see how many times each post has been viewed and the total number of reactions associated with a particular piece of content.

How to Use social media for Content Marketing

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or even Pinterest—the platform doesn’t matter as much as how you use them to promote your brand.

Start by creating social media accounts for your business 

You don’t have to create each account all at once, but you need to think about what kind of content you want to share and which network(s) will be the best vehicle for that content. Think about where your target audience spends most of their time, and try to develop a presence on that particular social media platform.

If you already have an account for your business, make sure it’s up-to-date 

Having an out-of-date social media account (and yes, it happens) won’t look good on your business. It may come off as unprofessional and could even make your potential customers think twice about working with you.

Make sure all of your social media accounts are connected 

The content on one network should appear on another. If a customer likes a post from Facebook, they should also see that same post on Twitter, just differently and tweaked to suit that particular social media platform. 

Diversify your content across different networks 

Each network has a unique purpose and audience. Meaning each piece of content you share must be relevant to that particular social network. For instance, Facebook is great for sharing industry news and events with your target audience, while Twitter works better with brief messages.

Creating content for social media

There are some great ways to enhance the quality of the content you share across social media platforms. When it comes down to it, what works best is a mixture of video, images, infographics, white papers/case studies, eBooks/reports, and presentations.

The best time to share your content on social media is Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. 

There’s no scientific evidence to prove this theory, but there’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence which implies that the best time to post content on social media is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. That is a good time to catch traffic from your audience while they’re “in office mode,” so plan accordingly!

What’s Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing that leverages the creation and sharing of content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the ultimate goal of driving profitable customer action.

It’s not so much about hard selling as it is about establishing credibility and trust in the mind of prospective consumers.

Why Content Marketing?

In a world where people are constantly bombarded with advertising messages from almost every direction, content marketing stands out from the crowd because it is non-intrusive and highly targeted. 

Content marketing channels consumers into your campaign at a time when they’re interested in your brand or product, rather than being forced to sit through a commercial that may or may not be relevant to their needs.

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The main difference between content marketing and other forms of “inbound” or “attracting” marketing is that instead of the product itself being the focus, the content you create is what really attracts audiences.

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Content marketing is an excellent strategy for building brand awareness and credibility, on top of educating and influencing your target audience. It also naturally lends itself to building trust between you and consumers, making them more likely to buy from you in the future. Content marketing can also help you shape your company’s brand identity, positioning, and messaging.

In a nutshell, here are some of the benefits of content marketing:

  • Increases brand visibility
  • Builds authority
  • Helps to convert leads
  • Nurtures relationships with existing customers
  • Generates revenue 
  • Creates opportunities for SEO
  • Increases customer loyalty
  • Produces relevant information that people want to consume it 

Who Needs Content Marketing?

The truth is, everyone can benefit from content marketing. From a small local business just getting started to a large multinational enterprise, you’ll find that great content can help you make your brand name more recognizable. It also establishes your expertise in your industry or niche. 

A recent study shows that 81% of B2B companies are using content marketing. 

However, while content marketing could work for all types of businesses, it’s known to be particularly helpful to the following groups:

  • Small Businesses with a shoestring marketing budget
  • Online Retailers
  • Start-ups
  • Non-profit organizations

Content marketing gives smaller businesses a fighting chance to compete with larger companies with deeper pockets. Even the U.S. government is getting into content marketing—the Internal Revenue Service has its own blog called The Write Life, where you can learn how to save money on your taxes and discover new tax deductions that you had no idea existed.

What Makes a Particular Piece of Content High-quality?

You need high-quality content to succeed with your content marketing strategy.  But what makes a particular piece of content high-quality? Here are some qualities of great content:

There is a clear purpose. 

  • The brand voice is evident throughout the piece
  • The information contained in the written content is trustworthy, accurate, and unbiased. 
  • It’s original. Any facts or figures have been properly cited with links pointing back to the source. 
  • The design of the content makes it visually appealing and engaging, particularly for social media posts. In addition, it’s also mobile-friendly since an increasing number of people are using their mobile phones to access the Internet.
  • It has been proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • It is up-to-date. For example, if you’re writing about a current event, your content will be perceived as more relevant and timelier if you update it quickly with the latest information.
  • The overall tone of the content is conversational rather than stuffy or overly formal. 
  • It follows the typical structure for your specific industry or niche.
  • Multiple calls-to-action are embedded within the content, encouraging readers to click through to your website and take action (e.g., signup for a free trial). 
  • The page load speed is fast, so it’s not frustrating for people on the go.
  • It offers a clear benefit to the reader. 
  • The content is well-organized and easy to digest, with a logical flow from one section to the next. It keeps readers engaged from beginning to end.

Platforms Where Content Can Be Distributed

Your social media Channels

Content marketing doesn’t have to be restricted solely to your primary website or blog. You can also distribute your content on social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites offer a unique opportunity to communicate with people who might not know you exist (and who wouldn’t have otherwise visited your website).

Note: It would be best if you didn’t spam people by over-sending them irrelevant updates. 

And when you post on social media, don’t just link back to your website or blog—try to add a personal touch by including a photo, video, or additional information not found in the written content.

website design banner

Other Ways to Distribute Content

In addition to using social media channels and posting links on your website or blog, you can distribute your content through email newsletters. To make your newsletters more effective, include several links to different types of content, such as articles and infographics.

Include a link to the full guide

Be sure to include a call-to-action at the end of the article directing readers to take action, such as clicking through to your website. 

Give Readers the Opportunity to Share

Ask readers to share your content with their followers if they like what they’ve read.

There are several ways to go about it, but the most popular option is to embed a “sharing button.” Just be sure not to use too many at once, or the design of the post will look cluttered and unappealing to readers. Shareable images can also be a good way to incentivize your audience.

Negative Aspects of Content Marketing

Content marketing can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have many resources to dedicate to it. It also requires a significant investment in content creation and distribution channels (such as social networks, email newsletters, blogs, websites, etc.)

In addition, content marketing doesn’t provide a direct source of income to the business, and you can even lose money if you don’t have a well-defined purpose and strategy.

Is Content Marketing the new SEO?

You’ve probably heard the statement, “content marketing is the new SEO.”

So, how true is this statement?

It turns out Google’s latest algorithm, the Core Update, has a really good understanding of topics and relationships between them. 

In other words, focusing on creating valuable content that covers certain topics or themes is becoming increasingly important for SEO.

Content marketing helps you increase the value of your website by providing useful, relevant information to people who are potentially interested in doing business with you. That makes it an excellent strategy to improve your website rankings and increase the number of people visiting it.

It would also help to make content marketing part of your overall SEO strategy by creating evergreen content that isn’t time-sensitive. And remember, you don’t have to be an expert at what you’re writing about! Just research the topic well, and be sure to relate it to your company or products.

Content Marketing Vs. Social Media Marketing: Which is Better?

The truth?  Both are critical. In fact, if done right, they work well in tandem.  Your investment into one should not come at the expense of the other. 

Having a healthy mix of both is critical for success — and different companies will at times find themselves leaning more towards one of them than the other depending on their industry, target audience, and risk appetite.

What’s the Similarity Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing?

Both social media and content marketing have the same objective: achieving maximum visibility for your brand.

How you achieve that visibility, however, differs. 

Content marketing represents a long-term commitment to delivering value and expertise to an audience over time. Long-form content, including blog posts, videos, guides, etc., are all examples of the different types of content you need to create to attract and retain readers.

Social media focuses on using short-form content to build connections and relationships with your target audience. Sharing links, images, videos, etc., are all examples of what you need to do to achieve this. It also explains why social media has proven to be more effective at driving traffic than content marketing.

This difference is very important for small businesses because it affects their overall strategy. A critical mistake that some make is to consider both as interchangeable when they’re not.

How Does Social Media Marketing Relate to Content Marketing?

The easy answer is: “it doesn’t”. At first glance, social media looks the exact opposite of content marketing. But the truth? It’s not.

If anything, part of the reason your business should invest in social media and content marketing is that they complement each other very well. For example:

  • Social media is a great platform to share links to your blog posts. All you need to do is integrate your blog into a popular social media platform like Facebook or Twitter, and you’ll be able to reach a large number of people quickly enough.
  • Some evidence shows that content marketing is more effective when it includes certain elements of social media. It all comes down to building trust and credibility with readers. By including social sharing buttons on your blog posts, you’re encouraging readers to share your content with their peers, which helps to establish your brand as an authority within the industry.
  • Social media can also help you generate ideas for new blog posts. By keeping tabs on what people are saying about your brand online, you can discover interesting stories about your product or service. That can help you establish yourself as an authority and even differentiate your business from your competition.
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The bottom line: there’s more to social media than just sharing images and short-form content. If done correctly, it can be a powerful marketing tool. The same goes for content marketing – not only is it necessary if you want to build a strong following, but it can also help you in your social media efforts.

Content Marketing Vs. Social Media Marketing: What’s the Difference?

There are countless overlaps between the two, to the point that it’s difficult to tell where one ends and where the other begins. 

However, upon closer inspection, there are a few key differences that distinguish them from each other.

For example:


Content marketing involves mapping out an in-depth strategy that focuses on attracting and engaging your target audience with engaging, helpful content related to your industry. This strategy is then used to create content that will accomplish your business goals. That can include blog posts, videos, ebooks, etc.

Conversely, social media marketing involves setting up groups of consumers engaged in conversations about topics related to your brand online.  Social media carries a risk of the unexpected and unplanned, but that is one of the main draws.  Having a defined strategy for staying on top of what your consumers want is critical for success here. 


Content marketing revolves around creating content that is “evergreen.” That means it will be relevant, engaging and helpful for the majority of its shelf life. 

Social media content tends to be more immediate. As a result, it’s great for communicating time-sensitive information like discounts or new product launches. It also gives you greater flexibility about what you post and when.


Content marketing tends to be more one-on-one, whereas social media is inherently a shared experience. A consumer who engages with or likes your Facebook page is likely interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest news and information about your industry and/or brand.

Social media content tends to be more public in nature. It’s about telling all your followers what you’re up to and building a broader community of engaged consumers that can add value to the conversation.


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Content marketing usually involves longer-form pieces like ebooks, blog posts or videos that offer value for multiple purposes. 

Social media posts are usually shorter and aimed at driving engagement by encouraging consumers to like or share your post. That can also include graphics or videos, but usually on a more immediate scale than content marketing.


Content marketing focuses more heavily on planning ahead and scheduling posts throughout the week. While at it, you have to make sure these posts adhere to your overall marketing strategy, besides helping you accomplish your goals.

Social media tends to require more of a “real-time” approach, with few opportunities for planning ahead in this respect. Meaning, consumers expect near-immediate responses from you and your brand when interacting with you online.

Target Audience:

Content marketing is aimed at a broad, general audience. 

Social media is aimed at a more niche audience — those already interested in your brand and are willing to engage with you online.

Who Gets it Wrong?

Your social media should not be about selling at every turn – yet some companies get this wrong. When consumers go to Facebook or Twitter for entertainment or exciting content, they don’t want to be bombarded with advertisements.

The same goes for content marketing. Content that is too focused on promoting your product or service doesn’t usually provide the best customer experience and therefore is unlikely to be effective.

Content marketing can also suffer from a lack of authenticity.  You need to ensure that your brand’s message is not only consistent across all channels but that it fits into the overall image and tone of your company.

How To Do It Right

Content marketing doesn’t always have to be based around your product or service (although there’s nothing wrong with doing this). Instead, it should be focused on what interests your customers and how your brand can support them.

That means understanding the current needs and interests of your target audience. You should also know what type of content resonates best with them on an ongoing basis.  

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Consequently, this should allow you to create content that will help establish your brand as a thought leader in your industry, ultimately leading to greater online engagement.

The key to social media is authenticity

Consumers expect brands and companies on social media to be human.  Whether you represent a giant multinational corporation or a small local business, your posts should always reflect your brand’s personality and everything it stands for. Repetitive, generic posts do nothing but turn off consumers and make them less likely to engage with you.

While content marketing is focused on long-form content, social media is about creating real-time experiences that encourage consumers to engage with your brand across numerous different platforms.  That includes everything from sharing your posts to following you on Twitter or liking your Facebook page. It also means offering new ways for them to get involved via Twitter chats and photo contests.

How to Get Them Both Right

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The key to getting both areas right is understanding your audience’s needs and how your brand relates to them. It would also help if you were willing to experiment with new ideas and content types to define what works best for your target audience.

When social media and content marketing work together, it can help you accomplish all of your marketing goals. Keep this advice in mind as you begin to develop your social media and content marketing strategies.

How to Make social media and Content Marketing Work Together

As we mention, social media and content marketing feed off of each other in many ways.  The big question is, how do you work them together and make them work for your business?

Here are some tips on how to do both successfully:

Target audience: Know who your target audience is and where they spend most of their time online.  If your company’s products or services appeal to a more general audience, social media is likely the best option for you.  On the other hand, if you market to a niche group of passionate customers, social media is likely not the best fit.

Content: Tailor your content for each area. If you’re targeting a general audience, you should avoid creating lengthy blog posts or white papers. Instead, stick to infographics and entertaining videos that are engaging and informative, not salesy.

If you’re targeting a more niche audience with your content marketing, make sure you utilize social media to reach new audiences and drive traffic back to your site.

Mix it up: Use each form of marketing in conjunction with the other; don’t separate them into “social” or “marketing” groups.  For example, you could host a Twitter chat to promote your content marketing efforts or co-sponsor an event with another business to get the word out about your social media initiatives.

Be Creative: Find new and exciting ways to raise awareness of your brand on social media.  If you’re marketing to a general audience, consider hosting sweepstakes or giveaways that will get people talking about your company and sharing their experiences with others online.

As you can see, integrating social media and content marketing is just a matter of knowing your audience and tailoring your approach.  Of course, as with any other business endeavor, it’s also crucial to measure the effectiveness of your strategies and make changes where necessary.

Do this to ensure content marketing and social media work better together to help you increase your brand awareness and—hopefully—sales as well.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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