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  • What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing — and Which One is Right for You? 

    June 25, 2023 | About a 3 min read

    Blog, Marketing

    What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing — and Which One is Right for You? 

    By Pathfinders Advertising
    June 25, 2023
    About a 3 MIN read

    On the surface, content marketing and social media marketing may seem to fulfill the same purpose: Both refer to producing relevant, brand-aligned assets and copy to capture an audience’s attention. However, diving into the nuanced differences between the two could make all the difference when it comes to your business’s marketing strategy. 

    Before you invest your entire marketing budget in one or the other, it’s a good idea to determine what kind of attention you’re looking to capture — and from whom. 

    Before Strategizing, Determine Your Audience’s Personas 

    One of the first cardinal rules of marketing strategy should be something like, “You can’t get everyone to love you.” It’s impossible — and, if we’re being honest, boring — to create a brand so broad that it appeals to the literal masses. Instead, we recommend narrowing your target audience down to one or several customer personas that are most likely to buy what you’re selling. A key part of this process is determining where your target demographic “hangs out.” Do they spend their evenings reading emails? Are they serial Instagram scrollers? Once you’ve fleshed out your audience personas, it’s much easier to figure out which marketing channels to activate next. 

    Content Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing — Are They Opposites? 

    One of the big differences between content marketing and social media marketing is the breadth of each term. Let’s break it down with a metaphor: Think of content marketing as the white of a perfect fried egg. As it cooks, it spreads in the pan, covering more ground than the much smaller yolk. You guessed it — that yolk is social media marketing. 

    Content marketing encompasses all sorts of media and copy, including blog posts, email blasts, videos, brochures, white papers, and, yes, social media content. All content marketing seeks to do the same thing: garner attention and elicit responses from its audience using some form of content creation. Traditionally, this is measured in conversions, or the number of people who complete an action that pushes them deeper into your sales funnel. For example, this could mean driving traffic to your website or having prospects opt in to receive your marketing emails. 

    Outside of the social media bubble, a majority of content marketing involves speaking to your audience, educating them on your products and services or otherwise adding value to your brand. In contrast, social media marketing opens up a conversation between you and your audience or, often, between the personas within your audience. This can drive brand consideration and preference in ways that lie outside of the actual content you produce. Additionally, social media often drives engagement (e.g., comments, likes, shares, and saves of your posts) and expands your brand’s reach rather than seeking to achieve conversions — though conversions aren’t totally out of the picture thanks to CTAs and paid social media activation. 

    So, no, content marketing and social media marketing are not opposites; social media marketing is a separate sphere of conversations and KPIs happening inside the broader world of content marketing. 

    So, Which One Is for Me? 

    To answer this question, you need to revisit your personas. For example, if your target market includes “Jeff,” a 70-year-old retiree whose best friend is the postman, print content marketing might be your number one investment. However, another one of your personas might be “Shirley,” a 50-something mother of three who can’t stop posting pictures on Facebook. You may also notice a few Gen Z “superfans” tagging your product in multiple Instagram Reels, making it a no-brainer to look into influencer partnerships and start a social media-driven dialogue.  

    In short, evaluating your personas and brand KPIs is essential in determining which type of content marketing to pursue. Often, an omnichannel marketing strategy works best — but it’s entirely contingent upon where your audience spends most of their time. 

    This Seems Complicated… 

    Trust us, we know. We’ve been navigating these nuances since the ‘80s. If you need seasoned experts to help you determine next steps, we’re here to help. Contact us today to get started

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