Three Big Differences Between Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing

2 minute read

Upland Admin

Apple v. orange image via Mike Johnson at

Apple and orange by Mike Johnson of (via Flickr).

Despite explosive growth in the practice of content marketing, it’s still a relatively new concept for a lot of brands and agencies. In fact, many interpret it as social media marketing, with which marketers tend to be more familiar and comfortable. And although the two go hand-in-hand, they are distinct practices.

To further explain, I wrote a post for the Content Marketing Institute, “Content Marketing v. Social Media Marketing: What’s the Difference?” In it, I break down three major ways in which these two practices differ.

The first is what I refer to as “center of gravity.” In social media marketing, content is produced and contained within social networks themselves. That’s not the case with content marketing:

“Social networks are vital to the success of content marketing efforts, but here, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are used primarily as a distributor of links back to the content on the brand’s website—not as containers of the content itself.”

Second, the types of content created for social marketing are different than those created for content marketing due to those unique centers of gravity and the behaviors they require. For social media marketing, “brands model their behavior after that of the individuals using the social networks.” In content marketing, “brands model their behavior after that of media publishers.”

Finally, social media marketing and content marketing serve varying objectives. Social media marketing is exceptional for building brand awareness and customer retention/satisfaction.

“In contrast, content marketing’s website-based center of gravity enables it to focus more on demand generation.”

In conclusion, I argue that the rewards and results of content marketing are more powerful than social media marketing, because brands can engage more deeply with their customers, with greater opportunity to gain leads and move them down the conversion funnel.

Of course, I’m not suggesting content marketers stop practicing social media marketing. I consider both practices essential and interrelated in the evolution of marketing in general.

What do you, Marketeer readers, think about these points?

There’s a healthy discussion going on back at CMI. Join in with a comment, and we’ll keep the conversation going.

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