In my escapades in this digital landscape I have too many times heard that content marketing IS social media marketing, and that is TOTALLY untrue!

Lets debunk this myth once and for all.

Although content marketing does involve some heavy investment in social media and the two may overlap somewhat, infact better said that they work in tandem, but there are a few very distinct differences between these entities. They have completely different processes, focal points and goals. Let’s look at the 2 biggest differences that are pertinent to a good content marketing strategy.

FACT: If you publish anything online, be it social or a blog post, you are a PUBLISHER.

The Gravitational Mass:

When looking at social media we focus our marketing activity inside the social media networks themselves, IE: As we create content, we aim to inject all our content into either of the platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, G+ or LinkedIn. The centre of gravity is the social platform.

The contrasting centre of gravity for content marketing is the brand website, be it a branded URL, or a microsite, makes no diffs, but the social media efforts are vital here and used primarily for backlinks to the actual content on the brands site. Social media here then is not the container of the content but the conduit.

The Content Types:

When talking about social media marketing, brands model their behaviour based on those using the social media; the content has to be built to fit in with the context of that channel, IE: Twitter allows 140 characters, an image etc, while things like infographics, video, and how to’s work in FB.

When looking at content marketing, brands model their behaviour based on that of a media publisher, the website offers longer forms of content and brands are not limited to what they can publish, IE: videos, blogs, eBooks, etc.

The Objectives:

Social media objectives are firstly brand awareness, by generating discussion and activity around the brand, then secondly, its best used for customer satisfaction and retention. It’s a proven fact that brands that use their social media for customer dialogue and care, are trumping the social media race.

In contrast however, having the website based center of gravitational pull, content marketing can be focused on demand generation of quality content, that way developing a relationship with prospects, as quality content brings quality prospects to one’s site, and this could lead to conversions.

The Conclusion:

As brands settle down into their new roles as publishers, the natural progression will be content marketing, but the bar is set really high, they not only have to create long form quality content that builds audiences on their own site, they have to engage more deeply with their audiences in all channels, and knowing the difference between content marketing and social marketing is just the beginning.

Content marketing strategies should include social media as they are there to not only support the audience but the long term content marketing objectives of the business or brand itself.