Digital marketing vs. social media marketing

Digital marketing vs. social media marketing – the differences

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Back when I first became aware of social media in 2004, I thought it was just a fad. 

A friend invited me to join MySpace, and I immediately incorporated it into my digital marketing strategy – only expecting short-term gains. 

I’m very happy to admit I was wrong, as social media has become a cornerstone of any digital marketing plan. 

Digital marketing vs. social media marketing

The world of marketing is constantly evolving, and it can be not easy to know where to start. There are so many different options available for marketing your business these days that it’s hard to choose which ones will work best. If you’re looking for a way to market your business in the digital space, social media should not be overlooked. 

My blog post will cover different aspects of digital marketing, emphasizing the differences between social media and other types of online marketing such as email or search engine optimization (SEO).

Which is better social media marketing or digital marketing?

Okay, digital marketing vs. social media marketing, which one is better? 

Well, it depends on what your objectives are. 

For example: If you’re looking to increase evergreen website traffic, an SEO strategy will work best for that goal. Whereas if you want to improve your brand awareness, then social media is best. 

Digital marketing and social media marketing both have important roles to play, but at different sales funnel stages.

Social media is typically used at the early or top stages of the funnel. 

Social Media Marketing is used when building awareness and driving traffic is needed, while Digital Marketing includes more aspects such as email or search engine optimization.

Digital Marketing is typically used at all sales funnel stages, including when prospects have been qualified and nurtured by social media.

Once prospects are qualified, they can be nurtured in automated email campaigns or with retargeting ads on social media channels until they convert.

Either way, both strategies are important pieces in any digital marketing strategy. 

What is digital marketing? 

Digital marketing is often used as an umbrella term that includes many different types of marketing, including SEO, PPC (pay per click), display ads, email marketing, and social media advertising. 

Digital marketers are often involved in every aspect of an organization’s digital strategy – from search engine optimization to blogging – so that you’re producing content people want to read about your industry as well as promoting it through paid advertisements online.

It differs from traditional advertising in two core ways; speed and tracking. 

Digital Marketing is often executed in a much shorter time frame, sometimes as little as one business day. 

Traditional marketing can take months before it even results in sales/leads, and there’s no way to measure the impact of an advertisement on your company’s bottom line until after it airs or publishes. 

In digital marketing, you have access to real-time data that allows for quicker optimization with less guesswork involved, such as conversion rates, social media followers, website traffic, etc. This means you’ll be able to test new advert content and see what works quickly. 

But digital marketing is not without its downsides too. 

You might need to rely on a marketing team with the expertise to monitor and make changes based on data points, which may not be feasible for smaller companies or startups. 

This means that investments are needed in hiring specialized employees and software tools to get accurate reporting metrics such as Google Analytics, Hubspot CRM, etc. 

This also translates into an upfront investment before you see any results from your efforts. For this reason, many small businesses choose social media marketing where they don’t need experts on staff but instead rely solely on free platforms.

What is social media marketing? 

Social media usually falls under the category of “online communications,” which refers to all methods for communicating via a computer network or using digital technologies. 

The term often encompasses everything from blogging to reading blogs, creating content on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, etc.

There are several benefits of investing in a strong presence on social media channels.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the fastest-growing media channels out there. Linkedin and Pinterest are also marketing channels that provide the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with customers and prospects.

Social marketing is about forming relationships that will drive your business objectives, such as leads generation, sales conversion, or increased engagement.

For example, in its 17 years of existence, Facebook has grown from a dorm room project to over two billion active monthly users, with more than half of those logging into the site daily. 

With these numbers, it’s not difficult to see social media should be an important part of any digital strategy for your business today, not to mention the potential to tap into viral marketing and influencer marketing. 

However, the garden is not all is not rosy when it comes to this type of online marketing.

One major downside to social media is organic reach – it’s declining each year. 

This means your audience will see fewer of your posts. 

It’s also not great for evergreen traffic. You’ll see an initial spike in traffic, but as the newsfeed gets populated with more content, your post drops further and further. 

Which is more important digital marketing or social media?

So which one should you focus on? Both! 

You need to think about the multiple aspects of your digital presence and how they complement each other throughout different parts of the conversion cycle. 

A well-put-together online marketing strategy will address each sales funnel stage and help you run a successful and profitable website.

A simple funnel might look like this:

Top of funnel – blog post, social media post

Middle of funnel – landing page, email list, social media retargeting

Bottom of funnel – sales page, cart abandonment email, social media retargeting 

As you can see, we’re making use of several aspects of digital marketing and social media marketing. 

Top of funnel explained

The blog post uses SEO to attract organic traffic for the future – once it’s ranked in search engines. The social media post generates immediate interest and traffic but is short-lived. 

Middle of funnel explained

Visitors from the blog post can opt-in to an email list via a landing page. We can run a retargeting campaign on social media that advertises the landing page for the people who decided not to. 

Bottom of funnel explained

Once people have subscribed to the email list, we can send them to a sales page where they will (hopefully) convert into customers. However, to re-engage the ones who didn’t, we can run a cart abandonment campaign asking them to return to the sales page. Or we can run it on social media through adverts. 


Digital marketing and social media marketing should work together hand in hand. 

As both will provide you with a plethora of data to work with, the smart way to grow your business is by analyzing the results and repeating more of what works.

In time, your digital marketing campaign should produce a good return.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *