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Difference Between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Updated on 27th Mar, 23 251 Views

The following topics will be covered in the blog :

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So, let us start by first understanding the meaning of Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital Marketing refers to the process of using digital media and creating a customized marketing strategy with an aim to promote the products and services and establish brand awareness amongst the target audience. Digital marketers explore several channels such as E-Mail Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Paid social media platforms, etc.

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What does a Digital Marketing strategy include?

Creating and building a Digital Marketing strategy is very crucial, as it forms the base of the performance of your Marketing efforts. The following are usually included in a successful digital Marketing strategy:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC)

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Why is Digital Marketing used?

In the last two decades, Digital Marketing has been constantly preferred over Traditional Marketing methods. The reasons are multiple benefits and advantages of Digital Marketing. Social Media Marketing, also a part of Digital Marketing has contributed a lot to the latter’s increasing popularity. Below given are some of the important benefits of Digital Marketing:

1. Personalized Communication

An organization that implements Digital Marketing, knows its customers in and out. Hence, it can send personalized emails, messages, and invites to its target and potential customers, thus, increasing brand awareness and customer engagement. It is a human tendency to feel good when getting a personalized touch. This has brought customers and organizations closer than before. Thanks to Digital Marketing.

2. Enhanced Customer Engagement

Using Digital Marketing techniques, organizations have reached an all-new level of customer engagement. Companies frequently launch new ad campaigns and lucky contests to maintain the interest of the customers in the brand and increase engagement levels. Also, customers these days are always ready to research product details and prices, etc. So, when companies lose new launches regularly on digital platforms, customers promptly click on links and research at the very same moment. This is one of the most common ways to increase engagement.

3. Knowledge of the Customer Lifecycle

Customer Lifecycle means the entire time the customer has stayed ( i.e. purchased company’s products/services) with the company. Digital Marketing acts as a documentation of all the actions and purchases made by a customer in his/her entire lifecycle. This data is used by the market researchers of the company to understand various parameters like customer demands, purchase decisions, buying power, etc.

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4. Targets right Customers

In traditional Marketing, there is a high risk that you might end up shooting arrows in the dark, i.e. you might not entirely cover your target audience or might even miss them. But Digital Marketing allows companies to target the right customers and directly reach them effortlessly and without utilizing much time and effort. The reason is that companies have access to digital Marketing tools that help in tracking KPIs and analyzing a customer’s online activities and demographic information. Based on the produced results, the target audience is reached.

5. Quality Lead Pipeline

The lead pipeline is basically, the sales funnel that contains the potential leads which can be converted into final customers by the sales force of the company. The digital Marketing team hunts for these leads and passes on quality leads to the sales team. The sales team later follows these leads and tries to convert them into customers by selling the product or services. Now, Digital Marketing techniques and tools help in identifying and collecting leads that are of high quality, i.e. potential customers who have shown interest and are likely to purchase the offerings of the company.

6. Better Brand building

The Internet has the highest reach nowadays. Be it customers using it to google information or companies using it to reach customers. Digital Marketing uses advanced techniques such as paid media advertising, paid social media campaigns, email Marketing, etc. to interact and engage with customers, thus building a better brand reputation. Also, customers can easily reach out to companies via social media channels for any grievance redressed and complaints. This has helped companies to build a positive brand image in the minds of their customers.

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Digital Marketing Tools

Now that we have discussed what is Digital Marketing, let us understand the various tools used by digital marketers:

  • Social media channels
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Organic Social Media Marketing
  • Paid Social Media Marketing
  • Video hosting tools
  • Website analytics
  • Content creation tools
  • Google AdSense
  • Google Adwords

The above-mentioned tools are just a few. There are numerous digital Marketing tools used by marketers for reaching out to the maximum number of customers at lower costs.

So far, we discussed a broader concept, i.e. Digital Marketing. Now we will learn about Social Media Marketing, which is a narrower concept or rather a part of Digital Marketing.

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What is Social Media Marketing?

Social Media Marketing (SMM) simply means using social media channels/platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. for Marketing your products, services, brands and engage with your target audience, and reach out to the maximum possible people. Social Media Marketing is just a part of Digital Marketing as the latter is a lot more than just Social Media Marketing.

When compared to other modes of Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing is the most used channel or tool by companies and brands as it helps the companies reach the maximum potential customers. Social Media Marketing involves activities like engaging followers through some contest, posting generic or focused content, live events, ad campaigns, etc. All of these are directed toward one single aim of attracting the target audience. In a world where social media has become accessible to almost everyone, brands prefer to use Social Media Marketing for promoting their products, services, brand, and content.

This has led the companies to invest more time and effort in designing a well-structured Social Media Marketing strategy. So let us now understand why the focus on Social Media Marketing has increased in the past few years.

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What does a Social Media Marketing strategy include?

We have already discussed earlier in this blog that Social media marketing forms a major part of Digital Marketing. However, a major portion of digital marketing strategy includes a social media marketing strategy. Hence, let us understand what is included in a Social Media Marketing strategy :

Usually, the following elements constitute a social media marketing strategy:

  • Marketing Research and Analytics
  • Influencer marketing
  • Customer engagement
  • Campaign management
  • Social Media contests
  • Short and long-form Content marketing
  • Organic and paid marketing

Why is Social Media Marketing an important part of Digital Marketing?

Ease of Engagement

You can reach out to a maximum number of people at a comparatively lesser cost than that incurred in traditional marketing methods. There is a whole lot of comparison in Traditional vs Digital Marketing. Not only this, as per research, the attraction rate amongst the audience is higher when Social Media Marketing is used when compared to other Digital Marketing techniques/tools.

Reach out to the right Audience

You know your target audience but it is not always easy to reach them. By using Social Media Marketing, you can not only reach them but also build your brand awareness among them. In the last few years, Digital Marketing techniques have evolved manifolds. Social Media Marketing uses these advanced tools and techniques to search for the right audience.

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Unrestricted Content Quantity

The majority of social media platforms do not have any restrictions on the quantity of ad content etc. Hence Social Media Marketing allows for repetitive promotions. However, it should be kept in mind that repeatedly bombarding the audience with advertisements will only annoy and irritate them thus resulting in a negative impact on brand image. Thus, using Social Media Marketing is good but there needs to be regular intervals.

Lightening Response

Social Media Marketing is considered the best and most economical way to reach your customers or potential customers in a shorter period of time. Not only this, the response of the customers can be seen in a short span of time. Hence, it is also seen that companies come up with short ad campaigns when they wish to get quick results or know customer behavior.

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Difference between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing

So far we understood Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing in detail. Now let us read what is the core difference between the two.

1. Different Modes

The modes used in Digital Marketing involve both online as well as offline channels. For example- If you are running an ad campaign, it will run on TV, SMS, Mobile phones, Electronic displays, etc. Whereas, in the case of Social Media Marketing, the channels used to involve only social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more.

2. Different types of Content

In Digital Marketing, banner advertisements are used and can be posted only on platforms like TV, electronic displays, the internet, etc. Also, the frequency of posting the content is lesser as compared to Social Media Marketing. Whereas, in the case of Social Media Marketing, the performance and success of your social media Marketing campaign depend on how frequently you are posting the content. Not just this, the content that you post should be unique every time.

3. Different Objectives

In Digital Marketing, the primary aim is to reach the maximum number of possible people and potential customers. Whereas, in Social Media Marketing, the primary aim is to establish brand awareness and build brand image.

4. Different Tools

Digital Marketing uses banner advertisements, jingles, pop-ups, etc. as the marketing tools. Social media marketing tools include paid social media ad campaigns and other advanced online marketing tools.

5. Different Response Time

In Digital marketing, the time taken to know the audience response rate is longer as many audiences tend to miss or ignore the ads and content. On the other hand, Social Media Marketing is known to produce prompt and quick audience response rates. This is why organizations prefer Social Media Marketing for reaching their target audience.

By now, you must be clear about the core differences between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing. Now let us understand which one is better.

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Which is better – Digital Marketing or Social Media Marketing?

There is no straight answer to the question of which of the two is better. It depends on what is the motive that you wish to fulfill. If you want to reach out to the maximum number of customers and potential buyers, you should opt for Digital Marketing. But if you wish to focus on a specific set of customers and build brand awareness and image, Social Media Marketing should be your go-to technique.

To talk about preferred options from either of the two, it is important to understand the user and audience. As per research, people spend approximately 30% of their time on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. In this case, the ideal decision should be to choose Social Media Marketing for promoting your brand and products.

Digital Marketing is considered to be a cost-effective marketing technique as compared to traditional marketing strategies. But Social Media Marketing is cheaper than Digital Marketing. Both have their own benefits and can be used together as well as individually. Hence, the final answer lies in what is your motive or end objective.


Both these terms- Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing have been used interchangeably and continue to be so. Here, we have explained in depth the various differences between the two. In the blog, we talked about the meaning of the two, and the core difference between these two closely related domains. We also answered the most common question regarding which is better between the two. Hope this blog has helped you in getting clarity on these marketing techniques and will be of use in your career ahead.

Read: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing

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