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Digital Marketing vs Social Media Marketing

Choosing the right marketing strategy for your business or website is vital for it to succeed in the competitive online space. Every year, customers and audiences expect more and more from the online platforms they use. This has led to improved customer service, higher quality products, and better marketing strategies that turn viewers into leads that convert into sales.

But how do you design a marketing strategy that’s right for your business? Which is right for you when it comes to digital marketing vs social media marketing?


What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the promotion of your business using the internet. Over the last decade, digital marketing has transformed the way businesses manage their advertising. Digital marketing channels and techniques include:

  • Social media – including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and other platforms
  • Websites and blogs
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Search engine marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising

Initially, digital marketing particularly targeted younger audiences. But now, given the wide use of the internet and smartphones, digital marketing allows businesses to reach most demographics with ease.

Now that we have an idea of what digital marketing is, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of it.


Advantages of Digital Marketing

Opportunities for Engagement

With digital marketing, you can engage with lots of potential customers in a range of different ways. After a while, you’ll know which specific digital marketing techniques are more effective. You can then focus your energy (and resources) on these to fine-tune your overall marketing strategy.

Useful Analytics

One of the major advantages of digital marketing over more traditional forms of marketing is the ability to measure its effects in real-time. These days, analytics show you exactly how your marketing strategy is performing in terms of site traffic and conversions. This helps you understand what is or isn’t working and makes digital marketing a reliable way to reach new audiences.

Low Cost

Many forms of digital marketing are relatively cheap compared to non-digital strategies. Even small, low-cost (or no cost!) digital marketing campaigns can produce surprisingly profitable results. This makes it an ideal choice for small businesses and start-ups.


With digital marketing, you can target very specific audiences to achieve results. Alternatively, you can make the most of digital marketing’s wide reach and try a broader approach. This flexibility makes digital marketing useful for all types of businesses.


Disadvantages of Digital Marketing

Impermanent Medium

The nature of digital marketing is temporary, which can reduce the memorability of its messaging compared to a shop window display or billboard. The way users interact with technology and the amount of content out there means that it’s easy for potential customers to scroll past your social media post or delete your marketing email.

Quickly Evolving Market

Things change very quickly in the digital space. This can make it difficult for marketers to stay ahead of new trends and create relevant content that will deliver a good return on their investment.

Highly Specialised

Each platform in the digital space is unique, and you may need to learn new skills to maximise its effects. If you need fast results and have the budget, outsourcing various parts of your digital marketing to experts may be a good idea.

Now that we understand what digital marketing is, let’s take a look at social media marketing.


What Is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a type of digital marketing that uses social media channels to promote a product, service, or other content. It relies on understanding the algorithms the different social media channels use to target specific demographics. Social media channels include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Forums

When done right, social media marketing is a powerful tool to advertise your product or service and drive high volumes of traffic to your site. With more than 3.6 billion social media users worldwide, there’s an enormous potential audience!

Social media marketing has seen enormous growth over the past decade and the trend looks set to continue. Given the low cost involved, it’s a great choice for small to medium-sized businesses and start-ups. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of social media marketing?


Advantages of Social Media Marketing

Low Cost

Social media marketing can be fantastic value for money, particularly if you know how to target the right demographic. You can use many of the social media channels’ free features to interact with potential customers, for example by engaging with users who have liked or commented on one of your posts.

Large Audience

The number of active users on social media is huge and growing every day. This means there is a huge number of potential customers for almost all digital markets. Once you get the formula right, you can quickly drive high volumes of new traffic to your site using social media marketing.

Fast Results

Social media marketing is one of the fastest ways to generate leads to then convert into sales or clients. You can also synchronise your website with your social media profiles so that new posts or offers are immediately visible on social media as well.


Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing

Time Consuming

Despite its many benefits, social media marketing can be time-consuming, especially if you are constantly responding to comments and interacting with potential customers. This time is obviously worth it if you see conversions, but you should be wary of spending lots of extra time for nothing in return.

Potential Negative Publicity

On social media, there will always be some negative comments and responses to your campaigns. This might just be the result of trolls or other malicious parties. Nonetheless, it can damage your brand reputation, especially if you don’t manage it well.

Can Take Time to See Returns

It can feel like you’re not getting a good return on investment for the time and money you put into your social media marketing. There are useful analytical tools available to help you figure out what is and isn’t working. But even with these tools, it can take some time to learn the ins and outs of social media algorithms and start seeing results. However, this is true of all digital marketing strategies.


Digital Marketing vs Social Media Marketing — Which Is Best?

When it comes to designing a marketing strategy, it’s best to start by using a variety of techniques and methods. Once you’re able to measure the impact of your marketing efforts, you can then adjust your campaign to improve it. For example, if you can see the techniques that are leading to the most sales, then you can develop a more focused campaign using those techniques.

Both social media marketing and, more broadly, digital marketing, allow you to receive and analyse metrics in real-time. This means you can be flexible and quickly adjust your strategy as you learn what’s working for you and your business.

When deciding what methods to use in your marketing strategy, your first consideration should always be what your target demographic wants. For example, social media has far more credibility with younger audiences so it could be a useful element of your digital marketing strategy if they’re your target market. But you also need to consider your budget. Some forms of digital marketing, like PPC ads, can begin to cost a lot of money in the long run. If you have a small budget, focusing on things like social media marketing is a good place to start.


Digital Marketing vs Social Media Marketing — The Verdict

Social media marketing is a form of digital marketing. But it’s worth comparing social media marketing to other forms of digital marketing. Marketing campaigns often use a mixture of techniques. Social media marketing is a great option for freelancers or small businesses as it’s free to use and can lead to significant growth if you know what you’re doing. But make sure you consider whether other types of digital marketing may also be beneficial for your business.

Developing a strong marketing strategy is key to increasing traffic and conversions that grow your business from strength to strength.

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