Does social media marketing, content marketing, and Digital marketing all are the same?

Often in the Construction of High rise buildings, tower cranes are being used. Each tower crane will have some dedicated jobs to do. It goes something like this, one will focus on form works, the second will focus on rebar works and the third will focus on core walls. It’s difficult to change them to do some other job because all of them are interdependent. They are focused on rising the structure up together.


I have observed these 3 terms being used in a way as if all of them can be stand-alone approaches. Often all these terms get used in a way, in a way they mean the other thing and they say one of these. But are they all same, we know it is not. Then what it is, each one of them?



Digital marketing

Digital is too wide and deep, let me try keeping it from the purviews of marketing.


A Smartphone Application for your business, Web application for your business operations, Online ads(Banner, video, display ads etc.,), An article about your recent fundings – getting published on a media house(PR), your website, landing page, videos, blog posts, Webinars, podcasts, e-books, slides, email, a graphic, posting a picture about a recent event your business has conducted on your social media handle etc., everything you do in marketing and it is intangible ie., in binary – (0s and 1s) all that is digital marketing


Content marketing

A deliberate, thoughtful process of creating content of different forms that are helpful to your audience. When you publish and share where your audience is present, is content marketing. In return for helping your audience, your business grows.


When it comes to creating content, some different types and formats can be chosen on the nature of your business and your expertise or the expertise you want to hire/onboard. 


Ebooks, Blogposts, Videos, Graphics, Podcasts, Webinar, Live sessions all of them are one or the other form of content. 


When you create content, deliberately for your audience, you are into content marketing.


Social media marketing


Social media is all the platforms that are feed-based ie. when you log in, you see updates from your networks(connections, friends), recent important events. When you react(like, share & comment) to one or more of the posts on your feed, you send a signal to the platform’s algorithm that you are an “X” type of person that likes A, B, C, D types of things and content. As you spend time on the feed, the platform sends a lot of posts and events that it thinks matter to you on your feed. As time progresses, the platform can show you ads that might be interesting to you based on your previous interactions on the platform.


Those ads are their revenue model. Linkedin is an exception that ads are one of their revenue models. Instagram and Facebook are reliant on ads. Quora and Twitter are trying out a few more things, along with ads. 


YouTube is a mix of two things(a repository-centric and feed-based) and focuses on building brands, Pinterest also helps build brands.


The bottom line is, people are there on social media platforms to see content from their networks and content that cater to their interests, but not interested in seeing ads that say “Buy now”.



Taking stand-alone social media marketing is something people attracts to it as it seems cheap at the outset. I have never advocated it for so many reasons, one thing, is you leave a lot of your audience with the superficial content looking for performance-based metrics. Second thing is, you never get to accumulate your content repository as those become your digital assets. People even claim it is efficient, what is efficient without effectiveness?


This stand-alone social media approach is a tactical one, it doesn’t stand in the long term unless you create content meant for the platform and you create it dedicatedly like this gentleman Dain walker. Even then, a feed based platform is such, it depends on the recent postings from its user base, if you have not posted recently you just don’t exist. 


As a standalone social media marketing model, Selling beauty and fashion products using Influencer marketing is something that works on social media very well and is perfectly all right. Local F&B, fitness also works on social media through Influencers. Social media marketing as a stand-alone marketing model works well for a very few businesses categories.



Let’s put it all together

When you have a content base, you can be distributing it on feed-based platforms whenever you need it, even long after you have created those content. 


It is possible that when someone asks you for Digital marketing, they may mean social media, they may mean content, they may mean email marketing. It is better to talk to them in detail and their expected outcomes.


If you put it altogether closely, content is the driving force. Driving force in the sense, when you start with content and align social media, email marketing into it, the benefits double because of the cohesiveness and alignment.


Without content, nothing much can be moved meaningfully in the digital marketing space.


The graphics, videos used in ads are called ad creatives, we cannot include them in the content part.



You can attract the audience who is present on social media platforms with your content. Any other approach on social media like online ads is something that doesn’t work for the majority of business categories.  


The main content can be made accessible from your blog or video channel, highly helpful podcast series or e-books repository. Let’s call them pillar content. Without pillar content, it is nearly impossible to do sustainable digital marketing. 


You should repurpose and distribute the content as micro-content on social media, attract your audience towards your pillar content platform – help them stay in touch with your content releases. Slowly, they will become your customers or they will bring you, customers. 


It is good to note that your audience will come and land you on your content repository page and further to the intent channels(website) when they have the interest to buy from you or if they are willing to talk about your product/service. When a situation arises, they will talk about you of their will(MQL). The power of content. 


You can use online ads to the network of those who are/were “your customers” and those who “consumed your content”. These are the only area(s) where your online ads might work. 



Giving disproportionate weightage to online ads is something happening because it is the easiest thing to do.


The next easiest thing is “stand-alone” social media marketing.


When you create content to attract your audience and publish it on social media to take them to intent channels, it is aligned, strategic, & cohesive “Digital marketing” that helps you scale up, and is sustainable and compounding. 






Talk to us to adapt to a sustainable, compounding marketing approach, that fuels business growth.



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