Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

With 4.76 billion people across the world using social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, social media has become a vital part of everyone’s life. Digital marketers employ social media marketing to run their campaigns on these platforms, reach target audiences, engage them, and increase brand awareness. Hence, social media marketing has become an integral part of digital marketing methods. Though both terms are used interchangeably in the marketing industry, they are poles apart. This article explains the differences between digital marketing vs. social media marketing. It also looks at how the integration of both can offer the best growth opportunity for your business.

What is Digital Marketing

According to TechTarget, digital marketing is a method that helps marketers promote and sell their products or services to prospective customers through online platforms such as email, social media, mobile marketing, webinars, and video-based content.

Unlike traditional marketing, where audience reach is limited, digital marketing provides access to a worldwide audience.

Examples of Digital Marketing

In 2012, the well-known energy drink brand Red Bull implemented a guerrilla marketing strategy to reach audiences. The company, as part of its Red Bull Stratos project, sponsored the world’s highest skydiving program, where Flexi Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, jumped from space and landed safely in New Mexico.

This event was circulated across all social media platforms and was announced as one of the best digital marketing examples employing guerrilla marketing strategies. 

Types of Digital Marketing

Let’s explore the various kinds of digital marketing strategies you can adopt to transform your marketing campaigns.

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a digital marketing strategy that uses certain keywords and helps marketers optimize their website ranking in search engine result pages.

  1. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

A Social Media Marketing (SMM) marketing strategy helps marketers build an organic presence of their brand on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

  1. Email Marketing

It is a digital marketing strategy that lets marketers directly connect with their leads by sending relevant information, offers, and blogs straight to their inboxes.

  1. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC ads are paid advertisements where advertisers need to pay a fee to publishers each time their ads are clicked.

Pillars of Digital Marketing

There are three key pillars of digital marketing: data, technology, and people. Together, they serve a purpose, but alone, they are siloed and unproductive. Let’s explore each term individually.

1. Data

There are three types of data: demographic—related to who your audiences are and what their interests are; behavioral—data related to customers’ activity; and contextual data—events occurring in real-time.

2. Technology

Technology can’t resolve a problem alone. Combined with the right data and talent, it has the power to solve critical problems and become a game changer. Three types of technology for successfully implementing digital marketing strategies are facilitative (third-party tools), internal (on-premise or in-house technologies), and web analytics (software to collect customer activity online).

3. People

The right technology and data can’t give you the desired outcomes until you don’t have skilled people to use them. People with the required skill set can optimize each aspect of a digital marketing strategy and transform the business.


  • Helps marketers find new markets and trade worldwide in a cost-effective way
  • It is easily trackable and measurable with the help of web analytics and online metric tools
  • It has a wide variety of digital marketing approaches such as SEO, SMM, video marketing, and PPC, which leads to large-scale brand visibility 
  • It enables businesses to target customers based on their age, gender, occupation, hobbies, and interests


  • If precautionary measures are not put in place, digital marketing may lead to cybercrimes
  • Although digital marketing strategies provide local and global reach, 38% of the population still doesn’t get covered in its radar 
  • Successful digital marketing methods require modern software and devices, which is an expensive deal for small businesses
  • Using digital marketing to reach worldwide audiences introduces roadblocks like competition on a global scale

ALSO READ: Top 5 Digital Marketing Job Descriptions That Best Fit You

What is Social Media Marketing

Gartner describes social media marketing as a strategy that uses social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook to connect with audiences to build the company’s brand, increase sales, and drive website traffic. Using social media marketing, marketers can:

  • Deliver tailored and relevant content to prospects
  • Reach hidden leads who are unaware of your business
  • Foster long-lasting relationships and powerful engagement with prospects

An Example of Social Media Marketing

Apple’s #ShotoniPhone campaign is a perfect example of organic social media marketing. The objective of this campaign was to promote the unparalleled quality of the iPhone 6 camera. In this campaign, the company asked its users across the globe to share pictures they clicked using their iPhone 6 with the hashtag #ShotoniPhone. 

The moment the campaign went live, it was shown on 10,000 billboards across the world. It created an influential marketing impact with 6.5 billion media impressions. Ultimately, it helped Apple to sell 231 million iPhone 6 models worldwide. 

Types of Social Media Marketing

Four major types of social media marketing strategies are content marketing, advertising, influencer marketing, and social media management.

  1. Content Marketing

The process of creating and curating content such as text, videos, images, graphics, and e-books/guides and distributing it through paid, owned, and earned media is called content marketing.

  1. Social Media Advertising

Also known as paid social, social media advertising is a method of running paid ad campaigns on social media channels, such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Meta.

  1. Influencer Marketing

It’s a type of social media marketing that includes brand or product endorsement through influencers on social media who use their large following to create brand or product awareness, engagement, and potential sales.

  1. Social Media Management

This involves analyzing social media audiences, developing strategies, creating and dispensing content across social media platforms, monitoring online conversations, collaborating with influencers, and monitoring and measuring social media performance.

Pillars of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing encompasses five key pillars: strategy, planning and publishing, listening and engagement, analytics and reporting, and advertising. Let’s look at each pillar in detail.


Before publishing anything on social media platforms, designing a robust strategy is crucial. It helps you determine the type of content that can attract audiences, the goal of your social media posts/campaigns, and the platforms suitable for them.

Planning and Publishing

Planning or scheduling your post in advance helps you to showcase your reliability to your audience. Furthermore, it ensures you are consistently engaged on social media platforms.

Listening and Engagement

It takes time for a brand to grow its social media followers. While you may start with small numbers, with regular posting of engaging and personalized content, you can increase the followers count and audience engagement.

Analytics and Reporting

This is one of the crucial pillars of social media marketing. You should know how the content you have posted has been received by the audience. This is where analytics and reporting come into the picture. Social media analytics tools help you track the performance of your content on a daily, weekly, or monthly.


Advertising, especially paid ads, helps you to reach a wider audience. Depending on your budget, you can launch and run paid campaigns for your company on different social media platforms.


Given that 82% of Americans have social media profiles, social media marketing offers marketers a lucrative opportunity to reach a vast target audience and develop new leads. The benefits of this effective strategy include the following:

  • The over three million social media users ensure a large audience reach
  • Social media channels like LinkedIn allow marketers to post organic content for free
  • It helps marketers with an option to run paid advertisements
  • It allows marketers to build the brand image of their company


  • You may receive negative feedback about your brand, products, or services
  • If you’re not careful about the kind of content posted, it may create a poor brand image
  • A big roadblock to a successful social media marketing campaign is that it is time-consuming
  • It doesn’t give immediate outcomes

ALSO READ: Unveiling The Top 10 Social Media Marketing Trends in India

Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

Digital marketing is an umbrella term that includes social media marketing as an integral part. Though both techniques are geared toward reaching the maximum number of people, engaging them, and increasing conversions, both are distinct from each other.

Parameters Digital Marketing Social Media Marketing
Online Channel Emails, websites, and social media platforms encompass online channels for digital marketing Social media marketing channels, including Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, WhatsApp, and Facebook
Audience Engagement Audience engagement is based on visiting websites, blog posts, social media platforms, and emails Audience engagement depends on social media platforms only
Goal Digital marketing strategies aim to acquire new customers, create brand awareness, and make conversions The prime goal of SMM is to drive traffic to websites, generate leads, and make sales cost
Cost-effective Digital marketing efforts include using advanced technologies, which can be expensive for small businesses Social media platforms enable marketers to post content free of cost
Strategy SEO, SMM, and PPC are some of the proven digital marketing strategies Blog posts, videos, and podcasts are some of the SMM tools

Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing Jobs

Digital marketers are responsible for promoting a brand’s image, products, or services in the market to drive sales, earn higher revenue, and ensure growth. Their prime responsibility includes:

  • Developing successful marketing strategies
  • Ensuring consistency in communication
  • Preparing emailers and newsletters for existing customers
  • Launching promotional offers to attract prospective customers

The average salary a digital marketer can make in India is ₹50,000 per month.

On the other hand, a social media manager is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Planning and developing social media campaigns
  • Posting content across social media platforms
  • Fostering online connections with customers by developing customer-relationship programs
  • Staying up-to-date with modern social media practices and technologies

The average salary a social media manager can earn in India is ₹36,000 per month.

Is Social Media Marketing Part of Digital Marketing?

From this article, it is clear that social media is an important part of digital marketing. The latter uses social media digital platforms to reach audiences, engage and educate them, create brand awareness, and make conversions. You can look at digital marketing as a tree containing different marketing branches, such as SEO, PPC—and social media marketing as well.

Enrich Your Marketing Career with Emeritus

If you’re wondering how to become a qualified marketer in today’s digital landscape, the best way to do so is by trying different marketing techniques. This way, you will be able to find a suitable one for your business. Then there are Emeritus’ online digital marketing courses; they’re a great way to enhance your know-how, polish your skills, and take the digital marketing world by storm! 

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