Question: I got into a disagreement with one of my supervisors that social media and content marketing aren’t the same. What is your take on this?
If I had to answer this question in a single sentence I would lean toward agreeing with whomever said, they are not the same. Having said that, I feel like an asterisk is required.
For all intents and purposes social media is a form of content marketing, but for most companies that are trying to deploy a content strategy social is merely a channel for distribution and contextualizing the content that they are creating as owned assets.
Technically speaking, a company could create all of their content assets on social channels and have their entire content strategy live on social media. I would also less technically speaking say that this would be dumb.
For most companies, the best way to think of social media vs. content marketing is to think of content as your story, ideas and useful information for your audience and to consider social media a place to share, contextualize, promote and amplify those ideas.
Most often I see companies miss the mark on social media because they create great content assets but they get lazy or short sighted when it comes to making the time to share the article.
For instance, I could write this piece (that you are reading) and then schedule to share it on social channels and there is a chance that some people would see it, read it and maybe even engage with it. Having said that, if I wanted a better return on the effort of creating content I may curate (read: put context around it) in a way that would provide more value to a potential reader in our social media networks.
So instead of just having it go out on say Facebook as “Title, Link” what I may do is have it go out and read like this…
“Many companies struggle to decipher whether Social Media alone is a content Strategy. While it most certainly could be, social media is often best when used as a vehicle to share ideas in a well contextualized manner. What do you think?” (Then link)
While the difference may not seem big to you, if I was a reader in the modern digital world where we see hundreds if not thousands of links everyday, I would be able to read the short note ahead of the link and determine if there is value (at least suggested value to spend the time reading).
As a whole, social can make up a big part of a content strategy, but I would not suggest nor recommend it being promoted as the same as content marketing. The two are more a marriage for brand storytelling than a single means of business communication.
Content marketing and social media have a certain amount of interdependence, however they are not the same thing? How is your company using content and social media to be found, seen and heard by your target customers?
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