Did you know that over 88% of companies worldwide actively use social media marketing for their online strategy?

With so many brands hopping on board the social media train, using this avenue seems like an obvious and unavoidable choice for your business. Of course, social media isn’t the only digital marketing platform out there.

When it comes to digital marketing vs social media marketing, many businesses mistake one for the other. This can lead to brands neglecting valuable digital marketing strategies and missing the mark with their online presence. Lucky for you, this won’t be your business.

From the difference between digital marketing and social media marketing to when and why you’d use each approach, we’ve got you covered. Follow along to discover everything you need to know about digital marketing services for success in 2021.

Digital Marketing Vs Social Media Marketing: What To Know

What is Digital Marketing?

The first step to understanding the difference between digital marketing vs social media marketing is delving into what digital marketing really is.

Digital marketing is the act of using digital mediums to promote your business. This includes various online and offline approaches that work to build awareness, establish authority, and drive traffic to your brand. Of course, the desired result with any digital marketing campaign is to elevate your business by increasing sales.

Ultimately, there are many different digital marketing strategies that your business can use. The most popular methods include:

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, often abbreviated to SEO, involves changing your website to make it more ‘search engine-friendly.’ By utilizing key techniques such as keyword placement and backlink building in your SEO campaigns, your website will appeal to the search engine’s algorithm to boost your organic traffic.

This works by leveraging Google’s goal for delivering the best and most accurate answer to user’s queries.

Because Google relies on the algorithm to sort and rank URLs for each query, all you need to do is satisfy the algorithm and present as the best possible resource. This is done with both on-page and off-page SEO techniques.

On-Page SEO Techniques:

  • URL structure
  • Meta-tags
  • Meta-description
  • Internal links
  • Keyword usage
  • Content and copy
  • Page speed
  • User-experience
  • Mobile-friendly design
  • etc.

Off-Page SEO Techniques:

  • Online business listings
  • Guest blogs/posts
  • Social media
  • Backlinking strategy
  • etc.

Both on-page and off-page SEO techniques work together to send signals to the algorithm to increase your chances of landing at the top of the results page for targeted searches.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-Per-Click or PPC advertising drives traffic to your website through paid advertising. Just as it sounds, this technique involves paying a premium on each impression or click your ad generates.

PPC is a fantastic technique to override the algorithm to appear in targeted searches as a ‘sponsored’ placement. This can reduce the time and effort it takes to land those top-performing positions and boost visibility. Of course, this technique does not necessarily eliminate the need for SEO.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is the distinct combination of SEO and PPC for a complete search engine strategy.

Because SEO is a slow-build kind of marketing strategy, PPC is a quick way to enhance your results while making changes to improve SEO. Once your SEO is performing well, keeping your PPC up can actually help you take up more real estate on the SERPs.

This improves your chances of reaching the right audience and making your brand seem more authoritative to users.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the perfect strategy to take your leads from ‘window shoppers’ to paying customers. The reason this marketing technique is so beneficial is that your email list is something that can’t be ‘taken’ from you.

At the end of the day, you must pay for your website to keep it running, and social media profiles can be shut down in merely minutes. Still, your email list is yours to leverage.

With consumers spending as much as 5 hours per day checking their inboxes, this platform is the perfect avenue to reach engaged and interested consumers with ease. What’s more, email marketing can be automated to nurture leads, build relationships, and promote your brand for a passive yet effective strategy.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is an element of a few different digital marketing strategies, including SEO and social media marketing. This is because the content is one of the best ways to drive traffic and engage users online.

Whether it be your blog or your social media content, having a strong content approach is key to add value and entertainment for your consumers. This technique is perfect for taking your brand from feeling ‘spammy’ and promotional to engaging and helpful.

Your content marketing may involve:

  • Video marketing
  • Blogging
  • Guest posting
  • Social media
  • Press
  • and more!

Mobile Marketing

In a day and age where everyone and their dog seems to have a mobile device attached to their hand, mobile marketing is a highly beneficial avenue for many businesses.

Beyond making your website mobile-friendly, you can leverage mobile traffic by advertising and engaging through mobile apps.

This may include placing an ad on Google Play or Apple Store to be distributed through games and apps or building your own application.

Offline Digital Marketing

Believe it or not, digital marketing isn’t exclusive to the internet. Digital avenues such as TV, radio, SMS messaging, and even digital billboards can boost brand visibility and drive traffic.

While these are typically seen as more ‘traditional’ forms of marketing, any digital medium contributes to your digital marketing strategy. Of course, some of these methods may be more suited to your brand than others for a reliable ROI.

Social Media Marketing

Yes, that’s right. Social media marketing is actually a type of digital marketing.

Beyond falling into other digital marketing categories, as mentioned above, social media in itself is a very beneficial form of online marketing. Let’s delve into the specifics!

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is actually a unique form of digital marketing. This is because the entire process relies much more on engagement and genuine interaction than any other form of digital marketing.

While there are technical elements of improving your social media approach, your success on this marketing platform relies on building relationships with your audience.

Beyond this, your social media marketing may have a different objective than your other digital approaches. For example, your primary goal with social media may be to establish trust or strengthen your branding. However, it is important to recognize that social media is part of a much larger digital campaign.

Social Media MagnetThe Advantages of Social Media Marketing in your Digital Marketing Campaign

Not every form of digital marketing is beneficial for every brand. To determine what areas you’ll focus your efforts on, you’ll need to understand how these approaches can benefit your overall campaign.

Here are the distinct benefits you can look forward to by integrating social media marketing for your brand.

Build Valuable Relationships

When customers head to your website, they are generally interacting with your brand on a one-sided basis. While they can read your content, browse your store, and enjoy your customer experience, the chances to interact with your brand are much less.

This is why so many consumers turn to social media to gain more insight into who brand’s really are.

On social media, your audience can comment, share, and message you with ease. Beyond this, they can see who else is taking these actions. This helps them determine whether or not you are a brand they are willing to trust with their money and business.

Beyond this, having a relationship with a business via social media increases the chances of customer loyalty. In fact, 90% of users revealed they would be more likely to purchase a brand they follow on social media!

Establish Brand

‘Branding’ is a term that’s thrown around liberally with digital marketing. Unfortunately, establishing and building your brand as a business can be a lot trickier than it sounds.

Luckily, social media marketing is a fantastic way to build your brand over time and delve into the voice of your business.

Because social media relies on continuous content and posts, you’ll have far more opportunities to shape your voice and create a distinct image for your brand. The bonus is that building your brand on social media gives you a chance to gauge audience interest and make data-driven adjustments to your branding approach.

Build Authority

As humans, we love to be where other people are. This is called social proof, and it’s a psychological phenomenon that drives individuals to ‘follow’ the crowd.

The reason this is so valuable in marketing is that you can actually leverage ‘popularity’ on social media and other platforms to build authority as a reputable brand.

When consumers see that other people are engaging and trusting your brand, they feel inclined to do the same. While you can also achieve this with great online reviews, social media is a simple and effective medium for leveraging social proof.

Because your followers, comments, and even likes are displayed for users to see, it’s very simple for consumers to get the impression that you are an authoritative source.

Boost SEO

Social media sites have an algorithm of their own, but this isn’t what we mean when we say it boosts your SEO.

Although your social media followers and engagements aren’t technically tied to your website, they do play a role in informing Google’s algorithm through off-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is the technique your brand can use outside of your website to improve your rank. While on-page SEO tells the engine what to rank you for, off-page SEO shows how to rank you.

Similar to how your popularity on socials influences consumers, Google relies on off-page popularity to determine how trustworthy your brand is. By having a solid presence on social media and even gaining valuable backlinks from user shares, you’ll send Google a rank-worthy message.

Beyond proving your popularity, social profiles also have the chance to appear on the SERPs. While this may not generate website traffic, it does play a large role in building brand awareness by presenting your business multiple times on the results page.

Engage with Customers

Perhaps one of the most unique parts of social media marketing is the opportunity to use engagement to generate leads.

We already know that engaging with your customers is key to building relationships and establishing trust. However, engagements on social media can also go a long way toward lead generation and nurturing. In fact, by employing a strong engagement strategy, you can turn accounts that have never heard of your brand into loyal customers!

How is that possible? Social media allows you to make the first move.

Unlike your website or PPC ads, you have full freedom to engage with users on their profiles. This means that you don’t have to wait for them to leave a comment or follow you before building that relationship.

You can find your target audience on the platform and spark the engagements yourself. This may include sending them a message, liking a photo, or leaving a meaningful comment. This gets your brand in front of a whole new set of eyes with a personal and approachable feel!

Improve Brand Awareness

Beyond taking up more space online, social media allows your brand to reach an incredibly large online audience.

With nearly 4.5 billion social media uses active worldwide, being active and engaged on this platform provides you with a chance to get in front of eyes that may never have found you otherwise.

While having a strong presence on Google is invaluable to your business, limiting your entire approach to search engines reduces the ways consumers can find you. On the other hand, with social ads, compelling content, and shared posts, you’ll multiply the avenues consumers can navigate to your site.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Let’s face it; digital marketing is an ongoing game of outperforming your competitors. After all, this is the only way to increase your chances of consumers choosing you over the other guys.

Fortunately, not many businesses are all that great at building their social media presence. This gives you a distinct advantage when it comes to winning over customers.

When your customers find you on Google, they don’t know you from a hole in the wall. Although there are ways to improve your trustworthy appearance without social media, having an active account on the top platforms is a simple and effective way to let your customers know you are real and trustworthy.

Because most people are now skeptical of which sites they trust with their money, many users turn to social media to investigate companies before buying. They may check reviews, look for user-generated content, or even message your company to ensure you are the real deal.

With this in mind, imagine how easy the choice would be for consumers if your social media profiles were more trustworthy than your competitors.

Not sure you have what it takes to outperform your competitors on social media? Using a digital marketing agency to up your impact on social sites is a sure-fire way to gain that competitive edge you’ve been after.

Drive Traffic to Website

Social media marketing also acts as the perfect opportunity to send your customers over to your website.

Beyond having a link in your social media profile (which is great for SEO), you’ll have a magnitude of opportunities to send customers to your site through genuine and engaging posts.

This gives you the chance to add value to your customers through blog posts and helps you rank and index faster for improved SEO results.

While you can use social ads to drive traffic, most of your linking can be organically grown through simply creating great content. In fact, with the right content approach, you may even earn shares that translate to even more eyes, traffic, and links!

Increase Sales

Driving traffic to your website isn’t the only way to make sales anymore. With social commerce growing rapidly over the past year, your consumers can now shop your products without even leaving their social apps.

By uploading your products to the social commerce platform, you can more seamlessly promote new products and launches on your social sites with convenient links and add-ons.

While some businesses have shown concerns about the traffic this takes away from their e-commerce sites; we say that any sale is a positive sale! If you can build your revenue on social media, why not take advantage of the increase in sales and pre-built user-friendly shopping platform.

Inform Other Digital Marketing Efforts

Finally, your social media marketing will provide you with a plethora of insights and analytics. The great thing about these build-in insights is that they give you valuable information about your audience, what they like, and when they like it.

While this information can differ from platform to platform, you’ll likely begin to see strong patterns that reveal what content works for you and where you can make adjustments. The catch is – this is not only applicable to your social sites.

Let’s say, for example, you put together a video that seeming blows up on socials. Since your target audience for your brand is still the same, there’s a great chance that your viral video will do well on your website as well. The same goes for content that doesn’t perform well. If your social audience isn’t digging it, you can likely save yourself time and energy on other platforms.

How to Choose Between Digital Marketing vs Social Media Marketing

Now that you know the difference between digital marketing vs social media marketing, it’s time to decide which online approach is right for your business.

Here are the top things to consider when narrowing down your perfect digital partner:


The driving force behind any marketing approach should be your goals. As we mentioned earlier, the purpose of digital marketing is to promote your brand. Of course, each digital marketing approach does this in different ways.

For example, if your goal is to boost organic website hits, SEO may be your primary project. On the other hand, if you are looking to build relationships and establish your brand online, social media marketing is a great fit.

But what about when you want to do it all? No problem. Because digital marketing and social media marketing go hand in hand, you don’t necessarily have to choose between the two. Using both of these techniques together with the help of a digital marketing company can skyrocket your results and build a well-rounded online approach.


If your marketing budget is holding you back, social media marketing is an option you simply can’t ignore.

While many digital marketing strategies can be performed at a low cost, social media is perhaps the most impactful free platform there is. Anyone can create an account and begin building a presence, no matter how big or small your company is.

As your budget grows, your digital marketing strategy can grow too! This may include adopting an ad strategy or even investing in SEO services for long-term, sustainable growth.


Yes, social media marketing eats up an impressive amount of time. However, you may soon discover that all digital marketing efforts are time-intensive projects.

If time is not on your side, we suggest outsourcing your digital marketing services to get the most out of your marketing budget. At the end of the day, business owners have a lot on their plates, and adding another full-time job such as social media or SEO can be unrealistic.

Of course, time-poor is no excuse to skip out on digital marketing. With the right approach and strategy, your digital presence can turn your company from a one-man show into a mind-blowing success!

Building Your Business with Digital Marketing

Whether you choose to tackle your social media strategy or venture down another digital marketing avenue, we hope this article clears up any questions and confusion you may have had about marketing your brand. Wherever you stand on the digital marketing vs social media marketing debate, we’re confident you’ll make a splash online this year with this key marketing knowledge.

Ready to tackle your marketing but need a little help? Whether it be your social strategy or digital marketing needs, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with us today to discover how to customize your marketing approach to leverage digital strategies and skyrocket results in record time.