What is the difference between Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing?

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During conversations concerning online marketing one often hears different terms such as SEO, Social Media Marketing, Paid advertising, Affiliate Marketing, etc. This creates a some confusion for those who want to promote their company online and maybe do not know which channel to use. Quite often they use incorrect terms, for example talking about digital marketing while referring to social media or web marketing while talking about mobile advertising. Today we are going to explain once and for all the difference between each of these terms.

Let’s start with the most important one: digital marketing

Digital marketing is the broadest and most comprehensive term among all those we will examine because it contains all the other terms. Digital marketing is to market a product or a service on digital channels such as search engines and social media. It is also on digital media that are not connected to the internet. For example, the use of text messages, mms, e-books, etc.

The different methods used in digital marketing take different names depending on the techniques they use and the channels on which they operate. The main digital marketing methods are as follows:

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): it is the set of techniques aimed at giving maximum visibility to a website or online content in the organic (non-paid) results of search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo , etc.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing): as the word itself says, it is marketing on a search engine. Being fussy is essentially included with SEO. The correct definition would be SEM = SEO + SEA, where the former means search engine optimization. The second search engine advertising is also called PPC. In reality, in digital marketing terminology, SEM is generally used to refer to paid campaigns.

Social Media Marketing: consists of using social media platforms to promote a product or a service. Social media includes both social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as other popular platforms such as Youtube, Whatsapp, Viber etc.

Email Marketing: consists of communication via email to promote a product or a service, to generate brand awareness or retain customers. Usually the message is sent to groups of people who may already be customers or potential customers. Emails can be direct or transactional depending on whether you want to promote an offer and invite users to take a course of  action like thanking the customer or wishing a happy anniversary. Many platforms allow extending communication by sending text messages.

Affiliate Marketing: this type of marketing consists in promoting third party products or services in exchange for a commission on sales, views or customers acquired. For the merchant it is a very powerful marketing tool as it can quickly increase sales by only paying for the results obtained. The affiliate marketer has the advantage of being able to sell a product without owning it.

Other terms used that are sometimes include:

  1. Influencer Marketing
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Paid Advertising
  4. Display Advertising

So, what is the difference between Social Media Marketing and Digital Marketing?

The difference between digital marketing and social media marketing is simple. Social media marketing, as we have seen previously, consists of promoting products or services on social media and is a part of digital marketing. Digital marketing is a discipline with many sub-sections and it uses all the digital channels available for promotion and awareness creation for products and services. It is incorrect to use the term social media marketing to refer to internet marketing and in the same way it is incorrect to think that digital marketing is just that on social media.