Digital marketing and social media marketing are two strategies used by companies to market their products or services. There are various components of a digital marketing campaign, one of which is social media marketing. In this article, we will discuss these two marketing techniques used by companies and how they are different from one another.

Definitions and meanings

Digital marketing

Digital marketing is defined as the use of different digital methods to create awareness and to market a product or service. It refers to using a customized combination of digital marketing components so as to achieve the following objectives:

  • Creating awareness and forming a relationship with the target market
  • Increasing sales and profit
  • Promoting their product or service

Digital marketing includes the following components:

Internet marketing: Consisting of all the campaigns carried out over the internet. These include:

  • Website
  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing): These include Pay per click (PPC) advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Mobile marketing (such as Apple Store, Google Play)
  • Social Media Marketing.

Non-internet marketing: Digital methods that do not require the use of internet. These include:

  • Radio
  • Television
  • SMS messages
  • Digital billboards

It should be noted that not all digital marketing channels have to be adopted by the companies to attain their objectives. Rather, a customized mix of digital components is generated that is consistent with their brand, target market and budget. An ideal marketing mix for a company is determined by the business they are involved in because each industry and market will show a different response to the different marketing campaigns. This is why companies must test different strategies to determine the ones that produce the best results for their company.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is considered as the most recent addition to the field of digital marketing. Social media platforms are used by people for exchanging information with one another through messages, stories, images, videos, audios, etc. Social media marketing refers to the use of different social media channels to promote a product, service or brand in the market and to develop strong customer relationships.

The different social media channels that are being used extensively by individuals and companies are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google +, Youtube, etc. Social media marketing uses the different tools available on these platforms to achieve marketing objectives. For instance, companies can create ‘Fan pages’ on Facebook to interact with their customers.

The use of social media for product promotion has several benefits including the following:

  1. It allows a rapid means of spreading the word about a company. A company that has a large fan base can post their message on their Facebook page or on Twitter and it will reach a large number of users all over the world.
  2. It is beneficial for SEO as social signals are increasingly being used for the purpose of ranking by Google and Bing.
  3. It is the latest trend that cannot be disregarded if one wishes to remain close to the customers and to be aware of the latest developments in marketing.
  4. It is a method used by companies to interact with customers and determine their needs and wants. Social media allows customers to express their likes and dislikes regarding any product or service by different means of voting on the different platforms. In addition, they can also make comments and share any piece of content regarding the company. The company can then analyse these statistics and obtain a picture of the popularity of their products and where they can bring improvements in their products or services.

Differences between digital marketing and social media marketing

1. Meaning

Digital marketing is defined as the use of different digital platforms to make consumers aware of a product, service or brand. Social media marketing is a component of digital marketing and is is carried out through social media platforms, with the aim of promoting a product or service and enhancing customer engagement.

2. Audience that can be reached

Digital marketing extends further than the platforms relying on the Internet as it can also be performed through offline sources (such as television, radio, sms). Thus, it has a much wider reach. On the other hand, social media marketing is carried out on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) which are restricted to the Internet.

3. Focus

The focus of digital marketing is on banners (on TV, Internet or billboards ) that are used to create an impression in the minds of consumers. On the other hand, in social media marketing, the focus is mainly on content strategy. Companies generate content and use different social media platforms to promote it.

4. Objective

Digital marketing concentrates on reaching the potential customers by using different digital marketing channels. On the other hand, social media marketing concentrates on becoming actively involved with their customers on social media.

5. Speed

The speed with which a message can be put across through the social media is much faster as compared to digital marketing. Companies can post latest news, updates or information about their product on their social media accounts, which can instantly be viewed by their followers all over the world. This is not the case with digital marketing.

6. Response time

Immediate response can be attained on social media platforms as users are able to like, share or comment on the content posted by a company, while it takes longer to obtain responses from digital marketing campaigns.

Digital vs social media marketing – tabular comparison

Digital marketing vs social media marketing


Creating awareness and advancing a product or brand using various digital methods.


A component of digital marketing that is carried out through social media sites to promote a product and enhance involvement of customers.

Audience that can be reached

Extensive reach because it extends further than the Internet Limited reach as it is only carried out over the Internet


Creating banners (on TV, Internet or billboards) to draw attention of the customers towards the brand Developing content strategy that seeks to promote content over social media sites


Gain the attention of potential customers by using different digital marketing channels Using social media platforms to interact with customers


Delivery of message is slower Message can be put across in a much faster way to the audience

Response Time

Slow response Immediate response attained

Conclusion – digital vs social media marketing

Digital marketing and social media marketing are both very important strategies for companies. The type of strategy that should be adopted by companies depends on the brand, product or service they want to promote. Companies need to determine the channel that is most effective for them to put their message across to the target audience.