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These days, marketers have to wear a lot of hats. We do a little content writing here, some social posting there, and oftentimes the “content” marketer and the “social” strategist are one and the same. So where do we draw the line between content marketing and social marketing? Is it all just arbitrary now a days?

We don’t think so. While content and social media are inextricably linked, we know that there’s a world of difference between the two. An experienced content writer and a skilled social strategist are going to have two distinctive skill sets, and here’s why.

Defining Social Media Marketing Vs. Content Marketing

To be fair,using a term like “vs.” is a bit misleading (though it makes for a great heading). You should never think about content and social as opposed to each other. In reality, they’re heavily reliant on one another in order to be truly effective. We know it sounds cliche, but content and social really are two sides of the same coin.

Without thriving social media platforms, there would be no audience for the content writer’s work, no matter how well written. “Build it and they will come” could not be further from the truth in digital marketing. If you’re not attracting viewers and readers through social media and SEO, then you’re playing for a vacant auditorium.

Conversely, without valuable content your social media followers will drop like flies. No one wants to subscribe to a YouTube channel without videos, or follow a Facebook page that doesn’t churn out interesting content. There’s also less room on social media sites for the kinds of long form content that Google rewards.

That being said, you can delineate the two disciplines in terms of their aims and skills. For instance, content marketers are primarily concerned with crafting industry relevant, authoritative pieces, such as:

Social marketers are not going to bother themselves with this kind of long form content creation. They may make short Instagram videos, or schedule out a series of tweets, but they’re not sitting down to write 1000+ word articles. Instead, they focus on effectively distributing and promoting the aforementioned content on social media sites like:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

These are the experts who know when, where, and how to post content in order to maximize its reach and engagement.They know which social site suits your content best; they decide whether your news piece would fit better on Facebook or LinkedIn (or both).

They also manage your social media following, eventually nurturing self sustaining communities centered around your content. It’s impossible for a business’s online presence to thrive without a welcome audience, and the social media strategist orchestrates just that.

How Social Marketing And Content Marketing Isn’t Different

We’ve shown how these two professions work in tandem to create, implement, and distribute a strategy. Even if these two tasks are being performed by the same person, they’re still operating in very different spheres of action. However, as Lucy Hitz from Simply Measured put it:

“Even in larger marketing organizations with more set-in-stone roles, responsibilities, and resource allocations, a marketer is usually both creating content and delivering it, to some extent.There is a spectrum, and most of us fall somewhere on this spectrum as we put together strategies and execute them.”

For instance, it’s not at all uncommon to see a content writer create and manage their own content calendar (heck, that’s what I do). But, social media strategists will often either co-manage this schedule, or even create it for the content writer to fulfill (I’ve done this too).

While content marketing and social marketing are certainly separate domains, there’s a huge gray area between social and content marketers. You may work one week with content writing, only to spend the next week drafting and implementing a social media plan for that very same content. A marketer’s role largely depends on many factors, such as:

  • Team size
  • Personal skill set
  • Age of business
  • And more

In the nebulous world of digital marketing, you can expect definitions to be defied and labels to be shed. It’s just the nature of the game.

If you’re interested in the nuances of content marketing and social media strategy, get in touch. Each team member has experience in multiple aspects of digital marketing (this is coming from a social media strategist/content writer after all), and we’d love to talk shop.

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