The question I think about is “what’s the difference?” Is posting on social media content marketing by another name? Do the social posts, the videos, the discussions and the announcements – meant to entertain, inspire, educate, and build interest and loyalty for a brand – impress upon consumers in the same way as content marketing? Well, the short answer is yes – sort of. Content marketing, at its core, is intended to do the same thing. It’s supposed to feel like anything but advertising – you’re expected to want to read it like as you would an interesting article, or funny comic, or a great editorial that has generated strong reaction.
It’s no wonder that the top content marketing firms and platforms also run social marketing programs. These firms work hard to generate memorable – and brand friendly – content, which can then be broken down into bite size pieces that are then posted, tweeted, pinned, or even snapped. This is not only highly accessible to consumers, it educates and engages followers by teasing them to get curious and dig deeper – i.e. move further down the marketing funnel. Plain and simple, social media is legitimate content – just in its own unique and easily distributable format. Can one conclude then, that social media marketing is content marketing, just in shorter bursts and in real time? Sharing bits of content on social media has become so mainstream that it is not even questioned, yet it takes skill, patience and a good sense of timing.
In contrast, native advertising is less well known and more seldom done by marketing teams (although growing fast). Content marketing is typically longer form prose, video, or image-driven infotainment that essentially utilizes storytelling techniques. The reader delves into deep details on a topic, and it is generally the objective to educate and develop a new appreciation for a common interest, a brand, a product, or an industry. In this way is a very effective form of generating high quality leads for considered purchases and does subtly engender brand loyalty.
So, when comparing social media marketing and content marketing, make sure you look at the programs as two sides of the same coin. Make sure that topics, discussions, and conclusions can be easily adapted and modified for the formats of both social outlets and long-form native ads. You want to have a consistent point of view within the two mediums, and each can serve to reinforce the other – as if working in tandem. If handled carefully and executed well, you will see that 1 social + 1 content can = 3 customer engagement.