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Social Media Marketing vs. Content Marketing

Unsurprisingly, my recent article ‘Why Social Media is a waste of time in BtB marketing’ received a lot of pushback from people who disagreed with my views and find social media to be valuable in a BtB context.

This is great – it started a discussion – and probably made a lot of people consider whether they are doing the right thing when it comes to their Social Media Marketing efforts.

This is exactly what we need. A discussion and a critical view on why we do the things we do in marketing – instead of just doing things because we think everyone else is doing it.

Reading the other articles, as well as the emails and comments I received, I noticed that there seem to be a preference towards LinkedIn – and not a lot of support of the other Social Media (SoMe) platforms out there.

LinkedIn and all the others

LinkedIn is a business network, and as such, I can understand why companies would choose to focus parts of their marketing on this platform. I might even choose to do it myself at some point.

But, those companies who believe they have success with LinkedIn seem to be those that encourage their employees to actively use LinkedIn to become thought leaders or to use it to network with existing and potential customers.

And that brings me back to my original conclusion; SoMe is best suited for those industries where word of mouth works.  When companies encourage their employees – in their own name – to network and socialize (and thus Word-of-Mouth advertise for their company) – it could be argued that it is no longer a marketing activity.

I know that it could be argued that everything that touches the customer or potential customer is marketing, but if we – for the moment – narrow marketing down to the activities that the marketing department invests time and money in, then the tendency is still that SoMe is not the best place to focus for most BtB companies.

Social Media Marketing vs. Content Marketing

The discussion on SoMe can be difficult as it can be a little tricky to define where Social Media Marketing stops and where e.g. Content Marketing or Online Advertising begins. Are we really discussing the same thing? It gets blurry – also because there are so many different definitions of where one stops and the next starts. For instance:

Freebase defines Social Media Marketing as
Freebase defines Contact Marketing as

I am all for using Content Marketing and Online Advertising in the BtB marketing mix (if done right). For that reason, I completely understand why a company would create articles and push those out through all their channels – But I define that as Content Marketing, not Social Media Marketing.

Are we talking about the same thing?

Still, if most of us agree that SoMe in BtB should be limited to LinkedIn and should be focused around employees being ambassadors, then why is there such a high demand for Social Media Marketers?

It only takes a quick peek in the marketing section of any job database to see that almost all junior to mid-seniority marketers are now required to have in-depth knowledge of Social Media Marketing.

Perhaps, the problem is that there is a lot of confusion when we discuss these concepts. When a job ad say SoMe – does it really mean Digital Marketing? When a BtB company argues for SoMe – is it really Content Marketing?

The definitions vary from person to person and depending on where you look and how you interpret what you read, you could be getting conflicting definitions.

The number of buzzwords, definitions and hype in marketing is rising fast – and as we have seen, often without clear barriers between the different areas.

I think we, as marketers, are doing ourselves a disservice by allowing this to happen. As marketers, we are supposed to be great at sending clear messages to our target audience, but if we cannot even agree on what we call our own strategies, we are making life very difficult for ourselves – and for everyone else.


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GrumpyCMO is where I air my thoughts on marketing. I'm Bo Ekkelund, and I have been in the marketing field for more than 15 years. The blog is called GrumpyCMO, as I call it as I see it. I see a lot of hype in marketing and I see a lot of very basic mistakes being made in marketing and this is where I tell the world about it. Oh, and I also air my thoughts on marketing strategy, marketing's place in the organization and the changing challenges of CMO's. Some of the articles on this site have also been published on other sites, such as Marketcommunity and LinkedIn.