When it comes to growing your business, shouldn’t the quality of your services should be enough?

Yet, you’ve noticed a competitor who’s expanding more quickly than you because they’re spending more on marketing.

The fact is, you need to have a marketing budget if you want to make a name for yourself in your industry.

The million-dollar question now is, “Where should I put my time and money?”

You’re pretty sure you need “social media marketing” . . . right? Or is “content marketing” where it’s at? Are they the same? Which is better? Most importantly, what will help you outperform your competitors?

We at Flow are all about efficiency, so let’s start with the punchline: Social media marketing and content marketing ARE NOT the same. However, they do work in tandem.

Need more details? Fair enough. 

We’ll clear the air by defining and comparing social media marketing and content marketing, showing you how they work together, and helping you navigate where to start with your own marketing plan.

Social Media Marketing: Creating and Sharing Content on Social Media Platforms

You already know that social media is H-U-G-E. 

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, SnapChat, YouTube, and you-name-it have exploded in the past ten years. These platforms started out as a modern-day version of the vacation slideshow at the neighbor’s house — a way for people to share photos and connect with each other, maybe catch up with your high school crush. Though it still serves that purpose, social media has evolved into the ultimate marketing hub. 

In our own words, social media marketing is creating and sharing content for your specific audience to build awareness and create a community around your brand.

It’s all about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way to establish trust and brand loyalty (and probably have some fun along the way).

Each platform works differently. On one platform videos are supreme, others photos dominate, and yet on another written content and direct interaction takes over. 

So, what does an effective strategy look like? Flow’s commandments of social media marketing are:

  1. Thou shalt knoweth which platforms thine customers are utilizing.
    Don’t post on every platform “just in case.” You’ll waste your time and money. Focus your efforts where you’ll get the best ROI and don’t be afraid to switch if you discover your customers are on a different platform.
  2. Thou shalt not be a skeezy salesperson.
    Think of social media as a party and you as the guy or gal with the sales pitch. Don’t be the one handing out business cards to every person they talk to. Keep a ratio of 90% meaningful content and genuine interaction, and 10% sales.
  3. Thou shalt create dope social content.
    Boring social media content: You know it when you see it, right? It’s meaningless, unoriginal, and out of place for the medium. Once you know which platforms your audience is using, you can strategically tailor content that engages, meets their needs, and delights them. 

This doesn’t even cover paid social media marketing, which is a separate can of worms!

Related: How Social Media Agencies Actually Work (And Why You Should Avoid Them)

Content Marketing: Sharing Your Story in the Form of Content

If you know what blogging is, then you’re sure to understand content marketing. Just like social media marketing, blogging is (still) booming. There are over 500 million blogs on the internet now. In 2000, that number was a mere 23

Yet, content marketing is much much older than the internet. Gronk’s cave drawings and Aesop’s fables are some of the oldest examples of content marketing. 

Why is that? Because content marketing is the art of storytelling. It’s sharing your brand’s story, morals, values, and how-tos in the form of practical, functional, and/or tactical content. 

Thus, content marketing is a long-term marketing approach to create various pieces of high-quality content — usually in long-form — around a product or service to generate interest and provide value that is continuously relevant to your audience. 

If you’re not strong on long-form writing, there’s good news. Your content can come in multiple shapes and sizes like blog posts, infographics, how-to guides, ebooks, photos, videos . . . the list goes on! 

Related: Finally! Use Your Team to Create More Content

How Social Media Marketing & Content Marketing Work Together

Though social media and content marketing are separate beasts, marketers and professionals looking to build their brand and generate qualified leads combine both to create a holistic strategy. Social media builds awareness and draws in traffic, while the content shares your story and sells your product. 

What does that look like for you? It’s simple:

  1. Create great content on your website/blog
  2. Distribute it on social media
  3. Engage with your audience as they react to and share your content

We said it’s simple, but not necessarily easy. It takes time, skill, time, trial-and-error, course correction, and, oh yeah, more time to figure out a strategy that lands with your target customer. 

The good news is: You can do it.

Hold onto your hat. There are more details ahead. 

How To Create a Successful Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy

You don’t build a house without a blueprint, and you don’t start posting content and social media updates without a strategy. 

How do you start successfully utilizing social media and content to feed a thriving business? 

  1. Know your audience. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, your message will tank. Figure out your audience’s demographics (Google Analytics and Facebook Insights are good places to start), get inside their heads, and find out what makes them tick. If this step takes your hours or days, you’re doing it right. Knowing your audience will help you strategize what kind of content to create and where to distribute it.
  2. Nail your message. Now that you know who you’re talking to and what their problems are, you can figure out what to say and how to say it. Match a pain point to a solution you offer and make sure your target customer is the hero of your story, not you. (In case you get a little lost here, you can download our personal brand planner to get you started.)
  3. Create an editorial calendar. After defining your audience and messaging, you’ll probably have lots of content ideas. Yay! Jot them all down, open up a spreadsheet, and start figuring out what to publish, where, and when. An editorial calendar will make sure you are pumping out a steady stream of relevant content.
  4. Optimize your content. Make sure Google shows you love with some basic search engine optimization (SEO). Yoast is a popular WordPress plugin that we use here at Flow.
  5. Get automated. Nobody has time to upload and share content on various platforms manually. Streamline your process with a social media management system like Buffer or Hootsuite. You can schedule posts up to months in advance, complete with images and video. 

Nobody with a killer idea or genuine talent should ever feel anonymous in their own industry. Figuring out your marketing game is tough, but it IS doable. 

And let’s be real. If you don’t take action and promote yourself, you run the risk of being left in obscurity, falling short of reaching the height of significance that you envision. 

No one with talent should ever feel anonymous in their own industry.

Flow helps you differentiate yourself and grow your business.

Click to Schedule a Consult

Dramatic, but true.

That’s the bad news. The good news is, it doesn’t have to go there. Knowing the difference between content and social media marketing, and how to use both together to create your marketing machine, will give you a regularly updated online presence with fresh, exciting eye candy for your followers.