Even though to most marketers the difference is quite clear, now and then, I get asked this question by clients that seem to mistake one for the other. Here are my favorite definitions for both:
“Social marketing is a process that applies marketing principles and techniques to create, communicate, and deliver value in order to influence target audience behaviors that benefit society (public health, safety, the environment and communities) as well as the target audience.” – Philip Kotler, Nancy Lee and Michael Rothschild (2006)
Example: Running an anti-smoking marketing campaign to improve public health (not to be confused with Corporate Social Responsibility). Social Marketing initiatives are thus mainly undertaken by Government, Non-Profits and Professional Associations.
Social Media Marketing (SMM)
” SMM combines the goals of internet marketing with social media sites such as Digg, Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and many others. The SMM goals will be different for every business or organization, however most will involve some form of viral marketing to build idea or brand awareness, increase visibility, and possibly sell a product or service. SMM may also include online reputation management. Most online communities donâ€™t welcome traditional direct or hard sell techniques so an effective SMM campaign will require more finesse to execute properly. SMM campaigns must be targeted to the community you want to reach with a message that appeals to them. Some common ways of achieving this are with authoritative information, entertainment, humor or controversy.“ -Wikipedia 2007 (how apropos, eh?)
Example: Adidas opening up a shoe store in SecondLife to increase brand awareness amongst users of this popular 3D Virtual World.
Wikipedia also goes on to further explain how Social Media Optimization (SMO) ties in with SMM:
“SMM is related to other online marketing such as Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Viral Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing, and Social Media Optimization. Many believe SMO takes a passive role in establishing the framework for different social sites to connect themselves. Others feel SMO is taking the principles of SEO and applying them to social websites. SMM takes a more active planned role directing, influencing or suggesting community members create and connect the content.” – Wikipedia 2007
How the two tie in
Clearly there is a huge opportunity for Social Marketing campaigns to employ Social Media Marketing as a means of reaching niche audiences more effectively at significantly reduced costs (hence why I started this blog). When executed properly, SMM can make a tremendous impact on your campaign with a much higher ROI than traditional marketing promotion (Advertising, Personal Selling, Direct Marketing, etc…).
So there you go, clarification at last. Feel free to comment or criticize.