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Social Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

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

“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 don’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.

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  1. i want to ask what makes you to wrte on their comparision ?

  2. I find that many people confuse the two terms

  3. Good stuff Mike and thanks for clearing it up. By the way , I am having a heck of a time with our students at Carleton who are totally confused between the 2 disciplines. I just receive a number of term papers and there is definitely a lot of confusion.

  4. […] December 13, 2007 Going off of the topic of the day from the Social Marketing Listserv, I would like to add to the conversation some of my experiences when people get social marketing confused with social media marketing. […]

  5. uppercanuck

    Great article. I know quite a few of my peers who need to read this.

  6. […] stumbled upon an interesting post today that got me thinking. The post is titled “The Difference Between Social Marketing and Social Media Marketing,” and it can be found on the blog of Mike Kujawski. It’s not a new post, but it raises […]

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  8. i have tried social media marketing for getting our new products to be known on the market. it seems to work well specially if the audience is targeted “”

  9. Thanks for your clarification about the difference. Yes there are too many people (and customer too) who mistake “social marketing” for “social media marketing”…

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