Is Social Marketing Different From Social Media Marketing?

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It might be an age old discussion but the debate about the differences (if any) between social marketing and social media marketing in Uganda is just about to begin

Defining social marketing today.

Have you ever felt like buying a particular product, from a brand or attending an event simply because someone or people you met at another event, on Facebook, WhatsApp group, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram talk nicely about it?

We can call it infection with intention but that forms what most of this article is about.

With Social marketing, people who care; marketers and business managers/owners leverage on online (internet) and offline platforms that (can) bring people together to build personal relationships with potential target buyers first by being helping to them yet at the same time promoting themselves or specific products to the group in order to generate and qualify members of the group as new quality leads or maintain existing customers.

For years social marketing has been used primarily by non-governmental organisations and or companies to create behavioural change or for the sole purpose of social good whereas commercial marketing was used to financial gain.

According to Word Stream, Social media marketing is a form of internet marketing that implements various social media networks in order to achieve marketing communication and branding goals.


Yes, there is a big but, because as in the Word Stream definition of social media marketing, there is no restriction on which marketing or branding goals social media marketing should achieve.

Focus areas for social marketing;
  •  Being helpful: aiding a target group of people to find answers to specific questions or challenges.
  •  Building personal relationships with target members of a group,
  •  Promoting specific products to a smaller, target group
  •  Generating new leads and or keeping existing customers.

Top among marketing communication and branding goals of most organisations are however are and have always been;

  •   Product/brand promotion at scale
  •   New lead generation.

Being helpful to a specific group (of non-customers) and building personal relationships with them are not key areas of focus for traditional marketing communications departments of businesses.

  • ·       Both work to promote brands/products
  • ·       Being marketing activities, both generate leads
  • ·       Both may use social media.

Social media is just a tool.

Is social marketing better than social media marketing in Uganda?

If a B2B agency such as dreamstar digital wants to generate high quality leads from a smaller target group of companies/businesses, the best thing for it to do would be to build strong personal relationships with the decision makers in those organisations. This might require going as far as offering voluntary guidance to them through social media or any platform that makes that activity possible.

If a predominantly B2C company such as Movit for example wants to promote a new product to a large group such as the whole country for example it would be more reasonable to use social media marketing and traditional commercial advertising techniques such as TV, Radio and Newspaper advertising.

So, in your opinion; which is better?

Can Social Marketing be done at scale?

Yes. However, much as may seem cheap, social marketing takes a little more effort if a great return on investment is to be realised. Many social marketing campaigns when conducted through social media end up producing nothing because the managers fall for scale after forgetting about the initial goals; helpfulness, precision and quality.

Before you choose which one of the two to apply, you generally need to be sure of the resources you have and the goals that are more important for your marketing department.

Stephen is a Digital Marketing Strategist, New Business Developer, Start-up Entrepreneur and Co-founder of dreamstar digital and Dreamstar Graphics


This article was first published by the author on LinkedIn.

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