What’s the difference between content marketing and social media?

My dad invited my brother and me to stay over at his place for the weekend as an early Father’s Day family weekend. Whenever we visit we often discuss career options and the future. While we were making waffles on Sunday morning, I told him that Writerburg doesn’t typically take social media management contracts. He asked me very pointedly, “so if you aren’t managing social media accounts, what do you do as a content writer? What’s the difference between content marketing and social media?” It’s a question that I have been asked before, so I decided to answer it in a way that made sense to him.

Content marketing and social media

Content Marketing and Social Media are like the Trucking Industry

My dad had been working as a truck driver in the oil rigs for a few years, so I took his familiarity with the transportation industry and worked it into an explanation on what I do as a content writer and copywriter. I explained that digital marketing is an industry that has many parallels to trucking.

In my role as a content writer I am in charge of developing the precious cargo that people are looking to consume. Social media managers are the truck drivers who pick up my cargo to deliver to their audiences.

Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are malls that consumers hang out to socialize with their friends. They are not owned by the businesses, but they offer a place to showcase their products and services while people go about their day-to-day interaction.

When social media managers deliver my content, consumers choose whether they’d like to learn more about the company, product, or brand information that’s been dropped off on their own time.

Around the world marketers are filling up their trucks to deliver to their customers. When social media managers run out of content, they drive the truck back to pick up more cargo to deliver.

Content writers often have limited contact with their audience directly, but social media managers encourage direct contact, or engagement when the ‘cargo’ is delivered. In short:
  • Content writers produce the valuable cargo that keeps consumers coming back for more.
  • Social media managers are the semi-truck drivers that deliver content to the community.

Content Marketing and Social Media Strategies Work Together

  • Developing a content strategy without a social media strategy will likely leave a truck full of cargo parked in front of your business.
  • Starting a social media strategy without original content will leave you honking your horn with an empty load (kind of like an ice cream truck gone mad).

Both scenarios occur in the industry because social media managers and content writers are often hired separately rather than as a strategic package.

In a city as small as Saskatoon, there are solo social media managers who also create content. Businesses need to understand that just like driving a truck it takes an equally special skill set to handle each role individually. Understanding social media is key to generating great content, but managing social media for hundreds of clients is an entirely different beast.

Within digital marketing there are numerous other players involved besides social media managers and content marketers. These include:

  • data analysts,
  • editors,
  • community managers,
  • project managers,
  • SEO/SEM coordinators,
  • photographers,
  • videographers,
  • graphic designers,
  • website developers
  • and much more.

In order to work well together each role needs a certain degree of understanding about the other players in the mix. That’s why Social Media Breakfast Saskatoon was created – to encourage collaboration and improve communication around the specialties.

Content Marketing and Social Media Shouldn’t Be Outsourced

In my opinion, social media management is done best by an inside employee who is trained to get results. They know the ins and outs of customer satisfaction and the answers to questions that an outside social media manager will not have the time to learn. Some businesses know this, but can’t afford a full-time social media staff member. That’s why it makes financial sense to hire a freelance social media manager.

Similarly content creation is something that you should never outsource to a foreign supplier. The damage broken English writing and content that doesn’t resonate can do is not worth the money you’ll save. Top Canadian companies hire content writers who live and work here in the country. A local writer will work hard to understand your goals and reach them with quality content your customers will love.

After giving this short explanation my dad looked as if he had an epiphany about the value of digital content. Then he asked me if I could help him start a blog.

I said, “Yes, dad. But you’ll have to manage your own engagement.”

Happy Father’s Day!

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