What’s the Difference and How to Strike a Balance

Sometimes, when business owners think about digital marketing—specifically the social media aspect—they think, “Simple enough. I’ll hire someone to manage my accounts.” However, what many people fail to understand is that social media management and social media marketing are two different things. Before hiring an individual or agency to work on your social media, consider the differences between management and marketing, and start to determine the sort of balance you’d like to strike between the two.

Social Media Management

This half of the equation — because management and marketing should be used in conjunction — is more of a long-term strategy. Most likely, you won’t see immediate gains, but you will be on your way to creating a community and, hopefully, a loyal following. The ultimate goal of management is to turn an organic audience into brand evangelists who will spread the good word of your product or service. 

The idea is to consistently develop and post the kind of content that engages your audience, spreads a message, and better expresses your brand. This kind of traffic is earned but free, and while it’s a long game, it can yield a significant return over months and years of practice.

Social media platforms are used by individuals and groups to communicate. When people scroll through their timeline, they want to be informed, entertain, or inspired, which is why your business should view social media management as a sort of ongoing conversation with a circle of friends. You’re sharing, not selling.

Red Bull is an example of excellent social media management. They share content (namely videos) of extreme athletes doing crazy stunts. Why? Because it fits their brand: “Red Bull gives you wings!” In other words, you can do anything. They’re also building a conversation and garnering engagement around consumable content, as well as interacting with their followers by responding to and liking comments.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing, on the other hand, is paid promotion that typically includes a call-to-action —“Shop here,” “Click to purchase,” “Visit our website.” When enacting this strategy, you’ll want to create audiences based on the data you’ve accumulated on your current and ideal audiences.

Facebook, for example, allows you to create something called a “look-a-like” audience. You might first create a list of customers who have converted on your website, then use “look-a-like” to target similar social media users. You could also base the list off of similar careers, ages, genders, geographic locations, or even previous engagements online. 

The ultimate purpose of social media marketing is to generate leads, and it’s a better method of seeing immediate gains. Paid ads and targeted social posts increase revenue and your following. Obviously, there’s a cost, but you’re more likely to earn a return on investment (ROI) when you direct them to your website.

Balance Between Management and Marketing

While social media management and marketing are two separate tactics, you might visualize their differences like two sides of the same coin. Your particular use and balance of these methods depend entirely on your specific goals. Are you most interested in building your brand and becoming a thought leader, or is the be-all and end-all to gain conversions? Ultimately, if you neglect either method, you may run into issues. If you hire someone strictly to handle your social media management, they may not be able to prove their value or show you ROI. In the reverse, if you bring on a team to deal with social media marketing alone, your business may appear pushy, like the knife salesman who keeps knocking on your door no matter how many times you say no.

As with many things in life and marketing, you need to strike a balance. For this reason, you should have an in-depth conversation with potential agencies or in-house marketers about what it is they will do for you and how they’ll help you meet your unique goals.

Guest post by Emily Laubham with Cosmitto