Top Differences Between Social & Digital Marketing

Social media has become an integral part of digital marketing for business and digital marketing agencies, but engaging in social media activity alone is not the same as delivering a digital marketing campaign. Although the terms Social Marketing and Digital Marketing are often used interchangeably, they are, in fact, two very different things, and understanding this difference is the key to building a rounded marketing strategy. 

What is social marketing, and why is it different from digital marketing?

The key to understanding the difference between social media marketing and digital marketing is to realize that social media marketing is a component of digital marketing and not a separate thing. Whereas digital marketing encompasses the use of all digital channels for marketing purposes, social marketing focuses solely on the use of social media alone. 

The key differences between social and digital marketing

Side by side, social media, and digital marketing may have similar goals, but they differ in several core areas, as summarized by the table below. 

Social Marketing Digital Marketing 
Focus Reaching and engaging with social media users.Reaching a target audience through a number of different channels.
Channels used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, etc. All available digital marketing channels – including email, social media, website, mobile, video, content, TV, radio, etc. 
Reach Narrow Wide 
SpeedFast Slower 


The most apparent difference between social and digital marketing is their focus. Whereas digital marketing has a broad focus, encompassing multiple marketing channels, including social media, social marketing has a much narrower focus, aiming to engage with social media users alone. 

Channels used

In social media marketing, the marketer uses social media channels to engage with social users. In contrast, during digital marketing, the marketer can use multiple channels, both on and offline, to reach their target audience. Digital marketing can still make use of all of the social media channels. 


The reach of social marketing can vary tremendously, depending on the following of each social platform. Still, it is inevitably limited by the restrictions of the channels themselves and the number of people who use them. Digital marketing, on the other hand, has a far wider potential reach as it is not confined to the use of social media channels alone and so can make use of more diverse channels with a broader reach. 


Social marketing is one of the most rapid marketing tactics because social media itself has an incredibly engaged audience and a speedy content timeline. The speed of social marketing can work in its favor in instances when brands or businesses want to disseminate information to their followers quickly, but it can also work against them, requiring incredible upkeep and a constant supply of engaging content to stay relevant. Comparatively, digital marketing often appears much slower than social marketing. This difference is due to some of the marketing channels taking longer to show results. 

Which is better – social marketing or digital marketing?

Social media marketing is now widely considered essential for virtually every business or service, allowing them to engage almost instantly with their target audience, customers, and stakeholders. However, it’s important to remember that although social media may be swift, not all channels are created equal, and not all audiences use social media, which is where digital marketing comes in. Digital marketing allows for the creation of far more diverse integrated digital marketing campaigns, as marketers are not restricted to the use of social media channels alone. An integrated digital marketing campaign can span multiple marketing channels, including social media, to increase your reach and allow marketers to vary your marketing message depending on which audience is likely to see it and their needs. 

A typical integrated digital marketing campaign performed by a Chicago digital agency might include: 

  • Organic search marketing to improve your organic reach 
  • Paid search marketing to ensure that you appear for targeted search results 
  • Social media marketing to reach your social media following and target social audience 
  • Email marketing to reach your subscribers 
  • Content marketing to bring potential online customers to your website

Choosing the right marketing strategy for your business 

Here at Mabbly, we are an experienced Chicago digital marketing agency specializing in delivering data-driven decisions to help your business grow. Whatever your goals, we have a tribe of creative minds waiting to provide you with insightful strategies, sophisticated design, and impactful digital experience that will allow you to exceed your expectations. To find out more about what we do and how we can help you to choose the right marketing strategy for your business, get in touch with us today by emailing us at [email protected] or by giving us a call at 312 448 7473.