Social v social media marketing – key differences

Posted by Oliver on 2 Mar 2017

Social v social media marketing – key differences

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flickr, Instagram, SnapChat you name it, we’re on it.  Social media marketing is big business and we can’t get enough of it!

There are masses of media agencies that specialise in delivering content to our socially addicted world.  What of social marketing then? And how do they differ? 

If you google social marketing, you will be presented with a raft of businesses that provide a broad range of media, digital and general marketing services.  Social marketing and social media marketing are distinct though, and some search engines are not always helpful in separating the two.

A social marketing agency specialises in behaviour change

A social media agency specialises in digital communication, whereas a social marketing agency specialises in changing behaviours. 

Admitted, a social marketing expert may well use social media to deliver this change (as a tactic), but that is one of many tools used to penetrate the heart of a wide range of social issues. 

A powerful framework

Social marketing uses the latest insight and customer segmentation techniques, to develop a framework for delivering what some people regard as life-changing and very powerful awareness and education campaigns.   

Big ideas that make a difference

Social marketing is all about finding ‘big ideas’ that change attitudes or behaviours.  Used for dental marketing, NHS marketing and by healthcare advertising agencies, social marketing campaigns tackle things like smoking, drug taking and irresponsible sexual behaviour, through to better mental health and promotion of regular cervical smear tests. Social marketing deals with the root cause of some serious social issues. 

You could argue, of course, that social media can do this to an extent, but the key difference perhaps is that social marketing is not profit fuelled and puts peoples’ lives first. 

So why then do two very different and individual marketing techniques get so confused?

In short, it’s probably just the name.  Does it really matter?  Well, to the many social marketers that are working hard to change people’s behaviour, improve lives and tackle some of society’s social issues, you can understand the frustration!


Who are we?  We’re Perfect Circle - an award-winning social marketing agency, Manchester that delivers positive behavioural change across the UK.

Get in touch with Perfect Circle