Social Marketing Is Not Social Media Marketing


Image courtesy of Herald BoyImage courtesy of Herald Boy

There is a lot of talk on this blog, and other similar blogs, about the effectiveness and power of social media marketing. Your nonprofit needs to leverage its power to effectively complete its mission in the highly competitive contemporary online marketing environment. This much we know.Potential donors, volunteers, and constituents are already on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a bevy of others social platforms. As a result, nonprofits have employed the “make a page and they will come” attitude towards the various social networking platforms and it’s working.

But one distinction we see being made all too often is the line being blurred between social marketing and social media marketing. The two principles may ultimately be the same (marketing), but the two means are entirely different.

What do we mean by that? Yes bowling and baseball are two sports, but you would never mistake those two for being one in the same, would you? We didn’t think so.

The difference is in the details

Social marketing is, by definition, a marketing principle applied to promote merit goods, or to make a society avoid demerit goods, and to ultimately promote the health and well being of a society or demographic as a whole. It is by many accounts exactly what a nonprofit is meant to do.

Nonprofits are meant to support and enhance a population or demographic’s best interests. Social marketing is primarily used by NPOs, universities, government agencies, and community groups to raise awareness and help those communities thrive.

Social media marketing on the other hand is the explicit use of a social media network or platform to enhance the marketing efforts and online presence of a nonprofit. The key difference between social media marketing and social marketing is that a nonprofit can leverage their social media use to NOT spread a message of well being to a community or demographic.

Let me explain. A nonprofit can utilize their Twitter feed, as almost all do, to promote an upcoming event, or to outright request donations from the community. While both may indirectly benefit that demographic, neither directly benefit a community at large. While there is nothing wrong with this tactic, it does not connote social marketing.

So there you have it, folks. While the difference may not seem apparent at first, it is indeed there. It is important to heed these differences, and understand them in order to speak intelligently on the subject matter in the future.

What differences do you see between the two principles? Let us know in the comment section below.

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