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

Feb 24

Last week, Ogilvy launched Social@Ogilvy, a global, cross-discipline team of social experts from across all of Ogilvy’s businesses delivering social solutions. Social media is changing our clients’ businesses and we have been quietly building the largest social media marketing communications network in the world.

This exciting news has sparked some discussion and questions about terminology: what’s the difference between social media (or “social media marketing”) and social marketing? This is not a new dialogue—confusion has been brewing ever since the breakthrough of social media and its subsequent impact on marketing, communications, and many other disciplines.

  • Marketing through social media involves having conversations and creating engagement online through a variety of social media tools, such as blogs, wikis, online communities, community websites, video, photos, and social networking platforms. The term “social media” was first used within the past decade.
  • Social marketing is a discipline that attempts to change awareness, attitudes, and behaviors as they are related to advancing social causes. Since its introduction in 1971, social marketing has been used to address many of the world’s most pressing issues, from public health to public safety to environmentalism. Methods include community outreach, direct mail, advertising, media relations, partnership development, events, interpersonal outreach, materials dissemination . . . and social media.


Indeed, in today’s communications environment social media has an important and critical role to play in social marketing initiatives. Good social marketing campaigns contain social media tactics that are based—as the rest of the campaign elements are—on research-derived insights into the campaign’s intended audience. For more on the potential benefits of social media to social marketing initiatives, see this blog post from Executive Vice President and Group Director Jennifer Wayman and many other posts on this blog about the intersections and application of social media to social marketing.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012 at 8:38 pm and is filed under Social Marketing, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “What’s the difference between social media and social marketing?”

  1. [...] This post was originally published on the Social Marketing exCHANGE blog. [...]