As digital marketing continues to evolve, different areas of practice such as inbound marketing management and social media management have diverged as each adopts to increasingly specialized skills and tool kits.
Any comprehensive inbound marketing campaign involves social media to communicate their brand’s message and engage their audiences. This leads to a substantial area of overlap between inbound marketing and social media management.
The two are emerging as quite distinct disciplines, each with their own areas of focus, goal, tools and techniques. However, social media management and inbound marketing management are complementary rather than mutually exclusive!
Social Media Management Defined
Social media management may be defined as;
“the act of monitoring and participating in social conversations across platforms.”
Inbound Marketing Defined
Inbound marketing may be defined as;
“an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful.”
Let’s explore the key areas in which they diverge in answer to the question;
“how is social media management different from inbound marketing management?”
Point Of Engagement
The point of engagement for social media management occurs within the social networks themselves. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, social media content is distributed through these social media channels. The point of engagement is always the networks as conduits.
Inbound marketing management for its part has as its point of engagement a website. This website can take the form of a proprietary branded URL, a microsite commonly used for products or promotions or a blog.
While social media make an often significant contribution to an inbound marketing campaign, its role is primarily as a distribution network for links back to the content on the brand’s website, rather than as the focal point for the content itself.
While both inbound marketing campaigns and social media management can be used to deliver a range of strategic outcomes, social media management tends to focus on two core objectives.
First, raising brand awareness by generating audience activity and discussion around the brand. Secondly, as a tool to support customer retention and maintain satisfaction. Brands frequently use social media communities as open forums for conversations with prospects and ongoing dialogue with customers. Often, this engagement is centred on issues or questions posed by audiences and customers.
In contrast, inbound marketing campaigns are website-centred and focus on demand generation. As arresting, engaging content attracts prospects to a brand’s website or microsite, brands can nurture relationships with prospects and cultivate them towards a purchase conversion.
In social media marketing, content is created to align with the context of the individual social platform: Twitter’s 140 character limit for its short messages, Instagram’s images and video-based content, and Facebook contests, quizzes, and games orientation. On social media, brands model their behaviour after that of the audience hanging out on the individual social network.
Inbound marketing management’s website context for its part favours longer content forms such as feature articles, white papers and eBooks.
Brands can bring their core attributes to life in the imaginations of their audience by publishing blog posts, videos, infographics, and eBooks. In this context, brands mimic the behaviours of media publishers.
Areas Of Overlap
As you would anticipate, inbound marketing management and social media management share many common techniques and approaches derived from classical marketing. A selection of the common techniques includes:
- Goal and objective setting
- Target market identification and definition
- Market and audience segmentation
- Brand architecture
- Market research
- Needs, wants and desires analysis
- Operational effectiveness and efficiency
- Campaign Implementation and management
- Monitoring and evaluation
Common techniques provide a common point of connection between inbound marketing management and social media management.
The Evolution Continues
While some tactical situations are best served by a focus on either inbound marketing or social media, it’s important to always remember these marketing tools are not mutually exclusive. There is no dictate demanding you have to choose between the two.
Both forms of marketing practice combine to form part of a robust marketing strategy and are frequently employed in tandem together. Hence it helps to view the two techniques as interrelated elements of digital marketing’s ongoing evolution.
The rise and rise of the Internet has unleashed a revolutionary capability for every brand to communicate directly with its audience and customers without the need for a media intermediary to interrupt them while disseminating their message.
Social media management and the engagement with communities is a natural step in this unfolding process. Access to audiences is direct and the content is often formatted into shorter components to reflect the demands of the social media platform, streamlining the publishing process.
We can anticipate as brands become more familiar and comfortable with their new publishing role, a natural progression will unfold with brands migrating towards a more seamless and integrated inbound marketing management model.
True, inbound marketing content is more complex and demanding to develop, as it usually requires longer-form, higher-quality content formats, with all its inherent cost and time implications for brands.
However, the rewards and results of inbound marketing management are, generally commensurate with the effort involved. Brands can in depth with website visitors, prospects and their customers through inbound marketing enabling them to nurture relationships along the entire length of the customer journey. Moreover, by driving visitors to its own website, the brand has a greater opportunity to generate leads and progress those leads down the conversion funnel.
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As both social media management and inbound marketing management continue to evolve, a new understanding of the boundaries and areas of overlap are emerging. Social media certainly has its areas of expertise and set of tools to deliver on its promise, while inbound marketing campaigns will always include social media as an essential distribution component.