The digital marketing showdown


Social media vs SEO vs Content Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing.

It’s difficult to imagine an internet without social media marketing services: they pervade our experience of the cyber-sphere in a range of ways, from YouTube ads to the Facebook sidebar. Social media, SEO, content marketing, and affiliate marketing are all essential parts of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy in the digital age, but the trick is getting the right balance, and knowing when and how to use them independently. So, what’s good for what?

Social Media:

The big one. There is an abundance of articles which vouch for the power of social media sites, and for companies who have used these platforms effectively, the benefits are clear.

The main difference between pure social media and the other three types of social media marketing services is that social media is a platform as well as a strategy. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc. are places where potential customers already are; there is no need to use tags or partners to bring them in. Therefore, the most obvious use of such platforms is increased exposure – a foot in the door so your customers can see the benefits of your product.

Like SEO, a successful social media campaign can help increase traffic to your site, and a truly successful brand can measure its impact by the number of ‘likes’ or equivalent.

Another, less obvious, use of social media platforms which is used heavily in business-to-business companies is the ability to gain insights into your competitors.

However, social media is labour intensive. Unlike the other options, it’s also difficult to outsource, as the appeal of social media from the client’s perspective is that it establishes a sort of ‘personal relationship’.


Last year, Google made around $10 billion in profits. There is a reason for this. As the biggest gatekeeper of the internet, and the single biggest online presence in the world, it allows those hunting for something to arrive at their destination.

Social media marketing services are all about getting the customer whose needs match your products: SEO is a great way to do this. Unlike social media sites, the traffic to your site is targeted, meaning a better chance of profiting from exposure.

SEO is also less work to maintain, so long as you continue producing content; whereas social media is often a dialogue which requires effort to make sure it doesn’t become counter-productive. The comparative pros and cons between social media and SEO strategies are broken down by Alksey Zuravlov in a useful schematic which basically boils down to the idea that SEO and Social Media are most powerful in combination.

Content Marketing:

Whilst SEO and pure Social Media can work well together, the glue that holds them together is the content. Content marketing is essential for building a bond between business and consumer. It’s also important in business-to-business organisations, where expertise can work as the valuable edge over your competitors.

With content marketing, a consistent stream of high-quality material can result in a subscriber base, which doubles as a consumer base. The trick with content marketing is that it doesn’t actually advertise a single product, but it creates a sense in the consumer that you are a trustworthy source when it comes to their need. SEOs rely on content marketing because they run on keywords and titles, and these don’t exist without content.

However, content marketing is not easy. In order to show that you are an expert on a topic, you have to recruit the right staff; you have to have someone who can write with authority. It’s important to be unique with your angle in order to increase your chances of engaging an audience, and with the headlines and bold sections that SEO necessitates, sometimes content can seem cluttered.

Affiliate Marketing:

Creating links to other businesses on your site can help create healthy relationships with companies that provide similar services. This type of marketing is much easier to set up and maintain than content marketing, and means that even if your potential customer doesn’t purchase something directly from you, that you can still profit from their traffic.

Most of the time though, these types of links are on a ‘pay on sale’ basis, which means that even if the traffic is directed from yours to an affiliate site, you only profit if the user purchases from the affiliate. This can mean that if the offer provided by the affiliate is unappealing, you pay for their mistake. However, even when that is the case, affiliate marketing works in a way that is not hugely dissimilar to content marketing, as these social media marketing services both provide your customer with content that doesn’t necessarily equate to money in your pocket and build a sense of trust by enforcing that you understand your place in the market.

But, as with all of these lists, and as I’ve said before, there is no real winner. All of these types of marketing rely on each other, and the issues with each of them are often addressed by elements in other types of marketing.

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