Let’s be clear with our terminology. I’m speaking specifically about the need to differentiate between social media and content marketing.
Social media is media, where media is defined as “the main means of communication.” Social media is the channel through which you spread the word. You need to spread the word, but you also need a “word” to spread. One without the other is ludicrous.
Content marketing’s focus is on the content, the “word” that gets spread. Social media’s focus is on spreading the word.
The two are closely related. And my simplistic distinction is just that, a simplification of a complex, and rapidly changing situation.
The reason I am arguing for a clear distinction between the two is that I believe the dialog could use some clarity. Some social media champions have defined social media so broadly that they consider a web site social media. I think that lumping everything under an artificially large umbrella doesn’t help. What does help is drawing distinctions that focus on how the components of marketing work together – where they are complementary and where one or another tool in the marketing toolbox is particularly effective. Social media helps establish dialog, and draws attention. Your web site can play a role there too, but let’s keep the distinctions clear.