B2B Experts: Content Marketing Will Not Replace Social Media

b2b-content-marketing-replace-social-mediaAfter asking the B2B experts the difference between social media and content marketing, I asked them if they thought content marketing would ever replace social media.

This question was part of my original line of thinking. As more B2B marketers talk about content marketing instead of social media, it causes their social activities to be less siloed, less special. Content marketing feels more like marketing, and not an outsider art or mystical endeavor. With this in mind, I wondered if this change would shift the balance between the two. Read on to see if the experts think content marketing will replace social media. Share your own thoughts below in the comments.

ann-handleyAnn Handley (@marketingprofs)
Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and Co-Author of Content Rules
Blog: annhandley.com

The more likely scenario is that “content marketing” just becomes “marketing.”

lee-oddenLee Odden (@leeodden)
CEO at TopRank Online Marketing and Author of Optimize
Blog: TopRank Online Marketing Blog

In terms of a business activity, I think content marketing as a discipline will continue to rise and marketing budgets are definitely streaming in that direction. Some of that budget is being drawn from social media too.

Will marketing budgets towards content-focused marketing initiatives potentially exceed those for social media marketing? I think that’s entirely possible, especially for organizations that see social networks and media sites more as content distribution and engagement channels than purely as communities.

But with companies that operate socially across departments (marketing, sales, customer service, public relations, HR talent acquisition, legal, operations, etc) both internally and externally, overall social media investment could easily dwarf anything spent on content marketing.

jay-baerJay Baer (@jaybaer)
President at Convince and Convert and Author of Youtility

In no way will content marketing overtake social media in any corner of the universe with the possible exception of professional marketers. Social media is the new telephone. Content marketing is the new brochure. That doesn’t make it unimportant – hell, I just published a best-selling book about doing content right. Keep in mind that my mom uses social media every day. My mom could care less about content marketing, although she of course consumes content routinely. Social media envelops us like air. Content marketing is a place we (mostly marketers) can go visit, like a sparkling lake stocked with trout.

jason-fallsJason Falls (@jasonfalls)
Vice-President for Digital Strategy at CafePress and founder of Social Media Explorer

Content marketing is being leveraged by companies everywhere to fuel their social media content. For the companies that allow content marketing to take over social media, they’ll ultimately have less return than those who don’t. Pumping content without the social element — engaging, responding, interacting — is hollow. We have that today. It’s called regular media. The social behavior, valuing your consumers, caring for them … that will always be the kicker that takes good content marketing efforts into the realm of noticeable outstanding marketing.

joe-chernovJoe Chernov (@jchernov)
Newly Acquired VP of Content at Hubspot
I too have seen that same shift beginning to occur, and frankly we’re not the only ones. Venture capitalists are increasingly investing in content marketing startups. Within marketing tech, content is absolutely the hot sector. I think the two — content and social — will remain separate for the next few years. Content platforms are just so new that the space will need to shake out a bit more. But in time, I can see a convergence. Content marketing solutions will converge with either demand generation systems or social media management systems, depending on where content finds its “center of gravity” in large organizations.

jason-millerJason Miller (@jasonmillerca)
Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn

Content marketing will not replace social media by any means; they are and will continue to be two very different things with two very different functions. Social media channels are the tentacles from which your content extends its reach while opening up a direct line of communication with your customers and prospects. In addition, what were once known as “social media vanity metrics” (shares, plus ones, Likes, retweets, and comments) are now playing a much bigger role in how your content ranks within search engines and the social platforms themselves. At the end of the day, content and social will be broken out of their respective silos and pulled together as an essential part of an overall integrated marketing strategy.

doug-kesslerDoug Kessler (@dougkessler)
Creative Director and Co-founder of Velocity

I see lots of social media experts and agencies furiously rebranding themselves as content marketing experts and agencies. I don’t see many content marketing experts and agencies going the other way.

I don’t think content marketing will replace social media marketing because they’re very different things. But I do think it will become more important, more central and more strategic than social media marketing — because it is!

But content marketing will one day dissolve into marketing, too. (Try to imagine ‘content-free marketing’). And the next hot term will come along and replace it.

The discipline won’t go away – it’s just way too fundamental to what good marketing is – but the term and its attendant buzzwords will.

chris-moodyChris Moody (@cnmoody)
VP of Marketing at Compendium
Blog: chris-moody.com

Content marketing will never take the place of social media and probably will never outrank the term. Everyone is using social media. A few actually get it right. Being smart with the content you’re producing will help grow your business. Then you actually have something worth sharing.

The irony of it all is that content marketing allows us to be more successful with web, email and social media.

rene-powerRené Power (@renepower)
Business Development Director at Barrett Dixon Bell and Author of Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing
Blog: Marketing Assassin

No, I think they are a natural partners when it comes to online marketing, and especially in B2B, depth of information is critical in social media marketing as we know information is crucial right throughout the decision making process. The long term question for me is more whether marketing inately becomes more content and socially focused, effectively rendering both specialities obsolete.

tom-skotidasTom Skotidas (@tomskotidas)
Founder of Skotidas

This is not possible, because they are interrelated, symbiotic concepts. Social media refers to websites and internet-based applications that are used for social networking between users of these websites or applications. Content marketing uses content in the form of dialogue or information – shared within social media – to drive effective networking between users. This networking allows B2B marketers to use social media to activate relationships, build brand, grow demand and generate leads. Wherever personal brand and person-to-person relationships are key (e.g. in social selling), content – and its use for marketing purposes – serves as the lifeblood of B2B marketers.

Photo credit: Flickr


  1. says

    Really interesting article, with a load of awesome expert insights. I’d have to agree most with Skotidas though, content marketing and social media are completely and inextricably intertwined. Social media couldn’t function without content to drive it, and content marketing would fail without a place to promote that content. Thanks for these!

  2. says

    Social Media and Content Marketing are two different things that depend upon each other. They are both going to increase in relevance to corporate marketers as a means to stay connected, social acts as both as an evolving communication channel and content marketing will grow as a discipline as brand content is now the proxy of the brand. Once marketers have operationalized content marketing media budgets are going to monitze the discipline – as the brand editorialize as use content – think RedBull.

  3. says

    If you relate marketing to chess, email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, search engine marketing, etc are the pawns. They all contribute back to the king: Revenue. Pawns are the tacticians. They establish the attach and defense strategy of the game. So, to think that one can conduct content marketing without social media would be a losing strategy.

  4. says

    Content is the fluid which takes different shapes when poured into different vessels – one being social media. Your content will be in the form of a presentation on Slideshare wanformhereas same could be text on your blog, and there is a possibility of you transforming it into Infographics or nice little pictures (of quotes) and post them on Tumblr or Facebook.

    I don’t think Social Media strategy can be executed without content in place. Building right and great content is driven by content strategy.

    At Netcurate.com, we have laid out our content plan, and now executing it on various different vehicles (or platforms) and ofcourse on the top of the list is Social Media!

  5. Mike Myers says

    I think the other important (and very subtle) distinction here is the difference between content itself and Content Marketing. Many are correct in saying Social Media is nothing without content; Social Media can also exist without Content Marketing — it’s not good use of Social Media, mind you, but it can happen.

    I think Ann has it right…what we are calling Content Marketing today (useful messages that solve problems for people, not messages that talk about our products or services) will become Marketing tomorrow.

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