Common Confusions between Social Marketing and Social Selling

With the conception of the digital age, we can agree that it has clouded the demarcation between social marketing and social selling. They both have an effect and role to create revenue for the industry, but they are now able to join forces and help each other by carrying out effective social marketing and social selling techniques. When they properly work together, they generate a better experience for the client throughout the entire customer journey.

With the rise of the digital age, a lot of opportunities have been created to build relationships and connect more with customers in different ways, unlike before. But asides this, it has also caused a major confusion between the marketing and selling department among industries. For instance, would you say a social media platform like LinkedIn is a social selling instrument or a social marketing instrument? Do you know who is accountable for connecting with customers on the social media platforms? And which of these departments is accountable for the presence of the company on LinkedIn?

If we come to an agreement that selling is switching your product to income and marketing has to do with finding, making customers interested in your products, generating public awareness and satisfying the needs of customers, then where do they fit in your company?

How do you define social selling?

Defining social selling is quite easy and very straightforward. Social selling basically relies on social media platforms to generate income for the industry. Over the years, technology has helped to be an enabler, and the rise of social media is just another means for selling.  The medium which the sales are being made does not really matter, whether it is through email, telephone, or even telegraph. The main goal of social selling is to make sales and generate revenue.

How do you define social marketing?

On the other hand, social media marketing is any activity carried out on social media, like brand building, corporate branding and personal branding awareness. Unlike social selling, their main goal is not to generate revenue.

What Is the Difference Between Social Media Marketing and Social Selling?

  • Social media marketing can be seen as marketing that has to do with generating and distributing content on different social media platforms so as to attain your company’s marketing goals. This type of digital marketing basically has to do with updating images, videos, texts and other contents you may have on social media platforms, so as to reach out to your audience and keep them engaged. Engaging your audience can be done by constant posting and sponsored ads. Social selling on the other hand is carried out by salespeople and all it does is rely on different social media platforms to communicate with customers every day. The salesperson is responsible for constant communication with customers this can happen by replying to their questions and also providing important content so as to handle the challenges of the business.
  • Social marketing is a part of social selling, the other part is selling. It has to do with the personal network of the seller, carrying out sales outreach, referral requests and other marketing skills. The social selling team are expected to build a connection with the customer first because customers do not really care about the product or services you are offering, all they are concerned about is how your outcomes can better their lives and make it way easier.
  • One very important difference between social marketing and social selling is how information is been distributed. With social marketing, you can make use of instrument to plan and automate contents. You can also automate your answers when you are tagged to a post or you are mentioned by another person. If you do this in social selling, you will be spammed, which also means that you might loose the trust of that follower.
  • What is your primary goal? Is it to generate sales? Do you plan on generating profit that may lead to a conversation away from social media? If yes, then you are engaging in social selling. But if your main aim to to create metrics, like followers, comments, likes and shares, without having a conversion metrics like accounts created, opportunities generated, or sales, then you are obviously engaging in social marketing.
  • Differentiating social selling from social marketing has been ongoing for a very long time now, but it is worthy to note that selling is a profit center while social marketing is a cost center. Engaging in social selling means that all you want to do is generate revenue, but if you are engaging in social marketing, it means all you want to do is create awareness. For instance, you can put out different messages in the presence of a lot of people, but except they make a move on it, it does not have any business value. Social media marketing would rather value the metrics that brought the one million viewers or the comments or like, rather than the revenue that can be generated from them. While social selling would value the actions derived from the message, that is the profit that it was able to generate.


In conclusion, social selling is carried out by the sales team, and they rely on social media platforms so as to engage with customers and prospective customers, while social media marketing on the other hand is distributing content in order to attain marketing and branding objectives.

Social selling and social marketing are not expected to be viewed as different entities that a business need to choose one from another. Rather, the two should be seen as one, working hands in hands to establish your companies online presence, and build the perfect relationship that is needed to succeed in the recent marketplace. 

Social media marketing is a very strong force that can help to deliver the correct content and the perfect time, but customers will still need a connection between them. Both social selling and social marketing work hand in hand, and without them both, the process of selling remains incomplete. But when social selling and social marketing come together, they have what it takes to create a positive effect in the life of your business.