Websites vs. Social Media: What’s the Difference?

Although reaching customers through social media was once considered a flash-in-the-pan marketing tactic, industry leaders have changed their tune and now preach a common belief: social media marketing is absolutely a necessity. However, websites are still a healthy routine for brands to maintain.

So, what’s the difference?

Both websites and social media channels are sought after for information. The difference is in the type of information consumers expect to find on each platform.

Let’s start at the heart of the matter.

  • Google’s mission:to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” 
  • Facebook’s mission: “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”

These missions share an ideal that information and connection are powerful, but the intended audiences are very different.

Google is about the world, as a whole; it was engineered to provide information, via robots (aka, an algorithm).

Facebook is about people, as individuals, and as human beings. Facebook utilizes algorithmic testing as well, but human response and emotion are the measurements, while Google’s uses robots.

These two core beliefs are the foundation of the Internet as we know it today.

More differences:

  • Websites convey a brand’s makeup, from specific products and services to mission statements and contact pages. On the other hand, social media offers smaller pieces of a brand’s story while creating conversations with consumers.
  • Websites could be, to some degree, considered static novels, waiting to be opened. Social media channels are short stories that are compiled in real time, to identify [and distinguish] a brand’s voice, culture, and place in the market.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two, is that social media platforms have the capacity to perform nearly every function a website can.

On the flip side, websites are not usually known for customer reviews, continued conversations, or even a warm body on the other side of the screen, so to speak. 

Maybe now the question is: what’s next? We’ll leave that one to the engineers; in the meantime, we’ll be moving steadily ahead with digital trends.

Branding Is Personal, Not Linear

One of the ways we source ideas for blogs is by having conversations with prospects or current clients, who have questions/theories about social media marketing. Common conversations include things like “why can’t I buy followers?” or “how is this profitable?” These are great, valid questions, and we love talking about them with our clients and collaborators.


“Brand” Defined

Recently, there has been a little shift in what our prospects and clients want to discuss. There is a new, consistent buzzword in town: “branding.”

Communication is fascinating because when we ask our clients, “what does the word ‘branding’ mean to you?” – the answers vary. We’ve heard things like “branding is when people see your work, and they know it’s yours, without having to see a logo.” Another answer is, “branding is our culture.” Truth is, we agree that both of these answers [among others] can be considered correct.

However, Google defines “brand” as both a noun and a verb. The noun is defined as: “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.” The verb is defined as: “an identifying mark burned on livestock or (especially formerly) criminals or slaves with a branding iron.”

Neither of those definitions  include what clients and prospects are talking about, but truth be told: communication is evolving, and key elements in business are evolving, too.

Brand Identity 

It’s 2016, and at this point, it is safe to nix the term “social media marketing” and swap it for “social media communication.” Marketing implies sales of products and services, while communication makes us think of people first. And that’s the key. People first. Think of our name: H2H – Human to Human, Heart to Heart.

Long gone are the days of studying a pre-made hierarchy of tools for success, and then practicing them until profitability. Social media communication is daily, it’s emotional, and it’s personal. Social media communication is not the traditional, corporate mumbo-jumbo a lot of folks are used to.

Defining a brand identity starts with you: the business owner, the leader of the brand. No one knows your brand better than you. It’s true. Believe it, and accept it. And more than anything else, embrace it.

A good book to start this process with, is called Emotional Branding, by Marc Gobe. It includes some great brain fuel to get business owners in the right frame of mind to really dive in to their brand, and the story they’ve already begun to write!

Funny enough, a couple of negative comments on this book are what spurred this post. That, and the fact that everyone we talk to, is seriously concerned with the idea of “branding.”

One of these comments, from a small business owner, talks about how the book did nothing for them, and that they “kept reading and reading this book hoping that the next chapter would let me in on the secret of emotional branding. How do I start branding emotionally? After reading this book, I still don’t know, and I’m not sure the author does either.”

What’s interesting about this comment, is that it sums up so many common frustrations of small business owners. It is evident that small business owners, like this one, crave a template or success model to follow when it comes to branding [and social media]. However, to be blunt, it doesn’t actually exist. “It” being a success model to follow.

Metaphors are a great way to get points across. So, here’s one for this post: think of branding like you would humans and health.

Humans are all unique and different, all complete with their own makeup and predispositions. Right? Is there a single success model for a healthy 90 years on this earth, with no illness, disease, or injury? No.

Branding is similar in the fact that each brand is unique, complete with its own stories, quirks, and results. Combine that with the fact that branding is more human than ever before (via social media communication and the rise of digital), and you’ll find the same scenario: there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to branding.

At the end of the day, branding is personal, not linear. Think socially, not scientifically, and then you’ll gain some traction.

Driving Your Brand Forward

Let’s keep this last part simple. These are the top three ways to drive your brand forward, based on our 7+ years of social media communication experience:

1. Listen to your tribe, and to your clients

Once you’ve established your brand voice, you can start experimenting with your creativity. Talk to your tribe, and to your clients. Listen hard, take notes, and collaborate with your team on moving the brand forward. After all, you might have the wheel in driving the business, but your best navigation system can be found in those who are personally invested in your brand.

2. Nurture your own voice

Following up on number one, stay focused on what matters most: your voice. Think about things like the future of the brand, the brand’s integrity, and what sets your brand apart from others in the space. These ideas will create opportunities for your brand to not only stand out, but yield authenticity.

3. Don’t compare your brand to others

This is a big one. If you can’t admire another brand without wanting to replicate it, do whatever you have to do to stop that process. Whether it’s unfollowing them on social media or staying away from their website. One of the most lethal habits of failed branding attempts is to want to be like someone else.

We’ll leave you with this quote from TED speaker, Faith Jegede:

“The chance for greatness, progress, and change dies the moment we try to be like someone else.”

Social Media Success Is Right Outside Our Smartphones

Social media marketing is a digital trade, yes. But, is the success of your brand’s social media presence defined by digital efforts only? Absolutely not! Here’s why, and how, you can capitalize in your online efforts through offline culture.

Putting The “Social” In “Social Media”

What would social networking look like if we never left our inner circle, or office? Sure, we might connect with people through relevant hashtags, and maybe even through online community groups. But, our efforts certainly wouldn’t be maximized. Why? Successful social media marketing is fueled best by social interaction, offline. Never underestimate the power of face-time (not the smartphone version), and good old word of mouth marketing.

Belonging Is Necessary

We can all agree that marketing has always been directly linked to psychology. Right? Really, the only difference between psychology and marketing is that one focuses on human behavior, while the other focuses on human buying behavior. In the early 1900s, psychologist, Abraham Maslow unveiled a pyramid of five human needs, which must be met for ultimate success. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of belonging is necessary for humans to be motivated. In the same vein, there is a direct link between belonging and being social. Giving customers [and potential customers] a physical sense of belonging yields motivation to return to your brand, and more importantly, it makes them proud enough of their relationship with your brand, to want to tell their friends about it. This cannot be achieved by online efforts alone.

Ideas For Offline Social Efforts

First off, we have to get out of an office setting; more so, we need to get into a social setting. The answers to your offline efforts are exactly that: offline. Depending on each brand’s industry, find a social space where your customers and/or peer are likely to gather or hang out. Then, the sky’s the limit:

  • Talk to people! The key here is to ask a lot of questions, and be a great listener. Eventually, the tables will turn, and you’ll have the opportunity to talk about your brand, and how you help customers. This will usually lead to your new connection asking, “do you have a card?”
  • Host an event! Depending on your industry, figure out a way to bring people together, in person. Planning is crucial for this one, so don’t “just wing it.” If all goes well, make the social event a annual or bi-annual happening; this will give customers a sense of belonging and something to look forward to, once or twice a year.
  • Join local community groups! Whether it’s your local chamber, or a industry-specific group of professionals, getting out and talking to people in those communities will yield more brand awareness, and possibly, new customers.
  • Partner with other businesses! As our name indicates, we’re big believers in collaboration. Try piloting a co-op marketing event with one or two other businesses. Again, you’ll be reaching a valuable audience you might not have face-time with otherwise.

REMEMBER to point people to your online efforts! With all of the above ideas, don’t forget to tell people that you’re available online. Have cards made with your social channel information, so people can easily find you. After your offline interaction, sending them to your social channels will keep the conversation going.

Brands, Consumers Shift From Search To Social

Even we, as self-proclaimed social enthusiasts and diehard supporters of the industry, weren’t expecting to see this kind of science. Not yet anyways. However, in the wise words of one of our favorite philosophers:

“Numbers don’t lie, check the scoreboard.”

Shareaholic reported that in Q4 of 2014, 31.24% of all website traffic was driven from social media.

Although the idea of the demise of Facebook is alive and well, so is the company’s resilience. Along with StumbleUpon, Facebook was the only platform(s) to grow its traffic share in Q4 of 2014. On top of that, Facebook’s 24.63% share of traffic minimizesPinterest’s 5.06% impact. Twitter, surprisingly, only holds .82% share.

You can dive more in to Shareaholic’s data-driven report here.

So, we just have one question for all the C-level marketing execs out there, not taking social seriously: When is enough, enough? Google’s founders are on record saying that one of their biggest regrets was not anticipating the rise of social. Now, there are traffic numbers that are not only growing year over year, they’re capturing the space. This is not to mention the fact that a single platform, which happens to be social, owns 25% of all website traffic.

With this post, note that we are in no way suggesting that search is dead. The only hope is that the social media industry will, at some point, be valued and respected the way search is, because it deserves to be. It is the ultimate in communicative marketing.

We’re going to leave you with this quote from Monica Dimperio:

“Gone are the days of Sterling Cooper & Partners. The new Don Drapers are digital natives who can pull off a multichannel influencer activation with an offline component in their sleep.
These folks have adopted [digital platforms] from the get-go, so they know the content, curation and influencers to work with. Soon, that will include paid media. These people will get you results because, frankly, they know things you don’t.”