Digital Media vs. Social Media vs. Community Management... What's The Difference?

Digital strategists work with teams to solve business, brand and marketing problems. This deceivingly simple definition is perhaps what confuses people about their role in a company. Look online or ask recruiters about their requirements for a digital strategy role, and you’ll quickly realize that the term is often interchanged with an account executive, social media manager, web analytics manager, media planner, brand ambassador, business analyst, or any combination of these roles -- and more. 

Might as well ask for a unicorn.

Might as well ask for a unicorn.

So if you are looking for someone to create weekly social media posts, conduct competitive analysis, provide online customer service, and run ads on Facebook and Google, this post is for you.  

With the rise of social media and its increasing shares in the marketing sphere, we often speak with clients who are confused about their needs between a social media manager, community manager, an ad specialist, and digital strategist.

Therefore we often begin our relationships by educating current and potential clients about the difference between these spheres.

role breakdown

As you see, digital strategists lead teams and connect the dots between the needs, wants, and desires of the customer towards brand, sales, and marketing goals. Far beyond the simple ability to use social media or run ads, digital marketing requires a deep understanding of consumer habits and motivations, the ability to synthesize analytics, and communicating effectively with clients and the required teams to get the job done.

The most successful digital strategists will have a general understanding of each digital marketing platform (i.e. Facebook, Google Analytics, good vs. bad web design) and how each works in sync within a strategy. But what they do not need is deep experience in using each of these platforms/services/tools on a regular basis. Rather, they need a smart team of specialists in each subset to avoid getting caught up in the details. In other words, digital strategists work best when they can be strategic, not tactical.

So going back to the client who is looking for someone to create weekly social media posts (social media manager/tactical), conduct competitor analysis (digital strategist/strategy), provide online customer service (community manager/tactical), and run ads on Facebook and Google (ad specialist/tactical), we can see how he/she is actually looking for someone to do four different jobs in different levels of planning.

Perhaps this was due to a misunderstanding of the marketing structure, but sometimes it might simply be a desire to get as much bang as possible from the hiring budget. In the latter case, I would highly encourage you to rethink your current hierarchy of needs. The tactics cannot come before the strategy, and if they do, will lead to lost money and time in the long run.

Tactics vs strategy. Which comes first in your company?

Tactics vs strategy. Which comes first in your company?

Still not sure what your needs are? Talk to us. From day 1 we start with strategically phrased questions that reveal something more than a simple tweak. We’ve had clients come to us to run Google ads for specific campaigns (advertising specialist) to find that their website is poorly designed (heat mapping, web design), leading to high bounce rates and poor CTRs. Or who approach us for day to day social media management (social media specialist), to find that they still haven’t found their target market and lack in vision (digital strategy).

Most people wouldn’t ask an architect to cut wood, or an interior designer to make furniture. The former gives a strategic framework towards a goal, and the latter gives the tactical skills to achieve it with. Amuse is a full service digital strategy agency that can give you the full breadth of services towards a digital strategy, or just one service layer of the digital marketing landscape. By collaborating with the best specialists in each field, we are able to assemble a custom team to suit your project needs.

Jee Jung