Social vs. Digital: Focusing on the Bigger Picture

November 29, 2012

Social Media vs Digital Marketing

As I’ve noted before, words matter. Especially helpful are the words or labels we use to communicate concepts with one another. In fact, a more accurate descriptor than the somewhat derisive term ‘label’ might be the more utilitarian ‘handle,’ as it helps us grab ahold of a concept. It’s because of this term and the ever-evolving social media landscape that we’d like to explore the concepts of social and digital media and tell you about how that impacts our business. 

Social media as a handle is certainly leading edge. Be honest. As a marketer you know that you can often get your exec team’s ears to perk up with the very mention of the shiny new term ‘social media.’ Everyone wants that. Sometimes we even lead with it to back into more integrated efforts utilizing other channels that still pack an impressive wallop in terms of ROI such as content, email, and search. That’s because all of these digital channels work in harmony together.

They are part of a bigger online marketing mix that helps us build better brands in the digital frontier. For various reasons — call it a combination of media innovation and good old-fashioned hype — ‘social’ just gets to cut to the front of the line at the marketing mixer. However, the real impact and ultimately the real game-changer for the savvy marketer is utilizing all of these tools — social media, email, content marketing, search, and whatever comes next — together in concert to build better brands.

Now that you have some context around the bigger picture, I want to tell you about a change that we are quietly making as a result of this thinking.

Just under a year ago, I rolled out a new packaging of our agency’s social media and digital marketing services under the banner Brand Driven Social, which tied the strategic new media work of our agency with the Brand Driven Insights explored here on this blog. Looking back, a lot has happened since then including convening Iowa’s first-ever premier social media marketing event — the Social Brand Forum. As our brand has built so much around social media it might be an odd time to announce that …

We’re Changing Our Name from Brand Driven Social to Brand Driven Digital

Are we less committed to social media? Not at all. In fact, we have even more exciting social media events and opportunities to announce (very soon, I promise). Instead, as brand strategists, we acknowledge that our conversations and content can’t just be focused on social but need to also include email, search, and all of the paid social and search opportunities. We won’t be talking about social media any less, we’ll just be talking about other digital channels more.

Why now? Timing is everything. I’ve owned both domain names for awhile but ultimately pulled the ‘Social’ trigger for our soft launch. As we prepare for a new year with several exciting enhancements in terms of events, services, content, and more, this minor change seemed like one worth taking care of first. In many ways, this is a matter of simple semantics. We’ve already talked at length about email marketing here as well as content and other integrated digital channels. Many of our speakers at the Social Brand Forum focused heavily on email, content, and search.

Are you suggesting that social media is going away? Nope. However, we do predict that at some point in the next few years ‘social media’ might not be as buzz-worthy of a handle. No less powerful, though — just not at the front of the line. In short, the phrase ‘social media’ alone might not get your budget approved in one fell swoop. It will be about a larger, holistic conversation — every bit as inclusive of social — that we want to prepare you for right here.

Earlier I noted that we were quietly rolling this out. The URLs and redirects are in place. We’ve updated our outposts on Facebook and Google+. We’ve also added a new Twitter account for Brand Driven Digital at (alas ‘digital’ was too long for Twitter and the truncated ‘dig’ just sounded weird). Other than that not much is new. Correction, not much is new just yet

Brand Driven Digital is committed to helping build better brands online through social media and digital marketing training, consulting, and content development via discrete and on-going marketing services and learning events. You don’t have to check out our website today but in the weeks and months ahead we’ll be announcing some major updates. We promise you’ll be the first to know.

What do you think of the differences between the terms ‘social’ and ‘digital’? Did we over-think this one or do these terms really mean two very different things? You know what I think but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.