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The Difference Between a Social Media Strategy and a Social Media Campaign

Posted by on July 21, 2009


When someone talks about a social media strategy or a social media campaign; what are they talking about?  Are they the same thing?  Hopefully you said no.  The two are definitely not the same thing.  The terms social media campaign and social media strategy have been used interchangeably quite a bit so I wanted to clarify what the difference between the two of them in a clear bulleted list.

Social media strategy

  • Comes before a social media campaign
  • Is set to build the social media foundation for all other social media efforts
    • what tools are going to be used and how are you going to use them?
  • Is a long term umbrella approach for company social media
    • around 1 year +
  • Includes specific objectives, strategies, tactics, and metrics
    • i.e. social media for pr/marketing/sales/product development
  • Should integrate into existing marketing efforts
    • i.e. the company social media plan
  • Clear analysis of your audience
  • Seeking to solve client/customer pain points
  • Maps and plans out allocation of resources
  • More about providing and creating content as opposed to looking for immediate results from a community
  • Focused more on longer term ROI/impact
    • not just a financial metric but building and strengthening a brand

Social media campaign

  • Comes after the social media strategy
  • Shorter term
    • run campaigns before product launched
    • promote products/events/services
    • usually around 1-3 months (can be longer)
  • Builds upon audience research data collected from the strategy
  • Builds upon the tools being used for the strategy
    • promote the campaign through channels identified in the strategy
  • Looking to drive a specific targeted response
    • increase page views
    • increase sales for a new product
  • Looks at shorter term ROI and impact
    • looking at the financial return and the short term impact
    • not looking at the brand as a whole

Hopefully this clearly spells out the difference between the two.  The social media strategy is where everything starts, it’s your social media foundation, you can’t have a campaign before you have a strategy.  The information you get from researching and creating your strategy is what is largely going to be used for your campaigns.

Have anything else you want to add to help differentiate the two?  Leave a comment and if it makes sense, I’ll add it to the master document.

  • ryanleary

    Very nice break down. Thanks for the post.

  • Jacob,
    Yet another great post. A lot of the companies that I work with want to use social media for campaigns, yet have not done any work on developing a strategy, developing a base level of followers or consumer engagement. If companies go into a full blown campaign without establishing their base, they run the risk of alienating the exact group of people that they are targeting. It is important for everyone to know the differences.

    • hi miguel, you're absolutely right. you can't have the campaign without having the foundation, that's a recipe for failure.

  • michaelholmes

    Good post Jacob…this looks like another retweet:)

  • I'd say you covered it pretty well. Social media strategy is the underlying guidance to everything that you do via social media. Campaigns are just components of the strategy.

  • Great post Jacob!

    I think most of the social media “experts” and other post-marketing types are jumping in on the Campaign part, without thinking about what the strategy behind it is, or whether that campaign fits the company's overall marketing and PR strategies.

    It's good to be reminded of this.

    • I agree, strategy is the most vital component and takes the longest to develop.

  • omotolanisulu

    Thanks for that brief but enlightening note

  • Thanks for breaking it down how important it is not to put the cart before the horse when developing an Campaign. Look forward to reading more.

  • You should put a label on each fish bowl so we can tell them apart.

    • i read your quote, looked that picture…and then laughed for about 3 minutes 🙂

  • Hi Jacob,

    As usual, enjoyed your post and tweeted the link just now. This is one that will be helpful for those who are new to the social media and social media marketing world. Small business owners for example.

    Thanks! Keep up the good work.


    • why thank you very much and you are very welcome!

  • trishanders

    Thank you. I am developing a social media strategy to present to the powers-that-be in my organisation and feel like I have jumped into the deep end! Your article will make a good check-list for me to use in planning as well as support to use in my proposal.

  • The word strategy and campaign are differ from its action, strategy for is just a plan where campaign is the process.

  • anuj28

    Very useful information and very well articulated!!!!

    Thanks for the post!

  • anuj28

    Very useful information and very well articulated!!!!

    Thanks for the post!