SMS Text Message Marketing vs. Social Media

SMS text message marketing and social media offer multiple benefits to your business, but which one performs better for your business and budget? The answer depends on what your KPIs are and what you’re looking to accomplish. However, there’s a clear winner in terms of price, open rates, engagement, and conversions. Here's a breakdown of how each competes in different categories and what to expect.

Reaching Your Target Market

SMS marketing and social media both have the ability to reach your target market, but in very different ways. Unless you run a private Facebook group or invite-only social media presence, you don't have much control over who joins and or how to measure their engagement. If your marketing relies on Facebook ads, it takes time and a scalable budget to find the right target market that engages and converts. 

SMS and text message marketing is more immediate with a targeted reach to find your ideal audience. For starters, SMS marketing has a 98% open rate and is usually read within minutes. You can also laser-focus your target audience with list segmentation to optimize your campaign results. Social media marketing doesn’t have much guarantee that anyone will see your content, let alone engage with it. 

Lead Generation

Using social media for lead generation can make a positive impact, depending on your business and strategy. Some marketers run webinars or in-depth discussions through Facebook Live or YouTube to pitch a problem, solution, and product. But once the cameras are off, there's very little you can do to market directly to that audience unless they signed up for an email or SMS list.

Now let’s look at SMS marketing. Some industries are better suited for texting than others. For example, data shows that 45.5% of consumers are most likely to opt in to SMS marketing lists if they're from online stores and retail brands. 

Nurturing leads through a sales process for retail is straightforward, but salespeople and service providers can also use SMS. Drip campaigns are just one strategy to try and spark one-on-one engagement. Although engagement and drip campaigns are relatively easy with SMS marketing, it proves challenging (if not impossible) with social media.


In its early days, social media thrived on engagement and widespread reach. As the platforms became more saturated, businesses found it challenging to stand out without paying for more visibility and reach. It’s true some corners of social media, like Instagram Stories or TikTok, enjoy historically high engagement. But overall, engagement rates on Instagram and Facebook are only about 0.83% to 0.13%.

In other words, you're going to have to stay one step ahead of social media trends to optimize your engagement and revenue. It could be a hit-or-miss experience, which isn't necessarily a good use of your time or marketing spend. 

If your business thrives on engagement, SMS is the better marketing strategy. Texting shows impressive engagement results, with a 209% higher response rate than Facebook, email, and even phone calls.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates are among the most critical KPIs and directly shape most business’ marketing strategies. Social media does have benefits, including raising brand awareness. But the conversion rates for social media hover around 0.71%. That figure can change depending on the industry or whether or not you're selling directly to a highly engaged audience, but the conversion rates are still notoriously low. 

Conversion rates vary for SMS depending on the industry, but the overall conversion rate rose 102% year-over-year in 2020 alone. There's also more flexibility to take advantage of SMS to prompt last-minute sales or fill a canceled appointment for your service business. Around 64% of customers say appointment reminders are the most valuable texts received.

Data Collection

We've seen how social media platforms are masters at collecting data and personal information. With the ability to collect behavioral preferences, age, location, interests, and other demographic data, marketers are at an advantage when using social media to identify different data points within their audience. 

However, social media only gives your business a broad overview of your audience and what they're doing. You don't see a customer's name associated with a click. Social media chat bots are one option, but they still don’t have the high deliverability and open rate as SMS marketing and prove more expensive.

SMS marketing continuously collects data based on click-throughs, demographics, engagement, and more. You may not be able to target someone when they're scrolling online, but businesses also don't need to when using SMS. With instantaneous delivery and high conversion rates, you can target your audience by segmenting your list with the data you've gained anytime you want.


Most marketing strategies aren't cheap, but the data is especially eye-opening for the costs associated with social media. According to the Content Factory, businesses spend an average of $4,000-$7,000 per month on social media marketing alone. The results could be worth it if you sell a high ticket item to a highly engaged audience on social media. But as algorithms and marketing saturation changes, you'll likely pay-to-play to get the most out of your marketing dollars.  

SMS marketing is cost-effective, and data shows most businesses only spend around $400 a month on their strategy. That figure fluctuates depending on how extensive your SMS list is and how often you send a text message to your entire list. Regardless of the potential cost fluctuations, SMS is an affordable way to reach interested buyers, leads directly, and customers quickly and efficiently. 

Media-Rich Content

Meda-rich content is one area that social media does exceptionally well. Businesses that create stunning graphics, videos, and rich content for social media appeal stand out and bolster more engagement. It's also an effective way to create a stronger, more recognizable brand.

However, SMS marketing also leverages graphics, or MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). Adding a visual to a sales or promo is more appealing and eye-catching than messages without. MMS also enjoys an even higher opt-in rate than SMS. But keep in mind that text message marketing doesn't require rich media assets to succeed. Overall, it still has a higher engagement and conversion rate than social media. 


Over-saturation with any marketing method is a concern for businesses looking to maximize their resources. Currently, up to 97% of Fortune 500 companies and 71% of small-to-medium-sized companies market themselves on social media. You could argue the high saturation means customers are conditioned to expect businesses to be active on social media. But it also means there's less opportunity to compete. 

SMS saturation is completely different from social media, yet still a highly effective marketing strategy. Research shows that 39% of all businesses use SMS texting, with 13% of that figure representing small businesses. 

SMS Optimize Your Marketing Strategy

One of the most important things to note with SMS marketing and social media is that they can be used together. You don’t need to pick one or another, but you do need to focus on which one that moves the needle in your business. With a low price point and high conversions, SMS is probably the best bet for your marketing resources. 

Are you ready to get started with SMS and text message marketing for your business? Contact us today to learn more.