SEO and Social Media Marketing: What’s the Difference?

If you are confused about the differences between search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many site owners believe these two strategies are virtually the same thing and often choose one over the other to promote their website. SEO and social media marketing, however, are actually two very different – yet complementary – strategies that are most effective when used together.

Both SEO and social media marketing improve your chances of getting in front of your target audience and potential customers, but they come at it from slightly different angles.

SEO: A Direct Route to Your Site

The goal of an SEO campaign is to improve your website’s rankings within search engine results using keywords and phrases. In other words, when people take to Google or Bing/Yahoo to search for facts and information about widgets and where to buy them, you want your widget website to appear at the top of their search results – SEO helps you get there. Implanting those keywords and phrases that your target audience will be using in their search makes you more visible to them and gives them a direct path to your site.

Social Networking Sites: What’s All the Noise?

Social marketing campaigns via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn reach out on a more social level. They help define your brand’s personality, provide opportunities for dialogue, build relationships, and can even pave the way for those highly valued third-party endorsements. People visit social networking sites to help them make decisions, form opinions and find advice – they want to hear what others are saying about you and how you are responding to what is being said. While these sites appear, disappear and evolve, social media is definitely here to stay. Ensuring you have a properly managed social media presence, therefore, can be a vital and lucrative piece of your marketing and promotion puzzle. But, while your “popularity” within the social media world can help with your search engine rankings (a nice bonus), it shouldn’t replace an SEO campaign because its purpose is entirely different.

Ownership: A Big Difference

One more important point to keep in mind: remember that you are the owner of your website with complete control over all aspects. This is your official online place of business and, ultimately, where you want your target audience to land so that you can “seal the deal” and turn them into a paying customer. A social networking profile, however, is most effective when used to motivate and move potential customers to your real website – it’s like the coffee shop down the road from your place of business. Your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn page may feel like it’s yours, but you are really just borrowing that space from the actual owner. As such, you don’t necessarily have control over what happens to your profile (ads, links, distractions). People get together there to exchange information and ideas and to see what you have to say, and the impression they leave with can greatly influence if and how they do business with you. And, just like coffee shops that come and go, what happens if the networking site shuts down? If you have not included SEO in your online marketing efforts, you’ll be back at square one.

SEO and social media marketing have different purposes – it should never be “either or” in your online marketing plan. Used together they generate a powerful online presence and will help to turn your online visitors into paying customers.

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