EM360 Digital Blog

03 Mar 2016

SEO vs SMM: Who Wins?

You’re going to hear about Super­man v Bat­man until its release at the end of March. So until then, let’s take the whole ver­sus moniker and apply it to mar­ket­ing. Specif­i­cal­ly, SEO and Social Media Mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy.  If you’re new to either one, you can get a basic overview of the two com­bat­ants below. Or you can just skip ahead to read how they can help you, and even bet­ter, which one wins the bat­tle. Your choice, Super Friends. Either way, you’ll learn some­thing new or at least con­firm a thing or two.

SEO Overview:

Search Engine Opti­miza­tion is not a pro­gram owned by Google or any oth­er search engine. It can be often con­fused with or asso­ci­at­ed with Google AdWords depend­ing on your knowl­edge of the sub­ject mat­ter; how­ev­er, it’s a total­ly sep­a­rate strat­e­gy and it con­sists of set­tings and tech­niques that help make web­pages more promi­nent in online search engines.  It doesn’t include any com­merce with Google or oth­er search engines.  Of course, the bet­ter a web­site is opti­mized, the high­er the like­li­hood of it appear­ing atop the search results. There are dozens of fac­tors, both on your site (On-Site) and off (Off-Site), that we’ll dis­cuss in a fol­low-up blog post.  But, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. SEO takes con­stant adjust­ment to crack the first search engine results page but when you do, you then begin accu­mu­lat­ing organ­ic traffic. 

From a 50-foot view, SEO can be clas­si­fied as a two-part strat­e­gy. One side is On-site adjust­ments, includ­ing your site archi­tec­ture and con­tent. The oth­er side is Off-site adjust­ments, main­ly per­tain­ing to link-build­ing.  Opti­miz­ing your web site is the first step in SEO.  Mak­ing sure your pages have com­pli­ant meta data, your web con­tent  i.e., copy and images and even URLs  are cre­at­ed with­in best prac­tice and final­ly your site load­ing speed are some fac­tors well with­in your con­trol.  Not com­fort­able? Hire a sea­soned web devel­op­er. Of course, link build­ing won’t do any good if your site isn’t “up to code.” 

Besides home base, i.e., your web site’s on-page fac­tors, In-bound links are con­sid­ered to be the most impor­tant fac­tor in estab­lish­ing your site’s cred­i­bil­i­ty for search engine rank­ing.  Gen­er­al­ly, the high­er the rel­e­van­cy of links point­ing to your site, the high­er the like­li­hood your site will rank for x, z or y phrase.  Sound easy?  Not to mere mor­tals. Unless you have super mind-con­trol pow­ers to trick Forbes into link­ing to your site, it takes a vari­ety of strate­gies to obtain links from such sites. A pop­u­lar tech­nique today includes con­tent mar­ket­ing. SEO is a lot like Batman’s util­i­ty belt. You have to have a ton of gad­gets. In SEO, that trans­lates to valu­able pieces of infor­ma­tion that oth­ers will link to.  Begin by estab­lish­ing your­self as a authority. 

SMM Overview

Social Media Mar­ket­ing is the less techie of the two, but don’t take it light­ly. It takes some heavy-lift­ing and famil­iar­i­ty with web based tools. Don’t get it twist­ed, the preva­lence of SMM has explod­ed in every indus­try. Yes! Even the so-called bor­ing ones. Even those who man­u­fac­ture hand­wheels are on social media. If you’re not, choose a plat­form like Face­book, Twit­ter or Linkedin and get your feet wet.  Unlike SEO, it’s not about rank­ings. It’s about reach. These plat­forms offer the abil­i­ty to expand your mes­sages (pho­tos, microblogs, sta­tus and video) organ­i­cal­ly across near­ly all demo­graph­ics and geog­ra­phy.  Social media (more than your web site) can estab­lish a per­son­al­i­ty and opens up the line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between brand, prospect and unfor­tu­nate­ly even the heck­ler or hater. 

The over­head view of social media is vast. With new chan­nels enter­ing the fold each week, choos­ing the right ones can be chal­leng­ing. Brands big and small find suc­cess when they don’t bite off more than they can chew. That is: only man­age what you can man­age, so you don’t sac­ri­fice mes­sage qual­i­ty or con­sis­ten­cy. It takes a cre­ative mind to cre­ate, curate and share con­tent that will inter­est your tar­get mar­ket. Not cre­ative? Hire a sea­soned con­tent marketer.

Hash­tags are anoth­er social media super­pow­er. They allow brands to lis­ten to their audi­ence, so they can find prospects and pro­vide bet­ter value.

SM fol­low­ing takes time (not say­ing there aren’t any short­cuts), but the pay-off for patience and good con­tent is usu­al­ly a league of brand ambas­sadors, great engage­ment and best of all word-of-mouth rec­om­men­da­tions.  You may even become a high­ly-fol­lowed influ­encer.  Fur­ther­more, brands have to tie social media to busi­ness goals. With­out that con­nec­tion, how can you jus­ti­fy the sweat and tears?

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google and Mark Zucker­berg, co-founder of Facebook

How Each Can Help Businesses

The com­mon­al­i­ty is both can bring you new cus­tomers; how­ev­er, they do it in dif­fer­ent ways. Allow me to explain. With SEO, an indi­vid­ual already has the intent to solve a prob­lem or vari­able, “x.” So they seek out answers by using the search engine of choice. There isn’t an enter­tain­ment ele­ment for SEO. Its sole pur­pose is to pro­vide rel­e­vant results.  As for social media, it can go either way.  You can uti­lize social media to solve “x” by search­ing hash­tags, influ­encers or ask­ing ques­tions. Or you can browse posts for enter­tain­ment pur­pos­es and by acci­dent real­ize you have a need, learn more, then hope­ful­ly, pur­chase.  I rec­om­mend try­ing both togeth­er. Social is becom­ing a stronger fac­tor in SEO. And they are both an invest­ment. Like stock or any oth­er finan­cial invest­ment, the ear­li­er you get in the high­er the like­li­hood that you will achieve long-term suc­cess. The longer you hes­i­tate to begin, the more you’ll regret start­ing late.

Obvi­ous Weaknesses

SEO – The top weak­ness is time.  No overnight suc­cess comes here. You have to make a strong com­mit­ment for at least 12 months. I advise quar­ter­ly strat­e­gy eval­u­a­tions and set­ting real­is­tic goals to track.  Anoth­er thorn in your side can be search-engine algo­rithm changes. These can send your strat­e­gy into a tail­spin and strate­gies and con­cepts can be dif­fi­cult for even savvy busi­ness minds to exe­cute suc­cess­ful­ly. Like any DIY project, you can begin con­fi­dent but quick­ly find your­self ques­tion­ing and sec­ond guess­ing your meth­ods. I’ve met many know-it-alls who thought they had it all fig­ured out, only to real­ize they only knew a frac­tion. This lack of insight can stunt progress.  Anoth­er weak­ness is it’s near­ly impos­si­ble to rank for every­thing, and you can­not rank overnight.  Essen­tial­ly, your Black Fri­day strat­e­gy starts on Black Fri­day of the pre­vi­ous year and con­tin­ues for 12 months..  If you want instant pres­ence on search, try Google Adwords.  It’s a great short-term and even long-term strat­e­gy and bodes well to com­bine with SEO.

Social Media – Not every­one is cre­ative and knows what their audi­ence craves.  Some can’t get out­side of their own prover­bial box. We get it, peo­ple should want to know about your prod­uct. But every mes­sage doesn’t have to be about your prod­uct.  Your biggest weak­ness in social media can be your­self.  Invite oth­ers to get involved in your strat­e­gy to get the cre­ative flow going.  The hard­est part of social media is get­ting start­ed. Anoth­er chal­lenge is mak­ing it a pri­or­i­ty, espe­cial­ly in the begin­ning when it’s not a legit­i­mate lead source. With SEO, you exe­cute, then wait to see how it worked. But with social, you’re con­stant­ly churn­ing out con­tent both new and curat­ed. Have a plan and a team. 

Who Wins

Much like S v. B, I think the plot will shift about halfway through. The two can coex­ist and form a great strat­e­gy for your brand,whether you’re a start­up, SMB or enter­prise.  Google is begin­ning to weigh social that is social sig­nals as a big­ger fac­tor in their rank­ing algo­rithm. So it only makes sense if you have the finan­cial and human resources to try both.  I can­not stress this enough:you have to have patience for these strate­gies to become suc­cess­ful. I high­ly rec­om­mend that you have oth­er adver­tis­ing planned, even if it’s paid; i.e., tra­di­tion­al (TV, Radio), AdWords, email mar­ket­ing etc. Some of you use door hang­ers, that’s cool too. What­ev­er works. In order to get an edge over your com­pe­ti­tion you can out­spend them or out­smart them. With that being said, study them and don’t be afraid to try some­thing new. If not you’ll nev­er know your potential. 

 

Source: Mar­ket Motive 

All DC Comics images are from Bat­man v. Super­man: Dawn of Justice.

Image fea­tur­ing Sergey Brin and Mark Zucker­berg are from Car­los Ser­rao and Reuters, edit­ed by EM360 Digital

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