Experts have been debating about this for quite long now. But how do you figure out which one works the best for your business? In this blog, we will look at the differences between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing (SMM).
Before we start comparing both marketing channels let’s understand their concepts and working.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization or SEO is aimed at getting your website to appear prominently on search engines. When done correctly, users will be able to find your website on search engines like Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo for the desired search term.
Why use SEO?
“You should always have a well-rounded portfolio of ways to get leads” – Matt Cutts
Users trust search engines to show them the best and most relevant results. Moreover, these results are referred to as ‘organic’, ‘natural’ or ‘earned’ results because you do not have to pay the search engines to rank your website. Moreover, with the right SEO strategies and blogging tools you can rank your blog on search engines like Google easily.
What is SMM?
Social Media Marketing or SMM is the practice of sharing fun, creative and value added micro-content by the use of text, image and video format with your users on social sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to name a few. Doing so helps you create a brand personality and have friendly interactions with your fans which may lead to driving sales and acquiring new customers.
Why use SMM?
Consumers do not like brands that try to sell to them with straight-forward promotional content. Content that tells a story and one that the customer can connect to, works better. This is the reason why social media is referred to as storytelling.
SEO vs SMM
So, now that you have a basic idea about what is SEO and SMM, let’s begin figuring out which one works better for you.
1. Emergency Products & Services
Do you offer emergency products and services – the kind where there is an immediate need of the product/service?
There are times when a user quickly logins to Google to find a product or service as he/she has an immediate requirement for it. Take for example, your air conditioner is not working properly and you need local air conditioner repair service which can fix it. What do you do? You jump on to Google and search for a repair service, right?
Such a business caters to the immediate and essential need of the users.
One such company is home depot that provides home improvement services. You can easily find them on a search engine for search terms that are relevant to their business. Below is a screenshot of Google when you search the keywords “air conditioning and furnace repair”. Notice that home depot is the first search result.
If your business falls into this category, you must consider your ranking in the results for search terms related to your business.
“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results”
With proper on page SEO and building quality links, you will get good SEO results. Ideally, your website should rank in the first three Google results. When users see your website’s link in the first three results, they’re more likely to click on it. This will drive maximum search traffic to your website leading to better sales and business.
You don’t have to spend money on Facebook advertising to get a million likes when your customers are searching for your products in search engines. Invest your money in on-page SEO and reap the long-term benefits.
2. Impulse Products & Services
Do you have a business that caters to the impulsive buying habits of users? Users might not be looking for your product/service but they just happen to stumble upon your business’ website.
Say, a user is just surfing the internet and comes across a quirky product or service which interests him but isn’t essential. He may purchase the product or sign up for the service impulsively.
If your business sells printed t-shirts online, chances are you might find your customers on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. Now, a t-shirt is something that a user might buy impulsively.
Custom Ink is a company that sells custom printed t-shirts. They have a good Facebook fan following and are active when it comes to social media marketing.
As you see,
If you, too, are selling such products or services you are more likely find customers on social media platforms. You can focus on building a good social media following and telling the story of your business through social media.
Create stories that are fun and engaging. Your customers should be able to relate with your story. Provide promotional offers and seasonal discounts to grab consumers’ attention. Your aim is to keep your audiences engaged enough to interact with your content.
3. Viral Marketing
“Viral is one of the most grossly misused terms in marketing today” – Karen Nelson
Every brand dreams of going viral on social media. The viral effect helps you distribute your content and grow your social following swiftly within a short span of time.
As social media sites are great platforms for viral marketing, it falls under social media marketing. Viral content can bring a large number of users to your website thereby helping you get leads.
What if You Need Both?
“My business needs both SEO and SMM, but which one should I prioritize?” Well, let’s break it down for you.
While you do not have to pay any money to the search engines to rank your website, you might have to hire an SEO expert like Website Promoter to help you rank well on all search engines. Good SEO results are not an overnight phenomenon. It takes time to see your efforts bear fruits, so be patient. Depending on how competitive your target keywords are, you can expect to see some solid results anywhere between three to six months.
Moreover, SEO must be a consistent process – you cannot optimize your content today and forget about it tomorrow. You need to keep optimizing your website and build links in order to rank higher in the search results.
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first”
Keep producing shareable content that adds value to the users’ lives. More shares increase your chances of going viral and acquiring a good following over a short period of time.
So which marketing channel should you prioritize?
Firstly, check if consumers look for your business on search engines. You can find this out with some keyword research using the keyword planner of Google Adwords. If you have high search volume, means people are searching for your business.
For example, I did a keyword search for printed t-shirts in Tennessee. The keyword “custom t-shirts” has a 1K-10K average monthly search which is a pretty decent amount of customers I would want to visit my website if I am in the t-shirt business.
Secondly, let’s say you have a decent business but are looking to expand it. Then, you have some time to take advantage of organic SEO and climb up the Google results page. You can make SEO your priority. Ensure that your website and blog are rich with unique content about your products or services.
Users between ages 25 and 34 are a majority among Facebook users. If your products or services appeal to this age group, it’ll be a wise decision to use social media marketing. Chances are that most of your customers are already on social media. The graph shows the number of Facebook users by age in the U.S. as of January 2017 (in millions) according to www.statista.com.
But here’s the kicker:
If you have a good marketing budget, you can invest it on Facebook advertising and reach your desired audiences in a very short period of time. Market your business fast to your customers by choosing social media. Share fun and valuable content that engages your users.
Now that you know the difference between SEO and SMM, how each platform works and how to prioritize your marketing channel. You should be able to choose the right channel and invest your time and money to grow your business.
Leave a comment if you know any other ways to prioritize between SEO and SMM for your business. I would love to read them.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share the blog with someone it might help.