There is an important debate among marketing experts today about which strategy to use to grow online businesses – SEO or social media?
A lot of times, a company might hire an SEO expert or an SEO agency to grow their business without noticing the power of social media. On the other hand, some decide to leverage the social media presence by hiring a social media manager and focus all of their time on growing their social media audience without using SEO at all.
According to a report produced by eConsultancy, 61% of consumers actually use search engines to help them do product research before deciding to purchase. At the same time, 75% of people between ages of 18 – 26 rely on recommendations from their peers on social media to influence their purchases.
With data that pushes us in either direction, it’s hard to make a choice. So let’s break it down and compare both these strategies to understand which one really comes with a better advantage to people.
1. Target Audience
Each marketing channel that you use is only effective if you target a specific audience because that’s how you bring relevant engagement, traffic, and sales. It’s definitely easier to target an audience on social media rather than using organic SEO. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social channel, each has its own built-in target audience that essentially acts as a template for different brands looking to find the right audience to buy their product or service.
Image Source: PEW Research Center
PEW Research Center’s data on Facebook’s demographics shows how you could gather the type of people using Facebook. Including the kind of conversations they might be interested in having, and how your brand might fit into those conversations.
On the other hand, organic SEO targets people not necessarily based on the channels they are already using, but in the conversations they are thinking of having. While it might sound more superfluous to start, it can help you complete a more definitive profile of who your ideal consumer is (and their online habits).
Verdict: Audience targeting in social media relies on personality while targeting with organic SEO relies on behavior to paint a better picture of who is interested in your brand. So it’s much easier to use social media to find an ideal audience for your brand. Once you find that ideal audience, you can use SEO to attract that audience using keyword suggestion tools and long-form content.
How much work is required when it comes to social media marketing? Social media requires planning, commitment (to both quality content and consistent posting), and a tool to keep the whole operation humming (like Buffer or CoSchedule).
Image Source: Buffer.com
The interface of such apps allows users to create posts, schedule them, and track them. This has made life as a social media manager much easier than before.
The life of a social media post is, as you might have guessed, short-lived. That’s why it is so important that you consistently post, and that you are as responsive as possible. In this way, and as much as it has gotten easier with useful social media management tools, it still requires more effort.
While organic SEO might take months to rank, and certainly requires its own form of continuous effort, there is less day-to-day stress involved in consistently keeping up with every other user, brand, and product out there.
Verdict: Organic SEO, when done correctly, requires less effort and may be able to draw more conversions. The flip side of the coin is that while social media may require more effort, the value it can bring to the general awareness of your brand is immeasurable.
3. Content Types
Content plays a key role in both social media campaigns and SEO efforts.
There’s a debate on which type of content is more valuable for SEO, and which type performs better on social media.
Search engines rank long-form content (>3,000 words) much higher than short-form. According to Neil Patel, long-form evergreen content does way better for SEO.
Social posts are typically much shorter in length & are optimized as per the platform that you might see on the web. They are also much less technical than a post on the web (like a blog or a case study).
In this way, both SEO and social media marketing rely on completely different types of content. The most interesting thing to think about, though, is how they depend on each other. A visual, like an infographic, on social media, might link to a long-form post that drives search traffic.
Another important aspect of social media strategy when it comes to content is how to maximize on user engagement. The more people share, retweet, and comment on your posts (with links to the content you wrote on your site) the more traffic you drive to it. That’s why writing long-form content really pays off because more people are likely to share it and engage with it.
The key is to use social media to drive more traffic to your web content, and to optimize it for search engines. For example, this Kissmetrics post is only one sentence (which is a great length for Twitter) and leads the visitor to a long-form piece of content.
Image Source: Twitter.com
Verdict: It’s important to use social media strategy and SEO together to get the best results. Optimize every single piece of content to rank high on search engines. That means using long-tail keywords, optimizing your meta tags and description, optimize images, and writing long-form content. You also need to master social media to get the maximum engagement to that content.
Last, but not the least, in the differences between organic SEO and social media marketing, is what conversations you should be having. And which ones are most effective for your brand.
As we previously discussed, social media relies on shorter, more condensed thoughts, which generally tend to be more emotional and communicative in nature. One of the best things you can do with your social content is to use it with a hashtag.
Hashtagging is one of the most important strategies for spreading content and ensuring that it reaches the right people.
Use a tool like Ritetag or hashtagify help in identifying which hashtags to use for your posts, based on hashtag engagement in real time. Use this for researching the best subjects to cover in your posts and get ideas for content themes.
Image Source: Ritetag.com
Organic SEO, on the other hand, is more research-based and relies on thorough knowledge of the keywords that people search for. That’s why knowing the kinds of conversations people are interested in becomes key. There are a number of free tools available around like ProRankTracker or SEO Book Rank Checker which helps in getting a comprehensive report on all the relevant keywords that you should be targeting for any URL.
Keyword tools can help provide keyword suggestions which can fuel meaningful conversations and help you create engaging content. That’s how you can learn to engage with your ideal audience and start ranking better.
Verdict: Use both SEO and social media to help engage with your target audience and get more traffic to your site.
Conclusion: Organic SEO Vs. Social Media Marketing
Search engine optimization and social media marketing are two very important disciplines that you need to learn in order to grow your business. The best approach is to use both of them to maximize your marketing dollars.
Search engines are starting to rank for engagement so social media marketing can help with your SEO efforts. On the other hand, the more people come to your site the more they start engaging with your various social media channels.
The two go hand in hand, and it’s wise to use them both.