Every once in a while I hear someone get all butthurt about which is better, Search Engine Optimization, SEO Guides, SEO Marketing”>Search Engine Optimization or social media marketing. The SEO purists turn their nose up at social media marketers and dismiss it as spamming in disguise (kind of ironic, since SEOs have had their fair share of snake oil accusations), while social media marketers point out dozens of examples where they were able to get a site ranked solely using linkbait and social media, without any SEO considerations. Having been on both sides of the fence, I’ve heard both arguments. Which discipline reigns supreme?
Hardcore SEOs seem to be more technical, whereas social media enthusiasts emphasize creativity and content. When I started out doing SEO, I always enjoyed the content creation part of the job more than the keyword research and core SEO bits, which is why social media is a better fit for me. On the other hand, I know someone who got pushed into a social media “guru” (that word, I know) role but later transitioned into a technical SEO position and is much happier with the new job duties. Still others argue that SEO is easier than social media marketing, and pretty soon we’ll end up a war as epic as the battle vs. Canada in the South Park movie.
“Those damn elitist SEOs!”
What about the argument that social media is more personalized than SEO, and is therefore more difficult? I mean, duplicate content is shitty no matter which way you look at it, but in the same vein you can’t look at Mr. Skin’s 16,000 Twitter followers and think in order for your landscaping account to be successful, you need to post links to nipple slips and shower scenes (well, you could…). But that doesn’t mean SEO is a cakewalk by any means — you often have to deal with complex information architecture, URL rewrites, and a host of other head scratching issue. You wouldn’t use the exact same SEO tactic for every single client, much how you’d customize a company’s social media marketing strategy, because different sites have unique issues that need addressing.
Well, what about which industry has more dumb-asses? Well, on one side you have people swearing that a certain SEO tactic has proven to work, only to have Google come out and say that it actually doesn’t and hasn’t for years, or that they changed how something works months ago and nobody noticed until they pointed out the change. On the other side you’ve got people who think they’re social media experts hurting their company’s reputation because they don’t know how to handle a couple of negative comments or Internet trolls.
I don’t necessarily think one is “better” than the other — obviously the ideal scenario is to have a well optimized site that successfully reaches out to its consumers on appropriate social platform, whether that’s via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or an internally run forum or blog. Shoe’s a good example of marrying the two together successfully, with his suite of Internet marketing tools and the Shoemoney System and promoting them via his blog and on Facebook and Twitter. Having said that, I can see how people make the case for one over the other, and I certainly prefer the work that goes into social media marketing over SEO.
What do you guys think? Do you emphasize one over the other? Is social media overrated or just a fad, or are you in the belief that SEO is over-thought and over-analyzed? Or do you not give a shit about either of them?