Social Media Marketing vs. Search Engine Marketing

    Social Media Marketing vs. Search Engine Marketing

    Which one should you do?

    There is an ongoing debate among various marketers upon which among social media or SEO is the best way to boost your digital marketing. In this article we will discuss whether Social media is the new SEO or both these tools are mandatory for getting online success.

    Let us find out the purpose of these marketing strategies –

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means getting noticed and getting relevant traffic through the search engine rankings. Your search engine ranking is the prime factor in determining the amount of traffic you will drive to your website.

    How does SEO work?

    Macbook Air on Grey Wooden Table

    Search engines use a number of algorithms and statistics while deciding which websites to show in the top results as a response to the audience’s queries. A SEO optimized website is user friendly thus along with rankings there are many more benefits of SEO.

    Social Media Marketing – Social media marketing refers to building relationships, developing connections and getting traffic from various social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.

    How does SMM work?

    Mobile marketing concept illustration

    Social Media Marketing helps you in doing market research. Along with this it allows you to implement various SMM strategies in your business to discover new opportunities and assists you to reach out to a larger audience.

    SMM has gained a lot of recognition in recent times. Studies show that more than 70% of customers make a purchase after they see something on social media. According to ReliableSoft, 4 out of 10 social media users purchase an item online or in a store after sharing it with their connections on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest or pinning it as a favourite.

    Major differences and similarities between SEO and SMM –

    Let us look at some key differences and similarities between SEO and SMM which will help you in finding out which one to choose for your business.

    Audience and their intent


    You can find out who these users are, but you can have very little knowledge about how they think. These users find you through a social platform where they are less likely to act and more likely to share your content and spread awareness. When it comes to purchasing a product, they generally have a weak intent.

    • SEO

    You can find out what your users are thinking but you can have very little knowledge about who they are. These users search for something and based on the relevance of your content, your website is shown to them in the search results and they visit your website. These users are more likely to buy and less likely to share your content and spread awareness. When it comes to purchasing a product, they have a strong intent.

    What type of content works here

    • SMM

    Content that agitates an emotional response often works best with SMM. Especially the content that stirs strong emotions like anger, awe, anxiety etc. The currently trending topics often get more response on Social Media.

    • SEO

    The content which performs best here is the research-based content. Detailed articles, articles that highlight common facts or instructional posts get more response from the audience. 

    Content formats

    • SMM

    Images and videos are among the most shared content on Social Media. Thus, visuals are the best formats on SMM. Posts that have images along with catchy and emotional headlines manage to capture a user’s attention on SMM.

    • SEO

    Long textual stuff is the format best suited for SEO. The page that gets a high ranking on Google generally has 1500+ words. 


    • SMM

    Although it generally takes much time to gather followers and create awareness of your products on SMM, posts on social platforms can be uploaded within minutes and it takes very less time to see the results.

    • SEO

    Though Search Engine Optimization is a trustworthy process, it is typically slow and uncertain. It may take many years to build up credibility and even the most relevant pages take a long time to get higher ranking. If your website isn’t able to rank higher, it will not be able to get traffic and thus you may not be able to make conversions.


    • SMM

    Your post gets the most visibility and traffic within minutes of when it is posted on the social platform. Even though you get a quick response, achieving success in SMM demands continuous efforts.

    • SEO

    Once your page gets a higher ranking, it gets durable visibility and traffic. These high rankings may last for weeks or months depending on the topic of search.

    Key Process Indicators

    •  SMM

    Followers are the easiest way to measure your growth on SMM. Apart from this, you can even build meaningful relationships, have meaningful conversations and spread your network.

    • SEO

    Links are the greatest measure of success when it comes to SEO. However, rankings are much more important than links. Having said this, traffic is even more important than rankings. You would want relevant visitors to visit your site.

    Success rate

    • SMM

    SMM requires constant planning and on-going efforts in order to create brand awareness and interact with your target audience. Though your post can get instant likes and comments within minutes of posting, there is a high possibility that your post will be drowned by some new post as tons of new posts are added to Social Media every minute. SMM might have a smaller ROI as compared to SEO, but if your goal is to gain quick visibility, SMM must be your choice.

    • SEO

    As compared to SMM, SEO is a slow process. But, it is rewarding. It takes a lot of time to gain credibility, but it draws more conversions than SMM.

    Comparative Analysis

    Things that work in SMMThings that work in SEO
    Emotional ContentResearch-based Content
    Compelling VisualsLong-text based Format
    Users spend very little time on a postUsers spend comparatively more time on a website
    Generates awarenessDoesn’t create awareness
    • Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

    Your post on Social Media or your Search Engine Results Page both ultimately have one motive – for a user to click on it. The click through rate is similar for both of them. 

    It is difficult to select the best among the two – SEO or SMM. Each of these have their own benefits and disadvantages. 

    To avoid this confusion, the best way is to use both of these marketing strategies together. SMM can help you in getting followers, generating awareness and getting traffic while with the help of SEO you can optimize your content to rank higher in search engines.