Search Marketing Vs. Social Marketing – Core Differences

This is a guestpost by Susie Brown from FastUpFront.

For all of you folks that thought you left analogy sentences behind when you slammed your pencil on the desk after the SAT’s- here is a blast from the past for you…

“Search Marketing is to the left brain as social marketing is to the right brain.”

Got that?  Now lets’ explain.

I know that 55% of the 33% of you that graduated college probably majored in psychology, so for many of you this will be a review of what you crammed into the short-term memory of your brains before exams.

But just bear with me.  And no, I don’t mean to be insulting or over-analytical, that’s just my slightly asperger personality.

The Point

There are two sides of the human brain, and usually one side of the brain is more influential in your personality, intellectual processing, and decision making that the other. Right-handed people are usually more “left-brained” while south-paws are more “right-brained.”  The right brain is the more artistic and creative side, while the left brain is the more logical and analytical side.

Search Marketing- a Wholesome Right Brained Activity

Search marketing is a bowl of fun for right brains. Here are some of the activities involved in standard search marketing life…

  • Keyword research- background research on the types of keywords prospective consumers type into their browsers including
    • How many searches are done per keyword per day/month
    • Whether someone searching for that keyword is looking to make a purchase
    • How difficult it is to rank for each keyword based on the other sites competing for search engine exposure
  • “On-site” search engine optimization (SEO) involves perfecting the structure and html of the website so that search engine spiders can crawl through the site, index the pages, and be convinced that the site is authoritative and user friendly.
  • “Off-site” search engine optimization (SEO) involves getting backlinks to your site with the goal of having those backlinks improve the search engine rankings for your chosen keywords.  Strategizing the best way to acquire backlinks for SEO purposes is based totally on what type of backlinks will best get the search engines to do your bidding.

The entire process of search engine marketing is very logical and analytical without being very personal creative or interesting. The search engine campaigns’ main audience members are Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and the goal is to get their attention. The theory behind search engine marketing is that if you can drive enough traffic from the search engines some of those web-surfers will convert to customers.

Therefore, whenever Google changes their ranking algorithm, all of the SEO professionals freak out.  Since search engine marketing is based completely on the search engines’ algorithm SEO leaves very little room for creativity and SEO professionals have almost no will of their own.  Put in other words, SEO work is reactive.

Here comes another SAT analogy sentence…

Search engine marketing is to reactive, as social media marketing is to proactive.    

Social Media Marketing- Creating Destiny through the Left Brain

Social media marketing aims to engage individuals in order to build a community around a brand.  The way that is done is by being an awesome company, making customers love you, and keeping them engaged through great content, promotions, and whatever it takes.  Creating an effective social media campaign involves considering these four elements:

  1. The target audience- who are the people that are most likely to be able to create a positive and far reaching buzz for the brand?
  2. The brand- what is the higher purpose that the business exists to accomplish, and how does it go about their mission.  Effective social media marketing requires developing and communicating that message effectively.
  3. The means- whether it’s through a blog, video creation, or a strong presence on any of the social media sites, a social media campaign needs to reach out as far as possible without spreading itself to thin.
  4. How to make it sticky- By thinking creatively, effectively engaging the community, or creating virally popular content, a good social media campaign can have far-reaching effects- the sky’s the limit.

Although, anyone working with social media needs to apply their right brained logical, analytical skills in order devise a clear plan of action, there is a lot more room in social media marketing for creativity and thinking outside of the box.  Whereas the search engine marketer constantly strives to attract the attention of Google and Bing, social media marketing focuses directly on human beings.  As a result, the implementation of social media campaigns also requires the use of the left brain.

The Real World isn’t so Black and White

Since search engines have been starting to take social media buzz into account in their rankings, most search marketing campaigns today do include some social media aspect, and vice versa.  Here is the video from December 2010 when Matt Cutts revealed that Google had began to consider social media links in their rankings.

The truth in internet marketing today is that most effective approaches take into account both search engine marketing and social media marketing in some capacity.

And for the 10% of you that I have not yet insulted, please “like” this article.




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