A huge part of public relations is advancing your organization’s Internet presence. We all try to make our organizations more digitally visible, but sometimes we aren’t sure how to best do that. Should we focus on interacting more with our followers on social media? Should we put energy into being more discoverable in an online search?

Social-Media-Icons-cloudSEO or search engine optimization and engaging in social media are arguably two of the best ways to maintain a strong Internet presence. SEO is “the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines,” according to Search Engine Land. SEO is all about trying to get to the top the list in online search engine results so your website has a better chance of getting clicked on from the extensive amount of search results. Using social media, on the other hand, is about engaging via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other web-based social platforms to interact with publics.

At the core of determining your organization’s Internet strategy is understanding all the communication methods and choosing which are most important for your business. A recent article by Media Bistro’s All Twitter breaks down the seven primary differences between SEO and social media to help communication professionals determine which is more of a priority for their bottom line.

  1. Speed
    • Social media: Tweets and posts instantly appear on your followers’ or friends’ timelines and are archived.
    • SEO: Getting on that first page of results in a search engine can take years of trial and error effort.
  2. Limits
    • Social media: There’s no limit to sharing, retweeting, favoriting or liking posts. The more attention a post gets, the better.
    • SEO: While tons of people can search for a certain phrase that may lead to your website, there’s no guarantee that everyone will click your link over others.
  3. Topics
    • Social media: Emotional reactions to topics that cause a stir typically do best on social media. People congregate over common feelings.
    • SEO: How-to’s, research and FAQs do best on search engines where people go to get answers.
  4. Formats
    • Social media: Visuals really attract attention. Facebook posts with photos get 53% more likes than ones without them.
    • SEO: Google-ers are more apt to click on long-form text that give detailed explanations.
  5. Audience Intent
    • Social media: It doesn’t generate much buying power, but it does promote product awareness through sharing.
    • SEO: People’s specific need or purpose that encouraged them to start searching inspires them to spend money, but not to interact with others.
  6. Effort
    • Social media: Posters are usually emotionally engaged in whatever they’re posting thus they put in more time and effort into crafting follow-up posts.
    • SEO: While getting closer to the top results in search engines definitely gains your site more visitors, that traffic may be passive readers rather than active engagers.
  7. Metrics
    • Social media: Keeping track of direct social engagement is clear, but determining visibility without direct retweeting, favoriting, replying or sharing gets difficult.
    • SEO: Measuring visibility and search traffic is simple with analytics, but measuring engagement with content (reading, clicking, etc.) gets complicated.

Keeping your organization’s online communication goals and these differences in mind can help you better reach your publics with purpose and strategic intent.

Stay tuned…