As a search enthusiast, 18 months ago I would not have suggested combining search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. However, because of all the changes in the social network space, including the recent launch of Google+, it is extremely prudent to explore how these two marketing channels can work together to drive response.
SEO is the steadfast workhorse of marketing channels, and it has been the foundation upon which online marketing efforts have been built for more than a decade. It is both reliable and consistent with established, efficient metrics and principles for identifying the keywords users will search for. When paired with an understanding of the user's intent and buying cycle, SEO effectively drives traffic to your website through both keyword targeting and back links, leading to subsequent conversions.
Social media marketing (SMM) is the new kid on the block. In a short time, it has become the darling of many marketers—the flashy, attention-seeking cousin everyone wants to invite to the party. Even though marketers are still trying to understand the medium, it already brings valuable advantages. For one, SMM takes place in the channels where consumers are. (Facebook has over 750 million users, a percentage of which are bound to be your customers.) SMM is also highly engaging. It allows marketers to converse with customers on topics applicable to their lives. SMM also allows users to discuss your product in a style similar to traditional word-of-mouth, only orders of magnitude more effectively. This is because instead of one-to-one, the forum is one-to-many, allowing for much faster information distribution.
As useful as SEO and SMM are individually, they are considerably more powerful when combined. Take content, for example. Optimized content has long been king for SEO; with keyword-rich text, anchor text, and links driving response via websites, white papers, articles and press releases. With the introduction of social media, however, both the types of content available and the distribution points have increased. Content now includes posts, tweets, comments, blogs, videos, images and more. Content can now be shared via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. It can also be spread on social news sites such as Digg, Redditt, StumbleUpon and del.icio.us. Using these social media sites and networks, you can distribute SEO-optimized content where your customers are most likely to read it, which helps drive the greatest possible response to your marketing efforts.