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Social Media Marketers need a better identity

Written by David Harry   
Friday, 08 February 2008 19:31

Drawing a not-so-thin line in the Sand

There is a strange thing happening with my peers that are afflicted by the Social Media disease. I am not sure if it is delusional or merely lack of subjectivity, but they want to mix SEO and Social Media Marketing in some philosophical mish-mash that has me scratching my head vigorously lately. While there are certainly areas that can cross over, to imply that SEO won’t exist without SMM is downright silly. Once and for all – Communication breakdownSocial Media Marketing is a branding activity. It is not about Optimizing a web page for a search engine. The disciplines and studies are unique as are the service offerings.
The problem seems to be that the SEO turned SMM starts to see the links that can be garnered via SMM and says, “Hey SMM is a great SEO tool” – and this is true, I have talked about this cross over in the past. This doe NOT mean that SEO needs SMM or the other way around. Maybe some folks have been begging, bartering and buying links for their projects and so these viral links are fun for them, not sure really.  

The thing is that I have used bait in the form of quality offerings on a given site, for links since well before the SM world cropped up. In it’s own way it was a form of social media in that bloggers, influencers, media outlets and forum chatter was what we would get links from. This ‘social’ bait for links is nothing new to me, just a more formal approach.

Branding v Optimizing

My good pal Jeff (Canada’s favourite SEO), was musing about being an influencer with his SEO and that SEO might not be the proper tag for what he does in his post; I Jeff Quipp am an Authority Builder. The main crux though seems to once again be tied into links;

To an SEO, ‘authority’ is created by links. SEOs often look at the term “Authority” as an adjective (its an authoritative site), not as a noun (she is the Authority).

I dare say as an SEO it is not merely quantity but actual quality of the links that begins to build authority in a search engines eyes as do other factors such as the age of the core domain and so forth. Saying that mere links are the gauge of authority for a Search Engine seems limited. He then mentions;

"Accordingly, our goal as SEOs is almost never about making our client an authority, but rather making their site authoritative by building links."

Once again this is an aspect of SEO not the entirety of the whole. Building trust from a search engine can be done on many levels. Once more I am seeing a trend of link-addiction that has the socialites giddy with excitement at the ability of branding activities to produce some yummy links that will assist with the SEO efforts. To say that the lines of SEO and SMM are getting blurred means you might want to clean your specs, I dare suggest.

There are more avenues of SEO that are not covered by the branding world. While they can cross over as far as content creation and link profile development plans, there are specifics to each discipline (SEO and SMM) that keep them separate. What ever happened to on-site SEO?

Doom and Gloom

Now, I enjoyed Jeff’s ideas and it lead to a few great discussions together over the last few days. This morning I get up and another socialite and all around good guy, Marty Weintraub at AimClear Search Marketing published; the Evaporating Yellow Line between SEO and Social Media.

This piece is – once again – link building centric. Remember how I was saying that we tend not to have EVER concentrated on Paid links (or recips for that matter)? Right away Marty starts off with;

I know SEOs who are scared-yellow. One night, during the early days of Google’s paid link jihad, I personally woke up in Manhattan to a 3AM cold sweat.

Nope, sorry brother… we sailed right through that one. Wasn’t anyone doing link bait before Social Media’s star rose into the heavens? This obsession with links and social media is very troubling to be honest. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of the folks Google was targeting with the link crackdown are the same ones going ga-ga over SMM. You have to wonder what happens when all of this publicity finally hits home to Google and they start to devalue Social Media (and Blog?) links and folks are right back where they started?

How about; " Everyone knows link building is vital for organic success."

While it is important, as a relevance fanatic I find I am able to rank as needed with far less backlinks than I have in the past. By building relevancy chains and other on-site factors I am freed from link addiction even in some of the more competitive markets ( say.. Credit Cards?). The more Google cracked down on links over the years the more I found myself studying search engines and adapting my methodologies for maximum effectiveness and minimal link building. What is there to say that much like paid links (recips and directories as well) that the value of links from SMM will get devalued?

Marty went as far as to say; “There is fear on the street as the yellow line between SEO and social media evaporates. Some SEO firms, not tuned to social media vibrations, may cease to exist.”

WOW… now that is getting a little stretched. I find much of my SEO work is well away from link building and consist more of term research and targeting, getting the onsite elements nailed, analytics and more. For me the lines are quite distinct and like most tools in the marketing kit, there is always cross-over; this is the sign of a successful marketing campaign, managing the inter relationships.

Lines in the Sand

Saying that SEO is all about link building is like saying that is what SMM is all about; which is not true. I think what I can leave you with is some areas where there is cross over to ensure that the SEO and SMM teams are I am SOOO confused!!in-line with their activities;


Keyword/Phrase Targeting – it is important for the SMM team to be aware of the targets set by the SEO team to ensure that link texts are targeted (and varied) properly when possible in the SMM efforts.

Link Profile Development – obviously co-ordinating targets to ensure the relevancy and value will maximize the SMM teams additions to the process is important.

Content Creation – there would also be times when the input of each department is required when working on baiting or blogging efforts.


Saying that an SEO must understand SMM or the other way around seems wrong. Sure, I want each to know some about the other, but it is not mandatory for survival. I know some folks that are in the SMM game that don’t know much at all about SEO, certainly not enough to provide a high level of service and the same can be said inversely with SEOs. Do they meet up along the marketing path? Most certainly but to suggest that optimizing a web page is synonymous with performing SMM is wrong in my humble opinion.

I was talking with Brian over at NowSourcing earlier and suggested that one of the fine Social Marketer types should outline some common activities, goals and benchmarks for a campaign so that the world may better understand the role that it serves. It seems to me that some better understanding is on order. At this rate, you are likely to get sucked up and added to SEO (not the other way around) since the identity of SMM is what seems to be getting blurred. This is an interesting phenomenon and I hope to continue the dialogue in the future. Oh and Jeff, Marty? Ya know I love ya'll, just felt I needed to get this off my chest... for the rest of you;

Don’t worry SEO’s, there is more to life than link building; you’ll be fine.

Don’t worry SMM’s, I believe your worth more than mere links :0)


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