Social Media, SEO and Online Marketing–What’s the Difference? - Twirp Communications

Social Media, SEO and Online Marketing–What’s the Difference?

online advertising platformsYes. There IS a difference! Social media, SEO and online marketing should all work in tandem to create your total online presence, but they are all different.

Social Media

Social media, social networking, social marketing… these terms refer to the use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest. Whether your goal is simple marketing and sales, or to create real relationships with your audience, there is a way to do that and a channel to help you do it.

The basic premise of social media for business marketing is the idea that you’re being social. You know…getting to know people. Networking. Having a bit of fun. All the while building those relationships that might eventually lead to a referral or sale. Social media is not a one-way advertisement for your products or services, but if done properly it can lead to sales.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the use of keywords and tools on your website to help improve your ranking when potential customers are searching for you online. If your website is number 302 when a customer is looking, then chances are you won’t be found. You need to appear on page one. Getting there is harder than it may sound.

Once you have researched your keywords and know which ones you’re going to focus on you will definitely want to use those in your social media efforts as well. Your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles need to include your keywords, as do your blog posts and any online articles you write.

Online Marketing

While the term online marketing is often used to encompass EVERYTHING you do online, I tend to think of it as its own category, including article writing (guest blogging or press release sites), banner advertising and pay-per-click advertising. Other people would include website development in this. I guess this term is a little more loosey-goosey, so if you are talking to an online marketing specialist, make sure you know exactly what they are promising to do for you. Some of them may do some social media or SEO work, but others might focus on websites.

Big Agency vs. Solopreneur

There are advantages to working with one of the big agencies in Halifax, of course. Some of them have staff who focus on each of these areas and they can work together to build you a cohesive marketing plan that includes traditional methods as well. The downside to the big agency model is usually price, both of the staff time and the product they want you to implement.

A solopreneur, or smaller agency usually focuses on one or two of these areas and would have to subcontract other parts of the puzzle. The advantage here being lower costs and hopefully a greater level of expertise in their chosen niche. If you only want to focus on social media, for example, I’d be silly not to say I think you should call  me over one of the big agencies in town. However, if you’re a bigger company, with a bigger audience and bigger marketing budget, a full-service agency might be a better fit for you. And hey, some of them subcontract niche work out to the solopreneurs like me, so we still might get to work together.

The bottom line is, like anything else, you have to decide what is going to be the best fit for your business model. If you’re looking for help in any of these areas I highly recommend you check the agency’s website, portfolio, client testimonials and so on. Ask yourself a few questions, knowing that some of the answers might only come after a face-to-face meeting with the agency.

  • Are the projects they have completed a similar size and scope to yours?
  • Are their clients on the same level as you?
  • Do you even like what you see?
  • Does their style fit with you?

What’s your preference, full-service agency or niche solopreneur?

Anita Kirkbride is the Head Twirp at Twirp Communications in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We provide social media training, workshops and management for small businesses and charities. Our specialty is women-focused organizations and women-owned businesses. If you need strategic advice, personalized training or someone to “just do it” for you, there’s a Twirp for that.

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Comments (2)

  • Trib21 Reply

    Great points Anita, some small businesses like the personal feel that they get from another small business working on their Social Media Campaign. Like the fact, many of us work at all hours!

    November 17, 2013 at 7:54 am
  • disqus_59uFvTfI6r Reply

    Great Anita but something you didn’t mention is the darkside of
    Social Marketing. I have been reading about some that are referred as the dark SEO’s it is also important when dealing with the entrepreneur to establish that they really do know what they are talking about. This is where Social Media can really come in handy. For example a good SEO may have a limited number of connections but a very large number of groups. The reason for this is simple, if I am connected to a large number of groups then I can get the message out to many many more people, in addition there other advantages. But here this methodology requires a different skillset, as I am sure you know by now Anita I love to experiment and yes sometimes get myself into a wee bit of trouble, but just as in the old days of being a techi I add it to my lessons learned. It is important in the groups to not just be a member but also to understand the content and intent. You do not necessarily have to be an expert, as a matter of fact here you can actually distinguish the good Social Media experts from the bad, because the true SM(Social Media not Sado-Masochist – although sometimes I do wonder where the difference is) will take the time to actually learn the material and contribute to the group. In most cases this doesn’t take much, sometimes the best way is join the group, start a discussion do a bit of research and then maybe some contribution. A good Social Media expert will also have a good understanding of people, one thing to remember is that people just love to show off so the good Social Media expert will include some mistakes that leaves openings for others to jump on and demonstrate there expertise. This is where the Good Social Mediaist oh look a GSM will be able to promote their product or whatever in the group with a subtle approach that attracts attention rather than just hanging out the for sale sign. Instead of saying for example car for sale they might use the approach of “Alberta Produces Car You Can Smoke and use this as supporting evidence, as you can see, the title is different. Now of course that was quickly made up and of course the approach would be different for each group. For you might go into the complexities of producing such a vehicle. Anyway got to go work with some new stuff and will be back to once again unleash my creativity upon the unsuspecting population of linkedin.

    November 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

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