SMM vs. SMO: New Marketing Terms Defined?

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Online marketers have watched the rise of social media with interest. We have always known about forums of course – an early “social media” – and there are many marketers who still enjoy the link and traffic benefit of participating and contributing to forums. They’re social media marketers without even knowing it ;)

Rohit Bhargava coined the phrase Social Media Optimization to describe the practice of using social media outlets as a distribution point for calls to action.

Ben Wills was amongst the folks who proposed the term Social Media Marketing rather than optimization.

Today Cameron Olthuis at Pronet wrote about how he defines SMM vs. SMO. Because this is a topic that’s of interest to me and my clients I decided to investigate.

Essentially, Olthuis holds that Social Media Optimization refers to practices that are done on site. This could include stuff like adding “Digg This!” and “Delicious” tags to your content.

Social Media Marketing refers to things that are done off site, which includes submitting viral-hopeful content to YouTube.

In response I propose that on-site or off-site could prepend either the term Social Media Marketing or Social Media Marketing and so therefore is not sufficient for requiring that both terms remain in a given marketer’s business lexicon.

Further, in his definition Olthuis includes content only in the SMM, or off-site category. I believe that housing viral/link bait content on site is a fantastic strategy, but is not allowable in the structure he proposes.

I prefer the more general Social Media Marketing term because it seems broader. Of course I come from the school that houses search engine optimization within the broader term of search engine marketing.

Things start to get really blurry when you consider viral campaigns that generate search rank boosting links. But that’s the world we live in and as long as we’re making money for ourselves it doesn’t matter too much what we’re calling it I guess ;)

If you prefer the tried and true search marketing where you have more predictable returns I suggest you check out Fishkin’s latest project – Creating an Accurate Formula for Predicting Keyword Search Volume.

About the Author

Garrett French educates SEO and PR teams on content and engagement-based link building strategies that drive targeted referral traffic and deliver SERP domination. Learn more about him and his services at CitationLabs.com.

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  1. Well, things really get blurry when you delve too much on it: I actually, at the brink of drowning in it... (laughs out loud) Social Media Marketing and Social Media Optimization differs greatly, though really confusing in the textual level. SMM is a marketing strategy while SMO is a tool for SMM. Hope I got it right :-)