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Why SEOs are better at Social Media Marketing than PRs will ever be

Social Media marketing has become a bit of a battle ground. It’s an entirely new discipline where no clear rules have become established and everyday people are breaking new ground.

However two existing marketing professions believe their skill-set makes them able to harness the huge power of social media on behalf of their clients.

In the blue corner we have SEOs the web based marketers who see social media as a home territory where their experience of how the web works qualifies them perfectly.

In the red corner we have PR industry, who see themselves as architects of conversations whether that’s online or on the national news.

Online PR

I’m not saying PR is easy – via flickr

Not surprisingly, working at a search marketing firm; I think me and my geeky friends at other SEM agencies have got those fancy PRs with their never ending expense accounts beat.

Digital Natives – When talking to most of the search engine marketers I’ve met down the pub I almost always end up talking about old Atari & Amiga games. We’re the kind of people who have always mucked around with computers and have been online for donkey’s years. If I were a company I’d want to employ [tag]social media marketers[/tag] who used Myspace because they wanted too rather than because their boss had been to some presentation about it in Cannes.

About Participation Not Communication – the beauty of social media is that it encourages a feed back loop between yourself and your customers. Imagine a school assembly; a [tag]public relations[/tag] company is the receptionist reminding the head teacher to make an announcement. Where-as social media is the kids mucking about in the back of the room. When choosing a partner, you need someone in the group mischief makers with your interest at heart.

We Don’t Need to Outsource – blogging – check, YouTube – yeah there’s a clip of my mate falling down the stairs. You need to understand the technology to take full advantage of it. The last thing you want to do is pay agency big bucks, then find they have to go else where to deliver their brief.

Too Much Transparency Makes PRs Redundant – some of most successful social media marketing campaigns have helped make a company transparent and open to scrutiny not exactly ideal if your profession is standing between the client and the customer.

Try To Use Conventional Techniques – I’ve been really impressed with the effort the PR industry is making to understand social media. They are learning that they have to have do things differently but it doesn’t take much for them to slip back to their old crime of thinking they are cleverer than the punters

Bloggers Are Different To Journalists – there’s a difference between mercenaries and volunteers. Most bloggers do it out of passion rather than the money which makes them an entirely different beast to journalists. Just look at the Microsoft backlash for giving away laptops to test Vista, it caused uproar, even though that kind of stunt is common practice in the print world. Online the rules are different.

Some of this criticism is a bit tongue in cheek, but I rather have a team of SEOs-cum-[tag]Online PR[/tag]than the other way round! I’d remind SEOs though it doesn’t matter how good you are – if you don’t get the principles of PR you will struggle in the world of [tag]social media[/tag].

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