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5 Crucial Differences Between SMO & SMM

22-Sep-2021 | Social Media

Social Media Optimization and Social Media Marketing serve an important role in any given digital marketing strategy. However, most tend to get easily confused between the two. Though their abbreviations are just a letter apart, SMO and SMM are vastly different. So before you make a big decision and invest in digital marketing, you must know the difference between SMO and SMM. 



Social Media Optimization has its roots in the year 2006 and was founded by Rohit Bhargava. The term originated in his blog which laid down 5 primary rules that concerned SMO in digital marketing:


  • Increase your linkability
  • Make tagging and bookmarking easy
  • Reward inbound links
  • Help your content travel
  • Encourage the mashup
  • Get communities connected

These rules have been updated to include other aspects since then. However, search engines optimizers were using social networks to optimize websites long before the term was coined. 

Social Media Marketing has no clear originating point. But while most think that it started with Facebook in 2004, the first example was with a site called Six Degrees created in 1997. It was perhaps the first social media platform for social interaction which enabled ‘friends’ and the creation of profiles as well. Stumble Upon in 2001 also provided a discovery approach along with social interaction. 


The Social Media Optimization process entails the optimization of a website and web pages to complement various social media channels. In a way, it’s like making your website ready for social sharing. By encouraging audiences to share content effortlessly, you can strengthen your social footprint and interactions as well. But this starts with on-page activities such as keyword planning, meta titles and descriptions, etc. 

But between SMO vs SMM, the latter refers to activities that take place outside your website. Be it Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, this is a method of promoting content in the form of updates, campaigns and branding activities. This involves choosing the most relevant platforms, best times to post, vital metrics, competitor analysis, etc. 


Both Social Media Optimization and Social Media Marketing are key practices that are involved in a social media campaign. In order, however, SMM is the next step after SMO. It’s only after your website is properly optimized that you can begin sharing and publicizing your product/services. After your website or blog is suitable to be shared on social media channels, you can increase traffic to the same sources and bring visibility and engagement to your brand. In essence, SMM in digital marketing starts where SMO ends. 


When we talk about SMO vs SMM, remember that SMO is all about on-site activities. Keyword research, page experience, increased linkability, adding social widgets, using social sharing buttons – these modifications fall under the ‘on-page’ domain to refine the interface and usability of the site. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a website. It can also be a location where the traffic is to be directed. 

Social Media Marketing, on the other hand, is about the activities done off-site. Creating videos about your products and posting them on YouTube, participating in online communities for direct interaction – these methods take your content outside your website and bring it towards a larger audience. The difference between SMO and SMM lies in the platforms used – Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  

Pull Factors:

Social Media Optimization pulls people by enticing them with links and mentions on social networks – well-written text, eye-catching pictures and other media to increase engagement with a website. Increasing traffic to the website/blog is the end goal here. 

Social Media Marketing pulls audiences via appealing content to promote businesses. This takes place in the form of interesting, relevant and promotional organic posts, social media ads and social media campaigns. Engagement is the end goal here. 

These features will help you make an informed choice while opting for digital marketing services. Now that you know the difference between SMO and SMM, you will surely be able to make the right choice for your business. But for tailored and customized solutions for your brand, get in touch with us and let’s ramp up your online presence!


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