Let’s be honest. When it comes to deciding between social media vs SEO, surf-centric brands have it pretty easy.
You can post a picture of your product, location or service on Instagram, add a couple of hashtags and watch the “likes” come rolling in. Surfing and the associated lifestyle are, after all, very easy on the eye.
On the flip side, it’s also very easy to write SEO content for surf-related brands that’s interesting, informative and useful to people who are looking for it.
As a surf-centric company or business, both social media and SEO can be easy to leverage and turn into more guests, customers or members. However, when we break it down and actually look at which strategy is actually more effective, it’s clear that one might actually be better for your brand’s goals than the other.
In this article, I’ll wade into the turbulent waters of the social media vs SEO debate and highlight both the benefits and advantages of each strategy.
Social media vs SEO: What’s the difference?
Both social media and SEO content form part of the 5 pillars of marketing a surf camp that can both bring something to your brand, but it’s important to understand the key differences between the two before we jump into their benefits.
For starters, social media is content that’s published on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The primary purpose of social media is to build relationships and interact with potential and current customers. It’s also a great way to humanise your brand and show the people behind it.
SEO content, on the other hand, is created with the sole purpose of ranking high in search engines like Google. This means that SEO articles are typically longer, more informative and keyword-rich than social media posts.
While social media is all about building relationships, SEO is all about building authority and playing the long game. So which one should you be using for your business?
The advantages of social media for surf businesses
Social media definitely has its place when it comes to marketing your surf business.
Not only is it easy to get started with a social media page, but it’s also a great way to connect with your target audience on a more personal level.
With social media, you can share photos and videos of your product or service in action, as well as articles and blog posts that are relevant to your industry. You can also use social media to run competitions and giveaways.
Let’s take a look at some of the main advantages social media has over SEO.
Social media is great for building relationships.
You can interact with potential and current customers, answer their questions and get feedback from them. This interaction helps to build trust and goodwill between you and your customers, thereby making them more likely to do business with you.
Social media humanises your brand
By showing the people behind your company, you make your brand more relatable and trustworthy. And in the modern era, trust is everything.
People are more likely to buy from brands they trust, and social media is the perfect platform to build that trust. Social media is also more informal than most SEO content, which means it’s easier to start a discussion and get a real feel for who your audience is.
Social media is all about visual exposure
Surf camps, surf schools and surf retreats (or pretty much any surf-centric brand for that matter) benefit from the lifestyle that surfing provides.
That’s to say that the gorgeous sunsets, empty beaches and happy, healthy surfers synonymous with our pastime are all primed for visual platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.
This means that one post of a perfect beachbreak might get the same amount of eyes as an in-depth SEO article on your website (but with much less effort), which is great from an exposure point of view.
Social media gets rapid results
Finally, social media gets fast results.
This ties into what I just said about it being visual in the sense that you can capture a lot of people’s attention very quickly with only a few clicks or taps of your thumb.
Great if you want to get your point across quickly, the fact that social media is immediate also means it’s awesome for running promotions and competitions. Plus, if you know how to write with flair, you can also prompt people to respond in the comments and then answer them in real-time.
The downside of social media for surf businesses
In saying that, the accessibility and immediacy of social media can also be a downside. For example, if you put out a post and it doesn’t get the engagement that you wanted, you might become discouraged.
I’ve seen too many businesses give up on social media after only a few weeks or months because they didn’t see income-boosting results straight away. If that’s something you’re looking for, social media might not be the best platform for your business.
Besides, fast results aren’t always a good thing. The success of your social media page is after all based on algorithms that are totally out of your control.
Constantly in flux, they can make your social media success a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs as you try to keep up with the latest trends and fads in an attempt to capture your audience’s attention.
Don’t get me wrong – when it’s done right, social media will yield epic results. For the most part though, the vast majority of your likes and comments will never translate into customers or sales.
The advantages of SEO content for surf businesses
If social media is the showy, visual-based front of your business, SEO is the quiet but deadly workhorse getting things done in the background.
It’s easy to see social media posts and think they hold more weight than Search Engine Optimised (SEO) content because they’re right there in front of your face. But if you want people to find your website when they search for keywords related to what you do, then you need to focus on SEO content.
Here are a few benefits of SEO content for surf businesses.
SEO content is designed to be found by search engines.
Social media posts might be seen by your friends and followers, but unless you’re paying for ads, they’re not likely to be seen by people who don’t already know about your business.
On the other hand, SEO content is written with the express purpose of being found by people who are searching for keywords related to your business.
If you want people to find your website when they’re looking for a surf school or surf shop, then you need to make sure your website appears high in the search results for those keywords.
SEO content can help you rank for long-tail keywords.
Social media posts are often short and to the point, which means they can only target short, specific keywords.
SEO content, on the other hand, can be longer and target a wider range of keywords (including long-tail keywords).
Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases that people are more likely to use when they’re closer to making a purchase.
For example, a surf school might want to rank for the keyword “surf lessons in San Diego” because that’s a phrase people are likely to use when they’re ready to sign up for classes.
SEO content can help you build authority.
If you want people to actually book lessons or buy products from you, then you need to build authority.
SEO content can help you do that by providing potential customers with the information they need to make an informed decision.
For example, a surf shop might want to rank for the keyword “surfboards for beginners” and include information about different types of boards, how to choose the right one and where to buy them.
By giving potential customers this kind of information, you’re not only helping them make a decision, but you’re also building authority in your area or field.
SEO content attracts more quality traffic
While there’s no denying that Instagram and Facebook posts get eyes on your brand, SEO content does so in a way that is much more likely to result in a conversion.
People who find your website via a search engine are already interested in what you do and are therefore more likely to book lessons or buy products from you. They’ve also self-qualified themselves by typing in a keyword related to your business.
On the other hand, social media users might see your post and think “that’s nice” but never actually do anything with it. So if you want to attract more quality traffic that is more likely to convert, then you need to focus on SEO content.
SEO content also has a longer shelf life than social media posts
Finally, because SEO content is designed to be found by people who are searching for specific keywords, it has a longer shelf life than social media posts.
Social media posts might get a lot of engagement when they’re first published, but they quickly become buried under a never-ending stream of new posts.
On the other hand, SEO content continues to be found and generate traffic long after it’s been published. In fact, the average social media post only generates engagement for a few hours after it’s been published.
In contrast, SEO content can generate traffic and engagement for months or even years after it’s been published, which just goes to show that SEO content is a mid to long-term solution.
The downside of SEO content for surf businesses
Of course, it’s not all long-tail keywords and dedicated customers when we talk about SEO content.
One thing that many people don’t want to discuss is the fact that writing a blog article and posting a pretty image with a few words and hashtags both involve vastly different time investments. This means that for small businesses, the social media vs SEO content debate can often feel like a debate about whether you have enough time and resources to do one or the other.
What’s left out of this discussion though is the fact that it doesn’t really matter how long it takes you to do something – if you’re doing it wrong then it’s not going to work.
And that’s the real downside of SEO content for surf businesses. If you’re not experienced in writing SEO articles then it can often take a lot longer to produce something that actually ranks well and generates traffic than it would to produce a social media post.
This is because there’s a lot more to consider when you’re writing an SEO article, from keyword research to backlinking and social sharing.
Social media vs SEO: Which one is right for me?
So when it comes to social media vs SEO, which one should you put your money into?
The answer, of course, is that it depends on your business goals. If you’re looking to build relationships with customers and create a strong social media presence, then social media is the way to go. However, if you’re mostly concerned with increasing website traffic and generating leads, then investing in SEO is a better bet.
Of course, my suggestion is that a well-rounded marketing strategy should make use of both social media and SEO content. Whether that means posting once a month to your social and blog page or hiring a copywriter for your surf brand to complete the work for you, doing something is better than doing nothing in 99% of the cases.
To summarise, the social media vs SEO debate shouldn’t actually be a debate – it should instead be a collaboration between two very different but equally important marketing techniques.
So there you have it: social media vs SEO in a nutshell! I hope this article has helped to clear up any confusion and given you some insights into which marketing technique is right for your business. As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.