You already know what SEO and SMO have in common. It’s time to discuss the differences. The main difference, as expected, is in the channels. As you can see in the very definitions of the terms, SEO is about search engines and SMO is about social media.
When we talk about “search engines” we don’t refer solely to Google, Yahoo! and MSN. (remember that Yahoo! and MSN are search directories): we refer to all of them, including those little, less important SE that might bring some traffic, at times surprisingly well targeted (as it happens with Jayde). SMO includes all the social media means: blogs, social networks (MyBlogLog, SpicyPage), bookmarking sites (digg, reddit, fuelmyblog), podcasts, media sharing sites (flickr, YouTube, box) and much more.
SEO and SMO don’t always target the same audiences. At least not yet. SMO is rather new, and it takes time for business people to understand its real power and the impact on the development of the Web. Social media revolutionizes the Web, but its users are mainly young people looking for entertainment. The showbiz industry and niche related businesses already take advantage of this tool, but companies that sell light cure resins for example, don’t need to advertise their products at MySpace.
Another difference – quite crucial – is that SEO requires less effort. You need to actively participate in the social media communities in order to get proper results. You need to do that as often as possible, continuously, manifesting the same interests as your audience, communicating, interrogating, answering even the silliest questions and try to increase your community by providing value to its members. To define the whole concept of proper SMO is not that difficult: become an active resource for your readers.