I met with a new potential client recently, and her main concern related to social media. First things first – she needed Facebook and Instagram and what was that other one? Pinterest, and was it ChatSnap? Something like that. Whatever you call it, she needed it, because all businesses need to be on social media, right?

When I recommended a website and a blog supplemented with a few relevant social media platforms, the value of that marketing package was a little lost on her. Wasn’t a Facebook page like a website these days? It’s not, and so I wished her well and made a mental note to write this very post. Today, we’re looking at social media versus search engine marketing – the showdown.

social media marketing

When it comes to specific demographic segments – I’m looking at you, 18-26 year olds – social media can be heavily influential. An Ecoconsultancy report showed that three-quarters of folks in that age group pulled the trigger on something only after getting recommendations on their social platforms.

Another bonus of social media is the ripple effect. When you have an established presence on major social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+, peer recommendations tend to expand your reach. Connections, whether they’re friends or followers, see the actions you take – tagging brands, liking pages, rating companies, whatever – and this can be perceived as an authentic seal of approval.

The real-time nature of social media also improves accessibility to and from your customers or clients. If you have an unhappy customer blasting you all over your public Facebook wall, you have a much better opportunity to turn that frown upside down. Unfortunately, a negative review on a third-party site like Yelp! or Google reviews can be something that pops up in search engine marketing for all eternity, no matter how well you handled the situation once it caught your attention.

search engine marketing

Let me just pause here to clarify that the term “search engine marketing” typically refers to paid campaigns, but I’m using it here for its original definition, when it referred to and included paid search and organic SEO. So for our purposes, we’re discussed search engine marketing that doesn’t cost you per click.

Okay, play.

If your dishwasher broke tomorrow, how would you find someone to fix it? It used to be the phonebook, but for many of us now, it’s Google. That Ecoconsultancy study revealed that over 60% of us tend to use search engines for product research. And when you think about it, most of us researching online know exactly what we need. When you’re using keywords that people are searching, good things happen. And those good things are people finding exactly what they need on your site.

Other benefits of a great website and great content, two elements of SEO? I wrote about it over here, but here’s a quick recap:

  • Establishes your business as an authority in your industry
  • Shows your business is alive and well
  • Encourages quality inbound links, grows your site and improves your ranking and visibility

And FYI – an article over at SEOmoz  points out that organic results are a whopping 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than the paid search search results, which is probably because internet shoppers are savvier than ever, can suss out the sponsored stuff from a mile away, and organic results are just more respected these days.

What’s the point of all this, again?

Remember, social media and search engine marketing are both intended to drive traffic to your website by improving your visibility to the right people. There are lots of ways to make this happen, but it’s these two methods in particular that can be a struggle for the average bear. Sometimes, the issue is in convincing someone of the value of one method or the other (case in point above). And in other cases, it’s in determining how best to invest time and money across both methods.

If you’re wondering how to do that, I can walk you through it. Let’s get some coffee and talk it out. How’s next week?

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