Search Engine Marketing Vs. Social Media Marketing – Which Works Best?

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Planning to augment your online presence but confused about which route to take – Search Engine Marketing or Social Media Marketing? There are plenty of arguments in favor of both, and it would not be wrong to say that both have their respective merits. It’s true that search engines arrived here first, but the rapid strides social media has made in recent times, the phenomenal interest it has generated among users, and its global reach, all imply that it’s a force to reckon with.

Although social media has certainly dented the potential of search engines to a certain extent, the role of search engines remains to be significant even with millions of likes and shares on social media channels. Google data reveals that people have searched trillions of times on their network, which shows that search engines are still ahead in terms of being the leading source for traffic generation. However, it would be wrong to take decision based just on the numbers and traffic potential because eventually it all depends on your specific needs. For some projects, social media will be more appropriate whereas for others, the good old search engine marketing will do the trick.

Here are a few pointers to get you started in the right direction:

What’s your business?

If you are into a conventional corporate setup with a lot of technical data, for example – cloud technology, you will do better with search engine marketing. You can deploy a variety of keywords relevant to your business to get the desired leads for your products or services. Here, social media will play a limited, supportive role and search engine optimization and search engine marketing will call the shots. On the opposite end, if your business is based on a new paradigm, for example – a portal specializing in innovative home care products, you can generate a lot of interest via social media channels. Here, search engine marketing would be limited in its scope because people will not know what keyword to search for in the first place.

What’s your primary purpose?

So, what do you want to achieve – lead generation or customer engagement? If the former is your primary objective, you would do a lot better with search engine marketing, whereas in case of the latter, social media would be most appropriate. With search engine marketing, you can generate the required amount of traffic, as is needed for lead generation and the subsequent conversions. Customer engagement is focused more on brand building and getting to know customers’ needs.

Want quick results?

Need to promote a product or service in the shortest possible time? You can do that much faster with social media channels. All you will need is a great story that has the potential to go viral. Marketers have utilized this technique quite effectively for specific projects such as the launch and promotion of a new product or service. Viral videos, images, banners, games, apps, etc. can go viral within hours, giving a significant boost to the online marketing initiative. In comparison, the conventional search engine marketing may take a longer time to take effect.

Do you have a specific budget?

In broader terms, search engine marketing comes out much cheaper to initiate as well as maintain. The basic techniques of search engine marketing are so easy to deploy that you can do it on your own. Further, once you have done the basic work, you can continue to get results for several months. In comparison, social media may involve a lot of investments in professional expertise such as designers, content developers, copywriters, story writers, and other creative folks. Plus, there is this constant need to regularly come up with interesting content, be it images, videos or slogans, to keep the users engaged. This would imply a higher investment in time, efforts and overheads.

A single approach that would suffice all needs does not exist. It’s that simple. You have to identify your needs, and then try to find the best fit. Moreover, for any of your Internet marketing initiatives, you can’t just lean totally towards one thing and completely ignore the other. Something like that would be disastrous. You will have to find the perfect balance of search and social media based on your specific needs. Whether it would be a 50:50 mix, 60:40, 70:30 or any other ratio, you will have to dig deep and find out.



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