Technology has made it possible for marketers to connect with their customers and prospects in ways that were not possible before. Over the recent years, two promising areas of marketing became a significant part of the marketing mix: social media and search engine optimization.
It soon became very clear that to succeed in today’s increasingly online world, you would need to tap search engines and social media for your marketing efforts. The discussion is not which of these two you should implement, but how to implement them. In an ideal world where marketing has unlimited budget, it would be a good idea to do these campaigns side by side. But as budgets and reality go, there are times when you would need to prioritize one over the other.
The thing is, both social media marketing and search engine optimization satisfy the aims of online marketing: to bring traffic to your Web site, to generate leads and to boost online sales.
The question is which one should you prioritize? The short answer is it depends. It depends on your business situation and how you could use either to further your strengths or patch your weaknesses. To decide, you would need to know the strengths of each one.
When to Prioritize Search
Search is still how most people look for a business. A 2010 study from eConsultancy showed that six out of ten people use search engines to help them find products and learn more about them.
In effect, SEO helps you introduce yourself to people who would otherwise not know about your business.
Properly implemented, SEO helps you build the best practices in marketing your Web site, allows you to have great content that you could use over and over again, and helps you know what your customers and potential clients are interested in. These are benefits that would be to your advantage for a very long time.
The Skinny: If you are a new business that is looking to have a stronger customer base, you might want to start with SEO first. It does not only get customers through the door, but it also helps you get to know their behavior so that you could offer more of what they want.
When to Prioritize Social
On the other hand, social media helps businesses engage their customers and turn them into brand advocates. It is on social media where people usually get social recommendations. Nielsen reports that nine out of ten people trust recommendations from friends and other people they know, while seven out of ten rely on online consumer reviews.
This means that if somebody likes you on Facebook or says good things about you on Twitter, you can expect a majority of their friends to try out your products or services. So let’s say a happy diner takes a photo of your food and your restaurant and posts it on his or her Facebook profile, then that is as good as recommending your restaurant to his or her network.
Another function of social media is in delivering prompt customer service. You can answer a question about your products and services as they are posted and you can respond to criticism in real time. Social media allows you to give your customers the service they need and want in an efficient and prompt manner.
As such, social media can help you build more personal relationships with your customers.
The Skinny: If you have built a strong customer base or have a strong brand identity, then you could focus on social media to help you cement loyalty in your existing customers and have them do your marketing for you.
Why Do Both?
The thing is, social media marketing and SEO should not be mutually exclusive activities. For example,
Google has made social particularly important when it comes to SEO. In short, social improves your SEO. It also brings different sets of customers to your Web site and it would do your business well to cover all bases. What’s more, you need quality content to make SEO work, and it is basically the same thing that is needed for successful social campaigns.