Search Vs Social: Function vs Personality

We’ve all seen the ‘Follow us on Facebook’ signs popping up here there and everywhere. It has marked yet another huge shift in marketing, and has led to a growing number of businesses ceasing their outbound advertising for their websites.

Search Marketing vs Social Media Marketing.

It was a huge turning point when my owner sat down for his morning bowl of Frosties, and began his standard morning read of the back of the box. But, something was different. A wide, engaged smile emerged across his face. I turned to see what was going on, gazing at Tony the Tiger. But it was not Tony that had so bewildered my owner, it was the large ‘Follow us on Facebook’ logo at the bottom of the box that had replaced the traditional Kelloggs ‘visit our website’ logo, which had now been withdrawn, withered and sobbing, to the small-print lettering on the side of the box.

Tony, you fickle, duplicitous corporate beast.

I’ve heard everyone in the Go Up office having this debate time and time again. It is something that I have found exciting, and have wanted to share.

The world of inbound-marketing is a very different landscape to what it was just two years ago. Back then, SEO reigned supreme, anchor text was king and people were still in hot debate as to whether or not social media was a fad or an unstoppable new force in human communication.

But then something switched. Google, in a telling move that marked its acceptance of the longevity of Social Media, heavily increased the importance of a strong Social Media presence by building Social Media Metrics into its algorithms.

In 2012, more and more businesses are moving budgets towards Social Media, and many are gaining huge success from this. We’ve all seen the big ‘Follow us on Facebook’ signs popping up here there and everywhere, from the sides of buses to shops windows, to cereal boxes. It has marked yet another huge shift in marketing, and has led to a growing number of businesses ceasing their outbound advertising for their websites.

Many have gone on to suggest that this marks the end of the dominance of Google, as Google is still the dominant force in hard revenue creation for most online ventures, but they do have a very good point.

But they do have a point. The majority of speculators are touting that Google and Facebook are going to become inseparable- that businesses will have no choice but to do both. If your strategy is for Google, there is an element of truth to this (due to integration of social media metrics into the search algorithm) but only an element as, unless you are a vast brand in a highly competitive industry, links are still much more important than social media metrics in the Google algorithm. But, if your strategy is for Social Media, then this is not the case. What is slowly emerging is a complete fragmentation in the industry. Businesses finally have a choice of how and where to properly allocate their marketing spend. Whereas online there has previously only been one feasible option, now there are two. And they are completely different.

The fact is simple. For some industries, Search Marketing is the way forward. For others it is Social Media Marketing. For others it is both. It depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Social Media Marketing

Pros

  • Easy to understand: no complicated algorithms to grasp.
  • Cheap: No links to buy.
  • Crosses regional, social and language borders.
  • Opportunity for rapid engagement.
  • Opportunity to create ‘friendly’ brands.
  • Great for brand exposure, and keeping your followers up-to-date with your brand.
  • Opportunity for viral content.

Cons

  • Not nearly as targeted as Google.
  • Most day-to-day businesses are unlikely to gain much success without viral content.
  • Creating viral content can be expensive.
  • Most viral-hopefuls fail to go viral.
  • Lacks the reliable, consistent revenue streams that search marketing provides.

Ideal Industries

  • Non buy-now indsutries.
  • Businesses looking at the long-term.
  • Big brand businesses that are already cleaning up in the SERPs and have big budgets to test in other spheres.
  • Small businesses in highly competitive industries, that lack the budget to get to page one of Google but have the spare time to get hype through Social Media.
  • Brands in low-search areas.
  • Industries that the Google algorithm cannot successfully and accurately ‘sort’

Kelloggs: A big budget company that cares more about people engaging with them as a friendly brand then finding them through Google. Their main marketing platform is their shelving positions in the supermarkets, where people still do the vast bulk of their grocery-shopping. This is slowly changing as more and more and more people grocery shop online, but online stores are built much in the same way as offline ones. The only search marketing that Kelloggs should really worry about is coming up first when searching ‘cereal’ in the Tesco or Walmart online shop.

Coca Cola: People aren’t prone to searching ‘best soft drink’ they just know intrinsically: Coca Cola. Because of their pre-exisiting fame, and the fact that they are already dominant in Google, they are looking to expand their horizons into Social Media, in an attempt to make their brand ‘interactive’.

Private Schools and Universities: Seeing who goes where in your peer group is a major deciding factor in the school that you choose. Social Media makes this possible at the click of a button.

Gucci: Google’s fashion results are still clumsy. The question is, how do you decide who ranks first out of Top Shop, Gucci, Versace, H & M or Armani for the search term ‘women’s fashion’? They are all big brands, with big reaches, big followings and their own niches. The answer is that there is no real answer (although at the moment of writing it is Top Shop). Social Media on the other hand allows them to target their niches, letting people see which brands their friends are wearing and even, dare I be so lame as to suggest, ‘which celeb is wearing what’.

Music: Again, not something that is easily sorted by the Google algorithm, but something that is completely contingent upon peer recommendations.

Search Marketing

Pros

Is the single most targeted marketing platform in history.

Allows businesses to target buyers at the exact moment that they are deciding on the purchase.

Provides a proven, trackable, reliable revenue stream.

Allows buyers to find what they want, when they want it.

Encourages competition, so that buyers can sort through many different brands in search of what they are after.

Is quick, easy and informative.

Cons

  • Can be extremely expensive, pending on the competitiveness of the industry.
  • Small brands in competitive industries will struggle to get good rankings.
  • The Google algorithm finds it very difficult to sort generic search terms for certain industries, such as fashion, music etc.
  • For it to work, the user must have a very good idea of what they want before they search.

Ideal Industries:

  • Businesses with an immediate call to action.
  • Businesses that want a sustainable, constant revenue stream.

Trades: Any business that will find it difficult to find an interesting angle to push out through social media, but what to gain access to a vast, immediate audience.

Hotels, Travel and Lesure: Any travel location, so that people can search ‘Rome hotels’, ‘London Museums’, or ‘Things to do in Bali’ and come up with a wide array of possibilities.

Service Based Businesses: Any business offering a service. This could be Finance, Law, Design, Marketing, Health, Fitness etc. These are services that people are actively looking for, in a targeted way (targeted by service, region and sector). These are industries that traditionally perform significantly better in Search than in Social Media, as people like to a) compare b) research and c) find right now.