While it is impossible for companies to use a single dedicated strategy for online marketing, it is still possible to at least compare the results of two methods. Since the reign of Google as the new “yellow pages”, online presence has been dominated by search marketing. However, in the past 5 years or so, social networking has been chomping a rather large portion of the public’s overall online activity, thus giving more power to the advent of social media marketing as a legitimate marketing strategy.
And it works, too. Undeniably.
While no one disputes the success of social media as a tool to gain attention, the question is more on whether it has overcome search marketing as the most effective channel. Essentially, these two methods are not worlds apart; they both aim on making links to blogs and company websites more visible to the searching eye. But is the measure of effectiveness, as broad the term can be, only limited to getting desired traffic stats, likes or retweets?
It is therefore more logical to set our own definition of “effective”.
What is effective?
If we go back to the very nature of marketing, then conversion should not be part of the criteria, because that already steps into the territory of sales. Marketing is technically NOT about whether prospects buy the product or service, but whether or not they were able to learn about it.
Effectiveness also involves quality. It’s not only about how many people wish to learn about a product; it’s also about how many of those people are the right kind of market to sell to.
Social media marketing relies mainly on distribution. People who are on Facebook on Twitter don’t usually lurk around to look for marketing ads or links to external blogs or company websites. Most of the publicity that businesses gain from social media is based on how people share the information, which runs the danger of less probability.
Bottom line: People only share what they like. So for social media marketing to work, they have to like what they see.
Search marketing is a straight bullet
On the other hand, search marketing is a straight bullet. Searching gives people the liberty to choose what they want to search for. This way, there are no misrouted prospects because people, especially in the B2B setup, already know what they want. They still have to like what they see, just like in social media marketing, but the difference is, once they end up on a company’s blog via search, they’re already there.
The scope of the audience
What also makes the difference is the scope of the audience. Search marketing is consistently strong across all categories, may it be age, socioeconomic, geographical or educational status. Social media, though also very powerful, only attracts certain demographics.
For now it’s fair to say that social media still falls short in overthrowing search as king of the hill when it comes to really measuring the important fundamentals. Nevertheless, social media also has strengths in its own right, and we might be seeing the fall of search marketing in the future – but not any time soon.
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