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SEO or Social Media, which one is better for your business?

One of the most common challenges of growing a small business is marketing due to the time and effort required in finding the right strategy.

In this article, we will discuss how to navigate through the booming marketing strategies, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Social Media Marketing. This includes the positives and negatives of both strategies, and which one is best suited for your type of business.

Social Media Strategy: Positives in Numbers and Attitude

Utilizing Social Networking in a business marketing strategy is all about attracting and engaging the right audience. With 3.49 billion active Social Media users and an average of 7.6 social accounts per person, a business holds many possibilities to market their brand.

Social media’s quick pace allows information to reach more public in a short amount of time. In regards to persuasive techniques, these audiences steer towards Pathos: emotion. If a business were to post how their employees volunteered at animal shelters, the post would create an impassioned connection for users who love animals and would want to share it. Now, that firm created traffic for itself. This strategy works for businesses whose goal is to engage and connect with their audience primarily at an emotional level.

The Downside: Time-consuming, ephemeral and expensive

Despite the fast flow and considerable crowds of social networking, the positives in this strategy are also the negatives. The pace allows businesses to share information immediately, but most time is wasted writing and creating content for different sites. Social media requires a constant workflow of information and relative media that keeps up with modern trends. This requires more time and effort than a business can afford.

For businesses with the purpose of selling a service or product that requires further analysis, social media platforms shouln’t be the first priority. The hefty audience numbers appeal to any firm wanting to market themselves, but those audience numbers will not return in revenue. Return numbers from different media communications measure in engagement: sharing, retweets, likes, comments, etc. Social users do not go on platforms with the thought of buying something, but with the thought of engagement and entertainment.

Search Engine Marketing: It’s All About the Long Term

The higher portion of website traffic is done through Search Engines. Search Engines help users find what they are looking for based on keywords and phrases.
The strategy itself is more concrete and consistent, making it enticing for a business looking for that steady commitment.

SEO provides the tools for organizations to help find phrases most relevant to their industry using consumer data. The wording consumers use in Search Engines brings countless results. Once those phrases are identified, a website, its content, and a constant flow of external material should be optimized for them.

How does this work in the real word?

  • Consumers will look up your reviews on Yelp, check your ambiance on Instagram, or activities on Facebook, normally, and sometimes only, after they found you on Google.
  • Consumers also make impulsive decisions when stumbling upon your brand on Social Media, this very well, as long as your ads are more engaging than the competitions (video ads work better), and you keep a steady budget to pay the Social Media Networks to show your content to the right audience.
  • Often, Small Businesses jump to Social Media Ads because it’s faster and easier to boost posts and see many likes, rather than to Search Engines to gain a reputable position and ranking.
  • For more important buying decisions, consumers who met your brand on Social Media will research yours and similar businesses on Google before making a commitment, often associating the highest-ranked businesses with a perception of reputation.

The Downside: Slow and Difficult

It takes time for Search Engines to index the content of a Search Engine optimization campaign, your business won’t rank on the desired phrases for weeks or even months.

The more competitive the keyword, the harder it is to rank, your content, campaign intensity, and overall strategy needs to be at the level of your competitors, or higher; defining a niche is crucial.

The same way Facebook decided one day that none of your fans will ever see any of your content unless you pay, Google is out there for a profit too, but at least they still have the incentive of being the go-to Search Engine so they need to keep their search results relevant. The problem is that in order to keep the quality as a Search Engines, they keep updating their Algorithms, meaning, the criteria they use to decide which website should be ranked higher. Your SEO campaign needs to constantly be up to date to these standards and that requires the right expertise and constant training.

But, What Works Best For Who?

Both Social Media and SEO strategies have ups and downs, but it is all about which strategy works best for which type of businesses and industries.

It is already established that social networking does not work for businesses selling a product in the long term. In this case, Social Media is better suited for complementary purposes such as “Retargeting” (once you see a product on a website you’ll be reminded in Social Media over and over again). For those types of organizations, SEO is the better fit. 95% of people turn to Search Engines (and Amazon, but that’s for another article) when wanting to buy something. They already have a relative idea of what they want, and a Search Engine is the best place to find it.

For industries that are primarily emotionally driven, tangible, and/or makes direct contact with their consumers, then Social Media platforms are a suitable option. Palpable products become more successful when there is an emotional connection with consumers. For example, you own a production company that is about to release the next big horror movie. If you were to post the trailer on a Social Media platform, then users who like horror movies will like, share, etc. This creates traffic and further spreads the word about your movie.

Before Making A Decision Ask Yourself:

After reading this article, you may wonder which strategy is best for your business. Choosing what is best for your organization is based on many factors. So ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is your main goal to promote a brand or to sell something? If so then what type of product are you selling?
  • How do consumers behave when they are in need of that product?
  • What is your general audience? Do they focus on the technical aspects of your business or the emotional ones?
  • Are you trying to sell directly to consumers? Impulse buyers or people that will check options?
  • What are you hoping to gain from the marketing strategy? More profit or more consumer engagement? One-time sales, long term recurring clients or brand awareness?

By answering these questions for yourself, you narrow down to what marketing strategy will be the perfect fit for you. It may be one strategy or it may be a combination, but knowing what suits your organization is only the first step.