Social vs. Search: which should you prioritise as a small business owner?

Social vs. Search: which should you prioritise as a small business owner?

When small business owners first start out, they’re often faced with a dilemma: should they focus their efforts on creating content for search, or should they spend time building a following on social media?

Many startups often take the social route, believing it’s faster and more likely to direct traffic to their site. However, digital marketing isn’t that simple. What many SME businesses fail to realise is how user behaviour varies from platform to platform, and how combining the two is often the most effective approach.

This article will explore the differences between social and search and explain how small business owners can successfully use both to stand out online.

 

Social

First off, let’s explore why social is important.

Social media is fast. Posting something on Facebook or Twitter can take a matter of minutes and allows you to connect with your customers almost instantly. It’s why customer service departments regularly use social platforms to resolve queries and complaints.

Posting on social media isn’t intensive either. Putting together a post can take as little as sourcing an image and coming up with an effective call to action. It’s also a lot easier to tailor your content and know which approaches are yielding the best results thanks to engagement metrics like shares, likes and comments.

Many businesses use social marketing for this very reason – the speed with which you can target key demographics and optimise your efforts is unrivalled. However, the workload to produce social content shouldn’t be underestimated. It may be less complicated, but the frequency is far greater. Maintaining a presence on social media requires regular bursts of activity and keeping on top of customer engagement to maximise outcomes.

 

Search

Search is a powerful tool because it engages users who are more likely to make a purchase. A good way to illustrate this is by comparing how people use social content with content found using search.

When someone is scrolling through Facebook, they do so passively – they’re often bored and looking for something to interest them. This means it’s unlikely they’re ready to engage in a customer journey or make a purchase. In contrast, when someone enters a search term or query into google, they’re already actively looking for something.

This is where search content comes into its own. Search content can take advantage of this online activity and direct customers to the top of your sales funnel. You can then use your website copy to manoeuvre customers towards products and services and convert either through sales or leads.

One of the major downsides of search content is that it requires a lot of investment. Search content is linked to the delivery system itself, so everything from the keywords and subheadings to the links and the tone needs to be considered. The content has to offer users something tangible too, whether it’s the answer to a question, an infographic or something useful like a free tool.

 

The Dilemma

The dilemma, of course, is that both of these routes take time and resources and connect with people differently. Social can help your business amass a following that engages with and shares your content, whereas search content is more likely to boost your search rankings and attract users to your website who are more likely to make a purchase.

Combining the two and taking a holistic approach to your digital marketing is often the best approach. The reason for this is that one month your main source of traffic might be from Google and the next month, maybe because of an algorithm update, the majority of your website traffic could be coming from social. Spending time on both social and search will ensure that when this happens, you’re able to adjust budgets to minimise losses and make sure you always have a healthy number of visitors reaching your site.

There are also strategies that you can employ for both search and social. For instance, many business owners don’t realise that you can use the same keyword research and on-site optimisation tactics for your social media campaigns. Likewise, search content isn’t the only way to improve your Google rankings. Social shares and likes are monitored by search engines and have been proven to contribute towards higher rankings, particularly on Bing.

Don’t forget that social is a place where customers go to confirm the trustworthiness of a search result. Almost two thirds of consumers research products before buying them through search engines. This means you can use your social marketing to reinforce any of the positive messages users encounter when searching for your business or products online.

For more advice visit: www.affinityagency.co.uk

Susannah Griffin
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