without comments Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
While they are not mutually exclusive, many small businesses are making a mistake by emphasizing social media versus search engine marketing (SEM for fans of acronyms). True, Fortune 500 companies are pushing social media to engage people, but they already have the brand recognition and resources for an effective social media campaign. If you’re a small business, odds are your priority is to get new customers.
Here are three reasons why search engine marketing trumps social media:
1. Search is how people find things they want to buy.
If you’re looking for a new local restaurant, are you more likely to use Google or Twitter to search for it?
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al are for those who already know the company with the product or service. While you might check out social media to see comments on the company, people ready to buy something are far more likely to use a search engine.
2. Search finds small businesses regardless of brand-recognition.
Search engines don’t really care if you’re an established brand–if you invest in press releases, pay-per-click advertising, or invest some effort in obtaining organic search rank, even the smallest business can be found.
If you can solve their problem, searchers probably don’t care if you’re a recognized brand.
3. Social media marketing is hard work.
Most small businesses mistakenly assume social media is easy and inexpensive. But few invest the time and effort it requires to launch a successful social media campaign.
If you’re trying to get new customers, simply posting “ads” on Twitter won’t help. People aren’t going to follow you to see nothing but commercials. It’s SOCIAL media–you need to engage and entertain people to get them to follow and participate.
Consider how major companies use social media. During the last Super Bowl, Anheuser-Busch ran an ad about a man raising a Clydesdale colt. The ad had tremendous emotional appeal. At the end, they invited people to submit names for it on Facebook and Twitter. So those “inexpensive” social media accounts were promoted by a multi-million dollar ad and press release campaign. Over 60,000 people submitted a name.
Not many small businesses have the time or resources to promote social media in a manner that gains huge numbers of followers. Social media is not simply “build it and they will come”–it requires creativity, a sustained effort, and a substantial investment of time.
If your goal is to gain customers, search engine marketing is far more appropriate for most small businesses.