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Social media marketing vs. search engine marketing – which is the best investment?

Social media marketing vs. search engine marketing‘s Kristi Hines wrote an in-depth look at social media marketing verses search engine marketing and outlines not only how they are theoretically superior to each other but how they both help each other. It is our assertion that they are intertwined in a way that can’t and shouldn’t be separated, but we share Hines’ outline below in an effort to help those who are aiming to invest time or money in one and only one of the two choices.

How search beats social:

  • More people look for business on search
  • Know what people are searching for
  • Buy your way into the results

How social beats search:

  • Peer recommendations happen with the click of a like
  • Respond to criticism in real time
  • Buy your way in front of your target audience

How search engine marketing helps social:

  • Keyword research for social media
  • On-site optimization for social media

How social media marketing helps search:

  • Better reputation management
  • Confirm a search result is trustworthy

So which should you invest in?

So they both help each other and in many ways are inseparable, so why do people emphasize social media marketing so much more today than search? Is it because it’s shinier and newer and therefore more fun and interesting to talk about, or is it because SEO seems so much more about math than personal touch?

Neither. Social reigns supreme because in theory it is free and a business person can pick it up and try it out and study online how they should do it. There is a lingering misconception that social media is free, and while signing up for an account is, your time learning and using a social network isn’t free, nor is it free when you pay to go to a conference hoping they’ll give you a checklist of how to tweet and when, or when you buy a book about Facebook marketing, or ultimately when you pay your assistant to blog for you. All things considered, social is actually more expensive because with search, you can theoretically spend an hour researching keywords, invest $100 in Google AdWords and be on your way toward building your pipeline because the learning curve isn’t holding you back.

The best strategy is to focus on both – the SEO of your site and the social nature of your offering and if you have any budget for either, you should spend it because the learning curve of free tools is exponentially more expensive.

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Written By

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.


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