Search or Social

For a number of years we have been hosting monthly coffee hours at Stevens 470. These one hour presentations are a complimentary program we offer to the business community in order to share information on marketing, design, and web technology. We enjoy connecting with the interesting mix of people from a variety of businesses that gather around our conference table each month.

When we ask people from this business community what topics they would like to learn more about, the response is very often "social media." It seems that no matter what industry people are from, social media is top of mind as a marketing challenge. It is much less often that someone responds with search engine optimization (seo), even though it can have a profound effect on the traffic to their website.

Search is for Customer Acquisition

As I was doing some research on search engine optimization and the benefits of good search rankings, I was reminded of the difference between search and social. Not that search and social are easily confused, but they are both online marketing channels that compete for time and resources.

The difference, and it is big, is that people engaged in search have a need, and most often it is an immediate one. There is a reason they are looking for something. Effectively coming up in search results can put you in front of people that don’t already know your brand, but are in need of your products and services. And that can make them your customer.

Businesses should take advantage of the fact that 70% of searchers are looking for a local product or service, and over 80% of people searching for local information will take action within a day. I encourage you to register your website for local search. This will let you control the quality of your local search results, ensure the accuracy of the information, and help increase your search ranking. Also, take note that over half of all those searches will be done on a mobile device which indicates that your website should be mobile compatible.

Social is for Socializing

I am a believer in using social media for business and it certainly offers new communication possibilities for retail stores. In the realm of social media you can create community, engage with your customers, let them talk back to you and each other, and appropriately promote products and sales. But your social media followers are not really looking to make a purchase. The results generated by your social media engagement will be different from the results generated by search. At this point in time, when it comes to acquiring new customers and making sales, search is going to be more effective.

When allocating marketing efforts in both search and social, please keep your objectives clear and know what you can expect from each. The chart “Search versus Social” will provide you with a look at how consumers are currently using search and social.

Search or Social Chart

Respondents replied to "frequency you turn to search versus a social network"
Research by Conductor at
This article originally appeared in the NAMTA eNews on June 12, 2013

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