Any conversation regarding internet marketing is sure to include multiple mentions of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar social networking platforms. Social media has dominated the spotlight due to the large number of individuals in the marketing industry declaring it to be the most effective method for increasing profits.
It is true that several Fortune 500 companies have demonstrated the efficacy of social media as a promotional tool. But should social media really become a marketing priority for businesses that don’t have the luxury of massive budgets? And what about search engine optimization (SEO)? Has SEO become an irrelevant tool? The answer is no. Social media can play an important role in corporate marketing when done correctly, but for small or medium-sized businesses, SEO still reigns supreme.
SEO Brings in Customers
Social media platforms allow people to share links regarding products, services, and brands with their networks. This sharing can eventually lead to increased site traffic and possibly a boost in profits for you company. But sharing links is not the primary purpose of social media sites. To put it simply, people use social media as a medium for communicating and interacting with those in their network. Sharing links is the online equivalent of making a product recommendation for a friend. And that person may or may not act on your recommendation which illuminates a crucial limitation to social media marketing.
Utilizing SEO on the other hand improves the ranking of your website in search engine results pages which means people who are searching for relevant keywords related to your business are more likely to view your site. Since these individuals are actively searching for the products or services you offer, they are much more likely to become paying customers.
Why the Hype about Social Media?
Reports in popular and tech media have made grand claims concerning the effect of social on customer behavior. They assume that recommendations from those in a customer’s personal network will be weighed more heavily than search engine results. But research has shown that this assumption may actually be flawed.
A targeted study by Monetate concerning the traffic sources for e-commerce sites showed that a relatively small percentage of web traffic comes from social media (around 2%). In contrast, search engine results constitute the bulk of traffic – up to 34% in the study. It can be inferred from the results of that study that social media makes a much smaller contribution to website traffic, and by extension e-commerce profits, than most people believe. Search engine protocol compatibility is the real driving force behind internet marketing success.
What Does It All Mean?
Social media can indeed be an important internet marketing tool, particularly in terms of generating conversation about your company’s brand. However, people generally view social media as a networking venue rather than a source of information on products and services. Social media sites are currently attempting to broaden their marketing appeal through collaboration with e-commerce. Twitter is already developing instant commerce in partnership with America Express. Social media also uses trust between members of a network to increase business. But in terms of new customer acquisition, there really is nothing that currently outstrips SEO in driving web traffic and maximizing e-commerce profits. Therefore, the best marketing plans are an amalgamation of SEO and social media strategies.