Search Engine vs. Social Advertising

14 Mar

A common question we receive from our small business partners is if they should do search engine advertising or social advertising, or perhaps both. There are pros and cons to both and your business type and goals play a big part of the decision.

Active vs Passive Consumers

At a very high level, the major difference between search engine and social advertising is an active vs. passive consumers. One consumer is actively searching for your product or service, the other is passive and seeing your ad as they browse their social media.

Active – Search Engine Advertising

What we may consider low hanging fruit – capture those that are actually searching for your product or service. You should be investing in some search engine marketing to capture the audience that is actively pursuing what you offer.

This works well for longstanding products/services as well as new ones. However, the newness of the product or service may limit the potential. Let’s say you are offering a never-seen before kitchen widget that can instantly remove seeds from any fruit. Amazing, right? Your patent is all good, manufacturing is in place and producing this widget, and now it is time to advertise.

The issue is that there isn’t a lot of searching for “fruit seed remover” or “how to remove seeds from fruit.” You could include individual fruit names plus some variation of “seed remover,” and see some traction, but not an overwhelming amout. Another alternative is more general terms like “kitchen gadgets.” This can get expensive and not result in a lot of conversions. (Although as a self-confessed kitchen gadget lover, I do use general terms and buy random gadgets, just don’t tell my husband!) This is a great example when passive social advertising may help.

Passive – Social Advertising

As potential consumers review their social media, they can seen and interact with advertising. Targeting consumers is behind the scenes, using one or more targeting methods including location, demographic and interest targeting. Essentially, targeting the right people with the right message.

There is an educated guess behind the targeting, but simply targeting does not mean the person is in-market for the item/service being sold. They are not actively searching, they are passively seeing the ad. This does make for a great awareness campaign, that can result in direct purchases for those brand new items that people don’t know they should be searching for because they don’t know it exists yet.

Just think about how many times an ad in your feed on your social media feed showed you a new item that you at least showed some interest in, if not bought it. And even if it was interest because it was new and something you had not seen before, you may have purchased it later.

Jen D

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