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What’s More Important: Social Media or SEO?

There’s a lot of buzz in marketing circles about the importance of using social media.  I read an article recently disclosing the results of a survey of businesses indicating that social media is the No. 1 area in which companies feel they need to be educated in order to be more successful.  And, the marketing company conducting the survey suggested that social media should be a “key part” of a company’s marketing strategy.

As an Internet marketing strategist for the past 20 years, I can tell you I disagree with those statements.

How relevant is social media for industrial or other B2B companies?

Why? Largely, it’s an issue of relevance.  Social media is not the panacea for every business’ marketing issues. While extremely valuable as a community-building and promotional tool for consumer-oriented companies that rely on brand awareness and reputation for sales, social media won’t have the same impact for industrial or other types of B2B companies.

Social media has its place, even for industrial and other B2B companies, but not as the primary focus of digital efforts heading into 2016.  Social media is best suited as one component in a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) program that integrates content marketing, not as the primary focus of a company’s entire marketing campaign.  Why is that? 

Where are the eyeballs you’re trying to reach?

First, consider how your audience uses the Internet.  An October 2015 survey of technical buyers by IHS Engineering360 showed that social media is actually toward the bottom of the list in resources used by businesses to locate information about products and services.  Only 15% of the respondents said they use social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for their business-related research.

What’s at the top of the list?  Search engines, namely Google, with 89% of the respondents saying they use search engines to find what they need.  If you look at the graph, you’ll see a number of other sources, like supplier websites, online catalogs, and online industry portal sites that also are initially found through a search engine.  And, the best way to be sure you’ll be found by your prospective customers – SEO.

How social media fits in with SEO

SEO encompasses a number of activities designed to improve the overall Internet footprint of any company.  It includes improving on-page content and coding that provide the necessary signals for a search engine to rank your site for the terms that are important to your business.

It also involves a wide array of content marketing activities that build backlinks to your website from third-party sites.  And, it involves social media, to help promote the special content you’ve developed.  SEO is the umbrella under which the whole gamut of Internet marketing activities falls, with the exception of pay-per-click advertising. 

So, rather than making social media the center of your 2016 marketing plans, the emphasis should continue to be on SEO, with social media as one small part of that mix.

For assistance in identifying the best SEO strategy or use of social media for your company, fill out our form, or contact John Inama at 330-666-5164 ext. 2104.