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Should small businesses choose social media or SEO for their marketing strategy?

Companies who operate online are faced with a choice when determining how to best manage their business marketing. Should SEO-led or a social media-led strategy be used to promote the company and win more clients, and what are the differences and advantages between the 2 methods?

Unless you already have some knowledge of SEO there is a good chance that the demands of running a business don’t allow you the time to learn the ins and outs of search engine optimization. Add to the the fact that the technicalities of SEO can be overwhelming for a newbie, then it can be a daunting prospect.

SEO agencies are plentiful so you could always employ the services of an SEO specialist, but depending how big your website is, and how much work needs to be done, there is the cost factor to take into account. Additionally, SEO is a long game with tweaks, fixes, and site monitoring needed on a month-to-month basis, and for small companies who are operating on a tight budget, funds may not always be available.

Social media on the other hand provides a number of advantages when it comes to cost and eas of use. Here are some of the reasons why a social media marketing strategy may be the better choice for small businesses.

Familiarity with platforms

If you are a business owner who does not have extensive technical knowledge and is working with limited funds, then social media may be the best options for your marketing efforts. As most people already use social media for their personal connections, it is likely you will already have some knowledge of social platforms and how they operate. This can be used to your advantage.

When starting a social media strategy it can be advisable to being with those platforms that you are already using. This can be helpful in a couple of ways.

  1. You know the social channel and the tools and features it offers.
  2. You can request likes and shares from your existing connection to grow your audience quickly.

Leveraging your friends and family which already follow your personal account can expand your reach across their connections and friends-of-friends to raise awareness about your business.

More cost effective

We have already touched on the fact that a dedicated SEO specialist or agency can be expensive, so by comparison social media marketing is the more economical marketing method. The majority of social media platforms and their tools are free. This gives you a powerful array of business marketing features at your fingertips.

If you need to use high quality images for your posts, there are free tools available like Unsplash or Pexels, and for eye-catching graphics, software like Canva also has a free option. With the availability of free images and design packages, incredible graphically rich posts can be generated for your social accounts, even with limited artistic ability.

No technical knowledge required

A huge bonus of choosing social media marketing for your business promotion is the fact that there is zero technical knowledge required. Unlike SEO where you will need to focus energy on thing like 404 pages and broken links, social media is a relatively simple task to manage. There is no special training needed and social platforms are made to be reasonable intuitive so that they are accessible to everyone from young to old. If you do require a bit more in-depth knowledge, social platforms typically provide knowledge bases and tutorials so you can get your questions answered easily.

In addition, there is a vast wealth of knowledge available online which describes tricks and techniques that you can use for your own accounts. If you want to take a deep dive into social media marketing and learn all of the tactics and methods which can be used, there are literally hundreds of online courses available. Many of these courses are relatively inexpensive and a good amount are completely free.

Easy outsourcing options

If there is a negative to social media, it is the time needed to create attractive content. Posts and graphics need to be crafted and to keep a full content calendar, post creation is an ongoing process. There are scheduling tools that can help you to curate content, and reschedule existing posts to keep your accounts updated, but you run the risk of posts becoming repetitive if they are rescheduled too frequently.

A slick solution to the problem is to outsource your post creation to a social media marketing service which will have experienced graphic designers ready to create on brand content for your company. This hands-off approach means that you can preserve your valuable time and dedicate it to running the business, and it means that you will have top quality social content.

There is of course, a cost that will need to be considered when going down this route, but when compared to the price of SEO it is a much more affordable option which can be appealing for small business users.

Audience targeting options

Reaching the right people and getting your product or service in front of your future customers may be more effective using social media. Your post can be scheduled to go live when you know your audience will be online, and things like tagging and hashtags can help to position your content exactly where you want it.

Making connections and collaborating with other account owners can help small businesses to cross promote services and products to each others audience and widen reach for both companies. Using a combination of appealing content and finding appropriate hashtags to use can also help you to get your content in front of the people who matter.

Social selling functionality

If you are in the ecommerce space and sell products and items on your site it can be complicated to upload everything to your site and handle things like inventory and payment gateways. Social platforms like Instagram have recognized the challenges faced by non-technical users and have added the ability to sell products directly from their accounts.

Catalogs of items can be viewed directly from your social channel and purchases can be completed easily. This is extremely helpful for companies who wish to advertise their items directly to their audience and it also allows discounts, deals, and special offers to be placed right in front of the customer, increasing the chance of an online purchase. This provides online shops with an advantage over website sales as their products are visible directly on the social feeds of their followers, without the need for businesses to try and attract traffic to their websites.

Direct messaging ability

If you operate a website to sell your products and services you can communicate with your customers reasonable well via email or a chat-bot, but there are some disadvantages to this. Emails may not always be seen right away, resulting in your customer going elsewhere, and chat bots, though effective, can require some technical expertise to set up correctly.

Social media channels have come a long way in terms of communication and offer direct messaging tools to allow you to converse in real time with your customers. Some platforms have features like different inboxes to segregate messages by importance, and other offer integrated video calling so you can quickly move to live chat at the touch of a button.

This allows you to instantly build a rapport with your customer and answer any questions that they have with a real time, face to face conversation. For clients who are not sure about committing to a purchase, being able to speak with a company representative in this way can be a compelling reason to buy.

Video posts and live sharing tools

Along with the ability to make video calls, social media platforms have the ability to share video posts and other video based content. Statistics show that people are consuming video more and more, and it is becoming the preferred social medium to access and digest information. Websites can fall behind in this area. Video content can be embedded into web pages and updated with reasonable consistency, but this just doesn’t compete with being able to share frequent video posts or the live video features which most social platforms possess.

Live video is a powerful tool for small businesses who wish to grow their audience, as we know that video is a preferred way of viewing content, live video is even more compelling. Sharing updates and speaking directly to you audience can drive a real connection, and as live video’s are announced to alert viewers, it can be an effective method of gaining followers and promoting your business.

Unlimited reach and growth

You only have to scroll through a few social media accounts to see that they can have anything from a few hundred followers, up to a few hundred thousand, or in the case of famous public figures and celebrities, even a million! While you may not dictate quite the same audience levels as Christiano Ronaldo or ‘The Rock’, the truth is that social media account growth is virtually unlimited. Do it right and you can explode your audience numbers to unprecedented levels, something that may take years to accomplish with traffic to your website.

Regular posting, engaging content, and things like deals or free giveaways can help you to attract people to your accounts in high numbers. Business promotions and keeping your audience informed of the latest news can inspire likes and shares to reach even more followers. Many account owners can grow their numbers to high levels just by posting consistently, and for small businesses, it can mean more sales and clients.

Monetization opportunities

Selling products using the tools on your social accounts is one way to generate revenue from your social channels. But grow your accounts in the way that we have just mentioned, and you may be able to make money in different ways. Along with making income from social selling, you might be able to command payments for promoting other people’s products on your accounts.

Once your business channels swell to a large number of followers you will reach the status of ‘Influencer’ and other companies will pay handsomely for you to promote their products to your audience. Depending on how many followers you have the amount you can charge will vary. For 10,000 followers you might be able to get a nice bit of extra cash on the side, but 100,000 may mean that your social channels become a revenue stream all of their own.

Paid advertising options

Pay per click advertising can be expensive, but if you have a niche product that is in demand then it may be profitable to invest in paid ads. The nice thing about using social media for your business marketing is that advertising is available if you want it. You may decide that ads are not needed for your particular business, but it is nice to know that the option is there.

For a less technical solution that is much cheaper than PPC ads, important or promotional posts can be easily boosted with just a click of the mouse. This can be a cost effective way for companies to highlight a single post that they wish to draw attention to, and the price paid can be set when boosting the post.

Lead generation and information capture

As you have a dedicated audience of followers on your social accounts then why not take advantage of it? Forms and lead generation features can be integrated with your social accounts to gather information. Potential customers who have questions, or people that are interested in your products and services can add their information.

This can help you to target interested parties and provide you with information like their email address or phone number. Lead capture forms can be added as a call to action on posts and paid ads, and many followers will provide their information to you willingly. If you are trying to build a database of leads, or want to start marketing using emails or other tools, this can be a great way to capture the information that you need.

Final Words

As a marketing tool, social media channels have come to the fore in recent years. While many businesses still need a website to explain their products or services, social media marketing has become a viable way to connect with audiences and customers and drive sales. SEO can drive traffic to websites in huge numbers when done correctly, but with the technical issues and cost surrounding effective SEO performance, it may not be feasible as a marketing option for many smaller companies.

Social media offers large returns for a minimal investment and with the veratile range of features offered by different social platforms it is possible to handle outreach, promotion, customer service, and lead generation all from one channel. This makes social media marketing a powerful marketing tools to attract users and drive real connections with clients and customers.

If you are considering outsourcing your marketing efforts then Smarcomms has a team of experts ready to help you. See some of our work on our website and get started on your social media marketing strategy in just a couple of minutes.

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