By Anna Seacat
Social media marketing, what is more accurately described as online engagement marketing, should be assigned a supporting role to greater marketing disciplines – one of those being search engine marketing. The basis for this perception is grounded in the fact that a business today, even a brick-and mortar establishment, needs to be found on the internet to be able to sell products and services, as well as engage with stakeholders. This act of being (easily) found online should be a priority marketing objective within a digital marketing plan. Social media marketing, although critical for engagement opportunities, is simply a channel or method that adds value to the findability objective. Much of the reason for findability being supported by engagement, rather than the other way around, is due to accepted theories of consumer behavior. Specifically speaking, the five stage purchasing process that consumers go through demands that they be able to find information or a site to engage on, before they can actually engage.
However, marketers rarely recognize this aspect of consumer behavior in their advertisements. For instance, take a look at this direct mail piece from Blindsgalore. This advertisement, as with most today, feature social sharing icons. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that a consumer receiving these advertisements will go straight to the social networking site to initiate product research. Rather, recent studies have revealed that consumers begin the purchasing process by performing a general search on Google. Even when a consumer is within the four walls of a brick-and-mortar store, their mobile device activity begins with search over shopping apps or navigating directly to the brand’s owned sites. In fact, according to an internet monitoring firm, on an average day, “more than sixty percent of all web-enabled devices exchange traffic with the tech giant’s servers. That means Google is now bigger than Facebook, Netfilx, and Twitter combined.”
Therefore, the next time you and your graphic designer decide to be trendy by including social icons in the bottom corner of your print advertisement, you may want to do a general Google search for your brand name. Have you dominated the first SERP (search engine results page) for your own brand’s name? Is your investment in Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram turning up as results on the first SERP? As you can see in the first SERP for the keyword “Blindsgalore,” which is the e-commerce business that sent the aforementioned direct mail piece, LinkedIn is the only social network that returned as a listing in the organic results. This is clearly not ideal if one ponders the ROI of social media activity.
The take-away from all of this is if you want online engagement marketing, a.k.a. social media marketing, to generate new business leads, you would do well to make search engine marketing a priority. Potential buyers are less likely to utilize your social media sites for product research, if the channels aren’t turning up as results in general searches for your brand.
Anna Seacat is a search engine marketing consultant and graduate student at Southern New Hampshire University. She wants to hear your search problems – reach out to her: