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Although websites and the social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube etc) share the Internet, they are as different as radio and television which share the airways. The following is an abstract from an article by Motoko Hunt released on November 10th 2013.

“…many Asian companies are shifting or thinking of shifting their digital marketing focus from search to social. Seems everyone likes a new shining object. We saw this trend in U.S. a couple of years ago. Is this a smart move? Most importantly, can social media replace search?

Those companies that shifted their digital marketing focus from search to social a few years back are now actually bringing search back as the core tactic of their digital marketing. One of the reasons is that they didn’t see the performance they were hoping to get out of the social media campaigns.

Forrester Research reported last year that less than 1 percent of online transactions among U.S. customers could be traced back to a social media post. According to Monetate’s study, online searches were the greatest contributor to e-commerce visits and sales, representing 31.43 percent of sales traffic. Email had 2.82 percent, and social media accounted for only 1.55 percent of all e-commerce traffic.

Econsultancy’s Social Data from last year showed:

  • About 50 percent of companies are using social data to gauge sentiment in order to have more targeted and relevant communication, to improve customer service, to address specific complaints, and to inform product and services development.
  • Only 6 percent of participating companies said that social signals had a major impact on their search and social media strategies.

“It’s not that social media failed those businesses, but they failed to understand the social in social media.” Scott Stratten of Unmarketing said that give-away campaigns (such as “Win an iPad”) only convert people who want a prize to follow brands’ twitter accounts or like their Facebook pages. They are not real fans of the brand or products, and won’t engage.

Another trend in Asia is to put Paid Ads (PPC) as the main focus of the search engine marketing, and not putting much effort into SEO (search engine optimization). Is it because SEO is getting too hard? If you have a healthy and well optimized website, you should be getting at least half of your website traffic from organic search results. According to new research from GroupM U.K. and Nielsen based on 1.4 billion searches done in U.K., 94 percent of Google and Bing search users clicked on organic results compared to only 6 percent clicked on Paid ads. Do you really want to let go of that much potential traffic, and miss out on the business opportunities by only focusing on PPC?

The fact is that SEO, paid ads, and social have different roles in the digital marketing ecosystem, and you shouldn’t be choosing one over another but try to make them collaborate.

As long as you think of search and social media as separate projects and place them in silos, you won’t see the maximum impact for your business. Create a cross-functional process between the search and social so that you can integrate the search learning into social media, and the social media learning into search. The search keywords, social conversations, and the target audience behaviors are some of the key information that you should be sharing between the two.

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