Paid Social Vs. Paid Search: Which Marketing Strategy Works Better For You?

There was a time when digital marketing strategies were roughly split into two major categories: organic and paid. To a great extent, these categories mostly referred to search engine optimization efforts, but they have been expanded to include social media marketing as well as other forms of digital communications.

April 19, 2022 3:13 PM

Paid Social Vs. Paid Search: Which Marketing Strategy Works Better For You?

Paid search has been around since Google launched its AdWords service in the year 2000. AdWords is now known as Google Ads, and its chief functionality has not changed too much in the sense that business owners and brands pay for the right to appear in prominent sections of the search engine results page (SERP). The opposite of paid search marketing would be organic SEO, which seeks to improve the ranking of websites and web pages without having to resort to paid search campaigns.

As its name suggests, paid social marketing is a strategy that consists of paying for prominent placement on social media feeds, timelines, and discussions. There are various means of paid social promotion; you are probably familiar with sponsored content posts on Facebook, which is a common method associated with paid social. We will mention other paid social techniques and their effectiveness a little later; for the time being, let's focus on what paid social and paid search can do for your business.

The Immediacy of Paid Search

In general, paid search campaigns are more effective when your products and services do not need too much in the way of introduction. What you have is what prospective customers and clients want; in fact, they go online to search for ways to get such products and services. We are talking about individuals who are pretty much ready to buy; for example, someone using her smartphone to search for dine-in pizzerias in Spokane.

Paid search is used whenever there is an immediate need to rank for certain keywords. An organic SEO campaign for the "dine-in pizza Spokane" search query could take a few months before it starts ranking high on the SERP. A paid search campaign, on the other hand, will start working right away, and it will continue to do so until the campaign budget is used up.

Paid Social and the Customer Journey

Some products, services, and brands need to be introduced through the process of awareness, engagement, and interaction. Whenever there is a situation in which you need to reach customers for the purpose of getting to know you, paid social is one of your best options. Paid social is more sophisticated than paid search marketing, and it has an advantage insofar as being more intimate and conducive to the customer journey. When you are able to connect with prospects through paid social marketing campaigns, you are in fact building a relationship that could one day evolve into customer and brand loyalty.

As previously mentioned, there are multiple flavors of paid social strategies. The sponsored content posts we see on Twitter and Facebook are just the tip of the paid social iceberg. This is a strategy that can vary across social networks, and it may involve eBooks, podcasts, videos, boosted updates, the work of influencers, and more. Paid social also allows business owners and brand managers to get more creative with their marketing materials.

Is Paid Social Better Than Paid Search?

These two digital marketing strategies are not designed to compete against each other. Major brands do not favor one strategy over the other; they are more likely to apply both either together or separately in accordance to their marketing plans. If anything, paid search and paid social complement each other. Some startup companies start off with paid social because they know that this is a good way to get started with internet branding; plus, having a few loyal customers who are with you from the start is always helpful. Some companies will focus on organic SEO and paid social first because they wish to grow their internet presence; they may look into paid search later when they notice that competitors are dominating specific search queries.

In the end, combining paid search with paid social is a smart move in terms of digital marketing. What really matters is how the campaigns are marketed, when they need to be launched, and how they are managed.