Social Media or PPC?
When it comes to driving website traffic, local business has typically gravitated more readily toward buying traffic, primarily using PPC (pay per click) advertising, over tapping into social media and learning how to harness social media marketing.
The tendency for local business to favor PPC over Social Media is understandable. Local business operators look for quick results, and usually don’t have the bandwidth to focus their efforts on mastering online marketing. They tend to have limited marketing budgets and often favor the “do-it-yourself” online marketing approach rather than spend precious budget on outsourcing their electronic marketing to a qualified professional or online marketing company.
At first glance, social marketing looks promising to the “do-it-yourself” local business owner. Social media marketing seems to be all the rage, and the outlay of dollars to conduct social marketing campaigns can be minimal. But actually generating successful results with social media is elusive and local businesses quickly discover how time consuming social marketing can be. Frequently, with nothing to show for the countless hours invested.
Hence, the favor toward PPC. Buying paid traffic has generally worked reliably enough. Traditionally, the ability to achieve page one placement for PPC advertising in the search engines (Google Adwords), has been reasonably attainable for many local businesses in most local and regional markets. However, this trend may be starting to shift. PPC competition, even for local business, has become much stiffer. The prospect of beating the competition at PPC advertising by paying higher and higher bid rates continues to push PPC into a more expensive proposition for local business.
The shift to social media from paid search starting to accelerate for local business
Typically, local businesses have been more comfortable with the fast and scalable results from paid search. The biggest frustration with social media has been the time.
Social media focuses on building relationships and interacting with your market which can be very time consuming. This is difficult for businesses to grasp since they have been used to more immediate and scalable results with paid search.
However, a recent survey conducted by Roost finds local businesses beginning to prefer social media marketing over paid search.
This study reveals that more than 71 percent of the small businesses surveyed believe social media is more effective than paid search. And only 15 percent of those surveyed continue to hang on to paid search as their most effective means of online marketing.
Which social media platforms do local businesses rank as the most popular?
Of the respondents surveyed, 84 percent of local businesses find Facebook to be the most effective marketing channel. LinkedIn was ranked second with 8 percent followed by Twitter at 7 percent. And only 0.5 percent of the local businesses surveyed did not find social marketing effective at all.
Economics and cost savings seems to be the key driver behind the rising trend toward social marketing for local business. Roughly 45 percent of businesses surveyed claim they use social media because it “saves money. Local businesses also suggest they actually enjoy using social media as a “fun way to interact with people”. And a third reason with 44 percent of the votes is that social media helps keep the local business ”top of mind” with consumers.
If you have a local business and you’re not leveraging social media marketing, you should start to think about how to get started. Social media works and it’s not a passing fad, it’s not going away. Most important, social media is becoming the consumer choice for interacting with local businesses and brands.
Yes, social media takes time and has its challenges, but it’s effective if you learn how to do it right. And as social marketing continues to evolve and mature, it may make the most sense for your business to leverage the help of a social marketing professional.