Which strategy for business is worth putting more time into – social media or Google ads?
A lot of business owners lean towards social media because it’s a little more intuitive and easier to learn. Google ads can be more intimidating for people who have never used it before.
However, depending on the nature of your business, Google may be the better route to go. And if that’s the case, you might be wasting your time and energy on social media!
Or, maybe you’re spending all this time and money trying to figure out Google ads when in reality you just need to drop that and focus more on social media.
How do you know which is a better strategy for business?
To understand which strategy to use, you first need to understand a few differences between the two approaches.
Google ads, otherwise known as PPC, stands for pay-per-click.
This is when you pay Google to show your ad in the search results when somebody searches for a certain keyword (known as search ads).
Or, across hundreds of different websites to a retargeting audience, a.k.a people who have been on your website and interacted with your business before, known as display ads.
So for example, if someone searches “luxury birthday cakes” in Google because they want a cake that’s different or nicer from what you get at the grocery store…
…”luxury birthday cakes” would be the keyword in that scenario.
All of the ads under where it says “Sponsored” are from business owners and marketers paying Google for their ad to appear here when this keyword is searched.
Then you see beneath all that, you have images and places. The first organic search result here is Pinterest.
Next, we have the “People also ask” feature, a shopping snippet, and then we have the rest of the organic search results.
So the biggest perk of paying Google for search ads is that you appear FIRST. You are at the top of the search results.
If you’re someone who sells custom, luxury cakes, then appearing as the first result when somebody searches that term probably sounds pretty good, right?
Now if you want to learn how Google ads work, here’s what you should read next.
With social media strategy for business, obviously, there’s a handful of platforms you can choose from the biggest ones being Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and then maybe Twitter and LinkedIn.
Regardless of which social media platform for business you’re on, there are several ways you can leverage it.
You can run ads that appear in people’s feeds while they’re scrolling.
You can have a profile or page where you organically post your content.
And you can communicate back and forth with customers directly in messages or comments.
Social Media vs Google Ads
Google ads, in general, are more direct.
The goal is for people to click from the ad to either make a purchase on your website or fill out the contact form on your website.
Social media can be direct if you’re running ads there as well.
But social media can also offer a more long-term approach where you’re building brand awareness, brand-consumer trust, customer loyalty, rapport with your followers, etc.
This is so that they EVENTUALLY purchase from you and remain a long-term customer.
Now that we’ve covered the main differences between the two strategies, we want you to ask yourself 3 questions.
3 Questions To Determine The Best Strategy For Business
- Who does your business serve? Are you B2B or B2C? Who is your audience?
- When and why do they purchase from you?
- What are your competitors doing?
Question #1: Who does your business serve? Are you B2B or B2C? Who is your audience?
The first question is important because B2C businesses tend to perform better on social media than B2B businesses do.
That’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s just TYPICALLY the case.
So if you’re B2B and you’ve been focusing all your time on Instagram without any return, you might want to reevaluate to see if that’s where your efforts are best spent!
And the same thing for B2C, if you’ve been running Google ads without seeing any sales, maybe you’re wasting your ad spend there and need to focus on Instagram or TikTok!
The remaining two questions are going to help you complete your evaluation either way so let’s keep going.
Question #2: When and why do your customers purchase from you?
Do customers tend to search for the product or service you offer on Google when they need it?
Or do customers need to first get inspired by something before they start thinking about your product or service?
For example, if you run a plumbing business. Your customers most likely Google high-rated plumbers in their area when they have a plumbing problem, right?
They wouldn’t just scroll on Facebook or Instagram, and casually run into a plumber’s page…
…and then think to themselves, “You know what? I think I’ll finally fix my kitchen sink that’s been spewing water for 8 days straight.”
No! They have an urgent problem so they go to Google to see who can fix it quickly.
The same thing for us; we’re a full-suite digital marketing agency that helps small businesses market themselves online in a way that’s profitable for them.
A large majority of our clients come from them initially Googling “digital marketing agency” or “social media marketing agency for small businesses” and that’s how they find us.
Now if you’re in the e-commerce industry, things might look a little different right?
Somebody might not be Googling “midi hydrangea square neck dress” …
…but upon discovering you’re BEAUTIFUL, intentional, inspiring Instagram, now they want one!
Now we will say that yes, sometimes in the e-commerce world, you still get people googling specific products they’re looking for if they need a specific computer part.
Or sometimes they know they want a gingham dress for the fourth of July so they just Google it and look through the results.
But for small businesses starting out, drawing followers into your world and brand via social media is sometimes your best bet.
Especially now that things like Instagram and Facebook Shops exist where people can check out with your products directly from the app.
Either way, no matter what industry you’re in, it goes back to the question at hand: when and why do your customers purchase from you?
Are they buying only when they need something? Or are they buying casually, out of joy or pleasure?
If they’re buying out of need, then USUALLY, Google ads are the way to go. Because what do people do when they need something? They Google it to figure out how to get it.
If your product or service is not a need OR maybe it is but your customers don’t know they need it yet…
…building awareness, education and a strong brand on social media is probably the better route to take.
For example, there’s a company called Thrive Market that is an affordable, organic, sustainable online grocery store and delivery service.
A lot of what they sell is right up my alley.
I buy all organic when possible and would like for organic groceries to be cheaper (which Thrive prides themselves on and price matches).
I would love for it all to be delivered to my door so I don’t have to go grocery shopping or overspend because I’m shopping hungry.
But, if I’ve never heard of or thought about a service like that before, I’m not going to Google it.
It wasn’t until I saw an ad for this service on Instagram that I thought it was actually a really good idea!
Now, if after answering the first two questions, you still don’t have a clear answer on which strategy to use, ask yourself the next one.
Question #3: What are your competitors doing?
Or more specifically, what are your SUCCESSFUL competitors doing? If they have a booming social media presence, then that might be what’s proving useful to them.
If you Google relevant keywords to your business and see a ton of ads from your competitors, then Google ads are probably what’s working best for them.
You share a target audience, so it never hurts to pay attention to how your competitors are reaching the customers you want.
At this point, which strategy for business are you leaning toward? Social media or Google ads?