Social Media Marketing vs Search Engine Marketing

adminDigital Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Where should you focus your budget: SMM or SEM?

When it comes to Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Marketing, it can be difficult to decide which you should prioritize over the other. An argument could be made that the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, many digital marketers have found that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) work best when used together as part of a cohesive strategy.

Social Media Marketing can enable brands to reach their audience and connect with them on a regular basis in what to consumers may seem a more authentic way than traditional search ads. But brands that that follow SEO best practices, such as carefully choosing keywords for SEM ads and optimizing website content to take advantage of those keywords, can also benefit from more authentic connections. So which approach is right for you?


When weighing the pros and cons, the biggest advantage of Social Media Marketing over Search Engine Marketing is its cost effectiveness. That is because with SMM you reach your audience organically while with SEM, you pay to reach them via advertising.

With SEM, your audience must actively seek you out based on a search and then choose you over other results. But with SMM, your audience finds you via the recommendations of Friends in the form of Likes and Shares. Such recommendations are very powerful when it comes to purchasing decisions.

Social Media Marketing is an extremely useful tool for businesses seeking to get the word out organically about their brand and products. It is a great way to connect with, interact, and engage customers. The key is finding the right mix of useful, informative content and promotions or offers.

Arriving at the right mix requires an understanding of what comprises engagement on different Social Media platforms. What might be considered effective in terms of engagement on one platform, might be seen as spam on another. For example, if you post too many pictures on Pinterest, many users will lose interest and stop following you. However, when you get it right, promoting your brand and its products with SMM is very effective.

One of the downsides of SMM compared to SEM is that it is a reactive and time-consuming method of promotion. Whereas a marketer can build a SEM ad campaign, set a budget, and let it run, SMM requires constant effort to maintain your online presence and a lot of time spent interacting with your audience and engaging them.

Our Take

Where budget isn’t the primary consideration, the goal should be to strike a balance between Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing that ultimately generates leads for your company while also building up your Social Media presence and reputation.

However, if forced to make a choice between SMM or SEM, choose SMM not just because it’s less expensive, but because while customers decide to click on SEM ads in relative isolation, they are more likely to engage, Follow or Like your page in a social environment where they see others doing the same.