Combine search and social to grow your business

You’re a local business owner, pressed for time and with a limited marketing budget. Everyone says you’re nothing without a social media presence, so you’ve set up a Facebook page, made sure to post new content a couple of times a week and now customers are beating a path to your door, right? Well, maybe not.

The old “set and forget” mentality doesn’t cut it in today’s digital world where customers expect to be consistently engaged, so it’s not enough to create a page, throw a bit of content up and hope that a few likes will generate an influx of new leads.

While you’re probably aware of search engine advertising (like Google and Bing ads) and even using it as part of your online marketing program, you wouldn’t be the first small business owner to see it as completely removed from your social media advertising efforts. After all, Google or Bing and Facebook are different things, right? Well…yes, but when you use search and social in tandem, you can consolidate costs and improve the likelihood of attracting new business through better targeting.

Ditch the silo mentality

Potential customers are on the internet every day – most likely visiting both Google and Facebook – but that doesn’t mean they’re all at the same point on the purchasing path, or use the same channels to discover more about desired goods or services.

Search ads are a great way to get in front of prospective customers who have a basic idea of what they want, but aren’t sure of the available choices and have yet to narrow down their search. Opting for search engine ads, such as Google and Bing Advertising, means that your business will feature on top search engines and other local directories, putting you right in front of would-be customers when they are hungry for more information.

Search works when the customer has already identified a need and seeks to more information. Social lets you target based on interests, demographics, location and income behaviours, seeking out those most likely to want your goods or services and creating awareness. Having a strong social media following that prospective buyers can identify with increases the likelihood of converting them to customers.

If you’ve put the effort into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and identified the top keywords and phrases used when looking for your offering — and maintaining a steady supply of engaging, relevant content to your website — then you’re probably doing okay in organic search results as well. But…if you’re not utilising that information when it comes to social marketing, then you’re potentially wasting resources. If you know which search terms are being used in search engines, you can tailor your targeted Facebook ads to suit. Conversely, you can use social engagement insights from Facebook to refine your paid search activities.

Local searches are more important than ever, thanks to mobile devices. Social media posts that focus on your neighbourhood, such as local events and other topics of interest to the community, will help make your business more visible in local search results.

We can no longer afford to think of search advertising and social media as separate activities. To get the most from your marketing spend, you’ll need to ditch the silo mentality, appreciate the potential for crossover and start using the two in tandem to increase brand awareness, drive more visitors to your site and generate more opportunity for new business.

Kris Barton, Chief Product Officer, ReachLocal

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