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How Are Search and Social Media Marketing Related? What Marketing Managers Should Know

Successful digital marketing management requires knowing how to use—and balance—the different types of online marketing.

How do you make sure your customers find your product? It’s an age-old business question, and one that’s produced a lot of answers, from door-to-door sales to stadium sponsorships. No matter what you’re selling, there are a lot of ways you can spend your marketing budget. And, thanks to the rise of digital marketing, those ways continue to grow.

Currently, companies spend an average of 44% of their marketing budget on digital marketing, with that number expected to rise to 54% by 2023.1 But “digital marketing” isn’t a single technique; it’s an entire marketing category. Some options—like pay-per-click ads—are fairly easy for businesses to track and measure. Others, however, offer a more indirect return on investment. In specific, search marketing and social media marketing are often difficult for organizations to master.

How Are Search and Social Media Marketing Related? What Marketing Managers Should Know

Nevertheless, if you want to succeed in digital marketing management, you need to understand both search and social media marketing. To help you out, here’s some information about the roles they play.

They Aren’t Like Other Kinds of Marketing

Traditionally, when trying to reach customers, you grab their attention in a forceful manner. But search and social media marketing offer a softer approach.

In search marketing, the goal is to ensure that when customers use search engines to research a product category or learn about a task for which your product would be appropriate, they easily find you. As of 2017, 88% of U.S. customers research products online before buying them in a store.2 If your company and/or product aren’t turning up in those research-based searches, you’re hurting the chances that consumers find and buy your product.

Like search marketing, social media marketing can also help you reach consumers in new ways. Except where search marketing is all about appearing in the search results for Google/Yahoo/Bing/etc., social media marketing is all about appearing on feeds in Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/etc. And “appearing on feeds” doesn’t mean buying ads on those platforms. It means drawing attention to your company or product by posting something people want to share and/or by convincing top social media influencers to talk about you. According to a recent study of U.S., U.K., French, and German consumers, 31% of consumers who use social media report that they’ve bought a product endorsed or promoted by a social media influencer.3 That’s a lot of sales that likely wouldn’t have happened without social media marketing.

They’re Content-Driven

For both search and social media marketing, one of the best ways to connect with consumers is to produce content that is fun and/or answers questions. In other words, you should go beyond simple promotion.

For search marketing, the best content tends to be articles and videos. For example, if you’re a tool manufacturer, creating how-to videos can help you connect with consumers who are starting DIY projects. If you own a local restaurant, writing a blog about local produce can help you connect with the kinds of diners eager to try a new place to eat. In the first example, DIY consumers can “stumble” across your product while looking for how-to instructions. In the second example, local diners can “stumble” across your restaurant while fulfilling their desire to learn more about locally sourced food. In both cases, consumers not only learn about you, they get the added value of the content, which can help engender goodwill and build trust.

On social media, the best content tends to be sharable. Memes, super-short videos, funny comments, and unique images are usually the best choice. In the case of the tool manufacturer, you could post quick, funny videos showing people messing up DYI projects (with the message being that your products could have helped). In the case of the restaurant, you could work with local influencers (such as local food bloggers) and have them tweet or post photos about their experience at your restaurant. The more you can engage social media users—and inspire them to share your message—the better you can promote your business and/or product.

They Do More Than Sell Products

While any one content article or social media post can help you sell products, the cumulative effect of your search and social media marketing can do more than encourage individual purchases. If done right, it can build your brand.

Branding is a complex topic but, in general, good branding establishes a personal connection to your customers by appealing to their sensibilities and creating a sense of trust. Search and social media marketing are particularly useful in this way because they’re both focused on connecting directly to customers and they both allow you to present a personality that fits your customers’ sensibilities. And the better you can connect, the better off your business will likely be. Research has shown that 82% of adults say they are loyal to product brands and 84% are loyal to retailers.4 Good search and social media marketing can, over time, help you build a brand and a large base of loyal customers.

You Can Learn to Master Them Both

Search and social media marketing may be new to the marketing world, but they are both increasingly important—which is why they are increasingly taught at top business schools.

If you want to become a search and social media marketing expert, one of the best choices you can make is to earn an advanced degree, such as an MS in Marketing. Through a master’s in marketing program, you can gain knowledge about marketing strategies, media strategies, brand influencers, modern communications, and other topics that can help you succeed in digital marketing management.

If you’re worried you don’t have the time to earn a master’s degree, online learning can help alleviate those concerns. That’s because online marketing degree programs don’t require you to live close to or even drive to a campus. Instead, when you earn an MS in Marketing online, you can complete your coursework from wherever you have internet access, including from the comfort of your home. Additionally, online MS degree programs offer flexible scheduling, allowing you to choose when in the day you attend class. That way, you can continue to work full time while you earn your degree.

The organizations that can best integrate search and social media marketing into their business marketing plans are the organizations that will be best positioned for future success. With an MS in Marketing from an online university, you can help those businesses get to where they need to be.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Marketing degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,