It’s no secret that social media is an excellent platform for brand awareness and advertising, but is it truly the way of the future?

So far in 2015, Facebook has approximately 1.5 billion active users per month. That’s larger than the entire internet several years ago. Instagram has over 400 million users, surpassing the Twitter community of only 315 million, and has recently hopped aboard the advertising train. Ignoring social media because it’s a fad is a huge mistake for marketers, but making social top priority is another mistake.

When we’re talking about search, we’re talking about both paid and organic. You want to rank well for both. One of the benefits of paid search advertising is that you can easily track statistics such as how many people clicked on your ads and you can easily track your return on investment. Unlike most advertisements on the internet, paid search is highly targeted, so they’re only appearing to people who are actively seeking out the certain keywords you identified. Tools such as Google Adwords allows you to see the exact term or phrase people typed in to find your website. Having a high ranking on organic search can be more difficult because it’s based on the content of your website. A higher ranking will give you more visibility, which creates a perception of trust that will translate into a higher click-through-rate.

Benefits of Social

Humans are naturally social creatures, so it makes sense that with the advancements in technology, people want to be connected with each other 24/7. Social media for businesses is all about increasing brand awareness and creating relationships with your audience. The main goal of interacting with your followers is to eventually make them brand advocates, someone who enjoys your product/service and talks favorably about it to their followers. Positive word-of-mouth messages spread and hopefully create buzz, excitement about your product that will transform a stranger into a potential lead or customer for your brand.Besides social media being such a large community, people who “like” or follow your page have opted in to seeing your content. They have given you permission to share information with them and this can lead them farther down the marketing funnel.

Search vs. Social

The best way to describe the difference between search and social is this: Using social media is like selling ice cream in the winter and using search is like selling ice cream in the summer. What does this mean? People who are using search are in active buying mode while people on social media are not. This does not mean that people using social media are not interested, they’re just higher up in the marketing funnel. Social media is a great way to create brand awareness and continue to delight your audience so hopefully they will continue down the marketing funnel. People using search can also be top-of-the funnel, for example they are searching for a blog post to help them solve a problem.

How Can Inbound Marketing Help?

The days of cold-calling and praying for leads from an advertisement are over. Inbound marketing is focused on creating great content that helps educate and solve a problem for a potential lead. Social media can help attract top-of-the-funnel leads by sharing useful content. Remember that social media isn’t a place to shout about how awesome your company is. Use it to share blog posts that you wrote and have meaningful interactions with your audience. When creating copy on your website, be sure to do some keyword research to help with the organic search ranking of your page. Constantly creating new content will help boost your organic ranking as well as give you new information to share on social. A great way to get leads is to link to a landing page in your page search ads.