Social and Search, and a new age power struggle??

I came across two interesting, yet opposing articles on the importance between social media and search.  wrote a post – Social is Intriguing, However Search is Proven –  makes the argument that although social media is growing it does not offer anywhere near the effectiveness and impact on the bottom line as does search marketing. Moreover, Scott rightly indicates that search, via SEO and paid search has a proven track record, best practices, and ROI models in place to ensure that marketers can track performance and attribution. On the other hand, Ryan DeShazer, makes a valiant case for social media in his post – For Marketers, Social Isn’t Quite The New Search – stating that in the long run “social will pay off and the onus is on companies to discover their own “killer application.” Yet DeShazer too agrees that search is proven and accountable and needs the investment and consideration of corporates, thereby not getting side tracked by the glitz and glamour of social media.

Personally, I believe that the role of marketers is to be in the areas/channels where they are most likely and able to communicate, listen and engage with their current and potential customers. Gone are the days of one-sided conversations, when the marketer spoke and the customer listened and obeyed. Social and search offer two very different communication propositions. Consumers searching for a product have already felt a need for a product/service and are either researching for a solution or comparing between options or in the final stages of making a purchase or looking for the best deal. On the other hand, social offers a myriad of potentials from listening in to what people are saying about your brand, discussing a poor service experience, giving a positive shout out to your brand and perhaps even recommending or learning about your company for the first time.

Yes, social doesn’t yet have the intricate ROI attribution and performance metrics as compared to search, but it is still a new channel. Brand are still taking baby steps in the area, some haven’t even considered it as part of their marketing mix, while, service providers are developing new features and users are realizing its power and applicability in their lives. At the end of the day, I don’t think brands can simply focus on one marketing channel anymore and they need to identify the relevant channels and develop an integrated marketing mix to leverage and interconnect them to communicate and lead consumers across the purchase funnel. I think its too early in the process to announce the demise of any one channel.

What is your opinion on the topic? Does search require a lot of attention as compared to social or do you think brands need to develop a much more integrated approach towards their marketing? Chime in through the comment button.

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