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The Social Media and Paid Search Relationship

Both paid search and social media play crucial roles in the marketing efforts of brands these days, yet the approach taken when it comes to integrating either of these marketing channels is completely dissimilar. On the one hand you have the click-through centric, bid-based and conversion hungry world of paid search that is primarily focused on driving sales and leads. Social media marketing, however, is on the other side of the spectrum, and is primarily utilized for building brand awareness and encouraging conversation, with the resulting ROI from these endeavors relatively difficult to measure. Differences aside, these two marketing channels might be more closely related than you would think.

An October 2009 study by GroupM Search, M80, and ComScore found a striking correlation between brand discovery on social media and search behavior. In summary, interaction through social media can ultimately lead to more overall searches on a brand, a rise in lower-funnel searches, and an increase in both conversions and click-through rates.

Key findings from the study:

  • Consumers exposed to a brand’s social media efforts are 2.8 times more likely to search for that brand’s products
  • There was a 50% increase in click-through rate in paid search when consumers were exposed to a brand’s paid search ads and social media content
  • There was a 42-point increase in searcher penetration on a brand’s key terms when consumers were exposed to both paid search and social media, compared to just paid search alone

The study’s results show that strong brand awareness through social media helps drive the overall effectiveness and success of a brand’s paid search campaigns.

Matt Lawson, director of marketing for Marin Software, provides these tips in his article on Mashable on how to optimize your social and paid search programs to work in tandem to boost overall ROI:

  • Make your social campaigns search friendly
    Be sure that all your social media efforts include appropriate tags and are properly indexed, and that the metadata for pages contain the top brand keywords. This will help individuals searching for your brand to better find your social media content in addition to your paid search ads and natural search results.
  • Experiment with keyword advertising on social media sites
    Take advantage of a social site’s advertising opportunities through keyword targeting, yet keep in mind that the way these ads work differ greatly from how they function in a paid search campaign. For example, Facebook targets ads based on the personal information found on a user’s profile.
  • Create social media-influenced paid search campaigns
    Pay attention to the conversations occurring between your brand and your fans, as well as between consumers about your brand. Analyze the keywords that are often used in these discussions and incorporate these terms in to your paid search campaigns to better reach your target audience.

When integrated correctly, social media and search can work together to drive a greater overall increase in ROI than either could have done alone. How, if at all, have your social media programs affected your paid search results or strategy?

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