Search vs Social – What should I do for Online Marketing?


For last few weeks, Nurture Talent is promoting two training programs related to digital marketing. And the 1st question that we get from our attendees is which one to attend – advanced social media marketing or search engine optimization.
There are lot of views and opinions we share with them to help them decide (we would love if they pay for both!). Here are few things from our overall view point:

1. Most importantly define your audiences first

Do you have a market of customers who are eagerly “searching” for your category of products and services? Is it a good to have or must have service? Is it a rational/planned decision or if your brand is available online, they would purchase it instantly. Is it depending on people to people interaction and connections? Just to be biased and give a yes/no take – if your business is people dependent for generating leads, getting decisions, closing deals – focus on social (for example, consultants, website development, advertising agencies, accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, image consultants, actors, anchors, models). If your business is related to products/services already established and people need to decide where to purchase from, then search is a bigger influencer and helpful in getting leads (travel, jobs, food, restaurant, movies).

2. Define your expertise and time available

As entrepreneurs, people love to do things on their own. SEO/SEM takes a bit more effort and skills compared to social (oh! I just need to take a selfie and post?). Of course social is not as simple as it sounds, but just for the reason that you may have been facebooking for last few years, it comes naturally to some. However, that should not be the decision point – do not do things just because it is easy to understand. Do it because you need it for your business. SEO takes a few days to learn, specially understanding where to put few lines of code and (if outsourced to agency) how to analyse the numbers thrown by Google Analytics and other metrics! Likes, comments and shares are easier to see and act upon. So invest your time in doing things for the long term – whether search or social. And there are offline workshops as well as online study guides available for learning to crack digital marketing.

3. Money – this happens to be the biggest headache of any entrepreneur.

And the challenge is to know where, when, how to spend for best RoI. For SEO, you got to spend on the manpower or agency, and for SEM, you need to run paid campaigns to get clicks. Even for social, you can do things on your own or run paid campaigns. On Linkedin, paid ads start from 2$ a click, and even higher on Twitter. Few professionals find Google, by far the biggest in this business less costly as it starts at even 1-2 rs per click. However, what is important is not the click to your website, but who came and what they did. On this parameter, Search and Social are equally expensive, but less costly and more targeted than offline channels. We always suggest to companies and individuals to start small, learn from quick experiments and then stay on the channel that gives the best results. Personally, as CEO of Nurture Talent, I do not mind spending on alternate channels once in a while, like we just did a video mail campaign last week. It is important to keep trying new things to learn what works.

By now, you may have been either very confused or very clear that the Search vs Social fight will continue. May you win!

About the Author

Amit Grover, founder of, is an IIT Delhi and IIM Indore alumnus, having more than 12 years of industry experience. He started Nurture Talent Academy, and earlier worked with Infosys, Asian Paints, Onida and Mumbai Angels. He regularly blogs on AHA Taxis, his recent venture, offers one way outstation travel across India.


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