Digital Marketing

SEM Or Paid Social: Why Use Both?

Hello fellow research and media industry friends.

For those of you who view, follow, and/or troll my Twitter account, you’ve seen me on #ppcchat bashing things like Pmax, auto app recommendations, and GA4.

This is in addition to my usual comments about the New York Jets (but hey, they’re 4-2 as of writing this), and social commentary on all of the Real Housewives franchises.

Today, we are going to discuss when you should use search engine marketing (SEM), paid social media, or both.

Full disclosure: I’m no “expert” (I really hate that term), and I’m not the best thing since sliced ​​bread in the payable media industry.

But I’ve done this long enough and worked with enough great people and brands for it to be considered a fairly reliable source of insight.

But John, they’re both brokers to bid on; should not be They always cooperate to achieve an overarching goal? number.


Because: search engine marketing and paid social networking aren’t necessarily apples to apples but more like “starfruit and a Volvo 240 with a wing on it.”

That is to say: one is pleasurable and pleasurable, often as ugly as sin and easily abused but serving a heartfelt purpose.

What is Social Media and Paid Social Media Advertising?

The fact is that they are different jobs.

Paid social media is a proactive media, which means that someone is not necessarily looking for information, but is receiving advertising. (In fact, almost all digital media are proactive).

On the other hand, search engine marketing is interactive media – someone actively searches for something, and the advertiser meets them with relevant advertising.

Doing them together in equal allocations to achieve the same purpose is an excellent example of the popular and meme, “F-Around and Find Out”.

F-Around and Find Out: The Correlation of the Value of Search Engine Marketing and Paid Social Networking.

Image created by the author, October 2022

Despite the plot’s very funny title, it serves as an explanation: yes, you can do it all at once, but its output will vary based on its purpose.

At some point, the common mix between search engine marketing and paid social networks will come together if it is not watched. However, reliance, either on volume or qualification of the client, may be less than desirable.

Benefits of SEM vs. Paid social

As a general rule of common sense in the industry, be sure to remember the following:

  • Paid social networks may get conversions/sales/leads per last click, etc., but they actually work like display and video, Helping you gain more awareness or re-engagement. It’s about better and more direct conversions, but not the best.
  • Paid search/search engine marketing has a high intent to convert/sell/leads faster, because the consumer has to view your ad. It is not the best way to raise awareness. Search does a good job of injecting your brand into the search engine results page (SERP) if you’re not a well-known player, but be wary of upping the “brand” you come out with.

Remove: Search engine marketing drives actions and paid social awareness.

So, how do you know when to use each one?

Well, if you’re asking yourself that, maybe you’re not paying enough attention to the chart or pre-explaining of the proactive vs. reactive line.

So, let me explain it in a simpler, simpler/informational way:

  • social membership: Although it’s not what we’re discussing here, your organic social sites represent what you can control – your own media. You can use paid social media to push it even further.
  • Paid social: Used to drive more of your amazing organic social media and drive new followers to your page, so you can direct more owned media to them. Or direct them to the site to raise awareness / harvest their data, as well as try to sell something directly. These users may or may not be actively searching for what you want to sell to them, but you have special tools that help you determine if they are.
  • Paid Search / SEM: You have something that you want to pay people for, but you only want to pay people who are looking for your thing (or something similar to it). Therefore, you meet in the search engines and provide them with a gateway to the item they may be looking for directly.

Now that you’ve reiterated what you probably already know, let’s discuss which one to use, when, and why.

When should SEM be used vs. Paid social

  • If your ultimate goal is to increase direct sales from your website/leads/website-based shares, then perform with SEM.
  • If your ultimate goal is to increase brand or product awareness or re-engage with previous users/visitors, then Leads with paid social media.

However, there are several reasons to run both at the same time.

Some of the more obvious scenarios include:

  • Clean up remarketing: someone searches and enters the site on a Google ad but abandons it—that is when paid social networks (or really any bot) can track down the searcher with the same thirst for blood as a TSA agent at LaGuardia airport, searching for a half-full bottle of water.
  • Pick up the medium to low funnel: the person caught arguing about political points on Facebook who shows an ad pushing for delicious bacon will then go do more research on Bing (I refuse to call it Microsoft) in hopes of finding a better discount code.

Here is a paid social awareness ad that helps boost brand recognition:

Social awareness advertisementPhoto from Facebook, October 2022

Here’s the search ad that gained brand recognition and traction when paid social media was pushed:

Find Discount Bacon Brands on BingScreenshot of search [nueske’s bacon]Bing, October 2022
  • Stack your remarketing lists: My best use of search engine marketing is to “inject” more highly qualified consumers to the website, and converters to grow my social CRM/Remarketing lists – which in turn creates larger, more nuanced audiences for paying social .

What is the right mix between search engine marketing and paid social networking?

The right mix is ​​a moving and somewhat personal goal. Levels vary by vertical intent, seasonality, and end purpose.

I recommend setting primary and secondary focus.

If your primary focus is direct conversions, lean more on search engine marketing.

If it’s about awareness/engagement, lean heavily on paid social networks.

The best thing you can do is to pull from the historical data to make a decision.

If you don’t have historical data, go pure testing mode: start with a 50/50 investment split, and within 48 hours you’ll have an idea of ​​your search impression share (and hopefully conversion data), and it can help you decide if you need To transfer money one way or another.

The two will work together, provided the correct target is set for each:

  • SEM: Drive to the site, convert and capture those who move down the funnel.
  • Paid social: Awareness, re-engagement and moving the consumer along the conversion path.

Only you know what is right for your needs.

Just remember: The Wach Channel serves different purposes, so keep an open mind and budget fluidity.

More resources:

  • Social and Paid Search: How to Have a Happy Marriage
  • Paid Social Media: A Guide to Social Advertising Success
  • Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide

Featured image: fizkes/Shutterstock

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