PPC & SMM How They Can Work For You
Posted on January 01, 2014
This is an excellent question and one I've wanted to address for a while. There isn't a simple answer, however let's explore areas where one might win out of the other in your scenario. The thing to remember though is to remain focussed on what you are trying to achieve - Whether it's getting more visitors to your site, more downloads of your ebook, more purchases of your t-shirts or generally increasing brand awareness.
The first thing people are going to think about is budget. Neither is strictly cheaper than the other, however PPC has been around a lot longer than SMM, and so has more players in the market pushing the price up of keywords. Most new or small businesses have a very limited budget to spend on bringing in the customers, so SMM is more than likely not the better option for the budget-conscious. However a focus on product and customer base is imperative as well - It's no use making the blunder of advertising nuts and bolts for sale on Facebook. It's also not very smart to advertise group fitness classes with PPC on a limited budget when SMM can let you target clusters of friends who all enjoy fitness.
In terms of brand building, SMM is far and away the winner over PPC, as likes on Facebook and follows on Twitter allow you repeatedly reach out to potential customers. PPC isn't out in the cold though, as there are creative ways to utilise it to position yourself top of mind - I recently searched for "vitamix" (it's a brand of food blender) and the PPC ad (below) showed up and was creative enough to get me to now be confused about which blender to buy!
Businesses need to be mindful that their customers are not always wanting to see or hear about them just because others advertise in that space - It's ok to see a condom vending machine in a public toilet, but I don't want to buy a coke as I zip up my fly. Likewise I don't want to see funeral services ads in my Facebook timeline right between family photos.
Time Of Engagement
Reaching customers at the right time is very important. SMM allows you to put your message in front of them when they might not necessarily be looking for you, much like a billboard. PPC is probably the one with edge in this respect though as you are reaching customers who are further down the purchasing pipeline because they are searching for you rather than passively observing you.
Both PPC and SMM have their ways of targeting people, SMM a little bit more personally than PPC. The influence of targetability over your decision really falls on whether it's important to target based on attributes about the customer (such as what they watch, who they are friends with and what music they listen to) or based on when they are searching and in what locality. Again it's really dependant on your product and industry, but the benefits of SMM in leveraging people's social connections and targeting on social attributes in a deep way allow for some truly effective marketing.
As you can see, there are more than a few things to think about when making your decision about using either PPC or SMM. As I mentioned earlier though, keep focussed on what your intent is and the decision will be logical.