Social has been hyped as a “must have” for your marketing efforts, but let’s put it into perspective realizing it’s no substitute for SEO.
How much website traffic is generated by social websites like Facebook and Pinterest vs. search engines like Google and Bing? Search brings more visitors to retailers than social by a ratio of 17 to 1! This comes from Adobe’s analysis of “…billions of visits from 500 retail websites during the holiday season”: only 2 percent of visits come from social, while 34 percent come from search:
And, a study from Monetate shows similar findings with social hovering at around 2 percent:
It would seem clear, therefore, that from a traffic perspective, social is driving only a small percentage of visits to retailers. A Conductor study suggested that may be in part because users overwhelmingly turn to search as a discovery platform versus social when it comes to online shopping.
People Use Search and Social Differently
Jay Taylor wrote an article on Search Engine Watch last month titled “5 Reasons SMBs Should Focus on Search, Not Social for Customer Acquisition“. He made a number of good points about re-positioning social when it comes to customer acquisition.
But he must have struck one heck of a cord with one particular aspect of his observations on social because I noticed a phenomenon I had never seen before on my Twitter stream. No less than five people I follow tweeted a link to his article with the same article snippet (or close variation) preceding the link: “People use social media to, well, socialize. People use search engines when they want to find something.”
Facebook and Twitter are hoping to change that, particularly when it comes to commerce (see:Facebook Graph Search and Twitter enabling instant commerce with American Express), but for now the data says that Taylor is right.
In the survey mentioned earlier, users showed that they want to use social for, well, socializing, while turning to search universally across all information retrieval scenarios:
Let’s Reposition Social Where it Belongs
There’s no question that social has a place in the modern marketer’s toolbox, both as a brand development and customer service listening platform. But can we agree that it’s time we return it, at least for now, where it rightly belongs: a place for socializing.