Social media or search engine optimization? That’s the question of the hour, folks. According to HubSpot, lead generation is the #1 priority for marketers. But should your business put more time, energy, and resources into social media marketing or SEO for generating quality leads?

Which one sends more traffic to your business website? Which platform generates a higher return on investment? Should you hire a marketing expert for one type of marketing over the other?

We’ll answer these questions and more in today’s Which is Better segment. Don’t go away. We’ll be right back after this brief commercial break.

SEO vs. Social Media Marketing

What is search engine optimization? SEO helps you understand how people search for and find you online. It involves taking specific measures on your website to increase your search engine visibility for relevant organic search queries. The higher you rank on SERPs (search engine results pages), the more traffic you’ll drive to your site.

What is social media marketing? It’s all about engaging with your audience on social media and building brand awareness and relationships with people. You can interact with past, current, and future customers to create a solid group of loyal followers.

Okay, we’re back. Here’s a preview of what we’re dealing with today:

Search Engine Optimization vs. Social Media Marketing for Lead Generation

SEMrush conducted a study and found that 73% of pollsters used SEO tools for quality lead generation and to attract more traffic, while 67% leveraged social media to do the same.

The fight is on. The two contestants are neck and neck. Let’s watch as these two battle it out. It’s a fair playing field and could go either way. By the end, we hope we’ll have a clear winner.

1. Time and Effort vs. Results

Let’s look at social media first. To carry out an effective social media strategy, you need to plan ahead, create posts and images, schedule and publish your posts regularly, and track your results. You also need to engage with your followers and make an effort to grow your audience on each individual channel.

Social media posts are usually pretty short and sweet, but so is their lifespan. Did we mention that only a fraction of your audience will even have a chance of seeing your published posts before they disappear from their feeds? On Facebook, for example, you can expect about 5.5% of your followers to see your posts. That’s it. Sad but true.

As far as blog posting on your website goes, it could take months to rank on search engines. Writing blog articles can be time-consuming and tedious, but you generally don’t need to post as frequently as you do on social media or spend as much time engaging with followers.

Your long-term payoff can be much more valuable for your business as well. If it’s a top-notch post that answers the right queries, it can attract quality traffic to your website, bringing you leads for years to come.

You can also create loyal followers and promoters of your brand by providing content people love and want to return to. Don’t forget to build an email list to notify followers every time you publish a new article for an extra boost in engagement.

Round 1 Winner: SEO

2. Content Offerings

Is the content on social media or your website more valuable for generating leads and sales? Well, we all know that the content you share on social is much shorter and more concise than the content you share on your website. You can share videos, images, infographics, articles, and memes on social media.

On your website, you can publish blog posts, embed videos, publish ebooks and guides, develop pillar pages, post case studies and press releases, and more.

So as far as variety goes, both platforms offer a wide range of great options.

What about generating leads? The best type of content for getting more website traffic is long-form content over 3,000 words in length. If you’re willing to put in the work to create long-form, valuable, evergreen posts consistently, your website will reap the rewards.

Social media can be a great tool to drive more traffic to your website to read those long articles we just discussed. And if people love your articles, they’ll share them with their audiences, building your reach and driving even more traffic to your site.

Social platforms are also great places to create emotional connections and spark empathy, which creates a more engaged audience.

Our verdict? Your website and social platforms should work together to engage your audience and drive traffic to your website.

Round 2 Winner: Tie

3. Clear-Cut Competition

While the competition is fierce on both social media and search engines, there are some significant differences. On search engines, you’re competing with other companies trying to rank for the same keywords as you are. But you’re in control of your website and content.

You can do the work and implement the right strategies to rank higher in search results, and your content has the potential to rank highly and attract your target audience for years to come. If you capture one of the top search results for a keyword, your traffic potential is limitless.

On social media, you’re not only competing with content that’s like yours but all content on the platform. In other words, you’re up against the latest cat video, GIF, and Donald Trump meme.

Let’s put it another way. On social media, people may stumble across your posts in their feeds while checking out their second cousin’s wedding photos or favorite brand’s latest commercial.

On search engines, people are intentionally seeking solutions to their specific problems (also known as buyer intent). In other words, they’re looking for you! The competition is much clearer cut than on social media.

Round 3 Winner: SEO

4. Calls to Action

The cool thing about websites is you can add calls to action strategically throughout all your pages. If you want your visitors to take a specific action, just ask!

Calls to action help guide people down a path intentionally. Maybe you want them to download a PDF, go to a landing page, or request more information from you. If they’re ready to take the next step in the buying process, they’ll click on your CTA or fill out a form.

On social media, it’s harder to create a clear buyer’s journey. Users are less like to click on a link to go to your website and leave their current platform.

On search engines, people are looking for businesses like yours. They want to find your website and check out what you have to offer. They’re more likely to follow the path you create for them.

Social media is a great way to drive extra traffic to your website, but you don’t have as much control in creating a successful user journey. For lead generation, SEO wins hands down.

Round 4 Winner: SEO

5. Forms and Freebies

If we’re talking organic traffic, lead generation is a lot easier on your website than on social media. Attract the right people to your site, and then ask them to fill out a brief form with their contact info in exchange for something they want.

Maybe you have a pop-up form for subscribing to your emails that visitors see when they land on your site. If you’re a dog trainer, you could offer them a free ebook on “how to teach dogs to heel on walks” as an incentive. If their dog is infamous for pulling on the leash, BOOM. You just bagged a new lead.

Round 5 Winner: SEO

6. Finding Your Target Audience

Let’s be honest. Before you can generate any leads at all, you need a specific audience to target. This goes for both your social media and SEO efforts. It’s easier, however, to define a target audience on social media platforms.

Looking at Facebook again, you can choose what types of people you want to find by looking at different demographics and audiences of brands like yours.

You can only be so specific when optimizing your content for SEO. Sure, you can build a profile of the kind of person you’re looking for, but in the end, they need to find you. You can’t pick and choose who sees your content like you can with social.

We recommend using social media to hone your audience profiles and shape your SEO strategies. Because once you identify your ideal audience, you can look for relevant keywords and topics to shape your content and attract qualified traffic on search engines.

Round 6 Winner: Social Media

Social Media and SEO Should Work Together for Lead Generation

While SEO may have a leg up on social media (winning 5:2), the two should work together to bring your business the most success.

Having your social media marketing and search engine optimization efforts work hand in hand is the best way to build meaningful relationships, drive more traffic to your website, target your ideal audience, generate awesome leads, and boost engagement across the board.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Lead Generation Experts

Are you ready to generate some of the best leads of your life? Fingerprint Marketing is a digital marketing agency based out of beautiful Seattle. We’d love to help you build and grow your small business online. Whether you’re looking for a new website, a marketing strategy, or social media help, we’re here for you.

Schedule a discovery call with the team! We want to get to know a little about you and tell you a little more about us. Sound good?