Paid Social vs SEM- What's the Difference & When Do You Use Both?
Paid social is considered to be a proactive media, meaning that you are presenting your ad to someone who isn’t necessarily looking for that information.
SEM, search engine marketing, on the other hand, is a reactive media. This is a type of media where you present your ad to someone who is actively looking for your product or service.
Benefits of SEM vs Paid Social
It’s important to remember the following as a general common-sense rule within the industry.
Paid social might get you some last-click conversions/sales/leads, but in reality, it works like display and video. Those two things help you garner more awareness and re-engagement.
Paid Search/SEM has a high intent for a faster conversion/sale/lead, because the consumer is the one who engages in your ad. This is not the best tool for driving brand awareness. Search tends to do an okay job at injecting your brand into the SERPs if you aren’t a known player, but look out for the “branding” lift you get out of it.
Key takeaway: SEM drives actions and paid social drives awareness.
So, the next question we will try to answer is how do you know when to use each one?
Let’s start out by explaining the difference between organic social, paid social, and paid search (SEM).
- Organic Social: your organic social represents what you can control, your owned media. Which in turn you can use paid social to boost to a larger audience.
- Paid Social: this strategy is used to push your organic social and to drive new followers and engagement to your page, so then you can push more owned media towards those new followers who have expressed interest in your brand. Or, you can drive them to your site to collect their data and later retarget them with a new opportunity.
- Check out Understanding the Difference Between Organic Social and Paid Advertising for a deeper dive into this topic!
- Paid Search/SEM: this strategy is used when you have something you want to push out, but only deliver it to individuals who are actively looking for your product/service or something similar.
When to Use SEM vs Paid Social
- If your objective is to drive direct from your website sales/leads/website-based engagements, then start with SEM.
- If your objective is brand awareness or product awareness or re-engage with your audience who have visited your site in the past, start with paid social.
With that being said, of course, there are multiple reasons to run both strategies simultaneously. Some of the most obvious reasons include:
- Remarketing: Someone searches on Google and lands on your website but then abandons with no engagement. You can then use paid social plus your homepage audience list to remarket to them through a paid social ad.
- Capturing the Mid to Low Funnel: A person who is scrolling on Facebook and sees your ad highlighting a discount code but then turns to Google to try and find a better deal. You can then follow them over to Google with your opportunity for a better chance to capture them.
- Building Your Remarketing Audience List: utilize search engine marketing to send highly qualified consumers to your website to grow your remarketing lists. Which, in turn, leads to creating a bigger and more accurate lookalike audience for your paid social campaigns.
We hope that this information gave you insight into the difference between paid social advertising and search engine marketing. We understand this can be a tad confusing and since we’re the professionals here at Spectrum Net Designs, we’d love to help you out! We provide both search engine marketing services and paid social advertising services and know how to use them together, effectively.