What is the better short-term investment: Google or social media?

- April 24, 2018 4 MIN READ

As a business owner it can be difficult, and at times downright confusing, to decide what will be more beneficial for your operation in the short term – an investment in Google, or an investment in social media. There is no universally correct answer, as this question depends on many distinct factors. What industry are you in? What do you yourself qualify as being short-term? Do you have strong existing digital marketing abilities, or will you have to hire someone with this expertise?

By taking the time to accurately assess the strengths of your business, as well as your short-term goals, it is possible to determine which marketing method is best for you. Search engine optimisation and search engine marketing may seem like daunting concepts to the uninitiated – but there is no need to feel intimidated. SEO is a more organic way of being located by prospective clients, and SEM targets your intended audience like nothing else. Social media marketing, both the free ‘creative’ type and the paid type, is fantastic for garnering engagement and showcasing the best that your business has to offer. It would be impossible to discuss every burgeoning Australian industry in one sitting – so the following is a brief examination of four major industries and their respective marketing requirements.

Food service industry

The Australian food service business is an industry giant – it encompasses all restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, anywhere that serves meals, snacks and beverages. Its popularity should come as no surprise – we are a multicultural nation that loves our food, and we pride ourselves on our rich and varied café culture. In the short-term, the smartest move is to invest in Google. Your customers are searching locally, and thereby turn to Google when they want to learn about the newest street food vendor or nearby café. This makes SEO and SEM crucial tools for getting your business onto that first results page. To increasing your visibility in local searches, start by optimising your Google My Business Account. Consistently advertised working hours, prices and reviews on all your listings should go a long way to preventing a drop in your search rankings.

Retail trade

Retail trade is a broad term – the ABS divides retail into six industry groups, and then again into many other industry subgroups – hence there is no point making one rule for all retail based marketing. For example, if your business is apparel, and your potential customers are social media users, then this type of marketing is the way forward.  The fact remains that 47% of millennial aged people say that their purchases are influenced by the content of social media, and 84% of social media users say they have followed a brand or liked a product via a social platform. Therefore, promoting your business consistently across the main social media platforms is going to allow you to reach far more potential customers than a flyer campaign would (although flyer campaigns are still effective and have their place in marketing strategy). The great news is that creative social media marketing is free, unless you incur any small costs from producing custom content. On the other hand, if your retail business is electricals your target market is much more likely to be Googling for answers than perusing Instagram, and therefore a short-term investment in Google marketing will prove a better use of your time.


If your business is in e-commerce, a strong SEO and SEM strategy is going to be the most beneficial to you in the short-term. Ranking higher in search engine results is a factor that internet users associate with authenticity and reputability. Using Pay Per Click ads means that you will begin seeing visitors to your website as soon as you start your campaign. Establishing daily and monthly budgets and maximum bids according to your ROI will keep your campaign on track. Link building is a SEO tactic that can successfully boost traffic to your website. Take Airtasker, an online mobile marketplace where users outsource everyday tasks to community members. A versatile link building strategy contributed to this company’s eventual 7, 251% increase in website traffic. If you do not feel confident implementing SEO best practices on your own, it may be worth hiring an experienced professional. SEO, as well as SEM, can be time consuming if you are brand new to the process. Having said this, it is well worth investigating what social media marketing can do for your e-commerce business as well. According to Forbes magazine, businesses that utilise influencer marketing have a 37% better retention rate than businesses who do not. Finding a social media influence that is a perfect fit for your core brand values has the potential to be a sound short-term marketing investment.


The tourism industry in Australia is comprised of approximately 270, 000 businesses. Google’s ‘Traveller’s Road to Decision’ tells us that search engines are leisure traveller’s first choice for online travel planning, and the second choice for those who travel for business. SEM can get expensive if you are endeavouring to launch a campaign in a competitive industry, as you essentially ‘pay to play’ for keywords. Therefore, a thorough SEO campaign that implements the current best practices is recommended. Best practices are subject to frequent change because Google alters its ranking algorithms.  You could unknowingly end up being penalised by Google if you have duplicate content on your site, or engage in excessive reciprocal link swapping.

Ascertaining what marketing tactics to adopt in the short-term requires a thorough understanding of your target audience, and your own skill set. Practices such as search engine optimisation may be easy to implement and maintain if you have the necessary expertise but if you do not have the time or the know-how, you will need to turn to a professional for guidance. If your potential market are frequent social media users, creative social media campaigns are an ideal route to go down. However, setting up social media accounts for your business will provide customers with a public platform to air any dissatisfaction – so you’ll need to know how you will deal with this eventuality beforehand. Google and social media marketing tactics have so much to offer small businesses, and the best type of digital marketing strategy will integrate both methods. A systematic understanding of your businesses strengths, target market, and short-term goals will allow you to make the best marketing decisions for the immediate future.