Social networking vs. search engine marketing – what should you be doing?

I was putting this post together for readers of my Local Business Marketing blog at when I realized how important these stats are for retailers, developers, community owners and anyone in the MH industry who do business on a local level. So here it is. It’s a quick read but carries a small wealth of information.

“Ten years ago, your marketing effectiveness was a function of your wallet. Today, its a function of the width of your brain” – B. Halligan

Recently Microsoft gathered some numbers on Internet usage and here is what they found:

  • 86% of searchers start at a major search engine when shopping online.
  • Even when consumers plan to purchase offline, they often go online first.
  • 42% of retail sales in 2009 were online or “web-influenced”.
  • $917 billion in US sales were “web-influenced”.
  • 63% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.
  • 44% of local businesses have a web site.
  • 50% use search engines first for local business information.
  • 24% use the Yellow Pages first.

Which Search Engines are the most important?

  • Google: 49.2%
  • Yahoo: 23.8%
  • MSN/Bing: 9.6%
  • AOL: 6.3%
  • Ask: 2.6%
  • Others: 8.5%

By being properly optimized for and indexed by Google, Yahoo and Bing, you’ve covered 82.6% of all online searches.

How important is it for your local business to be found in a search on one of the top search engines?

The Internet has 1.2 billion users world-wide

Facebook has 350 million user accounts

Twitter has 17 million user accounts

LinkedIn has 35 65 million user accounts

FourSquare has 1 million user accounts

So even the incredibly popular Facebook only accounts for 29% of Internet users, an astonishing number in it’s own right, but it still leaves 71% of Internet users unaccounted for. Would you bar 71% of customers from your business?

Social networking is an important part of marketing online, but it is in addition to, not in place of search engine marketing, whether using Search Engine Optimization or Pay-per-Click advertising.

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