When it comes to finding your potential clients on the internet, there are two main ways you can do this: Google and social media.

So you may be wondering:

  • Which channel is better, Google or social media?
  • Which channel will generate higher quality leads?
  • Which channel is the most cost-effective for lead generation?
  • Which channel is best for me and my business?
  • Which channel is it best to use first if I’m just getting started?

In this article, I’ll go through the pros and cons of Google and social media, when it comes to lead generation, so you can make an educated decision as to which channel is best for you and your business.

First, let’s go through a quick recap of how lead generation on Google and social media normally works.

How Google lead generation works

There are two mains ways you can generate leads on Google:

Google Pay Per Click (PPC) and Google organic search

What is Google PPC?

When someone types something in Google, your website can appear at the top of the search results relatively quickly, by paying Google to be there. You pay every time someone clicks on your sponsored advert.

What is Google organic search?

When someone types something in Google, your website ranks on Google, without you having to pay to be there. Ranking on Google organically takes longer than ranking using Google PPC.

How social media lead generation works

Similar to Google, you can generate leads organically or do paid advertising on social media.

It’s worth mentioning though, that social media plays a very important part, not just in lead generation, but also in helping you:

  • Build a stronger brand
  • Connect to those in your audience
  • Provide support
  • Answer questions
  • Build new relationships
  • And more…

For the sake of this comparison though, I’ll be focusing on the lead generation side of social media only.

How does organic social media lead generation work?

This involves following or connecting with the right people (your potential clients), engaging with them (building rapport/trust) and reaching out to them to start conversations (to generate leads).

How does paid social media lead generation work?

You pay money to the social media channels (such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter) in return to show adverts to people in your target audience (your potential clients).

Those adverts allow your potential clients to consume free educational content provided by you, in return for their contact details (usually their name and email).

This allows you to collect leads (or data) on potential clients for you to follow up with later.

Does it matter what social media channel you use to generate leads?

All the social media channels allow you to generate leads in a very similar way.

You find your potential clients on social media (by building a targeted audience), reach out to them (with a message or advert) and get them interested in what you do through free educational content.

To decide on which social media channel(s) to use (from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and/or Instagram), will depend on who you’re targeting and which social media channel(s) they are most likely to be on.

Okay, now that you know how lead generation on social media and Google works, let’s go through the pros and cons for each channel and see how they compare against each other.

Google vs Social Media – The Comparison

Both can produce excellent results when used correctly.

Here are the pros and cons for both channels and at the end of this guide, I’ll also go through my personal recommendations on how to get the best results from both Google and social media.

The Google advantage:

1. Google allows you to target people based on intent

When you’re looking to buy something, where do you normally go?

That’s right, Google.

You might search for “best [whatever service you’re looking for] in [your area]” or something similar.

That is Google’s biggest advantage.

When people are looking to buy something, people usually search for it on Google.

If you rank high on Google for keywords that indicate someone is looking to buy your services, you can usually get a high amount of leads, sales and conversions.

That’s because on Google, you can target people who are actively looking for your services.

2. Google PPC allows you to rank for keywords fast!

Although ranking organically on Google takes time, if you use Google PPC, you can rank for all kinds of different keywords almost instantly.

The short wait time and the fact you can target people who are actively looking for your services, also allows you to test how well your services, content and other offers will be received by those in your audience.

3. Google organic rankings have huge potential

Although it takes a long time to happen, if you do rank your website organically for lots of keywords related to your business and its services, you can generate leads at no cost every single day.

You will rarely have to worry about generating more traffic, leads and sales in your business.

The Google disadvantage:

1. You gotta either pay or wait to rank for keywords

If you want to rank quickly for different competitive keywords, you have to pay Google to be there (through Google PPC).

Google PPC is also usually more expensive than social media advertising (especially when compared to Facebook ads).

And although ranking organically on Google has huge potential, it usually take a long time (weeks, months or even years – depending on how much competition you have).

2. You can’t always target the right kind of people

Whether you do Google PPC or rank organically, anyone can search on Google.

This includes your competitors, people who might not have the budget to work with you or people who might not be the right fit for your type of company.

And yes, you can target people with some demographic information on Google, but it’s nowhere near as powerful as the demographic targeting options you get on Facebook or LinkedIn.

For example, if you want to target CEO’s of businesses in London which have between 50 to 250 employees, you can do this quite easily on LinkedIn.

On Google, however, with a paid advertising campaign (or ranking organically) you could be getting traffic from businesses that are much smaller, from competitors or others that are not a good fit.

The social media advantage:

1. Social media allows you to generate more leads

The truth is, not everyone who needs your services is searching for it

There are a lot of things I probably need or am thinking about buying. But I don’t always search for it on Google. Why? I’m busy. And so are many more people these days.

However, on social media, I see relevant ads and content ALL the time.

Sometimes I see things I didn’t even know existed through social media (so I would have never thought about searching for them) and think “wow, this is such a great solution for [a problem/challenge] I have”.

Social media allows you to get in front of the right people AND present your solution to their challenges whether they search for a solution or not.

This means, in many cases, you can actually generate more leads on social media compared to Google PPC.

I know companies spending thousands on Google PPC and social media every day. And they all say social media is the no.1 traffic and lead generation channel for their business.

2. Social media has powerful targeting options

All the social media channels allow you to drill down and really find the right kind of people you want as clients.

See also: how can you find your ideal clients on social media

The two channels that do this especially well are LinkedIn and Facebook.

On Google, you can target people on age, location and some demographic information such as income, but they don’t have that much data on people compared to Facebook and LinkedIn.

On social media, you can target people based on job titles, company size, location, and (one of my favourites) their interests.

Interests include things like:

  • What books do they read?
  • What business influencers do they follow?
  • What websites do they visit?
  • What Facebook pages have they liked?
  • What apps or software do they use?
  • And so on…

This really allows you to drill down and find the right kind of people for you and your business.

And with the right content, you can attract those people as leads, then follow up and nurture them into sales.

3. Social media allows you to generate leads from Google traffic

Another powerful social media feature is retargeting.

On Google (through PPC or organic traffic) people will visit your website and then chances are, most people will leave without contacting you.

They might just be doing research, comparing options and so on.

This might also be the first time they’ve heard about you, so they still might not trust you enough yet.

With social media, you can track people that visit your website (or specific pages on your website) and then show them adverts when they go to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or even when they visit other websites on the internet.

The purpose of these retargeting social media campaigns, is to generate leads and build trust with people that have already been on your website.

This type of retargeting is a very effective way to convert lost traffic from your website into leads.

(And, it’s also very cost-effective to do this… you can get started spending as little as £3 / $3 a day – depending on how much website traffic you get).

So, if you’re not yet retargeting people who visit certain pages of your website (such as your contact page or pricing page), you could be missing out on some quick-wins for leads and sales.

4. You pay less to generate leads on social media

Although it differs from industry to industry, overall, Google has been found to be more expensive to generate leads.

However, don’t let “more expensive” put you off. If you have to pay more for leads, but those are good quality leads you’re generating a good ROI, it’s not a bad thing.

But, there are probably some ways you can save money if you are doing Google PPC (see the “A balanced Google and social media strategy that works” section below).

The social media disadvantage:

1. Organic social media is (almost) dead

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

Organic social media is still alive and kicking. But it is on the decline.

Especially on Facebook.

Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram still have pretty decent reach organically. But on Facebook, it’s practically dead for business pages unless you do paid advertising.

On all social media channels though, one thing is for sure:

Because of increased competition and the fact that more businesses are flocking to social media, it’s getting increasingly difficult to be seen unless you seriously stand out from the crowd (with amazing content!) or you do paid advertising – or even better, do both!

2. Social media is a fast-changing world

If you’re thinking about using social media, you must know that this is a world that is changing fast. Algorithms and social media advertising platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are changing all the time.

What worked one month, might not work the next. Or, one feature that didn’t work well the previous month, might work very well the next month.

So, if you want to do social media for your business seriously, you (or someone in your team) will need to invest the time to keep up to date with all these changes or you will need to at least hire a social media consultant or social media agency to help you.

A balanced Google and social media strategy that works

So if you’re thinking about using social media and/or Google for generating leads for your business, here is what I recommend: do a bit of both.

Focus on each channels strengths and use that to your advantage.

This is what you have to do:

Step 1: Create content on a regular basis

Creating content (blogs, articles, videos, etc) with keywords that people type in Google is one of the most powerful things you can do to rank organically.

It’s crazy how many businesses are still NOT creating content on a regular basis.

This isn’t optional anymore.

If you want your business to crush it online, you need to understand you’re in the business of media (whether you like it or not) and you need to be creating content.

And it’s that content that allows you to rank on Google for free!

Yes, it doesn’t happen overnight, but in time, the more content you create, the more free targeted traffic you will start to get on Google.

On top of that, there are countless other benefits to creating content, including helping you build trust with your prospects so that they convert into clients and helping you generate leads.

So if you’re not creating content: start today.

Hire a copywriter if you don’t have the time to do it yourself or even hire us and we’ll do it for you. I don’t care how you do it, just start creating content.

It is a long-term strategy, but one that is essential for success in this day and age.

See also: How your business can rank higher on Google organically

How often should you create content?

As a minimum, once a month. In a best case scenario, three times a week.

Most of our clients fall somewhere in between.

For you, it will largely depend on your time, budget and resources.

If you’re just getting started with content, digital and social media marketing, I recommend you start small (create content once or twice a month) and then work your way up from there.

Step 2: Start a social media campaign

By doing step 1, you will have put in place a strategy that will help you generate free traffic from Google on a regular basis without having to spend any money on Google PPC.

However, if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking… “What can I do NOW to get some results?”

You can launch a social media lead generation campaign.

Since you’re already focusing on getting traffic from Google by doing step 1, the social media lead generation campaign will allow you to use the content you’re already creating to generate leads right now and to use that content to nurture and convert those leads into clients.

The sooner you can start generating leads and growing your email database the better and fast you’ll be able to get results.

See also: The 5 steps to start and run a successful social media campaign

Step 3 (optional): Launch a Google PPC campaign

If you want to maximise your results even more, now would be a good time to explore Google paid advertising.

I put step 3 as optional, because in steps 1 and 2, you’ll already be generating leads from social media and start to generate traffic from Google organically (for free).

However, if you want faster results with Google and you’re hungry for more leads on another channel, you can run a Google PPC campaign, while the content on your website is building up organic traffic in the background.

Over time, as you start to rank higher on Google organically as a result of your content creation and your social media campaign, you can test and see when it would be a good time to start spending less on Google ads and potentially redirect that budget elsewhere.

For example, if you’re already ranking first on Google for a phrase related to one of the services you provide, it might be a good idea to NOT spend money on Google PPC for that keyword and instead spend that money elsewhere (such as on social media).

Ready to get started?

I provide ‘done-for-you’ social media services through my social media agency, as well as one-to-one training and strategic coaching sessions if you prefer to do everything yourself.

So, if you need help with implementing these 3 steps in your business, feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns and I’ll be more than happy to help.