Winning the Customer Attention Battle: SEO vs. Social Media

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In an ever-evolving world, businesses must capture potential customers’ attention to survive and thrive.

SEO and social media have proven to be effective strategies for winning customer attention in recent years. Startups have transformed into unicorns thanks to SEO’s massive clicks, while social media has rocketed brands to fame through vast followings. But which strategy is superior in attracting customer attention?

Having experienced both as a startup founder, currently generating more than €40,000 worth of SEO traffic monthly and clocking in over a million views on social media, I feel equipped to assess their pros and cons. For those looking deeper into how to maximize their SEO efforts, the comprehensive services offered by DigitalSpotlight US can provide additional insights and tools necessary for success.

I’ll also offer a peek into my core strategy for succeeding in SEO and social media.

Let’s first examine each approach individually:


What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is about ranking your business page for relevant keywords. For instance, if you run a “weight loss for mothers” business, you want to be found when someone searches “get rid of pregnancy fat”.

Choosing the right keywords is crucial, and quality content is a must. Keyword stuffing, a tactic from 20 years ago, won’t cut it today. Competition is fierce, particularly in popular niches. If that’s where you find yourself, I suggest specializing further to differentiate yourself.

Yet, SEO remains an opportunity magnet, unmatched in targeting efficiency. SEO helps us generate over €40,000 in traffic, translating to thousands of free users for our SaaS offering. This feat would have been near-impossible on a tight budget. But money isn’t everything when it comes to raising brand awareness.


What is Social Media Marketing

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With nearly 5 billion active users, social media is arguably the top information disseminator. Brands like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram serve as prime platforms for many influencers like Alex Hormozi, who equates social media attention to “21st-century oil.”

Case in point, social media mogul, MrBeast, has garnered over 250 million followers across platforms at just 25. His mounting influence has led to lucrative ventures like “Feastables,” now valued over $1 billion.

However, you don’t need millions of followers to reap benefits. I’ve managed to cultivate a following of nearly 20,000, generating 1 million views monthly for our startup. I’ve experienced first-hand the impact of this following, in fans recognizing me, or landing a five-figure deal.

The key is to identify the right platform, create standout posts, maintain consistency, and nurture your followers. While it may seem daunting, it’s incredibly effective at converting followers into customers. The trust built with followers by viewing your content generates lasting customer relationships. I’ve been approached by followers in public that our content has helped them, which has never happened to me with our paid ads that have been viewed several million times. That’s a testament to the real value of social media engagement.


Direct Comparison: SEO vs. Social Media

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Now let’s make a direct comparison between the two methods and divide the whole thing into different categories:

How Easy it is to Start and Maintain

Let’s compare SEO and social media from a beginner’s perspective. Regardless of your prior knowledge, both options seem alluring due to their low entry barriers. It’s easy to set up a blog for SEO or a social media account.

However, true success isn’t instant. It requires a learning phase and consistent efforts. While maintaining SEO may seem less labour-intensive than social media, it doesn’t necessarily make it the superior choice; both channels serve different purposes and have their unique benefits. It’s all about leveraging them effectively for your business. Thus, the catchy thought of “the grass is greener on the other side” applies here—despite the easy start, patience and perseverance are needed to taste success in both SEO and social media marketing.


Comparison of the Scope of Both Methods

Both SEO and social media have the potential to reach an immense global audience. However, they significantly differ in maintaining this reach.

SEO is a long-term game; ranking on Google’s “page 1” isn’t an overnight feat but preserving this status is relatively easy. Contrarily, with social media, you can catapult into instant popularity but you’ll need to consistently feed your followers with fresh content.

It’s important to note that success in both social media and attaining a top Google ranking is highly dependent on your skills. Unless you engage experts, both pathways might require substantial time to yield tangible results. Remember, if you’re averse to a hefty financial expenditure for boosting your growth, then a significant time investment becomes your chosen currency.


Substantial Differences of the Target Groups

Although the users of Google search and social media are inherently the same, their intent differs. Google search users generally have a specific query, whereas social media users casually browse content.

Consider how your target audience perceives their needs. If they are actively seeking a solution, SEO might be preferable. But if they wish to observe quietly before deciding, social media is a suitable choice.

It’s hard to draw a distinct line between the two, but a rule of thumb could be: for product-oriented solutions, SEO is compelling, but for services centralizing your personal brand, social media is advantageous.

Remember, these guidelines are not absolute due to the intricate nature of these fields. If in doubt, choose the pathway you’re most comfortable with and strive to excel in it. Regardless of your offering, neither SEO nor social media is a wrong choice.


Building Relationships to Buy

In concluding the SEO vs Social Media comparison, remember that customers typically require multiple touchpoints before deciding. If using SEO for products or services that aren’t impulse buys, you’ll need a retention mechanism. Social media already provides this by nature, as followers are regularly exposed to your content. Both strategies require ongoing effort to nurture customer relationships.


A Few Concluding Thoughts

There are countless factors that can influence your customer acquisition strategy decision. However, my successful accumulation of €40,000 worth of monthly SEO traffic and 1 million monthly social media impressions was not driven by perfect strategy. Rather, it came from my mantra, “Start imperfectly, rather than procrastinate perfectly.” Doubts always exist, but execution trumps perfection. Now, let’s delve into my practical tips for evolving from a customer attraction novice to a mass-impression generator.


My Strategy: From Zero to Hero

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Establishing and maintaining a process is one thing, mastering it is another. People often quote the axiom of needing 10,000 hours dedicated to an activity to master it. However, this overlooks a crucial factor — constant improvement is key.

As a “growth specialist” myself, I looked around for good ways to integrate steady growth into my company’s daily routine in a sustainable and reliable way. I examined how big tech companies like Spotify, Amazon and others manage their teams to ensure this and came across “agile working”.  Because incorporating agility into your marketing approach allows you to quickly adapt to changing market dynamics, customer preferences, and emerging opportunities, ensuring that your strategies and tactics remain relevant and effective in an ever-evolving landscape. For example, by incorporating agile retrospectives into marketing, teams can foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Consider adding retrospective tools to your tech stack to help with data collection and analysis, enabling your marketing team to make data-driven decisions and implement iterative improvements based on valuable insights gathered from previous campaigns.

Because it’s not rare to observe people making thousands of social media posts with little success.

▶️ Does the algorithm bias stand in my way?

▶️ Am I “shadow banned”?

These speculations, or “broscience” as I call it, miss the point. As someone who has achieved success in these areas, I can spot within seconds why there’s no progress. Most people might have made 1,000 posts, but without skill improvement, post #1,000 is no better than post #1.

For those aiming to be in the top 1%, embracing continuous learning and self-improvement is fundamental.


How to Self-Improve (the most important thing)

When it comes to continuous improvement, there are few principles you need to grasp. While I won’t delve into each in detail, I’ll provide the starting points for you to explore further.

Firstly, it’s important to understand what a learning curve is and how it intersects with the Dunning-Kruger effect. At the onset, learning can seem easy because you’re starting from scratch, so any progress feels significant. This can be exhilarating. But soon, progress slows, despite you seemingly learning the same amount. This is because you’ve mastered the basics and merely “engaging with the subject” no longer yields recognisable results. Now it’s time to deliberately work on improving your skill, and this is when the learning curve flattens precipitously.

This phase aligns with the point on the Dunning-Kruger graph where the steep drop from the peak of “Mount Stupid” plunges you into the “valley of despair”. It might feel like your knowledge has peaked one moment, and the next moment, nothing seemingly works. Nevertheless, congratulations are in order — you’ve graduated from an absolute novice to a beginner.

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Starting from this juncture, you ought to focus on enhancing individual elements of your skill set. To illustrate, if you’re into videography, you might zero in on “sound design,” learning how to use music to create atmosphere and captivate viewers in your videos.

No longer is it enough to just “watch a video” on how things are done, as was the case in the beginning. Instead, it’s a marathon of refining each nuance of your skills, which can feel like running into a wall. You begin to comprehend the massive expanse of your unknown as you attempt to perfect each of these foundational concepts.

Long story short: After navigating “Mount Stupid,” pick one aspect at a time to develop. This process is in accordance with the four stages of learning:

  1. Unconscious incompetence: You’re unaware of your deficiencies. Here, insights from more knowledgeable individuals can help you progress to the next stage.
  2. Conscious incompetence: Now, you know that certain areas need improvement. Reflect and implement necessary changes to transition to level 3.
  3. Conscious competence: You’ve acquired the new skill and can execute it properly while consciously being mindful of it. Here, you should put in the hours to advance to level 4.
  4. Unconscious competence: The skill has been ingrained in you. You can perform the task effortlessly without giving it a second thought, much like riding a bicycle. Now, you pick the next skill and circle back to stage one.


A word of caution: resist the urge to work on too many elements simultaneously. Achieving stages 2 and 3 — the “conscious” levels — requires your undivided attention, which can’t be spread thin across numerous areas. Focus is essential!

Incorporating all of the above with the principle of exponential growth, you’ll notice significant improvement in your ability to attract customer attention in just 1-3 years. In reality, becoming proficient doesn’t take longer; it’s just that individuals either fail to invest adequate hours or don’t learn effectively, only gaining knowledge sporadically and by chance.

However, with the right approach to improvement and by enhancing your skills by just 1% each day, you can become about 38 times better at what you do in a single year. Indeed, though it might seem like those at the top of their game aren’t much better during your “Mount Stupid” phase, they in fact vastly outperform you by about 1000 to 10,000 times. But guess what? By improving 38 times in a year, you’re nearly 1,450 times better in two years than you are now.

Drawing from personal experience, using this approach helped me excel at attracting customers for startups by the time I was 24. Not to boast, but unlike the hollow advice often peddled by so-called “gurus”, this method genuinely works. To illustrate, I’ve never used hashtags or similar tactics for my social media posts, yet they’re seen by hundreds of thousands of individuals even within a niche market in Germany.


Conclusion – Winning the Customer Attraction Battle: SEO vs. Social Media

In conclusion, both social media and SEO are top-tier methods for attracting new customers to your product. Given the pros & cons of each channel you must decide what advantages serve you best:

– Is your target group already engaging in online communities and you have great ideas on how you can contribute to those communities? Then Social Media might be right for you.
– Is your target group using Google search with high-intent to purchase a solution? Then SEO might be the most straightforward channel to attract new customers.

However, always keep in mind that the choice of method is much less crucial than how you implement it. The most important thing for sustainable success in this ever-changing world is to develop the ability for continuous learning and apply it to your areas of expertise.

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