Online retail and recession, social media and search

by Steve Seager on May 6, 2009 . Views: 11

In his post today, Adam Ostrow, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, makes some interesting observations on this just published report on who is spending what in the social media arena in 2009. Bear in mind he is talking about online retailers, social media marketing and search engine marketing.

The gist of what Adam says is that where retailers do have money to spend, they are increasing ‘search’ spending because there are ‘simply still more eyeballs to reach through search.’

But surely, there’s a flaw in the retailers’ business logic here. Search is all about exposure – ‘reaching eyeballs’. This means that if you have a half decent conversion rate, and a lot of money to burn, you can, hopefully, maybe; manage your progression through the recession.

Does that make a good business strategy in a recession? I think not.

A good strategy during recession is to build brand loyalty, entrench your brand, reach your customers directly, build lasting relationships and sneak market share from under your competitors’ noses.

As Adam mentions, those who don’t have money to spend are shifting spend towards social media. Good move. In addition, they are cutting search spend, simply because they have more of their money invested there.

Although it may seem that these retailers are losing out on valuable search, if you develop your social media and content strategy well, you can build a fantastic organic SEO footprint.

In our experience, this can, over time, build search visibility equivalent to paid search. Don’t take our word for it; there are lots of great examples out there, including this great case study by David Meerman Scott and some words of wisdom by Brent Csutoras, SEO guru.

In a nutshell, I think that those being hit hardest by the recession are also being forced to innovate, adapt. And that’s a positive thing. And those businesses under pressure are learning quicker than those who have money to ‘burn’. Where search is about traffic, social media offers opportunities for better conversion. And which would you rather have in recession? Reach more eyeballs or convert more sales?

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