Google or social media – where do you look to find a business?

Posted on July 11, 2019

 

This week I found myself tagged in yet another social media post where someone had asked for recommendations for a web designer.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s always great to be tagged in these posts because it means someone has thought of me, and Engage Web, when one of their contacts has asked for advice. However, you’ll typically see dozens or even hundreds of people tagged in these posts. They almost never result in a conversation, let alone work, due to the vast numbers of people being tagged.

So while I’m pleased to be tagged (so do keep tagging me), I never get too excited.

What was very interesting about this particular post was that someone replied to the person and commented on how successful his post had been in receiving recommendations. They then had an exchange about why ‘would anyone use Google’, meaning that because you receive so many first-hand recommendations via social media, there’s no need to do the research yourself via a search engine.

They commented how, on Google, you’ll only see people with the largest budgets appearing at the top, rather than people who were actually the best at what they do.

This had me thinking, were they correct and do others really believe that to be the case as well?

Certainly from Engage Web’s perspective, we have received business from both social media and from Google. You’d probably be stunned if we hadn’t, given that’s what we do as a business – help others get sales and leads from the internet. However we certainly haven’t received business via Google because of any large budget, as we don’t use Google AdWords. Everything is organic through content.

So let’s look at the two sources and see how they differ.

Recommendations via social media

This particular example was posted on LinkedIn, but Facebook has a similar method for posting requests for recommendations and then receiving them. You will typically receive a lot of responses, whether on your own personal timeline on LinkedIn or in a group on Facebook. The responses often tag the person who can help you, allowing them to both see a notification they have been tagged and to respond to you.

This saves a lot of time for you.

Ideally the person being tagged is good at what they do, as they’ve been recommended by someone else on a public forum. This should give you peace of mind in contacting them, and potentially using them. However, due to the throwaway nature of recommending someone on social media, it doesn’t automatically follow that they’re very good. Very often, someone will recommend a friend, or someone they know, just because they know they offer that service. They haven’t necessarily used them, or have any idea how good they are. If they’re in a networking group together, such as BNI, they’ll often recommend that person just because they’re in the networking group together.

It’s a good idea, therefore, to ask when you post for recommendations that people only respond if they have actually used that person’s services themselves. Of course, whether or not they read that far into your post is another matter.

Another issue with social media is the ‘lowest bidder mentality’. With any service, web design especially, there’s always someone who will do it for beer money or, worse, for the experience. When you receive dozens of people tagged in a post, you’ll get everything from full service agencies who have worked with high street brands, to someone’s nephew who has read a blog on web design and wants to build some websites before he goes to college.

You’re not comparing apples with apples.

Using Google to find a business

When you use Google to search for a business, you’ll be finding companies you have never heard of, and have not received a recommendation for them. You don’t ‘know them from Adam’ as it were, and could be forgiven for thinking it’s impossible to choose a decent company.

However, Google does a lot of the work for you. Google’s search algorithm doesn’t just rank websites at the top as soon as they’re created. There’s a lot that goes into it, such as relying on the age of the website, its content, its history, the quality of the build and design, the link profile and many other factors.

This means you won’t find the ‘amateurs who have just read how to do it’ on the first page of Google. You’ll find companies Google has trusted.

There are other factors you can look at as well. Does the website have an SSL certificate? That’s the padlock in the browser and a domain starting with https:// instead of http://. Having an SSL means the website is secure. They have paid a little more for their hosting, so are they a little more trustworthy?

Do they have a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook? Look at their recommendations on Facebook and how they respond to customers across both platforms. When were their social media profiles set up? Do they have clients listed on their website? Do they have testimonials on their website?

All of this will allow you to determine whether or not they’re a decent company who will do what they say they will.

At the end of the day, it’s perhaps a good idea to use both methods as a means to finding the right business. Weigh up the results you receive from both. Also add weighting to the recommendations you receive from social media. If, for example, you’re looking for a photographer for your daughter’s wedding and you receive a recommendation from ‘Kev’ from the pub about his mate ‘Gav’, and you receive another recommendation from someone who runs a gallery for a photographer who has exhibited in said gallery, perhaps don’t treat each recommendation with equal gravitas.

Where do you look for your recommendations?

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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