The launch of Google+ certainly put social search on the table, raising awareness within agencies and brands alike after an initial frenzy over the combined concept in 2010.

And while separately they have their strengths, it’s not an either/or situation, or even placing more emphasis on one over the other – both are an essential part of a marketer’s toolkit. 

Like many others, MDG Advertising suggests that the two channels hold exponentially more power when marketers use them in tandem.

The agency has observed how the two online methods measure up on their own, and in sync.

For instance, search is more effective for some online objectives such as lead generation (which seems to be the consensus among both B2C and B2B marketers).

While building brand awareness involves a completely different marketing approach that makes increasing exposure the primary mission. Most marketers agree that social media is superior to search marketing for these scenarios.

When it comes to maximising the visibility of local businesses, twice as many consumers rely on search engines. This statistic holds true for different industries, from professional services to restaurants and bars.

Finally, most marketers prefer social media over search marketing when the goal is interactivity. Social media nurtures an ongoing online dialogue and creates a genuine sense of connection that simply cannot be achieved by search alone.

The real winner? A double-team approach.

For further reading, we covered social search in our third Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, produced in partnership with Adobe – which looks at the role of social signals for determining search rankings. 

Plus, Tom Albrighton plays devil’s advocate in his piece from last year, which considers the six problems with social search.