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Adwords Versus Social Media

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

When Adwords is the cheapest ad platform, can social media advertising still have value with a higher cost per acquisition?

At AcornOak, we are known for our meta-thinking and out-of-the-box strategy capabilities but we also often roll up our sleeves and implement all sorts of digital campaigns. In one of our recent clients’ collaborations, our team focused on social media advertising. A B-to-C company that had been investing in Google Adwords as their primary growth campaign decided to experiment with social media advertising.

After the campaign, we reflected on the benefits of social media advertising versus a cheaper google AdWords campaign. We found that there can be many answers depending on the business, audience, and goals.

So to simplify, we would say that:

  • If you want brand awareness or a social following, then Facebook and Instagram ads will achieve that goal.

  • If you want to attract people towards the end of the funnel, Google Search Ads work well.

However, despite AdWords’ lower acquisition cost, we see five qualitative social media campaign benefits to consider.

Five qualitative social media campaign benefits

1. Consumer Attention

Similar to the Superbowl ads, your Instagram story ad is like 30-second storytelling with exclusive consumer attention. It takes at least 30 seconds of storytelling to get their attention and social ads are the quality stories you can afford for that amount of storytelling. They linger longer and come in the form of a story that unfolds as you swipe, one photo at a time.

2. Relationships Building

Social ads are meeting consumers where they are building relationships with family, friends, and peers. Social media users are more likely to share content with their friends and family, therefore spreading awareness of the brand and potentially driving more business. Your brand story is strongest when it meets consumers where they are living their lives.

3. Consumer Understanding

Social ads allow us to fine-tune our understanding of consumers’ behaviors using audience behaviors capability. With Audience behaviors, you’ll be able to accurately select people with specific interests and behaviors, so that you only reach the most relevant audience. To enable you to better serve your ads that meet consumers’ intent and state of mind, this tool highlights consumers’ habits in different ways: buying habits, interest in certain topics, intent to purchase.

4. Community Building

If you build a brand community, you can build a healthy business that will last for a very long time. In order to get the community to engage with your brand, you need to know how often and about what it is that they like to talk about. Therefore, engagement rate and building a brand community is an important KPIs to track in advertising, and for us, it is the future of thriving brands.


The main focus of social media ads is the upper funnel – awareness and consideration stages. Yet, someone could meet with a brand on social media and the next day google a keyword to see the brand ad and be influenced to click on it. According to statistics, people are more likely to click on the ad of the company they have heard about.

Therefore, a business often needs to invest in both awareness and conversion stages to ensure sustainable growth.

We'll end with this question: how do you calculate the value of feeling being in a relationship?

In the current market where trust is low and choices are high, brand relationships are priceless.

Secure your fractional executive today!

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