It seems these days that a new app or website is premiered every hour, lauded as the perfect new marketing tool that will revolutionize the marketing industry itself. Until tomorrow, at least.

Marketers often spend more time and effort selling than they do innovating new products or services. It’s a cash flow life support system instead of a true growth tool. Their first and often biggest question is how. How does a company reach its customers without them knowing they have been reached?

The first instinct appears to be the declared holy grail of the 2000s – social media. But is that instinct realistic considering the glut of options in an ever growing/crowded search environment? No, not if you want to be a standout in the vast world of search.

A social media site such as Facebook was developed to provide a portal for a person (or friend) to reach out to other people (or friends) to communicate life’s events. What better way to surreptitiously slip in your marketing message than alongside pictures of Tom’s graduation, or Suzie’s new (third) cat?

Cute kitties, and caps & gowns notwithstanding, no marketer wants to anger the true socializing users enough to be ignored – or even worse – be relegated into the caldron of SPAM. Done correctly, social media can help develop awareness and credibility. Done incorrectly and it can become a time suck, largely because websites like Facebook are designed to make money. For them. Facebook, because of their industry prominence is able to virtually kill organic search results by limiting access without payment.

Other social media outlets such as Snapchat or Instagram, and dozens of other social sites are not designed as marketing tools at all, and marketers should be wary of spending too much effort on promotion or sales. That is not to say that a presence on social media should be avoided outright, but used as a part of your overall marketing scheme. There is no denying that every marketers dream is for their product to be involved in a viral phenomenon that puts your name or product on every desktop.

If you are willing to do the research, you may find you would be better off expanding your SEO efforts to create your own organic results. You can supplement those results by running paid advertising that allows you to completely control the content, and spin your message as you see fit.

The bottom line is that proper SEO and organic search techniques will tend to be more time worthy. Marketing is as much an art as it is science. Focus your attention on results, and stay away from social sites unless you happen to be selling cat food or graduation announcements.