We often hear that search and social are very similar. While there are definitely similarities in some regards, they are very different in the way they generate business. Specifically, the way they drive customers to you utilize pretty much opposite strategies.
The easiest way to understand the real difference in strategy is to look at the business model comparison of a food truck and a restaurant. Both serve food just as both search and social are supposed to serve you customers, but their philosophies are very different.
With a food truck, the idea is to go to where the people are and entice them to buy your food for the sake of convenience and serendipity. To do this, they select areas of high population and put their trucks in good locations at the right time - a busy office area around lunch time, for example.
WIth a restaurant, the goal is to pull people into the restaurant. You can't move the restaurant, so you have to entice them to make the trip to see you. There's the beauty of consistency that helps. People will see your restaurant in their travels and may decide to stop by one day. They may even seek your type of food and your proximity to them can make you a valid place to eat.
Social is like a food truck. It's active. It's on the go. It doesn't wait for people to come to it. It actively pursues business, trying different places and different times, even different messages on its flag from time to time. This isn't trying to be the destination. It's trying to catch people while they're at other destinations in hopes of grabbing their attention.
Search is, of course, like the restaurant. You can't take a restaurant to the people, so you have to wait for the people to come to the restaurant. Search is passive - people have to make the conscious decision to go to the search engine and find you, either by name if they already know you or in a general search for your type of "food" in your location.
Having this understanding can help dealers to realize that it's not a matter of focusing on either one or the other. They are going after different types of shoppers. Search passively waits for active shoppers while social actively tries to compel people to shop at that moment.
They're not equal. Search is an essential and social is a bonus. However, when the right strategies are applied to them, there's a tremendous opportunity to hit different people with the same purpose or to hit the same people from different angles. Either way, they both work to generate more sales.