More and more, social media is an intrinsic requirement for search engine optimization success. It’s now difficult to envisage a successful link building campaign without some element of social media, and even harder to imagine an online brand building strategy that didn’t reference at least one or two social media properties. Resources such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are mainstream outlets for optimized content and inbound link building, while online press release distribution channels and article marketing sites are a mainstay of most SEO campaigns.
Despite its relative infancy, social media is firmly entrenched in search engine marketing, but thought leaders are generating so many applications, uses, ideas, and opinions that it can be difficult to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Because of the nature of social media with everyone entitled to their opinion and keen to voice it, there’s so much information to sift through that figuring out what’s acceptable and profitable can be a marketing minefield.
Whether you want to make more out of your social media work or are keen to dip a toe in blogging and networking for the first time for SEO reasons, follow these top tips for social media success…
1. Be focused on your goals.
Before you even begin a social media campaign, decide on the goal. Is it to raise online awareness of your brand and products? Do you want to solicit feedback on services from your online community? Do you want to build links for search engine optimization reasons or simply direct more traffic to your website? Having a clear idea of what you are setting out to achieve will avoid an aimless, directionless presence. Once established, revisit these goals as priorities and expectations may well change after practical experience.
2. Be clear about your brand identity.
Just as you would think long and hard about how you want your business and brand to be marketed and perceived in a TV advert or press advertisement, be very clear on your brand identity before venturing into social media. Unlike some forms of search engine marketing (such as pay per click), social media marketing can take on a life of its own and be passed from reader to reader without any element of control on the part of the issuing company. Once released, a social media comment, image, or content is permanent, so it must accurately convey organizational values and purposes the first time round.
3. Be open to interaction.
Interaction is the lifeblood of social media and can make or break a campaign. If you’re committed to using social media as part of your off page optimization activities or need to use a blog or Twitter feed to drive traffic to your site, you must bite the bullet and allow comments and feedback. Don’t disable options for comments or remarks on your social media profiles – if nothing else, these pointers will help to tailor postings so that they move closer to achieving social media goals.
4. Give something back.
Social media is community-based, and like most communities, it’s expected that you give something back. Don’t simply bombard your Twitter feeds with sales posts or your blog with marketing messages — entice and encourage repeat visitors and followers by offering something in return. The most successful companies use their social media outlets to give exclusive discount codes, special offers, or previews of new products before they hit the mainstream.
In addition to replying to questions and comments as a way of building a physical network of fans and followers, network your various social media profiles. If you have a Squidoo lens, for example, you can set it up to automatically update your Twitter feed. Likewise with Facebook, you can set up your profile so that status updates appear as a Tweet at the same time. You can also link to your Twitter and Facebook pages from your main company website, so that casual visitors can engage with you on a more informal level. Prospective clients are also more likely to check their own social networking pages more often than your website, so it’s a great way to keep in touch.