It’s 2012 and social media and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are constantly mentioned on mainstream media news and entertainment websites and broadcast programs. Print ads for everything from movies to toothpaste have those ubiquitous little Facebook and Twitter logos, hashtags, and often special social media vanity URLs. The question is does your business need to be involved in social media, is it worth the time, what’s the benefit and is there ROI somewhere at the end of the tunnel?
At the current time, in my opinion, there simply isn’t an excuse for your company not to be involved in social media. In 2011 SEOMoz did a study and showed social media helped with SEO efforts. In early 2012 Search Engine Land showed that 20% of all searches had a author icon result in it (see How to Create a Google Author Profile for more information). With an enhanced listing if you aren’t using social media as tool to get a rich snippet in the SERPs and your competition is, you are playing from a disadvantage.
[pullquote]if you aren’t using social media as tool to get a rich snippet in the SERPs and your competition is, you are playing from a disadvantage…[/pullquote] Smart marketers have realized SEO, and search engines are only one channel of an overall marketing strategy. You should be using email marketing, print, SEO, and social media combined to make your website immune to algorithm updates. IMHO this social validation is now part of Google’s algorithm, and if you aren’t engaging in more than one type of marketing, Google is going to notice it, or more correctly not notice it, and your website will suffer.
It’s not simply a matter of having social profiles on all the prominent and important social websites, it’s being involved that counts too. Use social services like KnowEm to secure your profiles to prevent any trademark issues. Test and try each of platforms to see where your customers are, where you get the most engagement, where you get the most traffic, where you get the most links, and most importantly where you get the most sales. Once you know which channel is most effective interlink the rest crosspost from your Twitter profile to Facebook if that’s what works for you. If Facebook works better crosspost to Twitter. If Pinterest is what drives your traffic then focus your efforts on creating the most crazy awesome wedding board you can create. As Steve Martin says “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You”.
Unless you happen to be in a very specialized niche, chances are Facebook or Twitter is where you’ll find most of your audience. Google Plus is ghost town unless you are chasing Web 2.0 weenies (or Google employees … yeah I went there). If you get traffic from other social sites and want to enable cross posting look into services like If This Then That to try to automate the process, and remove the grunt manual labor. Automate your primary feed and with cross posting, and scheduled posts from Hootsuite and/or Bufferapp you’ll be spending less than a hour a day publishing on social media. Thanks to services like Tweriod you’ll have some idea when those ideal times are, without having to be chained to your desk to reach your optimal audience. Just remember customer service is now an interregnal part of social media, use it as a contact starting point to take the discussion offline or out of the public eye whenever possible. It’s not that you’re hiding, it’s that you don’t need to broadcast every part of every customer interaction.
In my opinion having your links pass through social media channels, whether the links are nofollowed or not, creating the corresponding user data, and the developing trusted author accounts are the three biggest areas you have the most to gain from using social media, and again and in my opinion those are the three areas you should spend your time on.