Social media started as an underground college phenomenon. Of course, where there are people, marketers will go. And so, marketers entered into the environment. Social-media marketing was first viewed as a standalone strategy. As it gained mainstream momentum, marketers started incorporating it into a cohesive outreach plan. It started to serve the greater marketing good instead of cultivating relationships in isolation. Now, concrete statistics are being released that prove how social media can tangibly support marketing efforts and the bottom line. In October, MediaPost reported that users exposed to social media marketing are almost three times as likely to search using branded keyword terms. Furthermore, websites saw a 50 percent lift in click-through rates across the board when consumers had been exposed to social media and paid search.
There are unmistakable areas of marketing that social media support, such as customer service, brand awareness, and customer relationship management. But social media does more than keep you in contact with target audiences; it has additional, unexpected benefits across marketing channels. Forging relationships with users on social media has lasting impacts on how consumers find and relate to brands online.
Search engine optimization and marketing
At first glance, there isn't an obvious connection between social media and SEO. Social media stimulates off-site conversation and interaction, whereas search engine optimization aims to pull traffic to a website. That being said, social media does impact SEO efforts, especially in the area of link building.
Self promotion does not work well on social media, so marketers are faced with generating interesting content to share with their social audiences. This content is shared, distributed, and discussed on forums -- resulting in links. The more people referencing content, the more traction it will gain, and this buzz will drive consumers to search engines, where they be directed to branded web properties.
Social media also affords marketers the chance to create new, less competitive keywords to call their own. A great example of this is the wacky "Will it Blend?" video series for Blendtec blenders. These videos are widely circulated across social media, so product awareness is high. However, the odds of someone searching for a "blendtec blender" are slimmer than a user searching for "will it blend blender." In situations like this, marketers can and should plan out a search marketing strategy to capitalize on socially spurred keywords. Terms like "iPhone blender" will be less competitive, carry more brand value, and create a lasting impression with users. Three bonuses that marketers can use bring social users to their websites.
Beyond drawing social media traffic to a managed website, marketers need to afford users the chance to push website content out through their social spheres of influence. Doing so will have a direct impact on SEO and social media efforts.
While the adoption of "Share this" buttons is pervasive, there are other options that marketers can employ to boost search engine visibility. Providing users and bloggers with code to share and post content on your behalf will greatly enhance the reach of your content and increase in-bound links to your website. If you're running a promotion or contest, give users the tools to share their scores or customized content. If you host a popular blog, incorporate means for fellow bloggers to link to your post. Giving this option will build brand credibility because consumers are marketing on your behalf, and it builds a community of brand supporters.
SEO tips to keep in mind
Make sure the links you share via social media do not include tracking code that would prevent PageRank from being passed, otherwise no SEO value will be gained. If you're securing links, you should get credit for them. Also, when creating headlines for content -- blogs, articles, or otherwise -- make sure they are optimized with targeted keywords. If possible, try to optimize page titles independent of one another to get the most SEO value.
Paid search campaigns are also augmented by social media. As the Media Post statistics show, users engaged with brands via social media are likely to start their search queries using lower funnel terms. This can decrease a sales cycle because users can be directed to relevant landing pages that expedite their conversion. Similar to SEO keyword competition, lower funnel, branded PPC keywords are far less competitive and have higher conversion rates.
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