As important as your website is, it isn’t your only shot at telling the world who you are.
Social media gives businesses a chance to express their personality in a setting that often feels more personal than a website – an effective social media strategy focuses on developing a brand that naturally appeals to visitors.
Though Google made it very clear through statements in a 2014 video by Matt Cutts and a subsequent video by John Mueller that social signals like numbers of Facebook and Twitter followers do NOT have a direct effect on search rankings, we believe that social media plays a crucial part in a company’s marketing strategy. It helps in a number of tangible and less tangible ways.
And just because social signals are not officially part of ranking algorithms now doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Google and Twitter’s recent deal is evidence that the search engine giant is quite possibly working to further integrate social media into its search results – to test this, just Google a celebrity and see if their Twitter profile or recent tweets appear in the results. It’s as if their latest 140-character posts are as important as any news articles about them.
There are several other important takeaways we can gain from the many analyses that have been done to evaluate the budding connection between social and SEO, including the fact that social media profiles rank in search engines. So just think, the next time someone Googles your brand, it could be your social media profile that pops up first.
So as we wait in limbo for an official connection to be announced between social media and SEO, there are ways to create a strong social media presence for your brand – and who knows, you could be improving your rankings without even realising it.
- Go where your followers tend to congregate. In other words, just as different audiences gravitate towards different social media outlets, so should businesses. For example, LinkedIn is great for a B2B service looking to reach out to fellow professionals and company decision makers, while Instagram and its strict focus on images really works for fashion-related businesses. Consider where your audience hangs out online, and take a look at engagement rates to identify the channel or channels where it makes the most sense to focus your time. Give most of your attention to those outlets and you should find that you’re able to connect with the right people.
- Increase your number of followers organically. Trying to gain new followers and increase your social media reach might seem like an obvious goal, but as with so many things in life, it’s not what you do but how you do it. Google and legitimate users can detect the quality of your followers, so if you purchase “spammy” followers, it won’t help with your reputation and probably won’t increase engagement. Instead, you want to focus on building your audience organically.Organic followers are those that willingly interact with your page; the ones who are actually interested in what your business has to say. For example, if you are in the restaurant business and you want to expand and get your brand out there, start by following and reaching out to local businesses and musicians on Twitter and join a Facebook group for local foodies. These are the people that you can expect to support and recommend you – on social media and in real life. Remember that who you follow and who follows you should be relevant to your business and your brand.
- Influence social sharing. Social sharing can contribute to your brand’s authority, which can be described as how the public perceives you and your company. Likes, shares, replies, comments, retweets and favourites all count towards boosting your brand strength. Try to write posts that directly appeal to your followers. Running a simple competition or giveaway can encourage engagement, especially if you require people to like and share the post in order to enter. Surveys that ask people to share their opinion are a good way to encourage them to join the conversation. Also, make sure you use relevant hashtags to help people find your posts and increase visibility.This is also where analytics comes in – do take the time to review which posts received the most engagement. This powerful, free information about what your following enjoys and is more likely to share can help you produce more of the same.
- Pay to boost a post (or two). Note that we’re not saying to pay for followers here – we’re saying to pay for more people to see your high-quality posts come through in their feed. After all, you’re taking the time to put out some great-quality content, so why not make it visible in more people’s feeds? See how easy Facebook makes it to boost posts.We love to boost posts that link directly back to a company blog. This really helps close the loop between the website and the social media profile, and allows you to expand upon a certain topic. And your blog, of course, is another great place to break out and explain what you’re good at and voice your opinion on important, relevant topics.
- Use external inbound links. Social media gives you the opportunity to link external sites to your content – for example, news articles and other shared content from your friends and followers. You can use these links by sharing them and making them unique for your page with added commentary. The more diverse links you have, the more authority you’ll gain. Your original content should serve as bait and effectively lure in your followers and get them talking and sharing.
- Optimising posts for searches. This strategy relies on pre-existing content. We now know that Google tends to rank popular social media updates in addition to news articles. You can begin your post with a strong base such as a video or detailed article, then describe that base in an accurate and eye-catching way, using a few select key words to optimise the post. This is also a great way to express what interests and excites you, helping you to connect with your audience.
- Who’s your social media champion? Naturally the voice and character of your poster will come through the social media post, creating your company ‘voice’. It’s important that they have some fun with the posts and some passion for what is published – so if the poster is feeling creatively drained, why not pass the duty on to someone who can breathe new life into the profile?
As long as you set down some norms on which topics work and which don’t, your social media strategy will always benefit from a voice that has something fresh and thought-provoking to contribute.