The Power of Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest are a few platforms that have helped millions of businesses increase their visibility, brand recognition, and website traffic. As it is becoming difficult to stay at the top of search engine rankings, social media has since then proved itself to be a cheap yet effective way to connect with consumers fast.
In order to fully benefit from what social media has to offer, a few important items must be considered.
Earning Trust and Engagement
A study conducted by the State of the American Consumer Report found that social media has little to no influence on the purchase decisions made by nearly two-thirds of all consumers. This is often said to be caused by a brand’s misunderstanding of an audience, and the lack of trust a consumer has to actively engage with a brand. For years, businesses have made the common mistake of constantly pushing non-appealing, generic branded messages through social media channels. So what should your social media strategy look like in order to effectively strengthen and build your brand?
First, it is important to create a connection with your audience. Dialogue should be open and responsive in status updates, posts, and comments. A casual and friendly tone will help your audience feel more comfortable – which will ultimately encourage more interaction. This goes in hand with my next point; do not over promote yourself. Exciting news and updates are a great way to inform your followers about the inner happenings of the company, but it is advised to do this in moderation. Add more variety to posts. For example; showcase a loyal client or customer, give followers an inside look on community involvement, share interesting industry relevant articles, or inform followers of notable events that you as well as other local businesses have attended. Whatever it may be, the spotlight should not always be on you.
Connecting with your audience is only half the solution; finding an effective, trusted source to deliver the message is often overlooked and difficult for most brands to do. According to Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, between 70-84% of all consumers are more likely to trust and take action on word-of-mouth recommendations as well as consumer reviews and opinions as opposed to a business simply promoting itself. Start by encouraging employees to share posts via their own social media accounts. Attractive and strong branded messages are found to be more noticeable and effective if delivered by someone known personally to the recipient.
Not comfortable with employees sharing company posts? Try forming structured social-media contests, promotions, and campaigns that encourage follower participation. A study done in 2012 by Northwestern University The Effects of Social Media Engagement have found that these types of posts have a positive impact on consumer purchasing behavior – and often leads to greater engagement by consumers both immediately and over time. A follower who shares, likes, or even comments on a post can further increase the visibility of a company page as it can pop up on their friend’s news feeds as well.
Keeping this in mind, rumors have been circling around regarding the declining power of post reach. Facebook has recently made a few tweaks in its news feed algorithm to channel more relevant and personalized posts to users while eliminating much of the white noise brands create. Why? Facebook wants to encourage businesses to advertise with them. What do you get in return? The opportunity to reach a more specific and targeted group of consumers. It is important for businesses that regularly analyze the scope of their brand on social platforms to keep tabs on these changes.
Social Media's Impact on SEO
As mentioned before, focusing on the user experience will encourage more social media interaction such as comments, likes, and post shares. It’s important to understand that these social sharing actions alone do not improve SEO, but instead aim to increase a brand’s visibility. Increased visibility may lead to getting noticed by a content creator such as a blogger, journalist, or author. If these content creators are highly credible and link back to your site in their content, this will in most cases improve your ranking with Google.
Taking a step back, this can be harder than it looks. You can’t necessarily force these content creators to link back to your site, so how can you encourage more link sharing? In most simplistic terms, it is best to actively build relationships with these individuals. Remember that it’s not necessarily just the social activity (likes, comments, post shares) that matter, but optimizing sharable content and building impressions increases the chance of being noticed and mentioned by other content creators – the ones that can actually make an impact on your SEO.
Simply having a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest page cannot directly improve your SEO, but a Google+ page can. Having a Google+ presence is just the first step. It’s also crucial for the brand to interact with followers on its Google+ page. When engagement of +1, sharing, and commenting begins to increase, a brands Google+ page will become a powerful vehicle in search. Posts that have been +1 will be indexed more quickly on Google, which will ultimately increase the brands organic results.
As our SEO series comes to a close, the final topic of discussion is not only evolving and growing at a rapid pace, but it has also become a key component in improving user experience - we're talking about "Going Mobile".
August Ash is a web design firm located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro specializing in creative web design, internet marketing, and custom web development solutions. For more than 15 years, we have directly worked with our clients to achieve their online business success.
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