First, a Wikipedia definition of Social Media which I have pasted here:
The term Social Media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." Social media are media for social interaction, as a superset beyond social communication. Kietzmann et al (2011) argue that “social media introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals” (p. 250) , enabled by ubiquitously accessible and scalable communication techniques.
In order to remain relevant and at the edge, the search engines and Social Media need each other. Both enjoy a symbiotic relationship for the benefit of users, and there is plenty of evidence to show the benefits to site owners of embracing such a strong ‘meeting of minds’ between the two…
Here are 7 reasons to embrace the reality of a Social Media future:
1. Google is getting very smart
The difficult to fathom algorithms that Google applies to its search engine technology are becoming more social as it concentrates its effort at staying at the top in an increasingly fast moving web.
I recently read a post by Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land where he was interviewing key stakeholders at Google and Bing around their use of data from Twitter and Faceboook. He particularly wanted to know how this data would influence search results.
Being found on the first page of Google in search results can drive a large volume of traffic to your blog and research has shown that the overwhelming majority of all clicks on links on Google (90%) come from – being on Google’s front page.
Here are the questions asked by Danny Sullivan (our thanks to him- please read the full interview by clicking on the link above)
Question 1: If an article is retweeted or referenced much in Twitter, do you count that as a signal that improves search ranking?
Bing: We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results. It carries much more weight in Bing Social Search, where tweets from more authoritative people will flow to the top
Question 2: Do you try to calculate the authority of someone who tweets that might be assigned to their Twitter page. Do you try to “know,” if you will, who they are?
Google: Yes we do compute and use author quality.
Question 3: Do you calculate whether a link should carry more weight depending on the person who tweets it?
Google: Yes we do use this as a signal…. but it is currently only used in limited situations in ordinary web search.
Question 4: Do you track links shared within Facebook, either through personal walls or fan pages?
Bing: Yes. We look at links shared that are marked as “Everyone,” and links shared from Facebook fan pages.
Google: We treat links shared on Facebook fan pages the same as we treat tweeted links. We have no personal wall data from Facebook.
Question 5: Do you try to calculate the authority of someone on Facebook, either say via their personal wall or their fan page.
Google: The treatment is the same as for Twitter where we do compute and use author quality.
The conclusion here that can be drawn is that both these powerhouse search engines do use our social media ‘digital footprints’ to give more weight to search results. The value of hard earned organic, editorial links can also only continue to increase in their value.
2. Depending on the age of your consumers, your brand may be liked more if you are on Social Media
In August, U.S.-based marketing agency, Barkley (in partnership with Service Management Group and The Boston Consulting Group) released findings from its study of 5,000 young adults titled, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.”
The American Millennial Survey, as outlined an article by eMarketer , found that over half of Millennials—consumers aged between 16 to 34—liked checking out brands on social media sites. This was in contrast to over a third of older adults (ages 35-74). Interaction rates were higher too. The survey found that a third of Millenials liked brands more if they utilized social media below is a snapshot of the data – further reading of the study is highly recommended (click to view):
3. Social Media is like a virus
By this I mean the viral capacity of Social Media. This is largely based on its ability to facilitate one to many communications as well as community to communities communications. Messages become amplified, even more so if there are multiple media channels employed. What else is capable of achieving this? As Seth Godin says, ‘Ideas that spread, win’.
4. Social Media is a magnet for PRs and Journalist
Nowadays it is very common for news even of a Personal nature to be ‘broken’ on Twitter before those personally affected by it have been told. How long did it take for Amy Winehouse’s (RIP) passing to be literally broadcast on Twitter?
On the other side, by being on Twitter, subtly promoting your expertise and know-how, you will be found by Journalists looking for more of what you have. Links are nice, but it’s more than just about links. Bagging digital ink and endorsement from influential members of the community is going to help build your digital influence.
5. . Businesses with a Social Media Strategy are ranking high
Brands that are ranking high are publishing content to the web regularly and building a growing community of subscribers. If you do not want to be left behind, it is important to start building your Social Media Strategy today. While you can keep trying to build links manually to static content, your competition will be earning those ultra-valuable organic links daily as their community will be expectant of quality and be ready to spread it amongst their own micro communities. Their link growth will be organic and exponential, not arithmetic. Remember, 90% of all clicks to websites take place on the front page. An active presence on Social Media increases the chances of being found online.
6. You will feel compelled to provide relevant quality content to your audience which will help you be successful
Simply put, fresh content keeps your site updated, which gives users a reason to come back. People don’t want to visit brochure sites any longer. We are now in the age of the social. Feed those indexes with fresh content and get rewarded with frequent visits by the search engine bots. Social will favour and link to the best content naturally; you can’t win against competitors who have this on their side. And both search and social will continue to get better at filtering so you have been warned!
7. Your customers are using Social Media
How many people do you know who do not use any form of Social media? Chances are, very few. By leveraging your customers’ social behaviour in your marketing strategy you can give your business increased chances of success. If, for example you know what Social Media channels they use, you can shape your message to suit that platform. You can learn their usage patterns and follow accordingly. You can use this additional avenue to respond to their needs and demonstrate your commitment to them as valued stakeholders in your business.
In summary, the future in Social Media looks an exciting one; one which can add much value to your business. This is something to be embraced. The future is bright, and it’s social.
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