Social Media Optimization is the process of optimizing your social networking profiles to effectively deliver branding strategies. Now more than ever, social media is playing a very significant role in the success of any internet marketing campaign. Not only can businesses leverage their social networking profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In to drive highly targeted customers to their sales landing pages, but it’s also got other many other uses of equal benefit and importance. In this article we will touch base on the potential ways to benefit from your social media marketing budget and hopefully spark a few ideas that will translate directly to your bottom line.
The primary or “foundational” layer of your social media presence involves customizing your profiles and fan pages. This usually involves a little branding strategy with graphic design and perhaps a little custom coding and video content creation, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. One your pages are highly optimized to accurately represent your products and/or services, you’re ready to start building your audience. This can be done a number of ways, but of all the ways we’ve tested, we’ve found that authentic and organic growth is always the best policy (just as they say honesty is the best policy). What does this mean though, and how do you go about building your presence naturally without using spam techniques? It’s not as hard as it may seem, but it will almost definitely be a time consuming process. This process typically involves a little network (after-all, it is called social networking) – and can be accomplished by joining as many industry specific or closely related groups and following people relative to your field. Sometimes it’s okay to “fake it till you make it” with a few thousand geo or niche targeted fans to jump start the process and build trust and authority but don’t make a habit of this or you will quickly throw a red flag and get yourself banned from Facebook and Twitter. We see it happen all too often. Facebook actually allows you to invite your first 5,000 fans via email. This is especially useful as you can target your current customer base or mailing list(s) and this will get you a great head start in the right direction.
Once the profiles are all optimized and you’re well on your way to making connections and building your fan base – you need to focus on the quality of your content and posts. Your posts should use effective titles that are relevant to your audience – the more relevant, new, exciting or empowering your posts are is the more people will appreciate your presence and sub-consciously receive the messages you push through your social media branding strategy. Content creation often times comes easy, and just as often you will sit there for minutes on end without being able to come up with a topic for the day. There are many services that can help with content syndication for your wall posts, but we’ve found the most effective companies who pursue social media optimization tend to write their own content, pre-load it into a drip-feed system that posts on an interval, set it and let it drip the content in when they see best fit. With this, you can almost guarantee you’ll keep your audience on the hook and interested in what you have to offer, but it doesn’t stop there. What you need to be successful is community involvement – you need a few “social networking rockstars” to pick up your brand and feel inclined to share it with the entire world.
Another method of building your targeted fan base is by running a Facebook Ads campaign. Facebook Ads can be highly targeted to a specific geographic location, category, school, religious group or niche – and have proven to be one of the most effective methods of pay-per-click advertising available. Adwords, Mobile and other paid search marketing placements are still effective – but they typically limit you to targeting what someone is searching for, rather their noted interests, recent discussions and general lifestyle. There’s no question as to why Facebook Ads are worth every penny – when setup property with effective titles and descriptions, you can yield an excellent ROI from paid ads on Facebook.
Once you’ve reached a healthy semi-active fan/follower base, it’s time to get your audience involved. To do this, many companies host contests and surveys offering some kind of reward. One notable example of a contest strategy is that of “GoPro Cameras.” As of today they have approximately 1.9 million fans and 86 thousand people actively talking about their brand. Before their contest started a few months back, they had less than 1 million fans and less than 1/4th of this social activity. The only logical explanation to this is that the contest is a successful strategy for building a social audience. People love getting something cool for free, and the reality of the giveaway is that for every $500 in merchandise (MSRP) they give away, their cost is probably 25-40% of that. If after 1 year they have given away 365 prizes at a total COG of $55,000 USD, and have gained three million fans, they have paid $0.01825 per fan who is now fully engaged and following their every move; that’s 55 fans for every dollar spent – and they’re not just some random people from Lithuania or Pakistan, they are highly targeted to the market where the contest was hosted. The one other evident benefit of hosting a contest or survey through Facebook is the ability to funnel the visitors to your website in order to sign up. Then you’re not only paying $1.00 per 55 new Facebook fans, but you’re also getting a very large percentage of those to visit your website and subscribe to your email newsletter(s). Your brand is now in front of them at all times – at your command.
As far as content goes, it doesn’t stop at contests and surveys. You can also get your fan base involved by asking them to share their thoughts on your wall posts, to post pictures and videos of them using your products or services and keep your wall fun and fresh with user involvement. Now we’ve covered the importance of an optimized design and content strategy, so moving on we must discuss the importance of being able to measure the progress of your social media efforts. A large portion of successful social media optimization is being able to keep all your weekly or monthly reporting in one centralized location to gain immediate insight over the social activity. You can take this a step further and integrate your social media statistics in your reputation management process, helping you identify any potentially negative impact certain users may be having on the effectiveness of your brand. Without proper analytics and infographics, it’s literally a game of finding a needle in a haystack – it can quickly become an impossibility. At Xflavor Internet Marketing we use Raven SEO Tools to monitor our social media marketing campaigns. Raven gives us all the insight we need to keep an eye on our progress and keep everything in perspective for our many social media clients.
This article has mainly discussed the direct benefits of social marketing, but now social media optimization is now playing a huge role in SEO campaigns. Google’s algorithm keeps changing daily and one thing we’ve noticed about the changes is the demand for 100% naturalization – not just in your link building variations but also your social media activity. Google can sniff spam from a mile away, and they are starting to give priority to brands that are actively discussed and shared on social networks. With social activity and citations largely gaining importance (especially Google Plus), we as professional internet marketers are forced to adapt and get on board with these marketing techniques or be left in the dust. In 2012, many SEO companies will be going out of business – a lot of companies have already lost many clients after the latest Panda updates demolished their rankings – but those who stay well-informed and on top of the latest trends will always find a way to overcome these common hurdles in internet marketing. In conclusion, even if your social media efforts aren’t producing a direct positive return on investment, they are a necessary element to your search engine rankings. As harsh as it may sound, it’s time to get with it or get lost!