I have often said two things when it comes to social:
- You don’t need a million fans.
- Success in social is often realized through search.
The reality is that these statements are linked. Let’s face it; most organizations will never have a million Facebook fans or Twitter followers. So what does that mean? Does it mean that an organization can never leverage social in a way that yields a genuine ROI? Does it mean they have to settle on doing social because it’s “cool” or everyone says they have to? Of course not. It simply means that you have to leverage aspects of social that are less dependent on your fan and follower count.
One of the biggest things an organization can do is leverage social to propagate its materials throughout the web and add weight to them in organic search. These materials can include articles, white papers, infographics, images, coupons – basically any thought leadership or promotional content.
This leads to my second point that success in social is often realized through search. In many cases a share, retweet, repin, or other form of social distribution can be even more valuable than a like or follow. When you release content into the social space and encourage social sharing you can utilize the social community you do have to spark social/viral distribution. This then weaves your content into the fabric of the web and often does some very important things related to search:
- Blends your content (that should already be infused with targeted search terms) with comments and commentary and other possible search terms.
- Gets your content picked up by blogs, deal sites, forums, and other sites that may have their content indexed in Google and other engines in a more permanent way.
- Gets your content seen by people in the critical moments of active search when it actually pops in search results, creating benefits that last way beyond the flash in the pan you might get from the initial social post.
Search Engines Are Indexing Social Content
So, let’s start with what we know – Google, Bing, and the other engines are indexing social content and utilizing it to score pages and add content to actual results. How long they stick around in the index is not clear, but it can be quite a while.
Let’s look at some real-life instances of social content showing up in search.
Branded results in Google – for starters, just look at what comes up related to your brand. Just on the first page Google is showing our pages for LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, SlideShare, and Twitter and on the left it is displaying our Google+ brand box.
In Bing, once signed in, a search of Facebook posts and other branded content is being shown on the left. This is facilitated via a deal with Facebook that allows them to display search results yielded from your friends’ social posts.
Also, all the engines are indexing social content – check it out!
Finally, all this pickup and distribution of your content gets picked up in blogs and these blog posts get picked up in search. This is really the best thing that can happen.
Apply SEO Tactics to Social
How do you infuse your social activities with SEO goodness? Check out my column “14 Ways to Link Social and SEO.”