My dad used to say, “If you tell the same lie long enough, eventually it catches up to you and you have to account for it.” You’d think my dad was a content marketer, since many of the “white lies” we’ve been telling brands for years are finally coming home to roost. The biggest among those untruths is overstating the value of social media to brands who are neither prepared to take advantage of those benefits nor discerning enough to parse the information we were sharing.
It went something like this.
Marketer: “You have a good website, strong SEO, your main keywords are where we need them to be, and your content is great since the redesign. But you need social media to really take your business to the next level. When people visit your blogs, then share them in social media, the social signals will help your site rank better.”
Client: “So social signals are like links? They are links, basically? Is that what you’re saying?”
You see where this is going right. The marketer, realizing the opportunity to close the deal, chooses to tell one little white lie, which will come back to bite her in the backside months later.
Marketer: “Yes, exactly. Social signals are basically links.”
(I was privy to conversations that proceeded like this on numerous occasions.)
It’s the lie that slices like a knife but hurts mainly because it doesn’t have to be told.
Do Social Media For The Right Reasons
Search signals are not links, and they never will be links. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. You should do social because it’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to conduct online PR, branding and customer service for your brand. Of all the things you can do online to help your business, social media has the ability to give your brand the reach, visibility and a lasting presence few mediums can provide.
The search benefits, which are real and can substantial, are a bonus.
Now that you know why you should do social media, let’s discuss how to smartly deploy social media for your business.
Define your target audience, then discern where they are congregating online.
Don’t assume it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram just because they have the number. You need to know where the people are who would be interested your content and who could be classified as a qualified lead.
Determine the content they are interesting in by looking at the content they share, converse about and link to.
To do this, create a list of some of the most active participants in your vertical online, then pay attention to what they are sharing and linking to. (To get a simple look at what they are linking to, visit their website and read their content or use a program like Open Site Explorer or Screaming Frog to peek at backlink.)
Create the content you’ll ultimately want to promote.
Strive to make it as in-depth and actionable as possible, in addition to adding several meaningful graphics. Be sure to include clear, compelling calls-to-action, which should aid commenting, sharing and linking.
Publish the content and get busy promoting it online.
Tag or tweet to members of the audience who are key in sharing the content. Elicit discourse on social media by asking questions, tagging others and inviting public discussion.
As you can imagine, if your business is creating stellar content consistently, then sharing it with the right audience members, links will follow. And those links will help your SEO.
However, content is not synonymous with links, so don’t make the mistake of assuming there is a 1:1 relationship between the two, as in more shares equals more links.
If you’re doing content and social media wisely, your business will see the benefits, by way of shares, links and enhanced organic search reach, as the topics you’re blogging about slowly begin to show up higher in the SERPS. This is typically a slower process than most business owners would like for it to be, though, which explains why the little white lie becomes a big lie that ultimately loses content marketers clients.
You should use social media because it’s an effective medium for establishing your brand’s online presence and maintaining top-of-mind awareness. The links and social signals that should follow are gifts.
(Hat tip to Eric Enge for his recent post on social media and SEO, which served as the impetus for me to share my personal experience.)
What are your thoughts?