The increasing value of social media
…and why it’s not just about Facebook and Twitter
Whilst Facebook and Twitter are still the two power houses of social media, other platforms are developing quickly and should not be ignored when seeking to build your web profile and increase your overall reach on the web.
Social media has been around for several years and its value for stimulating user engagement is clear. However, more recently, social media has become increasingly important for improving search engine ranking. There are two main reasons for this:
a) Google has acknowledged that “social signals” generated by likes, shares, comments and re-tweets etc are being accounted for in the algorithm they use to determine where a website should rank.
b) Social channels are the conduits via which you can distribute useful content to your audience, not just for engagement but also for stimulating back-linking to your website – part of a process called content curation. This is proving to be a very useful technique in our web marketing campaigns for dentists.
So “social” is growing in importance and any web marketing strategy must incorporate it.
A quick look at the main social channels and how to use them:
As I noted earlier, whilst Facebook and Twitter are still the main channels, tools like Google+ and Pinterest are growing very quickly and should be considered in the marketing mix. We discuss the main resources and priorities below….
I’ve placed Twitter top in this list because frankly it’s one of my favourite tools. The limitation to 140 character posts (“tweets”) is powerful in that it really makes you think about punchy comments that will grab attention. I also find it easier to gain momentum than with some of the other channels.
With Twitter, the objective is to gain relevant “followers” and encourage “re-tweets” to help broadcast your message to a wide audience and to generate the social signals that Google is now using. More on this in a dedicated post later.
However, Facebook has started to come in for criticism and is losing favour due to its aggressive push to make money; in particular, limiting who sees your posts unless you pay out for the privilege. So Facebook still an important channel but marketers, particularly those working for smaller businesses with limited budgets, are increasingly looking to other tools like Twitter and Google+.
Google+ is making ground on the other big players and now boasts over 400 million users. It works in a similar way to Facebook but arguably with a slicker and easier user interface. Users build up a following by adding like-minded individuals or businesses to their “circles” and seek +1’s on their posts.
Google+ also offers a key advantage for SEO over and above that of other channels. This is based on Google integrating Google+ into its other web properties e.g. Google+ Local and also indexing posts for inclusion in the search results. It may take another couple of years but many knowledgeable web commentators suggest that Google+ will eventually become the most powerful channel. If you look at the uptake of Google+ in the USA, arguably 8 -12 months ahead of the UK in terms of web marketing, you will appreciate what will likely follow over here. If you aren’t already using it, now is the time to start.
This is a relatively new channel whereby users “pin” favourite items, typically but not exclusively images, to “boards” for collective sharing and interest.
Similar to other channels you can follow other users, their boards etc.
Although Pinterest is not really about generating immediate links to your website, it is useful for helping to broadcast content, finding and engaging an audience and generating an interest in you and your services.
YouTube has been around for what seems like a long time and some may not immediately consider it to be a social network. However, it has many of the features of other networks and is an extremely powerful web marketing tool in its own right.
Publishing business videos to YouTube and linking back to your website and blog is very helpful for improving search positions. As such, it would be remiss to exclude YouTube when considering which web marketing channels to use to complement your website.
One of the most successful social platforms is LinkedIn, particularly in terms of profitability. LinkedIn is the social network for professionals and boasts over 200 million users. It allows users to upload their CV, post about work experience etc. The platform is primarily for professional networking and employment opportunities.
There are numerous other websites that can be considered within this discussion – some like the micro-blogging platform Tumblr and the photo sharing site, Instagram are well established.
Others like Vine, a web integrated app. for sharing mini video clips and recently acquired by Twitter, are up-and-coming and their marketing potential is still being assessed. Where we find opportunities to use new channels in our dental marketing campaigns, we will certainly take them.
Successful marketing on the Internet is no longer just about a website. Social media channels are increasingly important for building a large web footprint, finding and engaging an audience and more recently, improving search engine ranking. The well known social platforms, Twitter and Facebook are still priority but newer platforms like Google+ are growing in popularity, offer additional benefits and should not be ignored.
If you need assistance with setting up and managing your social media channels, please call us on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to help.Google+