Kristin Muckerheide is a writing, editing, photographing, holistic-health-coaching, animal-loving,...
Why Should I Use Social Media for my Business?
By Kristin Muckerheide November 13, 2012Let us begin with this excerpt from a Folio magazine article: "Timely interaction—through instant...
By Kristin Muckerheide October 25, 2012The world of social media can easily become overwhelming. What to do first? Then, what to focus on...
By Kristin Muckerheide October 10, 2012People are busier now than ever before, it seems, so I can understand why you'd want some valid...
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People are busier now than ever before, it seems, so I can understand why you'd want some valid reasons to invest the time and resources into something that may not offer easily visible ROI. That brings me to the first important point—social media ROI is hard to measure, as is search engine optimization (SEO) ROI. But that certainly doesn't mean that either of these is unimportant—in fact, quite the opposite is true.
SEO experts agree (with updated Google algorithms as our evidence) that social media is becoming more and more important in SEO and ranking at the top of search results. Let me briefly explain how this works. The first assumption is that Google wants to be the best search engine out there. We can probably all agree on that one.
So how does Google become (and remain) the best? By keeping people coming back—by giving them the best Google experience every time.
How would they achieve that? By consistently giving users the most relevant and desired search results (customer satisfaction).
If you type “How to cook rice” into the search box and Google’s first page of results is full of links pointing to websites about fruits and vegetables, you are likely going to be annoyed and frustrated, and you may even leave Google to use a different search engine that is more in tune with what you are looking for. That is a rather dramatic example, as I’m sure Google’s system is too smart to give you fruit and vegetable results when looking for information on rice—but the point is that the more accurate Google’s results are for your search, the happier you are going to be with Google and with your experience using the Google search engine.
I think you get my point, but what I’m trying to demonstrate is that Google is looking out for the searcher first and foremost, the user—not the businesses and sites that it’s filling the search results pages with. Google says it’s your job to get your website to show up in search results; their concern is on the Google user, not your website placement in search results.
How does Google know which results—web pages, videos, photos and other websites—you want when you type “How to cook rice” into the search box? This is where Google’s algorithms come into play. The information contained in these formulas tells Google’s servers which websites, images, videos, and other content to round up and place on the page before you, milliseconds after you hit the ‘enter’ button during your search.
And since humans are constantly changing, so are Google’s algorithms. As you probably know, more and more people are using social media than ever before. So much so that it has fundamentally changed our society—from the way we talk, to the way we communicate with others, to the way we process information. As more and more people use social media and further integrate it into their daily lives, Google determined that its search algorithms needed to reflect this shift in human behavior, so its algorithms have been giving increasing weight to social factors such as likes, comments, follows, social media shares and more. This trend will only continue in the coming years.
So if your business is not using social media, you’re directly hurting the SEO of your website. No matter how great the other aspects of your SEO efforts are, you can’t replace the huge gap caused by not engaging in social media activities.
Let’s say you have two nearly identical businesses—Susie’s Coffee and Sally’s Coffee. They’re both cafes, they’re both on the same street in the same town, and they have identical menus. So we’ve eliminated a few important variables there.
First, let’s consider for a moment what would be the case if Susie’s Coffee didn’t engage in ANY social media activities. And now let’s consider that scenario while keeping in mind a few stats:
- 1 in every 7 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook
- 56% of Americans, so roughly 175,280,000 people, have a profile on a social networking site (up from 52% in 2011 and 48% in 2010)
- 91% of experienced social marketers see improved website traffic due to social media campaigns and 79% are generating more quality leads
- 55% of Americans ages 45-54 have a profile on a social networking site, and they had the biggest growth in social networking of any age group from 2011 to 2012">
- In the last year, 12 million MORE Americans are using social networking many times daily
- In 2011, 68% of Americans using social networking said that none of those social networks had an influence on their buying decisions, however, in 2012, just 36% said that there was no influence (Imagine what how much lower that number will be next year—a shift is occurring)
- 47% say Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behavior, compared to 24% in 2011
- More than 700 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each month
- There are 1 million Twitter accounts are added daily
- Twitter handles more search queries per month (32 billion) than Bing and Yahoo combined (4.9 billion)
- Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media platform to achieve 10 million unique visitors
- Pinterest is projected to account for 40% of social media-driven purchases by Q2 2012.
- Buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy something and spend an average of 10% more than visitors from other social networks
- LinkedIn gains two new members every second
- YouTube handles 20% of the Internet's traffic
I could go on and on all day with stats showing just how MANY people are using social media—especially Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and LinkedIn for B2B markets. Do a simple online search if you want more proof, but I won’t waste any more of your time trying to convince you of what most of us already know: tons of people use social media. Of those people, lots use it daily, and lots of those people use it several times daily.
Let’s say Susie’s Coffee and Sally’s Coffee are located in Big town. So on any given day, the people of Big town are distributed all over—at work, home, doing errands around town, sitting in front of their computers, the list goes on. But no matter where they are, thanks to the massive explosion in popularity of smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, many people are constantly connected to the Internet and to their social media accounts. According to a Convince & Convert article, a total of 54% of Facebook members have used the social network via a phone, while 33% use a phone as their primary means to access Facebook. They’re browsing Facebook, pinning items to Pinterest and checking in on their LinkedIn and Twitter feeds, among other online activities.
Meanwhile, Susie’s Coffee is engaging their customers and followers on social media, posting items to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest throughout the day. So the people of Big town who are connected to Susie’s Coffee online are seeing the cafe’s updates as they are browsing and surfing the Internet and doing their own posting, tweeting and pinning. At the very least, this gives Susie’s Coffee a visible online presence, which serves as a constant reminder of their services and products. You know how it goes. You’re sitting at work or at home and you see a commercial of a delicious food item, and all of a sudden you find yourself craving that food, even though it was not even on your radar before seeing the commercial. The same concept applies to social media. You’re at work, checking in on your Twitter feed, and all of a sudden you see a Starbucks item pop up somewhere. All of a sudden, you find yourself craving your favorite Starbucks drink. Now you can’t concentrate until you get that drink.
Obviously this example is about cafes and not about your business. But the same ideas apply here. If your business is present and visible online, where your current and potential customers and leads are spending time, then the chances of those interactions turning into leads, new customers, shares, more followers/comments/likes greatly increases. You will only be visible—and thus on peoples’ minds—if you are on social media and posting regularly and ‘correctly.’
Take this example, from social media expert Chris Heffer:
"I have around 455 followers [on Twitter]. Potentially, half of those may have little interest in what I do or say and probably followed me with the hope that I will follow them back. Even if I have half those people interested in what I have to say, it gives me a great platform. How else could you feed your knowledge, thoughts and ideas into the minds of your colleagues/customers/prospects on a daily basis without Twitter? If you emailed 455 people a couple times a day, I doubt you would achieve the same objective, people would hate you! Through learning to use Twitter, I managed to get one of my blog articles retweeted to over 90,000 people in 1 hour. How else could you get eyes of 90,000 people for free?"
"Constant contact with your customers is important, so you stay 'top-of-mind.' Remember just because your product or service is always on your mind doesn’t mean it’s always on theirs! In fact, a certain percentage of sales are missed, not because your customers rejected you, but because they forgot about you!"
For now, just making the decision to get on social media and use it is a great first step. Next, we will look at why the manner in which you post and engage with fans and followers makes a world of difference. Proper social media usage is the most important factor of all—besides taking that first essential step to get on social media. Using social media ‘correctly’ will most often be the difference between your time and efforts giving you a major ROI or being a time vacuum with minimum payback.
And as I mentioned before, even besides your customers and future leads seeing your posts and content online via social media, your social media activity directly affects your SEO! There’s really no downside to engaging in social media, except for the time it takes to post. But when you consider that Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. are all free, it seems like a pretty simple choice. A little time, but a potentially huge payoff.
Now you tell me, how do you want your online presence to appear to future and current customers? Which social media channels do you think are most important to use, if any? Leave us a comment below!
The next post will cover the next step—how to correctly and effectively use social media to get the best ROI. Stay tuned for more from us over here at SGC!