“And she told two friends, and they told two friends…and so on and so on.” If you’re old enough to remember this shampoo ad then you probably think you’re too for all this “social media” stuff. Well, I’m here to tell you you’re not! And if your web strategy, online marketing plan and/or search engine marketing plan doesn’t include at least a nod to social media, you’re going to find yourself with fewer friends online than you could have.
I was recently reading Ian Lurie’s blog (Conversation Marketing) entry You Can't Separate Social Media and SEO and thought it provided some key insights into today’s World Wide Web. Ian said that “search engine optimization, at its core, is based on relevance and authority.” He goes on to describe that the best way to build relevance and authority is through what is now called “social media.” Basically what the social media sites and tools do is provide a way for people to tell their friends, who tell their friends…and so on.
Of course, you have to start with content that people want to read. All the work leading up to a search engine optimization (SEO) plan will help get you that content. But you can’t just publish a website and expect people to come (unlike Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams who was told, “If you build it, they will come”). You have to find ways to market your site. Of course, you’ll include your URL on all your print material and in your email signature and send emails to your mailing list directing people to your site. But what else can you do to get noticed? Build a social media plan.
What is social media? It’s the online activities that integrate technology, social interaction, communication, contribution, multimedia and entertainment. Explained this way, it sounds much more practical. And who doesn’t want to be practical when it comes to marketing their business? All the different forms of social media use the things that search engines love: tags and categories. These make it very easy to incorporate your keywords. Additionally, the tags and categories are in prominent parts of the web page: the title, headings and links, other things search engines consider highly relevant.
Ultimately, when you embrace social media and put it to work for your website you’re doing two things at once: increasing your search engine relevancy and building your online word-of-mouth referral system. So use the tools at your disposal to start telling your existing “friends” (members, clients, customers, whovever your audience is) things they are interested in and they’ll tell their friends…and so on and so on.