How to Improve Your Social Media Strategy for 2017

social media on mobile

If you’re a marketing professional, then you can’t ignore the power of social media. When used correctly, it’s an important tool to increase web traffic, brand reputation, and visibility online. But how can you be sure you’re using social media correctly? How can you get more out of your social media efforts?

The first question to ask yourself is what role does social media currently play in your marketing program?

  • Customer service
  • Lead generation
  • Sales
  • Data gathering
  • Ad targeting
  • All of the above

If you answered “All of the above,” then you’re an organization with digital marketing maturity and you’ve run out of low-hanging fruit. So what are you planning to add to your social marketing strategy in 2017? Is it to be smarter, stronger, and faster?

And how will you strategically integrate your social media strategy into all the other components of your marketing mix? After all, social media is just one part of an overall marketing strategy. Your marketing mix likely includes everything from SEO to paid media, social, mobile, content and more.

So, here’s your 2017 social media power play. This year, make it a priority to integrate your digital marketing efforts. You can make gains by applying what you learn from search marketing to your social media efforts and vice versa.

2017 continues to be a year of integrated digital marketing programs. Social media, paid search, display, SEO, content, PR, email — they’re all levers of a big-picture marketing machine.

In this article I will:

  • Describe the effects of social media on search engine optimization — two marketing channels with a historically fuzzy relationship.
  • Share valuable tips on how to be where your social audience is.
  • Offer 5 ways to integrate data from social media marketing into other marketing channels like SEO and PPC.
  • Share statistics of the impact of cross-channel marketing when organizations embrace integration.

The Relationship between Social Media and SEO

First, let’s tackle the conversation about how social media and SEO work together. Many misconceptions exist regarding the effects of social media on organic search rankings.

For years, people have been trying to figure out if, and how, social signals impact search rankings.

Back in 2014, former Googler Matt Cutts said social signals were not part of the ranking algorithm. Again in 2016, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed it.

Meanwhile, Bing has stated that it uses social signals as ranking factors. From the Bing Webmaster Guidelines help files, we read:

“Social media plays a role in today’s effort to rank well in search results. The most obvious part it plays is via influence. If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.”

In addition to being a factor in ranking algorithms, we know other ways that social media marketing can impact organic search.

  • Social media profiles and content can show up in organic search results. This gives you more real estate in the search results. Take Twitter, for example. In 2015, Twitter gave Google access to its firehose, which allows Google to index tweets so they show up in the organic search results. (Caveat: even with this access, one study showed that Google doesn’t index every tweet, but only those it deems worthy.)
  • Social media mentions and activity can be a catalyst for organic search queries. This is about being top of mind, and growing brand visibility. Plain and simple: social media stimulates interest. A simple tweet or Facebook update posted by a brand, or someone mentioning a brand, can later cause a person to search for that brand and its products, services or target keywords on Google. And social mentions are important in helping search engines determine when people have interest in what your site is about or what your company is about. Social updates may not generate valuable links to your site, but they absolutely signal to the search engines that people are talking about your brand. We call this “buzz.”

And here’s something to ponder: it’s no secret that Google Analytics uses aggregated data across industries from companies that opt in to help you benchmark.

We can imagine a world in which Google could use the social referral data to see how much traffic is coming to a particular website from social, and make inferences about that brand.

I’m not saying Google is doing this or even has an interest in it, but the data is there for the taking, should they ever want it.

laptop and mobile with instagram

How to Be Where Your Social Audience Is

OK, now that we’re clear on how social media can impact organic search, let’s talk about evolving your social media strategy.

Much of that is going to depend on being where your audience is, and not trying to be everywhere at once — or be where you think you should just because your competition is there.

For example:

  • If you’re a B2B, you likely have a captive audience on LinkedIn.
  • If you sell a product, Facebook might be your platform.
  • In fashion? Check out Instagram as a social community to put your efforts into.
  • If your target audience is millennials, Snapchat may be where you want to go.
  • If you’re targeting women, Pinterest is worth exploring.

If you’re not sure where to start, leverage the research of others. Nielsen and Pew Research Center have a fair amount of data on social media platforms and who uses them for what.

What if you sell toilet plungers or some other obscure product or service? Well, social media isn’t for everyone.

You don’t have to be on social sites to fulfill some digital marketing checklist. Go where your audience is. And if that’s a “Toilet Plungers of America” tradeshow and not Facebook, that’s perfectly OK.

Once you’ve refined your social media targets, test, test and re-test.

Test your presence on your chosen platforms on both the paid and organic side of things. Paid social advertising is usually going to let you see results faster (meaning, if a campaign’s messaging is working or not) and target better.

And know that every social platform has its own algorithms for surfacing content, like Facebook , Instagram and so forth.

Even Google has its own method for how it indexes tweets in its search results, so just like SEO, you want to get familiar with those social algorithms in the places you want your brand to be.

twitter and coffee

5 Ways to Integrate Social Media Data with Other Marketing Channels

We know that marketing efforts do not exist in a silo. Using data across your marketing channels will help create a more cohesive experience for your target audience.

Here are five ways to use social media data for your marketing efforts:

1. Discover web content ideas from customer service activity on social media. Knowing the real-world challenges your target audience is dealing with can help you create content that answers their needs.

2. Find web content ideas in social communities, comments and most engaged posts. What is your target market talking about in your various social media platforms? Use this knowledge to help inform your content strategy for your website, on your key landing pages and in your blog.

3. Get remarketing audiences from the website’s cookied users and similar audiences from the email team’s lists. You can use this data to do some retargeting advertising of the people who have already expressed interest in your brand, products or services, or who may be very interested in what you have to offer.

4. Use social media advertising results to inform search advertising efforts, and vice versa. Use best performing messaging in social media ads as test creative for search ads.

5. Derive link magnet ideas from trending topics on social media. The beauty of social media is that it allows brands to be a part of the real-time conversation. Find out what’s trending, and think about the content you can create right away to attract users to your site.

Success Stories of Marketers Embracing Social Media Integration

More than 5,000 marketers weighed in on the benefits of social media to their businesses in the 2016 “Social Media Marketing Industry Report” by Social Media Examiner.

The top two benefits cited included increasing exposure and traffic.

In fact, improved search engine rankings was a prevalent concept. From the report:

benefits of social media
From the “2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report”

Improved search engine rankings were most prevalent among those who’ve been using social media for 1 year or longer, with 54%+ reporting a rise. At least 59% of those investing a minimum of 6 hours per week in social media marketing saw improvements in search engine rankings.

What type of social media involvement does it take on a daily basis to see an impact on web traffic? According to the report, it’s minimal:

A significant 79%+ of participants found that increased traffic occurred with as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media marketing. And those who’ve used social media for 1 year or more reported substantially better results (73%+ reported benefits), compared with those with less experience.”

Your Social Media Strategy Starts Here

Social media (and digital marketing in general) is a bit like fishing. And to catch fish, there are two things you must do: 1) Use the right bait and 2) Fish where the fish are.

And since social media is just one part of an overall marketing strategy, be sure to integrate social media efforts into other marketing channels in ways that make sense for you.

Evolving your social media strategy this year is really about understanding how much social plays into reaching your audience and into the other facets of your digital marketing strategy.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can determine how much effort needs to go into which social media activities in order to see a return.

I want to know your biggest challenges with social media marketing in 2017. Tell me in the comments below.

Let us help you drive and track traffic to your website with integrated search and social media marketing solutions. Our strategies are tailor-made to match your business goals and audience. Let’s talk about your 2017 digital marketing goals.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (22)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent Social Media Marketing posts is better than the last!

22 Replies to “How to Improve Your Social Media Strategy for 2017”

As you build your accounts, make sure to post quality content. On Instagram, take the time to really set up shots of your wine. Incorporate photos of people drinking your wine,

As a wine distributor, I’d think Instagram and Facebook would be solid choices right off the bat.

Hey Bruce Clay,

Great stuffs indeed! You’re my hero, you did an excellent content and really discovered the ways to improve the social media strategy in 2017.

Finally, I retweet the post and noted all important points to my fans who looking for social media pros gig for 2017 digital marketing.

Love the way you work!


Nice Job Bruce. thanks for sharing

Thanks for this article. It’s one of the few with an action list – a to-do list! Very helpful.

Hi..really liked your post about social media and learnt new things to get good amount of traffic to a website. Thanks for sharing this great knowledge with all.

Great strategy. I’m also checking my competitor’s activities in social media– what to post, what topic works for them but I’ll see to it that I will not copy as it is.

Paula Allen

Super Bheem: Good idea! Extend competitor research to their social media accounts.

Great info about social media and learned so many new social media technique. Good amount traffic can be generated through social media.

Manage Your Metrics,Calibrate Your Content,Ease Up on Emojis,Acknowledge Your Audiences this are the best social media strategy of 2017

Virginia Nussey

Ease up on emojis?! Never! ;)

Great guide for people who are just starting out in affiliate marketing, I also did the same and got enormous results. Instagram has far better post reach than Facebook and Twitter.

Hi,Appreciate your hard efforts, Social media is a biggest factor in maintaining traffic and customers to a website.Thanks for sharing the article.

Social media helps improve SEO indirectly. In addition to the ways you mentioned, posts in social create awareness. If someone sees a link they like they might share it in social but they might also link to it on their web property. And we know links are still a ranking signal for sure.

Thanks a lot Bruce for sharing this article. If social media optimization done in a correct way then it will drive huge-huge traffic to a website.

Amazing material! Thank you! Big presence in social can improve traffic and engagements! This can bring leads and this is the first step to money!

Vincent Sandford

Great post with many actionable ideas and processes.
But, as I read it, the post presumes an already captive audience or a substantial following on social media channels. Something I do not have.

I have launched a new business importing and selling Italian Wine in the North of Netherlands and the website is currently being designed. How can I built a following across social media channels starting from scratch and does it bring in revenue?

Hi Vincent! I’m Kristi, the social media editor here at Bruce Clay, Inc. That’s a great question. Building a social presence from scratch is hard work, but definitely worth it. When you’re starting out, first off it’s important to claim an account in your business’ name on all the social platforms (even the ones you’re not going to be active on). Then you need to identify where your audience is. This will require some research. Look at where your competition is active, too — that will give you insight into where you should be active.

As a wine distributor, I’d think Instagram and Facebook would be solid choices right off the bat. Facebook skews to an older audience, and Instagram is the perfect visual platform to tell the story of your wine.

As you build your accounts, make sure to post quality content. On Instagram, take the time to really set up shots of your wine. Incorporate photos of people drinking your wine, beautiful dining table shots, etc. Sell the lifestyle that goes with your wine. On top of posting quality content, you then want to interact with influencers in your space and create relationships with them. Like and comment on their content, and that can lead to collaboration down the road.

Check out “Which Social Media Networks Should My Business Invest In?” for more insights. Best of luck!


Well, Good knowledge sprinkle of social media, But I hope this works around 10 to 20% in every business. @ Virginia Nussey Yeah Facebook won’t bring you dollars in the bank, But you let it be happen!

1st you say -> Back in 2014, former Googler Matt Cutts said social signals were not part of the ranking algorithm. Again in 2016,
Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed it.

then you follow up with -> Improved search engine rankings were most prevalent among those who’ve been using social media for 1 year or longer, with 54%+ reporting a rise. At least 59% of those investing a minimum of 6 hours per week in social media marketing saw improvements in search engine rankings.


I can tell you from experience I grew our Facebook page from 40,000 to 300,000 organically from 2012 to 2014 until Zuckerberg kicked me to the ground – We were the third ranking ecommerce site for engagement on Facebook reaching 3,000,000 people per week in the spring of 2014 according to

Zero SEO juice – zero dollars in the bank

look at these enviable stats from a shiny key Facebook video posto from last week ->

I’m down from 10 hours a week to an hour or 2 and I post to 12 SM sites using blog2social in wordpress – I also do mindnumbing meet and greets on FB because people just want to argue with me but unless you go back you don’t get those beautiful 2000 word rants gifted me because I repurpose them as original content blog posts

I think a lot of those social media stats are what teams cook up for their CEO’s and CMO’s Social has far less efficacy that most marketers give it credit for – it’s like herding cats

Virginia Nussey

Hi, Mitch. Sounds like you have a lot of experience generating engagement on Facebook. A follow-up question for you, does Facebook bring you dollars in the bank?


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