How to Improve Your Social Media Strategy for 2017
If you’re a marketing professional, 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
- Data gathering
- Ad targeting
- All of the above
If you answered “All of the above” then you’re an organization with digital marketing maturity — you’ve run out of low-hanging fruit. So what are you planning to add to your social marketing strategy in 2017 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.