Initially, CEOs and legal counsel feared Web 2.0 and social media because they couldn’t control the conversation about the brand. Social media has effectively shifted much of the control to consumers, becoming the ultimate testing ground for brands. Failure of any brand to participate in social media is equal to standing in the sidelines watching competitors win the hearts and minds of customers.
While companies of every size race to establish their brand in the social media landscape, few are successful in realizing its full potential. A fundamental missed opportunity in realizing the return from social media efforts is failing to connect the dots between social media and search. Social media that is not optimized for search is like having a conversation with a few select friends and excluding everyone else.
Fact is, social media is an integrated part of the search engine landscape. Google, Yahoo and Bing have announced the inclusion of social influence and customer reviews in their algorithms for organic search engine results. Yet, precious few organizations are optimizing social media profiles and conversations for search to reach new audiences. A recent study by Bright Edge revealed that 70 percent of the top 200 consumer brands listed in the Fortune 500 failed to achieve top 20 results on search engines for their Facebook or Twitter profiles. They are not alone. The social media profiles of a majority of consumer brands, B2B companies, organizations, etc. also fail to appear at the top of organic search results.
Optimizing social media for search is a logical and cost effective method to improve search engine visibility and the overall digital footprint of a brand. I have this conversation frequently with clients of my marketing firm, Karner Blue Marketing. Social media optimization (SMO) is as vital to a brand as SEO of the corporate website, and is imperative to a successful social media marketing strategy. SMO builds target audiences and promotes conversion faster than non-optimized efforts. The decision not to optimize social media accounts and updates may require additional budgetary allocation of advertising, marketing and promotional expenditures to build fans, friends and followers.
Search has given the nod to validate social media. Consumers continue to prefer search engines when conducting pre-purchase research according to a recent study by LightSpeed, and actively combine social media and search during the purchase decision making process according to a recent study by comScore and GroupM Search Brands. Bottom line, brands that search engine optimize social media for search will be likely to reach audiences, build influence, generate loyalty, promote conversion and realize ROI faster. SMO is the way to go.
Rebecca Murtagh is president and chief strategist at Karner Blue Marketing LLC, and you can read her full PubCon biography here.
Rebecca Murtagh video interview with PubCon’s Vanessa Zamora