Social media optimization is never straightforward. That’s the whole point. You are trying to get your core audience to do your ranking work for you – rather than paying link farms to stuff your site full of inbound links from heaven knows where, you get genuine, solid referrals from actual humans, plus loads of chatter in the social media streams.
The rules haven’t changed – the more content you have out there the more you get indexed; and the more you get indexed the more frequently you hit those coveted top spots. No, it’s the method by which we get there that has altered so drastically. So here’s my short crib guide to getting ahead in social networking:
Blogging is the core content in social media streams. A blog is where you get to express yourself, provide links of your own to other interesting content and deliver information that enhances your customer’s experience of the products you sell and the services you provide. Tweets are great for analysis but unless they go viral they aren’t so great for raising your profile in the right social spheres.
The key thing to remember about blogging is this: people don’t really like it when companies or corporations blog at them. For a while there, we were all convinced that simply entering the blogosphere as “Our Company” and spamming everyone with a load of corporate sales messages would be good enough. And we found out that it wasn’t.
Quite right too. If we’re going to work the social circles to get more exposure for our brands, let’s at least realize that we have some proper work to do before we get our rewards. The social stream is not like the internet we used to know. It requires genuine engagement, action, reaction and interaction. Otherwise we fail.
Businesses have to learn to give stuff away for free if they want to get ahead in the social media universe. The internet is all about free stuff – so if you’re not prepared to toe the line then be prepared to get out of the kitchen. Give away resources, links, mentions of other people and thanks to members of your social circle. The more generous you are with other people’s reputations, the better you will be received. An example: I have recently been blogging on behalf of a building company that got such glowing mentions for its work in the social stream of a heated skirting board manufacturer, that it switched all of its supply to the skirting boards in question.
Social media is about exclusivity, sure, but it is also about openness. If you are not open to receiving connection from other people in your social circle, then you will rapidly fall out of the picture. You can see this simply by looking at someone’s Facebook activity. A person who uses Facebook every day is bombarded with conversations and links. A person who does not, isn’t – even though they are in the same social circle.
And that’s a bare minimum. Comments are your calling cards, the things you leave behind to remind everyone else in your social network that you are around. The more positive, relevant and engaging your comments are the better. Do not use comments to plug your brand or product. Someone else’s conversation is their own. You comment to support them and add something valuable to the discourse. Plugging yourself in someone else’s conversation or in a comment is like responding to an update that your best friend is getting married, by inviting everyone to your birthday party. Unforgivable, in other words – and be advised, the social media stream doesn’t forget half as easily as your best friend.
Social media is a whole new world for rankings. You need to unlearn half of what you know and keep hold of the rest – but use it in a different fashion. At least it’s intuitive! And if you do it regularly and well, it is extremely fruitful.