One of the most talked about elements of SEO these days is utilizing the power of social media to reach the masses (and gain a few links along the way). There’s no doubt that social media is a powerful tool and should be a part of your SEO campaign. But knowing that you should do something is only half the battle. When formulating a social media strategy, the problem that I always face is the decision of which social media sites to utilize. There are so many sites to choose from! Digg. Reddit. Propeller. Twitter. LinkedIn. Stumbleupon. Delicious. Sphinn. And that’s just the surface! There are hundreds of niche social media sites that only create more noise for the decision making process. The trick is to become a social media snob – restrict your efforts to the select few that actually work for your site.
In truth, I can’t take credit for this idea. That credit would belong to Rand at SEOmoz.org from an inspiring Whiteboard Friday from last year. The crux of the video was that in order to see real value from utilizing social media, you actually have to use the accounts. Connect with people, vote for content, submit content – in other words, participate! (It is “social” media after all.) What really stuck with me was the idea that you should test multiple social media accounts. Participate in the discussion, build some link equity with your profiles, then review the results.
Review your referral sources in Google Analytics (or whatever analytics you use), and see which social media profiles are 1) bringing you traffic, and 2) bringing you traffic that sticks (low bounce rates, high pageviews per visitor, etc.). Best case scenario is finding a social media profile that brings you quality traffic that converts into leads or sales! The point I’m making is that you should create a social media funnel for yourself: Start with a wide selection of social media profiles, build them up through active participation and see which ones perform the best. This process will allow you to weed out the social media sites that aren’t right for your campaign.
In the end, it’s what you do with this knowledge that matters most. The process of creating a social media funnel will allow you to be a sophisticated social media snob. Be picky. Be choosy. Allow yourself to devote the necessary time and energy only to those social media profiles that generate a positive return-on-time investment. Through data-driven snobbery, you can really cultivate a select few profiles and grow them into power-house profiles that can then promote you to the social media elite. And as Rand says, building a strong social media profile will allow you to influence the overall discussion, create new content and push visibility for links to your website. And that’s where you’ll find success.