Search engines account for a large share of online traffic.
But social media is a force to be reckoned with. Social activity has proliferated over the last few years alone, driven largely by widespread smartphone adoption. Online users now spend more of their time on social media than ever before.
The following chart shows a clearer picture:
We know that more people are active on social media and that many maintain multiple profiles (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, etc.). But what impact does this shift in user behavior have on online traffic?
The top social media networks drove 31.24% of overall traffic to sites in Q4 of 2014, up from 22.71% the previous year. These figure are expected to continue in an upwards trend as seen from the graph above.
So why is this all important?
Social media optimization.
The idea is rather simple. Just as SEO focuses on improving the visibility of a site in search, social optimization entails optimizing social profiles. The result is a cohesive marketing strategy that leverages social media to build brand awareness and increase conversions.
Social media can be a valuable asset for your business and cannot be ignored for the following reasons:
- Reputation management: Many consumers now take to social media to voice their concerns. Complaints that are left ignored have a negative impact on branding. Responding to complaints and resolving problems is important for reputation management.
- Search engine optimization: Social signals continue to be a ranking factor. Content that gets shared earns more links which in turn improves rankings. Social profiles also appear in the search results, driving more clicks and traffic.
- Online reviews: One survey found that an astounding 97% of consumers aged 18-34 read online reviews about a local business. Consumers were also more likely to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Businesses must ensure they have active social profiles.
The key takeaway is that social media is essentially an extension of your brand. Nurture it and it can drive your business objectives forward. But not taking the time to optimize your profiles means losing out on traffic and sales.
Here we put together a social optimization guide for your business.
Maintain Consistency With Business Information
Google includes citations (e.g. any mention of your business name on the web) as a ranking factor. So it’s important to maintain consistency with the following information:
- Business name: Use the official name of your business without any target keywords or city names unless those are part of the name.
- Phone number: Include a local phone number as potential customers may want to call your business directly to have any questions answered.
- Website: Obviously you want to include a link back to your main site so interested visitors can learn more about your business.
- Address: Networks such as Facebook and Google+ make it easy to include your business location.
- About: Write a brief bio of your company and include target keywords as well as other important information.
Make sure to double check the spelling and punctuation. The last thing you want is to have conflicting information on your social profiles.
Use Branded Images With the Proper Dimensions
The main focal point of any profile is the image.
Each social network allows you to upload a cover photo for your business. This is usually the first thing a user sees when landing on your profile. Make a good first impression with a quality image that reflects your brand.
Here are some examples:
Each network has different image dimensions for cover photos. If you’re not careful, you could end up with awkward cropping for your images. Here are the recommended image dimensions for each of the popular platforms:
- Cover photo: 851 x 315
- Profile photo: 180 x 180
- Header photo: 1500 x 500
- Profile photo: 400 x 400
- Cover photo: 1080 x 608
- Profile photo: 250 x 250
- Board cover: 217 x 147
- Profile photo: 165 x 165
Take the time to get the images right for your profiles.
Integrate Social Media Into Other Channels
All channels complement each other from search to social media and content marketing.
Integrating them together delivers an even better experience for your audience. Visitors can subscribe to your newsletter, click directly to the latest post on your site, and share with their own followers. All of which form a powerful internet marketing strategy for your business.
It’s not uncommon for online users to have more than one social network account. Include links to your profiles on your site (e.g. in the header or footer) and incorporate social buttons to your blog so visitors can share new posts on their preferred platform.
We do this with our own internet marketing blog:
You can even link social networks to each other. Google+ lets you link to your other profiles in the About section which can be seen here:
Linking accounts together helps visitors locate your other official profiles. Integrating social media with other marketing channels drives more traffic and ultimately more conversions.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool.
Optimizing your profiles is the best thing you can do to improve their visibility and increase engagement. Take the time to get all the details right and use professional images that reflect your brand. Then Integrate your social campaigns with other marketing channels for a much stronger impact.