Social media has become an integral part of our lives. For many, sharing content is the way we interact with our friends and families and increasingly, one of the preferred methods of researching and choosing businesses.

There are many different ways businesses optimize their online presence in the hopes of attracting customers, and social media is one of them. Companies of all types maintain several social media presences, sharing content directly related to their products with their customers. For many businesses, this has proved vital to their online business practices.

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However, there is some question as to whether a strong social media presence has any correlation to a business’s rank in a search engine result. Some experts believe that it does, others don’t, and there is rarely any middle ground.

We’ll take a look at some of the best ways to use social media to your company’s advantage and learn the truth about those all-importantFacebook “likes.”

How to Build a Social Media Presence

Creating a strong social media presence requires more than simply creating accounts. First of all, you must ensure that the information that you provide is accurate and up-to-date. Selecting the right category for your business is crucial, as well. Additionally, be certain that you indicate some of your company’s most important products and services, if your chosen social media platform allows for that.

It’s also important that your website is designed to allow your customers to share your content from your page to their own social media accounts. Your followers are more likely to share your content if the option is presented to them in a streamlined manner.

Lastly, your website’s content is the key to achieving more shares on social media. If your content is creative, relevant and engaging, readers are much more likely to share it with their own contacts, thus creating “word of mouth” advertising for your business.

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How Do Search Engines Rank Social Media Interaction?

One of the most effective ways of climbing the search engine ladder is through link building. This is accomplished when higher ranking websites relevant to your own share your link in some way. The search engine reads this association in such a way that it lends credibility to your site, increasing your rank in a Web search.

Today, social media shares are a form of link building, and one that is proving to be very effective. For instance, when a post is shared numerous times across various social media platforms, it functions in much the same way traditional link building does. Search engines read these shares as an indication of legitimate content, and will therefore increase its visibility in search results.

Shares on social media may also help to increase the speed at which a site or page is indexed by a search engine. Once a site is indexed, it appears in search results more quickly.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

As with anything, there are certainly issues to be aware of when considering social media as a marketing tool. Simply acquiring a large number of likes on Facebook is not going to be enough to increase your position in a search result.

One of the key aspects of social media is the amount of interaction you have with your followers. Search engines see the types of followers that you have, and the level of engagement that takes place on your page. Large numbers of followers who never engage with you on your page do absolutely nothing to increase your rank.

Facebook can be a tricky site to use if your sole purpose is to increase the Web presence of your business. If you’re not buying sponsored posts from Facebook, your followers might not see most of your content.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

One of the best ways to integrate social media into your marketing plan is to use it often and to use it wisely. There are many very effective ways to accomplish this, and a great deal depends on your particular business.

New content is important to achieve a higher search engine rank, and this applies to your website as well as your social media. If you are a small business with a local presence, make certain that you use the right social media tools. As more people make purchase choices via smartphone apps, Yelp, Urbanspoon and others in that vein might be more profitable in the long run than Facebook, depending on your company’s industry.

Additionally, use SEO practices when interacting with followers on social media. Use your branded keywords as you would on your website, as these will ultimately influence the search engines to take notice. Lastly, be as creative and engaging with your content as possible, which encourages followers to visit your site.

As the Web continues to be a profitable source of advertising, it’s important to remember what really matters. Facebook likes are important, but the more profitable methods of social media utilization are clear and engaging content that readers want to share, and genuine interaction with your followers. Focus on these strategies and you’re set up for success.