If we’re talking about what’s happening online, we can’t ignore social media. What began with computer-geek chat rooms has evolved into a worldwide cultural phenomenon. The Internet has become, not surprisingly, a zone of social interaction. We can see that an enormous percentage of people are drawn to the Internet for what could broadly be characterized as “social reasons.” People go to the Internet specifically to socialize.
We can expand this social phenomenon to a certain extent to the category of self-expression; that is, opinions are given to be heard, as with sharing emotions and creativity, and often the one who engages in self-expression does so on a social media platform, such as MySpace or Facebook. The advocacy category is a very social one, too. The advocate influences others and works with groups for a cause — the advocate is not typically a lone crusader but rather a member of a movement, and often times movements call for support, which take the form of grassroots, social campaigning. The members of the movement themselves tend to have forums for discussion or blogs to keep each other updated on the current events connected to their cause.
You might ask, “So how does that matter to my Local Business?” Well, here’s the skinny: It’s pervasive, so chances are your customers are already engaged with social media. The number of people using social media has grown rapidly in the last few years and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Think of social media as a form of word-of-mouth advertising – which is the best kind of advertising for a local business – but it’s a new word of mouth, where word travels much, much faster.
Perhaps the most incredible result of social media for a local business is that it’s becoming a place for search. Searching Twitter, for example, is like picking the brains of millions of people at once. When people are talking about your product or service, and they search the social media where the conversation is happening, it becomes another place for them to find your brand. In fact, if I was to make a prediction about the future of search, I’d say it’s here, on social media sites. So, just as you need SEO for search engines like Google and Bing, you also need to keep SMO, or Social Media Optimization, as a part of your marketing strategy for local business. You need to have a social media presence, and all your content on social media (yes, your profile counts as content) needs to be optimized.
In light of SEO and SMO, your content marketing strategy will be barbell-shaped, in a sense. You need to network via social media in order to develop your online presence as much as you need to pay attention to search ranking – if you’re planning on succeeding. It’s through social media that your content will circulate most rapidly and you will get some of the best links pointing to your pages. A successful social media campaign will increase your search rankings, while at the same time bringing traffic to your site. In addition to content development for search engines, it is important look closely at how your content and social media presence will interact and how you can optimize both.