Next time your boss arches an inquisitive eyebrow towards your screen and asks what you’re doing on Facebook, you have a legitimate excuse. Just whisper the hallowed words “Social Marketing”.
Companies big and small are opening their eyes to the marketing possibilities of sites like MySpace, LinkedIn, Del.icio.us, and that well-known scourge of office productivity, Facebook itself.
After all, it makes sense that these sites, heaving with users (70 million on Facebook at the last count*), are a resource worth tapping. Unfortunately, there’s a little more to it than the methodology you learned in SEO school.
These days almost everyone knows about the power of inbound links and metadata – but can these methods be used in Social Networking?
Well, forget any ideas you have about harnessing Facebook’s power with a mighty inbound link to your site. Facebook is a registration zone, and its links will never be found by Google’s crawlers.
Your campaigns have to rely on more subtle means. One obvious route is to develop a plug-in that is so irresistible, so delightful, or so downright preposterous, that not only does it spread like a rash through Facebook, but it provides enticing content for blogs or if you’re lucky, newspapers. Those reports are sure to provide a link directly to your site.
If you have a limited budget, time is your best resource. It costs nothing to develop a wonderful Facebook page, garner fans, and reward them with rich content: photos, exclusive news, or a personalized relationship. It’s not a quick SEO fix – but goodwill has a knock-on effect, and slowly but surely your name will become known.
If that all sounds like hard work, don’t even think about going down the blogging route. Blogs are a natural arena for the swapping of links (in posts, comments or Blogrolls), but to really leverage their power, you need to post regularly. Google rewards frequent updates. Other sites will reward you too, if your content is interesting enough, with inbound links galore.
As with Facebook, nurturing relationships count for a lot in the blogosphere. Blogging for SEO is a long-term strategy, and one that will have many other positive side-effects, but a hit-and-run approach won’t work. Woo your commenters; favor them with personal replies. Remember too, that if you’re blogging on-topic, every post, reply, and comment is a keyword-heavy piece of SEO gold-dust.
If your boss still can’t see the value of blogs or social networks, bookmarking sites like Digg or Del.icio.us might be an easier sell. After all, they are based on the precept of sharing URLs, and through inbound links from Del.icio.us are fairly weak collateral, they count for something. Plus, as all Digg users are aware, one killer story can flood your site with visitors.
In short, social networks can work hard for your site’s SEO, but they’re not a quick fix. Either your boss is going to have to get used to your surfing habits, or it’s time to suggest he outsources your Social Marketing.
* Source: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/press/info.php?factsheet