Social media and search engine optimisation (SEO)
Consumers use social media search functions as their go-to source for finding information on local businesses, including recommendations and reviews, instead of using traditional search engines like Google or Bing.
The growth in social media search presents new opportunities for businesses and the need to develop their social media search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics.
You should start optimising your social media profile and content to be discovered in social media search functions.
What is social SEO?
The practice of social SEO follows the same idea as traditional SEO – it helps get your content seen, grow your following and reach new customers. Understanding how traditional SEO works will help you develop your social SEO strategy.
Get started with social SEO
Optimise your social media profile
Include keywords in your social media bio, about section and description to help optimise your profile. Adding your business address to your profile and tagging your location will help boost your visibility on search results pages.
Customise your URL
When you create a Facebook or LinkedIn page for your business it will be given a generic URL. You should customise this URL to reflect your business’s name or include keywords relevant to your business area.
Include keywords in your content
Adding relevant keywords to your social media content and hashtags including captions on videos will help content appear on social media search results pages.
See developing an SEO keyword strategy.
Make visual content accessible
Adding alt text and subtitles with keywords to visual content is not only good practice for accessibility, but it also helps social media platforms understand the content topic. This will also make it easier for people browsing social media platforms to find your content.
Engage with your audience
Social media channels allow two-way communication between businesses and their customers. Engaging with your community will help increase your social media profiles’ visibility.
Ten tips for using social media
More and more businesses are turning to social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook, to attract sales, engage with customers and build brand awareness. You will need time and effort, in addition to a strategy and a plan, to successfully achieve your end goal.
Here are some tips to help make your social media work for you.
1. Choose your platform wisely
Before setting up a profile you should research the platform. Spend time finding out: who is using it; why they are using it; and how they are using it. You don’t need to use every social media platform. choose platforms that are in-line with your marketing goals and target audience.
See the following guides:
2. Plan, plan, plan
Develop a plan for how you intend to use social media. This should include who will be responsible for managing the platform. Will this be one person or a team of people? Think about how often you will post content and what type of information you will share.
3. Measure performance
As with any business activity it’s important to evaluate your performance to know how you can improve. How social media success is measured can vary from business to business and depends on the target you set, but could include:
- increased sales
- improved customer service – eg reduced waiting times for assistance, complaints, or reasons customers have complained
- increased website traffic
- customer engagement with your account – eg on Twitter you could measure how many retweets and interactions you receive
4. Let others know
You can raise awareness of your social media presence by including links to your account in email signatures, on business cards, on invoices and your company website. Many businesses also highlight their social media presence on printed literature and marketing materials.
5. Look professional
Most social media platforms allow you to personalise your business profile. This may include the addition of a picture and company details. Your profile on social media is a good way to communicate your brand. Give thought to any images you use, and if necessary get help from a graphic designer. Ensure your company details are error-free. Write a description that effectively communicates your business message.
6. Add value for your customers
Added value will grow your following no matter what channel you choose. This could include things like running competitions exclusive to social media, offering discounts or sharing specialist advice or information relating to your industry. See content marketing.
7. Be consistent
If you commit to having a social media presence be consistent with your use of it. In most cases it’s not good enough to post content one day and follow this up with a long period of inactivity. Social media is a communications platform and should be regularly updated in keeping with the etiquette for the particular platform.
8. Find out what works for you
When you use social media you will notice trends in what works in terms of engaging with your community. It could be types of posts, times of posts, tone of posts or all of the above. Identify what works best for you or for those in your industry. Develop your own strategy for using your social media.
Social media is continually evolving, new networks are appearing and new functionality is being introduced to networks. Adapt to changes and experiment with them to see how they can benefit your business.
9. Different platforms need different content
It might save time to update all your chosen platforms with the same content but remember that people could be engaged with you across all of your social media platforms. Some customers could get frustrated at seeing the same message repeatedly. Each social medias platform is different, so the message you send out through each should vary (even if only ever so slightly).
10. Communicate with staff
Make your staff aware of your social media presence and communicate with them on how each platform is intended to be used to benefit the business.
Your employees are brand ambassadors and are often the people dealing with customers. It’s important that such staff are aware of what social media platforms you are on. You should also highlight what customers may expect from their engagement with your business through social media.
Social media best practice for business
Managing social media in our business – The MAC (video)
The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) is Belfast’s newest arts venue. Ciaran Corr, Media and Communications Officer from The MAC, talks about how social media is managed in their business.
The MAC has four social media channels, which they use to communicate with different audience groups. Ciaran explains how they do this. He also highlights how the MAC recruits staff through social media, and discusses how they developed social media policy/guidelines to match their brand.