Many SEO freelancers or agencies recommend their clients use social media as a marketing tool, often within a wider reaching online marketing campaign. Many agencies offer social media management or optimization as a service, either within a general SEO package or on a standalone basis.
There are many positive aspects to using social media, such as…
- It is free to set up a social media profile
- Social media profiles and posts are displayed in SERPs
- Retweets, likes, +1s and other shares create a link back to your site which helps ranking
- Followers can become advocates for your business, boosting your word of mouth
The list of benefits goes on; some apply to all business types while others are specific to certain industries. But it’s fair to say that virtually every business has something to gain from engaging with social media and connecting with their customers & potential customers.
Given that SEO agencies exist to advise clients and deliver strategies that will make them more successful online, it is only natural that social media is a channel they promote.
Some agencies ‘Say’ but don’t ‘Do’
However, despite their championing of social media, some (by no means all) SEO freelancers and agencies don’t have an active social media presence themselves. Being active within social media doesn’t necessarily mean having thousands of followers, but is about the consistency of their efforts to engage with customers & contacts on the right social platforms.
For any SEO who promotes the use of social media to their clients, it defies logic that you wouldn’t use effectively yourself:
- Why would any business promote a service or a product but not engage in it themselves, if it is filled with so much potential? Can you imagine Tiger Woods appearing in a Nike advert but then turning up to play golf in Adidas apparel?
As an SEO or agency boss you need to display expertise & best practice with your own use of relevant social channels. You can blog about the topic and preach it to the heavens but if you don’t practice what you preach then customers will see through the facade and may question the validity in you offering these services. ‘Doing’ not ‘saying’ will help to build credibility and convince customers that you know what you’re doing so they trust the advice & services you provide.
Why aren’t some SEOs & agencies engaging in social media?
Firstly, let me reiterate a point I made above. Many agencies do a great job of promoting themselves socially and do practice what they preach. But in our line of work we come across a lot of agencies – a surprising number in fact – who don’t actively use social media to the level you would expect.
We know that running an SEO agency or being a freelance consultant is a busy, challenging role. It is easy to see why, with so much happening on a daily basis, you might not see social media as a priority vs the other daily jobs on your plate. Typical reasons why agencies don’t spend enough time on social media –
- Time constraints; most SEOs would love to spend more time on social media, but simply don’t have the time
- Put clients first – a small agency or freelance SEO is likely to allocate most of their time working with/on clients
- Social media might not be viewed as part of a key lead-gen channel for an SEO
- Social media is (wrongly) seen by some as a B2C marketing platform, while SEO clients are typically other businesses (so B2B rather than B2C)
There are ways around all of these impediments and viewpoints, whether it involves outsourcing social media activities, using software to aide your social media work, or simply just carving out time for it in the busy working day.
Research, plan, implement
The key to successful social campaigns is to devise a clear, simple strategy and then stick to it. You need a strategy you can fulfill and not be overly ambitious. You need to weave ‘social media’ into your daily tasks and make it a ‘must do’ task – like setting the office alarm as you leave at night, or responding to emails within 12 hours. Once it is a part of your daily routine and work culture you will quickly see your social activities start to reap rewards.
Here is an 7 point check list for researching, planning & structuring your social media activity:
1. Determine & write down your main objectives
You need to be clear what the objectives of your social media activity are. You can have multiple objectives but you should prioritize them so they contribute to your wider business goals –
- Generate leads & customers
- Establish credibility
- Showcase industry/local knowledge
- Brand awareness
- Build wide, social audience
- Support your clients
Determine what your goals are, write them down, share them with your partners & team and then evaluate the results of your activity against these goals.
2. Know who your audience is & where they are
Knowing your audience is key. Once you know your audience you can determine which social networks they use and where you should focus your efforts. You have probably done this lots of times for your customers so turn the spotlight on your own business.
As an SEO agency or consultant, time is not something you have much of, it is important to focus your efforts where you’ll get the greatest return.
You don’t need us to tell you the different channels open to you….but we’re going to anyway 😉
Our suggestions would be to focus on Twitter, Google+ & LinkedIn. These are the best platforms for connecting with a larger B2B audience. If you’re a local SEO specialist then you might want to consider using Facebook over LinkedIn; smaller, local business owners aren’t typically heavy LinkedIn users. That said we’ve heard from a few of our SEO agency customers that LinkedIn is a great source of leads for them and local businesses owners are using LinkedIn for networking more & more.
3. What topics do you have license to talk about?
One of the potential pitfalls of using social media is a tendency for businesses/people to go beyond the borders of what topics are relevant to them and their audience. You should define a set of topics which you have ‘license’ to talk about and which your audience will be interested in. Be creative and think laterally about what these topics are but don’t stray beyond these unless you are confident your audience/clients will be interested.
4. Nominate a ‘Social Champion’
Decide who in your business is going to oversee & manage your social activity. This might be you, an employee, or you could outsource to a freelancer or virtual assistant. You may want to manage the strategy yourself but share the daily tasks among a few employees in order to split up the workload across the week. In the early days it would be wise for you to keep a close eye on the process until it’s working smoothly and everyone knows their role; then you can remove yourself from the daily process and give ownership to others involved. If you have an in-house social media team or SEO then they are the obvious candidates to draft in; utilize their know how & passion and make it work for you as well as your clients.
5. Post Smartly
You probably already know the peak times when people log into their accounts, as you advise your clients as such or post on their behalf. Trends for business log-ins do not differ much from consumer ones, remember that they will be online targeting their own customers at the same time. Posting at the start of the day, at lunchtime, and at the end of the day can work as a good, logical starting point for a basic campaign. This gives you easy reference points for when you should be doing it. Having a mini, editorial style calendar detailing when posts should happen, even if it is just a reminder on a device, will serve as a prompt.
6. Keep it fresh & mix it up
This applies to everything related to your social media activity. To keep your activity fresh you need to to mix things up and keep your activity diverse and engaging –
- Post different content on each social network depending on your audience on each channel;
- Use a mix of automated posts and ‘human’ posts
- Promote your own services & blog content;
- Promote things your clients are up to;
- Subscribe to RSS feeds of five or six influential SEO/social media websites so that you aren’t spending hours looking for high-quality content to share each day;
7. Respond as well as initiate
A thorough social media practice includes responding to questions and queries, as well as posting your own fresh messages. You don’t always have to be a source of exciting/interesting information but can simply spread the word. Of course you need to keep the content relevant to you and your audience. It is much faster & easier to re-tweet or share content which others publish & share so factor these into your social content mix.