The Facebook juggernaut and its counterparts have been relentless in their dominance of new media and technologies throughout 2010. With nothing set to change in 2011, is it time that those of us not yet involved allow ourselves to be assimilated? In particular, for businesses large and small, taking the reigns on social media appears to be becoming a necessity. The more that social media dominates the public’s lives, the more that the major search engines have stood up and accounted for them. For business in general, social platforms represent audiences of a prolific scale.

Though opinions and understanding of the various social platforms varies greatly, can you afford to ignore them if your business relies on a good search engine placement? How many times have you heard somebody say that they just don’t understand Twitter or that it is just for celebrities and their followers? Equally, how many times have you heard about Twitters astonishingly large following or heard it mentioned in the news? Each passing month brings further bites of information from inside Google that they will be looking directly towards the social presence of companies to sway search rankings.

 

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For some time now Google has included recent Twitter updates in its search results pages, that relate to the given search query. This not only impacts upon relevancy but the war for the best ‘Real Time’ search results between Google and Bing. When it comes to Google, they tend to give us clues as to the direction they will be taking their algorithm criteria. As discussed in our October article - ‘Bing to raise the bar on relevancy with Facebook’, Google is now paying great attention to maintaining its own search result relevancy and improve user experience. The Google Page Rank system has been the benchmark for online search relevancy for some time now but with the impact of social media so prevalent this seems the inevitable direction for change. It is said that although many links within social media adopt the ‘no follow’ policy (assigning no credit to the target site, a la Page Rank), this is now set to change. There is little doubt that the Page Rank system will continue for quite some time yet but we are almost certainly inside a small Google Revolution right now.


The basics for planning your social attack


Firstly you are going to need to establish which social platforms you wish to work on. Consider assigning enough resources within the company to adequately maintain work on these projects. The following are considered to be the key networks:- Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Linkedin.

Look upon this as an extension of your PR and appreciate that there are now teams of 20 or more people working on social strategy inside the large organisations. What you are looking for is a viral effect online surrounding your news, events, announcements and general communication. Indeed, it must be noted that you will need to clearly identify this breakdown in order to post and update appropriately. A well rounded plan/strategy should incorporate the above key areas but at the same time must always fall inline with your identifiable company goals and mission statement.

You should always maintain an established code of conduct for posting within your company. Your plan should cater for opinion and inspire reasons for customers to provide feedback and discussion. This is where you will be able to drive the viral behaviour of your patrons. Importantly, seek out what triggered the latest viral effects for you and learn from them so you can encourage it further in future. If you can insight feedback then perhaps you can provide forums in which your customer/prospective customers can interact with each other? You may in fact successfully provide a means for customers to answers each other’s questions. In a time where user experience is the key factor this is a key advantage.

Physically posting, updating and maintaining a thoughtful presence on the networks takes time. Do you need more than one member in the team to handle this? More often than not this is the case. You should bare in mind that whilst the programs/networks have advanced, so too has the technology to support them. Can you apply automation between web site and social networks? Are you able to post to all networks from one piece of software and perhaps at the same time? A brief look into this will reveal many useful technologies to you.

Social media looks set to dominate personal and corporate arenas for years to come. See it as a way forward and a viable way forward and don’t let yourself fall too far behind. If you have not yet involved your business, take this opportunity to reach out to your audience or prospective customers.