Social Media and Backlinks

It’s one of the big questions that gets the SEO conspiracy theorists running for their post-it notes and balls of string… do search engines index social media?

If the social network in question is Twitter, the answer is a definitive “yes”. Back in 2015 Google and Twitter inked a deal that gave Google access to Twitter’s data and Google began embedding Tweets into the search engine results page when dealing with “trending” topics.

If you want to see this in action, just search Google for “What is trending right now?” and you’ll see Twitter results at the top of the search engine page.

Today’s “trending topic” is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper though (or something like that), so it’s doubtful that appearing in this part of the SERP does anything long term for your SEO.

What it will do, if you strike gold and find your tweet on the front page of Google is generate traffic. We talk so much in the SEO world about link building to improve SEO we sometimes forget that people can actually click your backlinks. They’re not just for search engines and, for me, that sums up what social media is all about.

Social media is a firework

There’s an adage that circulates on the web…

“The internet is forever”

And, unless you can convince everyone everywhere to delete your data, that’s true.

Print and be damned? Forget it. Tweet and be damned for all eternity…

But, although all of that data is there in the vast and unlimited memory of the internet, the reality is that your social media posts have a shorter half-life than an unstable radioactive isotope.

A typical tweet, without retweets, will stop being seen after 18 minutes. With 10 retweets, you might last nearly 24. 

That’s why I say that social media is like a firework – you need to get a big bang for people to remember it past the next thing they see.

So, what’s the point?

Background radiation

There’s no doubt that brands with good social media followings gain more traffic online and sell more. Whilst your tweet, Instagram picture, or Facebook post may only have a short lifespan in the digital feed that a customer sees, it has a much longer lifespan in their memory.

I like to think of this as a kind of “background radiation” – constantly reinforcing your brand’s identity with customers make it more likely that they will engage when you present a piece of content that is relevant to them at a time that it is relevant.

You can’t just send out one tweet and expect the dollars to come rolling in. 

I’ve had my own short stints in the past where I’ve walked away from social media however and know from my own experience that when you do this, that background radiation fades away. Contacts get harder to make, meetings get harder to land, pitches feel colder.

“Brand Awareness” may sound like a perfectly immeasurable, ephemeral, ethereal piece of marketing guff, a piece of “ghostware” for the snake oil salesman and charlatans to sell you but… it’s real.

Social media impact can be hard to measure, even with the best tools to attribute sales to social engagement weeks or even months after the “first touch” on social. 

I prefer to measure in terms of the amount of serendipity I am experiencing in any one period, and this undoubtedly increases when I am active on social media.

Never pull the plug on your social media.

It’s not all about me (or you)

It’s very easy to get stuck in a pattern of “broadcasting” on social media, rather than creating conversations and connections.

As a rule of thumb, you should comment on or share five things from other people for every one thing of your own that you share.

Some of my most successful pieces of social content have been responses to other people’s posts. So, answer questions, offer your opinion, and above all be helpful.

The same rules of content apply – make it useful, make it unique, retain your authentic tone of voice. Just don’t be “that guy” (or girl) at the party who only talks about themselves all night.

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