Implementing social media into small business marketing strategies is a no-brainer these days because of the huge audience that it provides, but it's difficult to understand how much time and effort must go into its maintenance until it gets started. Some question the value of social media, attempting measurements of ROI and conversion-rate, and this usually doesn't provide the most satisfying of results. So why is social media still relevant in the world of internet marketing? Well, social media is absolutely critical for a number of reasons, one of which is SEO. Watch today's Daily Brown Bag to understand how social media is critical for SEO and should be given the credit it deserves for its influence in online marketing.


Hello, and welcome to The Daily Brown Bag. Today, we’re going to be talking about social media and SEO. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. Welcome to The Brown Bag! We’re talking about social media, and we’re particularly covering this story in Forbes by Jayson DeMers. He recently published -- and this is very interesting, Chad -- what he thinks are the three pillars of SEO:

  1. Quality content
  2. Inbound links, or backlinks
  3. Social media

So, probably the first two are not particularly surprising, given the amount of coverage we’ve had on content marketing over the last few years. You need to create, publish, and promote excellent content. If anyone’s not hearing that message for SEO in 2014, they’re pretty much hiding under a rock. But, the latter part is really tricky. You’ve got to promote that content. You’ve got to get it out there, and you’ve got to get it found, and that’s where the third pillar talked about in this Forbes article comes in. Social media can be very helpful here, and we agree with Jayson on this.

Social media is actually a very critical part of SEO, because this promotion, and getting things read and shared so that it’s out there and can be linked back really requires a push. You cannot just build something great and expect that people will come. You need to build that audience, and if you have social media running, that’s one great way to do it. I’ve been talking about this a lot. I had my Search Engine Watch piece over the weekend, which got pretty good distribution this month. It was in a lot of people’s LinkedIn profiles, so we had quite a few contexts, and I think over 75 comments. I was talking about the integrated power of social media alongside SEO and PPC.

I was also recently quoted by the Rochester Business Journal, along with a couple other CEOs of digital marketing firms in Rochester, and I said that social media is like the yeast in the bread. It’s a critical ingredient, yet you don’t taste it directly. But, if it’s not there, you really notice, so it’s this cyst, to use a different analogy. Now, I think there’s all sorts of stats that support the idea that small businesses really should be using social media. Here’s a couple. Bright Edge’s 2013 Search Marketing Survey said that 80% of search marketers think that content social sharing will become more important in achieving rankings, and I think we’d agree with that. So Chad, I think the discussion here -- and we talk about this with our SEO reseller community here a lot -- is...

...Why are small businesses are so reluctant to jump into social media?

It’s an excellent question, and it’s one that even we in the online marketing industry sometimes look at. We look at our marketing strategy and think, “How does social media fit in? How should we be using it?” I think that really leads immediately to the difficulty in being able to directly connect that social media effort to leads or return on investment. Actually, there was a survey where Adobe, of 750 marketing professionals, said that 88% felt like they couldn’t accurately measure their social media campaigns. Another group said that over 50% of them felt that calculating social media ROI is one of their biggest frustrations. So, there’s a direct correlation there. It’s hard to measure, and hard to explain to your executives. Obviously, Adam, we’re going to have people who are slow to adopt.

The second one, though, is that it takes a lot of resources, so while everyone thinks that social media is free -- I love that, right? SEO is the “free search” or “unpaid search” -- it’s the same with social media. You don’t pay directly to Facebook, Twitter, or the other platforms, but it takes a lot of actual manpower and effort to make it happen. So, you put those two together, a lot of effort and hard to measure, and you’ve got a recipe there for probably under-investment or under-resourcing on it.

The third thing is that you really have to have a clear set of goals. What are your objectives? This gets back to measuring ROI, but if you’re not going to have a direct correlation between social media and leads or revenue, than you need to have other metrics that are sometimes a little bit more squishy and hard for people to get their heads around. That, of course, leads into the fact that there isn’t a “one recipe for all businesses” type of approach. A local retailer or a restaurant may have a very different strategy than a B2B marketing company, or even a local service company.

So, you have to really look at your audience, where your audience is, and what information they’re interested in, which again makes it difficult, because it varies so much from business to business. Of course, the final point here is that like SEO, social media is hard, because like SEO, you need to integrate it with all aspects of your business. You’re going to have a great social media strategy and results not just when the marketing department is doing social media, but when all of your team and all of your customers are involved in promoting the message, because, at the end of the day, you’re going to have that multiplier effect of not just the company’s resources, but all of your individual employees and customers, when they’re talking about the company, it expands the reach of your program. So, it’s just kind of hard, Adam, and we know that hard things often get pushed aside on the desk, right?

Social Media is Critical for SEO

Right. The small business owner is looking for the quick way. We know they’re stretched thin, and their budgets are tight. They don’t have a lot of room for missteps. But you can’t turn around without hearing another story about social media success, on the one hand, and these stats certainly support that everyone is driving in a more social direction, even when it comes to SEO and using social as the assist to promote your content marketing. Yet, on the flip side, there’s frustrations about showing your return on investment.

So, this is an interesting one. I’m sure it will evolve more in 2014, Chad, and I think it tells us that you and I have some work to do. We need to get some measure to try and show engagement and dress this up the same way we do with email marketing, of which you can really demonstrate the value, even if it didn’t bring the lead. Maybe they opened the email and you got somebody to read something. It seems like we could develop something similar for social, and maybe that’s the answer.

Well, those are our thoughts on The Brown Bag for today. We’re glad you joined us, we hope you’ll leave a comment, and we, more than that, hope you’ll subscribe to our YouTube channel and come back tomorrow.