What is Social Networking?
It used to be that the only reliable way to find information online was to use a search engine.
However, with the advent of what we call Web 2.0 (interactive, dynamic websites that promote or operate as social networks), people can now easily find information and websites that other human beings recommend.
The most recent instance of this is social bookmarking. Websites like Del.icio.us, Digg, and Furl allow users to share their personal favorites (bookmarks) with others. Users tag each bookmarked website with the keywords they feel are most applicable.
Now, instead of using a search engine to find information, people can search tags that will display all websites bookmarked with that specific tag. This amounts to a human referral or vote for the site and its relevance to the subject being searched.
Other versions of social networking include blogging social networks – primarily Technorati.com. Technorati indexes blogs based on the amount of incoming links those blogs have, as well as the tags associated with their posts.
But the most popular social networks are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and MySpace. Though these social giants enjoy 10s of millions unique visitors every month, few businesses or website owners have thought to penetrate this incredible resource.
Few businesses realize it yet, but these media networks are potential goldmines stock full of future Speilbergs, Bloombergs, and Oprahs – all potential broadcasters of your marketing message.
How Will Social Networking Help My Site Traffic Grow?
Two out of three people online visit a social networking site. In fact, 1 out of every 20 website visits is to a social networking website. Experts say that social networks are starting to eclipse traffic from the major search engines Yahoo! and Google.
So if your company is not present on any of the major social networks, you’re missing out on the easiest, fastest way to access 77% of internet users.
How Do I Get Involved in Social Networking?
Working with social sites is similar to working with the media. Give them a good enough story, secret, tip, or resource that they can sink their teeth into and you’ll have an army of talkers spreading the word about you and your business.
And this translates into referrals, which convert into sales on an average of 667% better than cold leads (search engine results). So even if you reach less people through social networking, your conversions will be far higher.
How Does Social Networking Work With SEO?
As more and more internet users begin to use tags to find information (a tag is a keyword that a human associated with a website, vs. a keyword that a search engine attributes to a website), Search Marketing professionals cannot ignore the growing dominance of the social networks.
However, we view the partnership between social networks and search engines as an excellent and balanced marriage. Sure, social networking gets you in front of people who no longer use search engines in lieu of finding their information through referrals or bookmarks/tags.
But the added, and perhaps more exciting bonus, is that while you grow in popularity with social networks like Digg and MySpace, your search rankings will continue to increase as a result!
Your popularity signals Google that you are an authority in your market according to your human audience.