Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how SEO and social media converge and contrast. It’s almost impossible to convince an SEO master that social media is worth a hill of beans, simply because they’ve vested too much in gaming a search engine for much of their internet careers and well, SEO does convert to business.
The difference between man-powered social media tools like Facebook and Twitter and algorithm-based search engines like Google is similar to this field goal kicking contest between 49ers Kicker Joe Nedney and a robot named Ziggy. People can be perform brilliantly, but they can also be temperamental, uninformed, or easily misled. Machines easily automate the work that people can do. Machines can break down though. They can be gamed by someone who understands their flaws. One slight calibration error can cause a world of havoc for all of the other parts, as well as for the user. Long story short, there is not one system that is perfect, and both systems have their place in the ecosystem that is the web.
I cannot tell you how many times I get told that people put up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, spend little time or money, and quickly determine there is no ROI to be seen in social media. I see this as a very dangerous attitude given the fact that Facebook grew to over 500 million users several months ago and their motto is “99 percent”, meaning they have only reached one percent of their potential. Twitter has 175 million users and gained 30 million users in just the past few months. Facebook and Twitter users also pack more bang for the buck since they spend 150 percent more than the average internet user.
Just like SEO was ten years ago, this is not a fad or trend. While Google usage will not stop growing as more and more users access the web more frequently, Facebook and Twitter aren’t going away either, apparently.
What’s the pain of not capitalizing on social media when it’s young, versus relatively matured like search engines are? Ask the countless businesses how much they have to spend on SEO to compete with sites that have been optimized for Google for ten years. Building backlinks isn’t easy, especially the number you have to build in a saturated market.
Building a presence in the “people powered search engines” that are Twitter and Facebook isn’t going to get easier. It’s only going to get harder and more expensive as more players enter the space and garner wins under their belt. Your competitors are fine tuning and beefing up their presence, utilizing the best tools, and getting valuable experience internally. What are you doing?