I have to admit it!  I am an online marketing geek, but I have been skeptical about social media and its potential contribution to leads, sales and bottom line profits.  All of these so called “social media experts” keep writing articles about how to compute the ROI from social media marketing.  When you get to the end of these articles, you realize they didn’t really tell you much or prove the ROI of social media marketing.

The thing I love about search engines is that they deliver!  People go to search engines to find information about products and services they want to learn more about.  Most people browse Facebook to see what their friends are up to – not to research products and services. But I digress.

At TwentySix2, we work with over 50 websites at any one time, and the vast majority of our clients get most of their traffic from three places – Google organic, direct traffic and paid search.  After that, traffic drops off dramatically for most companies.  I often tell people that the key to success in online marketing is to get a little bit of traffic from a lot of different places.

Now that I have come out of the closet and admitted to my mistrust of social media and these so called social media gurus, let me tell you why social media is important and why I am starting to come around.

Google Considers Social Signals in Ranking Website
First, Google’s organic search results are becoming more and more dependent on social media signals.  In the old days (last year), Google used to rely almost entirely on the link popularity of a website to rank sites. Recently things have changed, and now Google relies less on link popularity and more on social media signals from social sites Google+, Twitter and others.

Google and Facebook are mortal enemies, so I’m not sure Google even considers Facebook likes in their ranking formula.  Regardless, if you are a B2C company, then Facebook makes sense.  It’s a great way to connect with loyal customers and interact on a periodic basis. That said, I still don’t think Facebook is a good marketing vehicle for B2B marketers. We have tested Facebook ads and other strategies for some of our clients, and while they have gotten plenty of clicks on their ads, none of them have gotten any leads or sales.

I do love Twitter.  Both B2B and B2C companies are successfully using Twitter as a vehicle for marketing, recruiting and customer service activities.  I was talking with a VP at AT&T yesterday, and she told me how Twitter actually made resolving customer problems easier and faster because folks are limited to 140 characters.  Imagine that!

I love Twitter because it makes it easy to keep up with changes in the search engine marketing, content marketing and social media industries.  We curate or link to a lot of great stuff on Twitter at @TwentySix2.

Here are a couple of great articles if you want to learn more about Twitter:

Mom, this is how Twitter Works

50 Things to Tweet About

Google has dipped their toe into social media before without much success, but this Google+ thing may actually take hold.  Only time will tell.

Content Marketing
What you should know about social media marketing is that the channel is not nearly as important as the content.  Anyone can write a blog or tweet, but saying something valuable to your target audience is what matters most.

I am still busy running our Atlanta search engine marketing agency, so I don’t have time to Tweet 10 times a day, but there is a place for social media in every company’s marketing plan.  If you do it right, the juice is worth the squeeze.