Create a social media strategy

When someone says “I’ve got a social media strategy” the first thing I usually do is look at them inquisitively and ask them what they mean? To which they then usually look surprised, wave their arms around gesticulating something – I guess is the size of the internet – and repeat “social media…you know a blog?”.  Now’s the fun bit, because you can really wind them up by questioning “isn’t that like describing a skateboard as a transport policy?”

One thing that really frustrates me is the way ‘Social Media’ is all too often discussed with a broad brush approach; whether one element of social media is being described as an entire strategy, or the word social media is being used in a vague way that could mean any one of a number of things.  Social Media is actually comprised of a lot of completely differing services, which have different ways in which they can be used and varying benefits depending on the goal. What I’d like to see is some granular precision and understanding back in the terminology people use.

That leads to the interaction of social media and search engine optimisation (SEO) another often misunderstood area. In order to understand how the two can interact you first need to understand precisely what elements of social media you are talking about…

1) The first thing you need to do is think about the type of social media service:

– micro blogging
– social bookmarking
– social networking
– community/forums
– RSS
– blogs
– etc

2) The second is whether or not it is something that a company is running themselves as their own service on their website, or another third party service.

Looking at third party services generally speaking the social networking sites (Facebook & Bebo) are walled gardens, and while they can be good in terms of traffic, brand recognition and community awareness they currently have little other ‘direct’ benefit from an SEO perspective.

If you are talking about something that a company is running themselves as a social media service on their own website, then there are potentially lots of ways it can be worked to contribute positively to the front print and content presented to search engines.

Social media is not just one thing, and there are different benefits depending on which types of social media service you are using.