Posted on: March 16, 2021
I tend to spend a lot of time on social media. And, in the back of my mind, I justify it by saying to myself, “I need to do this for my business.”
Of course, I’m not alone. Americans spend an average of over two hours per day on social media, and I’d guess many of them are small business owners who want to stay “current.” Entrepreneurs like me want to learn more about the latest trends and techniques, such as Instagram Reels (which replicates TikTok). However, I also enjoy connecting with friends old and new as well as meeting friends of friends. I find it’s a great way to remember people I’ve met along the way and to reconnect with old friends from school. I am naturally a social person, so much so that it feels like social media was invented just for me.
This got me thinking: How can social media be used constructively for PR purposes? While recent news stories have linked the use of social media platforms to anxiety, depression and loneliness (and that is certainly a concern), I believe social media can do unprecedented good for American society.
Recently on my PR Maven Podcast, I interviewed Anne Stefanyk, who owns the web marketing company Kanopi Studios. We discussed how social media engagement can help with search engine optimization (SEO), since in my experience Google Search prefers to promote engaged, social human beings behind a website, rather than nameless, faceless entities. Because of this and other algorithms, we need to stay on top of what Google is doing and saying — whether you work in PR or not.
Bing has always admitted to using “social signals” as a ranking factor in SEO. While Google has not conceded as much in the past, recent studies have shown that social media engagement could be one of Google’s ranking factors. There is certainly some correlation between sharing content on social media and how that content performs in search results. In my experience, the more engaged you are, the more likely you are to see the first page.
So what does any of this have to do with PR, which is my strong suit? It has everything to do with PR.
After all, public relations boils down to getting you and your clients found. Generating earned media achieves that goal, but it is not the only tool at our disposal — not anymore. Billions of Google searches are recorded every day, so Google SEO is now an indispensable component of publicity. Whatever PR professionals can do to boost Google SEO should be done, based on daily traffic metrics.
This means engaging on social media. You don’t want Google’s algorithm to perceive you as dormant. If you come across as unengaged, you could be bumped down in Google Search.
Before the internet changed business forever, things were very, very different. If I was able to secure a top-tier result for a client (in a newspaper or magazine), I would literally photocopy that news story and send out a mailing to people who would want to read it. Now, we can share those results on a Twitter feed or in a LinkedIn post. People can and will read it on social media platforms. I usually include a link to the story in my monthly e-newsletter as well.
Social engagement is easier now than ever before, and we should take advantage of it —especially during a pandemic. If you care about Google SEO, then I recommend you take a good look at your organization’s presence on social media.
Who would have ever thought that there is a connection between PR, SEO and social media?
There is — and I, for one, am determined to prove it. But first let me check what’s happening on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and let’s not forget Pinterest!
This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in December 2020.