In my last blog post, I discussed Facebook’s recently released Graph Search, which integrates social data into a search to provide much more personal results, and how it has the disruptive ability to completely revolutionize local discovery. One point in my last blog post that I only mentioned briefly, however, is the fact that Facebook isn’t alone in attempting to incorporate social data into the local discovery process. In fact, according to SEO expert Greg Sterling, what many people don’t realize is that people’s opinions and likes, or social data, has always been integral in local discovery, dating all the way back to the original Yahoo! Directory, which used actual human editors to index and put together lists of relevant results for hundreds of different search queries.
But if social has always been a necessary part of search, why is there such a large focus on it now? The answer to that, quite frankly, is there is simply so much more social data out there and it is just now starting to be incorporated into local discovery. Sites and apps like Facebook, Foursquare and Google+ enable and encourage us to live our life and rehash our actions and opinions online, creating unprecedented and massive amounts of social data. Where it used to be actual human curators combing through online articles for the original Yahoo! Directory, sites now can incorporate direct signals such as “likes” into the algorithm.
Yet, despite the fact that this data also includes how we act as consumers, small businesses have been slow to effectively incorporate social sites into their marketing efforts. In fact, according to a late 2012 study by digital marketing platform vSplash, 87% of US small business websites either had no obvious social media presence or failed to successfully market their social media presence on their website.
You need to make sure you are taking advantage of social local discovery. Local data fuels social interaction and enables a business to engage with their customers online. Here are three quick steps to take advantage of the power of social taken from the most recent Yext Quarterly:
1. Presence to Anchor: The first step is simply making sure that there is a digital location for your business in the online social sphere. Make sure that you are found on social networks like Facebook and on apps like Foursquare. Just like with your physical store, you need to create a digital location for customers to engage with each other and, most importantly, your brand.
2. Act as Context for Customer Interaction: Once you have set up your anchor, you will be able to facilitate and provide context to online customer interaction, thus increasing engagement and building brand loyalty. You can do this passively by providing customers with a backdrop to their interactions with other customers. There have been over 13 million comments on Facebook Business pages. Customers are looking to interact online, you just need to provide them with the context to do so.
3. Join the Conversation: You can complete the circle and fully take advantage of social by adding to your customer’s conversations with quality and useful content about your business to encourage further engagement.
Have you begun to take advantage of social media? SCORE has partnered with Yext so you can see how you are listed on Facebook and Foursquare as well as a host of premium sites like Yahoo!, Yelp, and Bing instantly with a FREE Business Listings Scan!