There is growing evidence that Google is taking social media signals and incorporating them into its algorithm. There is an interesting article on the subject here. Our own research is not complete, however we own a number of test sites that have a large number of social media like, tweets etc and they are now outperforming sites without these metrics. There has been an outpouring of "signal social media monitoring" companies which would at least attract Google's attention. Mention: Media Monitoring Made Simple is our current favourite. There is some argument that Google cannot crawl certain social media platforms.
Social Media traffic - like selling something to someone in the middle of dinner with friends?
Whilst undoubtable successful in returning large amounts or web traffic, conversion rates can be likened to trying to sell insurance to people having dinner in a restaurant, lots of eyeballs, but no open wallets. We study Facebook, possible because we took part in their IPO. We are hoping that Facebook can monetise their traffic, however what we are seeing is robot traffic coming our of Facebook and not real people, perhaps we are wrong?
Whilst we admit that there is an SEO benefit from linking to Facebook and Linked in we cannot find the right balance to give a reasonable ROI for our clients.
Google Plus on the other hand seems to be more successful, possibly as it attracts a more tech savvy crowd that spend 'more than average' in terms of time and money online.
Google Plus is possibly a better bet than Facebook
Linked In is another social / business media (medium) that has shown results. Linked In has moved out of the shadows and into the limelight as a useful resource outside of common search. Whilst it still remains a place for the underemployed to meet online their are good signs that not only is a Linked In an SEO tick box but also a source of backlink and traffic.
Social media or Google?
Benedict currently sees social media as a necessity, a tick in the right box so to speak. In our world, clicks and conversions are transparent. We are finding that investments in Twitter and Face book offer a poor return for businesses. After testing and researching 22 campaigns using You Tube videos, Facebook pages and multiple Twitter accounts, the sheer size of the competing social noise and the man hours involved do not stack up again the returns. If time and money where not an object, then we would advise full speed ahead, but in our experience there are far quicker returns to be made from organic search strategies centring around Google.
After researching Twitter and Facebook and running promotional campaigns on each, we decided that people are not in a buying framework when using this medium. It is like selling to someone eating dinner in a restaurant, the mind-set is all wrong.
Whilst there is a good possibility for brand exposure and enhanced credibility ('We've seen you on Facebook you are less likely to steal my credit card number etc.'), this is hard to measure and it becomes unclear how to easily scale the work to be more effective. Still at least Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter remain SEO tick boxes.