Social Savvy: The rise of social SEO – Nov 2023

By Sharon La Riviere

In the ever-evolving landscape of the digital world, search engine optimization (SEO) has played a crucial role in driving online visibility and organic traffic for businesses and individuals. However, a paradigm shift is underway, with the younger internet users increasingly turning to social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and others as their go-to search engines rather than Bing, Google or Yahoo. This is reshaping the way people discover information and interact with companies and brands. “Social SEO” is the practice of including relevant information and keywords in your social posts and videos-in captions, alt-text, subtitles and closed captions-to increase the chances of having your content shown to users browsing social media.

Over the past few years, social media platforms have evolved into more than just spaces for sharing photos and connecting with friends. They have become digital hubs where people engage with content, find inspiration and seek out information on a wide range of topics. Whether searching for how-tos, home décor ideas or travel inspiration, platforms like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest offer a wealth of visual content that sparks creativity and fuels aspiration. They provide a unique avenue for exploration and ideation, where users can gather ideas and insights from a diverse range of companies, brands and influencers. As a result, Millennials and Generation Z are turning toward social platforms to search for information.

One of the key drivers behind the shift toward social media for search is the prevalence of visual and interactive content. The next generation prefers scrolling through visually appealing feeds and exploring multimedia content-a combination of text, images, audio and video used to deliver information in a compelling and engaging way. This makes social media an ideal platform for their search needs. Users are drawn to the dynamic nature of platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where images, videos and short-form content (defined as less than one minute) dominate. Visual content is not only more engaging but also quicker to consume, making it intriguing for people seeking instant gratification.

Additionally, social media platforms have perfected the art of personalized content delivery through algorithms that curate social feeds based on a person’s preferences and behaviors. This creates an environment where users are exposed to content that aligns with their interests, leading to a more tailored search experience. As they engage with posts by liking, sharing and commenting, the algorithms refine their recommendations, creating a loop of content that they find attention-grabbing. This level of personalization is not as refined in traditional search engines like Google, where results are derived more from search terms/keywords and generic ranking factors based on how well a webpage answers a specific search query.

Another factor in the increase in the importance of social SEO is the rise of influencer culture, which has significantly impacted the way the next generation approaches information and decision-making. Social media influencers often build strong relationships with their audiences, fostering a sense of trust and credibility. As a result, when young users seek advice or recommendations, they are more likely to turn to influencers’ content on social media platforms, rather than sift through search engine results. These influencers share recommendations, reviews and insights across various topics, from work-life to fashion to travel and lifestyle. And they often do it in a very catchy and “edutainment” type of way, reinforcing the value of creating content that cuts through the clutter in users’ social media feeds.

Social proof, in the form of “likes,” shares and comments, also plays a significant role in shaping opinions and decisions. The next generation often relies on the feedback and recommendations of their peers when making choices. Social media platforms enable them to gauge popular opinion and gather insights from their social circles, making the search process more communal and collaborative. This sense of connection and shared experience enhances the appeal of social media as a search tool.

As the next generation gravitates toward social media for search, businesses and marketers need to adapt their strategies to remain relevant and visible. Here are some implications to consider:

• Content Optimization for Visual Search: Visual content optimization becomes crucial as social platforms gain prominence in search behavior. Businesses should focus on creating visually appealing and engaging content that aligns with their target audience’s interests. Use relevant keywords and hashtags in caption, and use alt-text to describe the photo, again incorporating keywords that will help the platform appropriately categorize it. Tagging a location can help with local searches.

• Influencer Collaboration: Partnering with influencers can amplify your company’s or brand’s visibility and credibility among social media audiences. Businesses should identify influencers whose values align with their brand. Leverage their followers and reach to increase the exposure of a business in a less promotional way. Recently, at Laticrete, we partnered with That Tile Chick for a video tutorial she did on completing a shower niche, organically promoting our new line of profiles and trims to her 208,000 Instagram followers.

• Community Building: People look for reviews and recommendations before making their decision to purchase. Fostering an active and engaged online community can contribute to “social proof” and peer influence, attracting audiences seeking authentic interactions. Laticrete has a members-only “Inside Track” group on Facebook dedicated to those in the field who use our products regularly, and its nearly 5,000 members routinely post pictures from jobsites. Non-promotional posts like these give products even more credibility.

• Visual Storytelling: Leveraging visual storytelling techniques can help connect a business with its target audience on an emotional level, driving deeper engagement and loyalty for the long term. Posting pictures of a rewards trip with customers is a visual way of promoting a brand’s loyalty program as an incentive to get more participation next year. The eye-catching pictures and touching post message behind the trip provide a personal connection to the program.

The era of social SEO has arrived, and its implications are set to shape the future of digital marketing and online visibility. Adapting to this trend means harnessing the power of visual and interactive content.

Copyright 2023 Floor Focus 

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