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Can You use LinkedIn’s New Sponsored Content Feature?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Image courtesy of mars_discovery_district/Flickr.

Image courtesy of mars_discovery_district/Flickr.

Recently, LinkedIn made it possible for all users to publish content directly to the website. Now, it has announced a new feature called direct sponsored content that could help you reach more people and grow your audience.

The ability to publish content on LinkedIn and share it with your followers as a way to build your brand and showcase your expertise brings a lot of opportunity to your content marketing plan. But, this latest feature could do even more, making it easier for you to target your market.

Direct Sponsored Content

LinkedIn already offers sponsored posts that businesses can use to reach more people on the network. This new feature is very similar, but allows businesses to create sponsored content.

With the tool, your business can post content directly to LinkedIn’s feed, without posting it on our business page, and target it to a very specific group of people. Of course, the benefit of this is that you can make sure content with specific messages reaches the right people.

Your page’s administrator will have the ability to respond to comments on the sponsored content and can even track a few basic analytics like number of clicks, impressions, interactions and followers acquired for each piece of sponsored content.

To use the feature, you need to have a business page and use LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions. When you are logged in to your dashboard, you will see the new option to create sponsored content. You can see a video tutorial on how to start using sponsored content on LinkedIn’s content marketing page.

Should You use Sponsored Content?

If you already use sponsored posts or LinkedIn is already part of your social media marketing strategy, you should consider using sponsored content. This new feature can help you take your LinkedIn strategy to a new level and get more out of your account.

Even if your business isn’t using LinkedIn yet, now is a good time to consider adding it to your Internet and social media marketing plans. The site has grown and could potentially help you reach a large audience.

LinkedIn is a unique social media site because it attracts a different audience than many of the other social media sites. There are more than 300 million LinkedIn users with 15 million users in the UK alone. The site is also growing quickly, with more than two new users signing up every second. According to LinkedIn, there are 39 million students and recent graduates using the site, and this demographic is the site’s fastest growing group of users.

LinkedIn also says that its users did more than 5.7 billion searches on the site for professional-themed topics in 2012. These numbers tell us that LinkedIn is a major social network with users who search the site for content regularly.

If your business wants to target students, young professionals, industry experts and other businesses, LinkedIn is a great channel to use. To get the best results, use LinkedIn to reach this specific market, build a strong following, engage with other users and experiment with sponsored posts and content.

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Facebook Daily Users and Referrals are Both Up

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Image courtesy of Scott Beale/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Scott Beale/Flickr.

Two new numbers, from Facebook and Shareaholic, show that Facebook is gaining more value as a marketing tool for businesses. We already knew that Facebook is an invaluable part of Internet marketing, but these new studies show that despite some rumours, Facebook is still a great promotional tool.

More Daily Users

Facebook announced that it has had a 19 percent increase in daily users since last year. The site has 829 million users. This statistic shows that although some have speculated that Facebook has reached its peak and is declining in popularity, it has more daily users.

People are still using Facebook, and according to the study, they are logging in frequently. People still use it as a way to connect with friends, share content and socialise.

Your business would be missing out on a lot of social media marketing benefits if you decide to skimp on Facebook marketing. A strong social media strategy and Facebook ads can help you reach a large portion of your market, raise awareness and promote your products.

The Most Social Referrals

The Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Report found that the amount of Facebook referral traffic has also increased. Over the last few months, the traffic took a minor dip, but is now higher than it has been since March.

This month, Facebook was responsible for 23.39 percent of social media referral traffic. In March, it was responsible for 21.25 percent, and in both April and May, it accounted for about 18 percent of social media referrals.

These statistics tell us that while more people are using Facebook daily, more people are also clicking on the links being shared. When you promote your website and blog on Facebook, there’s a good chance that you’ll drive more traffic to your site.

But, that’s not the only thing this study found. According to the research, Facebook brings more social media referrals than Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined!

Pinterest brings 5.72 percent of referrals while Twitter brings 1.03 percent. All the other sites mentioned above each brought less than 1 percent of the referrals.

Start Leveraging Facebook

Since Facebook’s daily users are increasing and it has the potential to refer a lot of traffic to your website, your business can’t risk not including Facebook as an integral part of your Internet marking and social media strategy.

So, how do you start harnessing the power of Facebook? There are so many features you can use to your advantage to make it a stronger part of your marketing plan.

Some places to start include:

  • Branding Your Page
  • Building an Active Following
  • Sharing Content Strategically
  • Using Well-Targeted Ads

Facebook remains an important part of the social media marketing world and when you use it to help you promote your business, you are getting your brand in front of more people and working to drive more traffic to your site. As you build this presence, you will benefit from increased brand awareness, more sales and customer loyalty.

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Go Beyond Simple Link Sharing for more Social Media Referrals

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Most businesses use social media to promote their blog and website. Sharing content here will help you drive traffic to your site where you can convert visitors to customers and even increase your search rankings.

But, simply copying and pasting links from your website to social media can get stale. It’s okay to post links, which on some sites let you automatically show a preview of your content, but when this is the only way you share your content, you aren’t using social media to its fullest potential.

With some creativity and by using some different approaches, you can update your social media marketing strategy to get your market’s attention and see even more social media referrals.

Post a Teaser

One of the most basic ways to generate interest in a link is to post a teaser. Copy and paste a sentence or two from the post itself or write a short blurb that gets people interested enough to want to click through to the content.

An example of a good teaser for an article about how to choose the right laptop would be: “We compared the top five selling laptops to help you decide which is right for you!”

Promise a Benefit

With so much content out there and with so many things to look at and do on social media, people need a good reason to click on your link. If social media users don’t see value in what you are offering, they won’t visit your site.

A post that says something like, “Don’t waste your money on the wrong laptop! Our comparison chart will help you find the perfect fit for you,” tells people what benefit your content provides: advice on how to save money.

Ask a Question about the Content

People like to give their opinion, so ask for it! When you post a link to your content, ask people a question about it. This makes them curious about what is in your content while also encouraging engagement and comments.

When you post a link, ask a question like “Have you tried any of the laptops on our value comparison chart? What do you think? Did we get it right?” This does two things. First, it makes people want to look at your blog post and chart and also encourages them to leave a comment on your social media post or blog post.

Give a Hint

Giving a hint is similar to posting a teaser, but it provides less information and tempts people to click on your link to find out what it’s all about. For example, write a post that reads something like “You will never guess which laptop came out on top in our comparison of the most popular models!” This hints at what your content is all about but doesn’t give too much away so people will still want to visit your site.

Sharing content on social media is a great way to drive traffic to your site and interact with your market. When you use more creative ways to post and share, you will stand out on social media and see even better results.

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Foursquare and LinkedIn go Even more Local

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Image courtesy of Michael Verhoef/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Michael Verhoef/Flickr.

Both Foursquare and LinkedIn have announced new features that take their networks to a whole new level. Local search engine optimisation has long been valued among businesses and Internet marketers, and now social networks are looking for ways to use local features to expand their services.

For example, Facebook recently added a feature called Nearby Friends that lets users see where their friends are so they can connect in real life and communicate about local areas, destinations and sites.

Foursquare Personalises Local Search

Foursquare has always been about location, but now it is taking that speciality to a whole new level with personalised local search. This feature changes the way search works for users and could highlight what social media users are looking for.

The mobile app will rely on a user’s check-in history and answers to a few questions about personal preferences to provide search results about local places designed specifically for that person. Foursquare says that no two local search results pages will be exactly the same.

Search results will also be served based on tips, check-ins and photos that other users have submitted since Foursquare began. In other words, the social network has made local search personalised by using its database of information, along with personal preferences, to provide results about places the user is most likely to be interested in.

Foursquare hasn’t specified when the feature will be available, but says it will be rolled out soon.

LinkedIn Offers new Connected App

LinkedIn is now offering a new app, called Connected, for iPhone users that makes it easier to strengthen relationships in person. While the new app doesn’t add any location-specific features, it does encourage people to use LinkedIn in a local way.

The app makes it easy to be prepared for meetings and working lunches so you can take online relationships offline and strengthen your professional network. Connected will also help you keep track of what your contacts are doing and helps you keep up with things like job changes, birthdays and other events.

In other words, Connected makes it easier to network in real life and to make relationships more than just an online connection. Right now, the app is only available to iPhone users and is already on the iTunes store.

Does Your Business Embrace Local?

Facebook’s, Foursquare’s and LinkedIn’s recent updates show a trend in social media. People are looking for ways to make in-person interaction easier and want to make social media more personal. They want personalised search results and social media features that help them foster real-life relationships.

What does this mean for you? It means that to keep up with trends and market desires, you need to find ways to meet those personalised, local needs. Whether you have a small local shop or a large brand, look for ways to provide personal experiences and don’t forgo real-life interaction and experiences for online engagement.

Social media and Internet marketing should be used to supplement the experience your customers have when they work with your employees or visit your location. These recent changes to social media networks show that more and more people are expecting this kind of service and when you provide it, you will attract more customers.

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The Death of Paid Followers and Black Hat Social Media Techniques?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Since the beginning of social media, popularity or the amount of followers, likes etc… has been a big indicator of whether your product, brand or service has been doing something right. Five years ago, seeing huge numbers on social media sites provided a form of public validation and trust which was seen as a great indicator of a brand’s success.

From the start, people quickly figured out that creating thousands of fake accounts could provide an instant interest factor for your desired audience. Whilst working in the music industry I came across many producers and studios that would pay for followers, views and basic engagement etc… for bands and songs, daily. Black Hat social media techniques became a standard practice within the entertainment industry and before long this then became commonplace in the business sectors. No matter how terrible a product was/is, it could appear to have a huge following. Social media is now part and parcel of any good SEO strategy as the engagement will ultimately give your Google rankings a lift but times are changing.

 

Google has changed a lot over the last few years in a way that I think democratises the internet to a degree that favours ‘real’ interaction and engagement over spammy link building and paid for interest. Paying for cheap business directories and ten thousand followers on Twitter is no longer going to help you build your brand. This will make many digital marketers jobs’ more difficult in the sense that they now have to start engaging more with their clients’ products and begin creating actual marketing campaigns that drive relevant traffic. In my opinion all this is good and will ultimately reduce bounce rates and increase conversions, if you know what you’re doing. Not only did Google’s updates not affect my clients, it actually helped them secure higher positions than their competitors that are represented by less forward-thinking digital marketers which inevitably led to a drop in their rankings.

Google is now beginning to punish companies that have faked their way through social media. YouTube has already started making big moves against fake virality by removing billions of fake views from certain pop stars. If you pay for a fake social media lift by buying likes on Facebook so you suddenly receive one thousand likes in a week and then twenty the next, the Google social monitoring algorithm will know and your rankings will suffer, ultimately affecting the profitability of your business.

I’ve been saying this for over a year now but still some business owners are too short sighted and don’t think about the longevity of their companies. It’s been tipped that the next Google update is going to be specifically targeting spammy social media and a plethora of Black Hat social techniques so if you’ve paid for fake followers and likes then beware because Google is going to be targeting you, and your company will be at risk of losing a large percentage of your readership. Think about the long-term financial damage that you’ll incur by using cheap short term social media strategies. Expedia lost 25% of their visibility this year due to Black Hat Social Media techniques; just think how much business that cost them or imagine how much it’ll cost you financially to lose 25% of your client visibility.

If you’ve made a mistake then there may still be time to correct it and to hire a company that can begin creating real engagement-based social media strategies. Sage advice – Never go cheap on bin liners and social media strategies, if you do you’ll find yourself steeped in useless rubbish and regret.

The Plug

If you’re interested in implementing a social media strategy that works for your business and is based on a team doing real work then send me a message or contact me via johnny@bigfootdigital.co.uk

Unlike most digital marketing companies, we don’t implement 6 to 12 month contracts with our clients. We simply ask for a 30 day cancellation period. We structure our services in this way because we believe in the quality of what we do. Our work and the client’s ROI should speak for itself and so far it’s enabled us to go from strength to strength.

Johnny Pawlik

Digital Strategy and Business Procurement

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Facebook Testing new “Buy” Feature

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Facebook has announced that it’s testing a new feature that will let users buy products from businesses directly through the site or mobile app. This addition has the potential to make increasing sales through Facebook easier for businesses and could increase conversion rates for ads and posts.

What we Know About the Feature

We don’t know very much about this new feature yet, except that it will add a “buy” button to some Facebook ads and posts. This way, people can buy products through Facebook without leaving the site or app.

Facebook explained that the payment will be secure and users will be able to store their credit card information on the site or check out without saving payment information. It also states that payment information used on Facebook won’t be shared with other advertisers.

According to the announcement, the feature is currently being tested with some small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. Facebook says it will be assessing feedback, so it may be safe to assume that if the feature works well it could be available to businesses everywhere.

You can find out more about the test on the news section of the Facebook for business website.

How Businesses will Benefit

While this new feature hasn’t been expanded for all businesses and Facebook advertisers, it is an interesting development that could benefit your business later. Facebook seems eager to stay relevant and to entice more businesses to use the service and buy ads. If the tests go well, and the new feature is unrolled for all businesses, you could use it as a major part of your social media marketing campaign.

The addition of the “buy” button would give you a way to include a very visual and clear call to action. When you advertise products or just post information about them to your page, you could make it much easier for people to make a purchase.

Conversion rates could increase because making purchases would be faster and easier and customers could buy things as they use Facebook. People may be more inclined to make spur-of-the-moment purchases, especially if they don’t have to stop what they are doing.

Currently, advertisers can include links to their website and product pages, which makes it easier to convert people into buyers, but does require some extra work. The ads need to be enticing enough to convince someone that they are worth clicking on and exploring further. With the new button, some of that inconvenience could disappear.

How to Make more Sales Now

In the meantime, you can make sure your ads and posts are as optimised as possible to increase sales. Start by using ads that are appealing to your target market and make the shopping experience better. Link directly to a page where users can make a purchase and make sure the checkout process is easy.

To enhance your page, work to build a following of people who are likely to become customers and then post strategically so people will be interested in visiting your website where you can convert them to customers.

We’ll keep an eye on this test and keep you posted as it develops and if it becomes more widely available to businesses.

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7 Easy ways to get More Social Media Engagement Today

Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Image courtesy of Goldy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Goldy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Getting more engagement on your social media accounts can increase brand awareness, boost sales, drive traffic and encourage customer loyalty. Many businesses are constantly looking for ways to get more “likes,” comments and shares on social media.

To get the best engagement and see long-term benefits you will need to use some strategic social media marketing plans. But, here are seven quick and easy ways you can start getting more engagement today to jumpstart your accounts.

Start Asking Questions

One of the quickest and easiest ways to start getting some engagement is to ask questions. Ask for product feedback, opinions, reactions to events or responses on anything that will interest your market. People love to talk, especially about themselves, so use this to generate some responses and conversation.

Participate in a Group or Community

Groups and communities are the perfect place for conversation and interaction and can even help you gain more followers. Find groups that are related to your industry or community and that are likely to attract people who would also be interested in your business. Join existing communities or set up your own groups and start inviting people to join them.

Mention and Tag other Users

Generate responses and conversations by mentioning and tagging other users. Do this with a status update or by sharing content from another business and giving it credit. When you mention others in your posts, they will be more likely to respond, starting a conversation, or even share your post with their followers, helping you reach a larger audience.

Start a Conversation

Start a conversation by asking another user a question or commenting on someone’s post. As you start a conversation with someone else, other users may also join in and before you know it, you will be involved in a conversation with a group of people and eliciting all kinds of engagement.

Post Something Different

If your followers are used to the types of things you post and are no longer interested in interacting with them, change things up. You may want to make some permanent changes to your overall social media strategy, but you can test some different tactics by posting something new.

Post something that is different from what you normally post and go with something funny, entertaining, touching, amazing, awe-inspiring or even controversial. Sometimes all it takes to start generating more comments and interaction is a small change in what you post.

Crowdsource Something Simple

Crowdsourcing something simple, like a photo caption, is a great way to get people talking and involved with your brand. Other ways to do this include asking people to vote on a new blog design, asking people to comment on which of your products they like best, using fill-in-the-blank posts or asking for photo submissions. This tactic is similar to asking questions, but it involves more creative interaction.

Do a Giveaway

Giveaways are popular on social media and they are an excellent way to gain new followers, get comments and encourage people to share your posts. Make sure the giveaway is for something your market values and that it requires people to somehow interact with your brand on social media.

All of these tactics can help you generate more interaction on your account right away. Start using these tips and then when you find what works for your market, consider changing your social media marketing strategy so it will be more effective.

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Simple ways to build Brand Awareness on Social Media

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Image courtesy of smarnad/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of smarnad/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Increasing brand awareness through social media isn’t a unique goal. Many businesses use social media, and other forms of Internet marketing, to make their brand, business, products and services more recognisable.

When your market knows who you are and what you provide, you can increase sales, become an industry leader and build trust with your market, which will help your business grow. With just a few easy tactics you can start building this kind of awareness through social media.

Ad Campaigns

Ad campaigns are a great way to promote your business and attract new followers on social media. Design a campaign specifically for people who don’t already know about your business or who have a very limited knowledge of what you do. The ads can be used to drive traffic to your website, increase sales or build your social media following.

Strategic Posting

Your social media campaign should give you direction and purpose. It should help you avoid random or unorganised posts and messaging. Make a plan that outlines what you want to tell people about your brand and what kinds of actions you want people to take, and then make sure your posts will help you accomplish those goals.

Develop a Personality

Part of your brand is your personality. Clearly define if your brand is fun, spontaneous, professional, casual, friendly or serious and then make sure that personality shows through on your social media profiles and posts.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and post monotonous content or updates that are dry and lack feeling and personality. Break out of this by becoming more human and conversational on social media.

Have Conversations

Social media is meant to be conversational, so talk to your followers! Accounts that respond to questions, ask for feedback and interact with others attract more followers. Having conversations can also help you get in front of more people and build your social media presence.

Some easy ways to have conversations include:

  • Asking Questions
  • Thanking Customers for Feedback
  • Commenting on Customers’ Posts
  • Interacting with other Businesses
  • Responding to Comments on your Posts
  • Giving Shout Outs to Partners or Community Members
  • Thanking Customers

As you start having conversations it will become a habit and before you know it your accounts will be a hub for your customers and draw the attention of people who haven’t heard of your business.

Be Consistent

It’s hard to establish a brand and increase awareness when you aren’t consistent. As you start to include these strategies in your social media plans, be consistent. This means posting regularly, continuing to have conversations and maintaining your presence.

When you are consistent you will establish your place on social media and you’ll become part of larger conversations. You’ll also be more visible to other users, which will help you raise brand awareness.

Using social media is a great way to increase brand awareness and by adopting just a few habits and making sure you are using your accounts strategically, you can inform your market about your business and grow your customer base.

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Twitter’s new Analytics Dashboard Provides more Details

Monday, July 14th, 2014
Image courtesy of Esther Vargas/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Esther Vargas/Flickr.

Twitter has updated its analytics dashboard to provide more detailed information to businesses. With more information, you can see how your tweets are performing and even how your followers are interacting with them.

Who Can Use the New Analytics?

The analytics dashboard is available to businesses that have an advertising account, a verified account or that use Twitter cards. If your business has access to the previous analytics dashboard, you will be able to see the new data. You can also sign up for an account to start using the dashboard now.

What’s New?

Previously, businesses relied on basic information, like the number of retweets or favourites a tweet had, to find out how popular or successful it was. This is still a good way to get an idea of how many people are seeing your tweets and whether or not your market likes the type of information you are sharing.

But, these statistics were limiting and didn’t give businesses a very broad picture of what was happening with their accounts. That’s why the new dashboard is big news and will help businesses be more successful on Twitter.

Impressions

Now, you can see how many times your tweets have been seen on the Twitter website or one of its mobile apps. “Impressions” refers to the number of times a tweet has been viewed, not necessarily the number of people who have seen it.

Twitter allows you to see the total number of impressions for each tweet, an hourly distribution, so you can see when your followers see your posts, or the number of impressions your tweets have received in a 28-day period.

Link Clicks

Now, you don’t have to rely on third-party link shorteners to see how many clicks your links get. You can choose a specific tweet on your dashboard to see how many times a link was clicked on.

Hashtag Clicks

If you use hashtags as part of your social media marketing strategy, being able to see how many times they are clicked on can help you be more effective. Click on a tweet on the dashboard to see hashtag clicks.

App Installs and Opens

Businesses that use Twitter’s app cards will now be able to see how many times their apps were installed or opened.

Tweet-Induced Follows and Profile Views

The new dashboard will also let you see how many followers you are gaining and how many times your profile is viewed due to tweets you are posting.

If you took advantage of Twitter’s CSV export tool, you’ll be happy to know that now you can export data for up to 3,200 tweets, significantly more than the previous 500-tweet limit.

The more analytical information you can gather, the more you can assess your Twitter strategy and find better ways to reach your market. Start taking advantage of the new dashboard now by taking some measurements and then tracking different values over the next several weeks.

As you start to notice changes, find ways you can improve the way you use Twitter to get better results, reverse negative trends or just see even more success.

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Does Social Media Benefit SEO Efforts?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Social media marketing and search engine optimisation are two popular forms of Internet marketing. In fact, for most businesses, they play a major part in their overall marketing and communications plans. One of the most common questions people have concerning these topics is “Does social media benefit SEO efforts?”

The answer is “yes and no.” While this seems like a frustrating response, when you understand how the two can work together, you can find ways to make your Internet marketing even stronger.

What Google Has Said

Earlier this year, Matt Cutts said that Google sees Facebook and Twitter pages like other Internet pages, crawls the content when it can and returns the pages as search results. But, he went on to say that Google’s algorithm doesn’t specifically use things like number of followers or “likes” to determine how to rank a social media page.

Google never comes right out and explains its algorithm in full, but these statements do tell us a lot about how the search engine takes social media into account as it ranks pages.

Keep in mind that some social media sites, like Twitter, use no follow links, so they aren’t the best solution for link building strategies.

Should I use Social Media for SEO?

However, social media could help your SEO strategies if your goal is to get your social media pages and mentions ranked by Google. Working to promote your brand on social media could mean that social media pages related to your business will get higher rankings.

While you shouldn’t rely on social media to build links to your site, you can use it to promote your content and generate some earned links. If people see your content on social media, they may be more likely to link to it from their own website or blog, which will help your SEO efforts.

Social media can also help you drive more traffic to your website and encourage engagement, two factors that may also influence your search rankings.

Social Media and SEO Produce Similar Results

With all this discussion about social media and SEO, it’s important to remember that both tactics can be used to produce similar results. While they can’t always work together, they can both be very beneficial.

For example, if your goal is to increase traffic to your sales page, you could do this with social media, SEO, and in most cases, a combination of both. Other benefits that both strategies can bring include increased awareness, site engagement, more email subscribers and more sales.

Remember that while social media and SEO can help you accomplish different goals, they can also help you achieve similar things. When you can work toward marketing goals with more than one tactic, your results will often be better.

The complicated answer to this question is that while some social media factors don’t impact search rankings, social media can be used to supplement SEO campaigns. Use both of these tactics to reach your market, raise brand awareness and increase site traffic.

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