Your Competitor’s Social Media landscape
Social Media is everywhere, nobody can deny it. Yet in the SEO world, it is just now beginning to make a dent. Google has said that Social Media signals will affect a web site’s rankings in the search engine results, yet to what extent we aren’t quite sure. Regardless of where it is now though, you can bet it will become increasingly important in the very near future. Failure to take appropriate measures to understand it and use it to your advantage endangers your search engine results and, with a high degree of likelihood, your business.
As with most of what we do around here, we’re always interested in our competitors and the competitors of our customers. It’s one thing to tell our customer that they need to create and use on a daily or weekly basis a Twitter account, a Facebook Business page, Google+ page, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, etc, etc but it’s another thing entirely when we can show them what their competitors are doing in this space. When you see your competitors have been building a social media presence and you have not, it drives the importance home.
So how do you check? Checking is pretty easily actually, since just about every social media outlet displays number of followers, likes, circles, channels, etc. Simply visit the Social Media channels for your competitors and create a spreadsheet that shows where they are. Then be brutally honest with your own business and do the same. Take corrective action!
Here’s what a spreadsheet might look like for this.
The table above shows us the following:
- Competitor #1 is doing ok – they’ve at least started. They are doing nothing with YouTube, quite a bit it seems with Google+ and they have at least a decent following with LinkedIn. Their Facebook and Twitter counts are pretty low and their YouTube presence is non-existent. Bear in mind a critical issue here – Google owns YouTube and they rank YouTube videos quite highly, so a strong YouTube channel can be a very effective means to raise your status.
- Competitor #2 is doing well across the board. They have engaged with all of the shown Social Media channels and are doing pretty well with each.
- Competitor #3 is doing even better than Competitor #2, except that have no Google+ presence. This will probably hurt them (now or in the future) with respect to Google search engine rankings
- Competitor #4 has focused entirely on Twitter and with what appears to be pretty good success. There are a lot of ways to gather 17,000 followers on Twitter though, and not all of them point to good business practices. This customer would bear watching to see how their dramatically one-sided approach is working for them. If they are ranking high in search results, it could indicate a high level of trust given to this large number of Twitter followers. Of course, there are other items to consider as well – this is just one piece of the SEO puzzle.
Where does your business fall? Do you have a LinkedIn account? If so, have you submitted any documents? Do you have followers? What about Facebook likes? Do you engage with Twitter daily? Do you reach out and try to grow your Google+ circles? Have you uploaded any YouTube videos?
One thing to consider is that it is far better to do one of the items above very well than it is to do all five of them poorly. Competitor #4, for example, has focused on Twitter. I would assume because he has time only for Twitter. He recognizes that creating a landing pages on the other channels and then leaving them vacant causes more harm than good. I would recommend stretching just a little bit though – go for at least two and do them very, very well. As you grow and maybe hire a VA or an employee, then you can branch into another channel.
Speaking of other channels, the ones list in the above image are what I would consider table stakes – you want to start with these. If you choose to grow, here’s a quick list of other social media and Web 2.0 offerings you can grow into. I will say that “Social Media” and “Web 2.0” sites are becoming more and more blurred – I consider them both as more-or-less Social Media in terms of SEO.
- Pinterest – many would argue this is a table stakes offering as well and I don’t disagree. The growth, penetration and acceptance of Pinterest has been mind boggling.
…and this is scratching the surface. Not to mention more are coming online every day while others are being bought by bigger fish, eaten, or just spit out. Squidoo is a good example – for the past couple of years everybody was saying to make sure you have a “lens” on Squidoo, and they were right. But then HubPages came along and ate them up and now owns Squidoo.
So pay attention. Watch what your competitors are doing. As they say, it’s OK to be a copycat, as long as you copy the right cat. Measure your Social Media presence and compare it to your competitors. This will give you a benchmark and enable you to set goals. Maybe the goal is “catch competitor #2 on YouTube videos” or maybe it’s “write 10 articles to submit to LinkedIn”. Whatever the goal, keep an updated spreadsheet so you can manage your progress. As you overtake your competitors in these areas, you will see your business improve.