How strong of a role does social media play in search and SEO? There are still many B2B companies not participating in social media. It doesn’t help our sales effort, we cannot quantify it, our target doesn’t use it and the list goes on. I would argue that without participation in social media your SEO and search effort is working at 50%. If you think sophisticated audiences aren’t using social, then think again. Over 5 million high networth investors use LinkedIn. According to a Hubspot 2011 survey of 611 advisors, 61% said they had landed a new client directly from LinkedIn.

Will social media replace search? Lee Odden’s recent blog post, “Social Media & SEO” talks about how search is now increasingly becoming “social”. Most content now is sourced from social media (blogs, video, tweets, Facebook posts and images).  According to Lee, “All major search engines take data feeds from Twitter and Facebook. In fact, if you compare the search volume numbers shared in this Search Engine Land article, Twitter is the second most popular search engine (Google 88bn, Twitter 18bn, Yahoo 9.4bn, Bin 4.1bn queries per month).”

A few other numbers courtesy of Mass Relevance:

  •        50% of Facebook’s 750 million active users log on in any given day
  •        30+ billion pieces of content shared each month within Facebook
  •        500+ tweets per minute contain a @YouTube link
  •        100 million active Twitter users and 55% access the platform via their mobile

Media Post’s article, “Social Media Takes Over Search,” cites that “Social media has surpassed search, and is poised to overtake online display advertising as the No. 1 source of digital media planning and buying, according to the latest edition of a quarterly survey of U.S. advertising agencies.” According to Strata CEO and President John Shelton, “I did not hear the word ‘search’ once,” he said, “and maybe 2 out of 3 vendors and 3 out of 4 of the agency questions were about social. Social media is absolutely their main focus right now.”

We already know both Google and Bing started adding social media participation to their search algorithms a few years ago. Bing is trying to now compete with Google on social search features. I am sure you know what my opinion is, but if not I’ll be very clear: if your business does not have a form of social media you are a dinosaur. Pick a platform or method of participation that is right for your business and your audience. Start small and scale later. Social media is not going away – it will evolve and become just as developed as other types of media we’ve been using for decades.