There’s a new trend among Internet marketers to explain social media in a way that makes it synonymous with search engine optimization. To be truthful, the lines between them are getting blurry, but they aren’t the same. I think the confusion stems from a misunderstanding about link building.
If you believe that link building is the most important SEO activity and that Google’s algorithm updates – Panda and Penguin – are primarily designed to hamper link building activities, then you are more likely to believe that social media is SEO. You are likely to perceive social media marketing as primarily a link building exercise when, in fact, it isn’t.
So what is it?
Social media is another channel of online marketing that allows you to make a direct connection between your business and potential clients. It really serves two primary functions: Audience engagement and traffic generation.
Audience engagement is about creating content that connects with your target market. It can be anything as long as the end goal is to reach the people you want to do business with. You are building relationships. That’s an important distinction.
Traffic generation is an extension of audience engagement. Your goal is to connect with people who make prime prospects for your business, then to drive those prospects to your website where you hope to close the sale. This is what social media’s real purpose is. If you manage to gain some inbound links or derive other benefits from it, then it’s a bonus.