Should your local business rely on search engine optimization or engage in social media optimization?  Both are strong, online marketing initiatives, but data released by the Pew Internet & American Life Foundation show this may influence some local businesses to deemphasize SMO.  It seems consumers, interviewed by land and cell phone lines, reported levering social media only 1% of the time to find information about local business, ostensibly making social media an ineffective marketing tool.

I think the report may misrepresent the importance of social media and does not give the marketing process the credit it deserves.  Sterling concludes his post by mentioning social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have a long way to go before they can adequately help local small businesses.

Still Young
To begin, let’s not forget the traffic of social media platforms.  We saw Facebook trump Google in 2010.  The numbers are there for local businesses to attract.

Available traffic is not the problem; it may be the other way around.  Perhaps a large number of small businesses, within a waning economy, have not taken part in social media…yet.  Search engine optimization preceded social media optimization; more businesses have made investments in the former online marketing objective.  Maybe more users leverage SEs rather than social media because there’s a greater chance of finding desired information there…for now.  Local businesses are on the SERPs, yet not enough are engaging in social media optimization…yet.  Just about every business has a Web site; only a small number of them engage in social media.

Social Media Influences SERPs
Social media influences the SERPs, creating another reason not to shy from SMO and social media participation.  We’re seeing a shift in the SERPs.  The process of search engine optimization, making brands more prevalent on SERPs, is beginning to incorporate and place more emphasis on social media optimization and participation as well as reputation management, or building a brand’s online authority.

Social Paid Search
Additionally, social media sites, like Twitter and LinkedIn, are offering social paid search opportunities.  Will these paid ad opportunities help local small businesses?  I believe it will.  Don’t give social media the cold shoulder, local business owners.  See the forest through the trees.  Successful brands are in it for the long-term, leveraging social media platforms, using multiple online marketing tools at hand to increase exposure.