As the Democratic National Convention begins with the Republican National Convention finished, social media will continue to keep people from across the country tuned in on the action. Regardless of what political party you support, with the use of social media those from all angles of the political spectrum can catch all the action, cast their opinion on speakers, reflect on current issues, and show support for their party.

Since social media took center stage in the 2008 Presidential election, it has become a viable means of connecting voters with candidates. Social media sites help improve campaign engagement by sparking online interest. This year, a sharp use of Twitter and YouTube during the RNC occurred, with an already expected high use of these sites to follow during the DNC.

Within the RNC’s three-day long period, over 4 million tweets posted with 14,743 tweets popping up per minute. This is a drastic increase in comparison to the 2008 convention, in which only a mere 360,000 tweets were tweeted during the two week timespan of both conventions. This year’s trends included the official GOP hashtag of #GOP2012 with the hashtag #RNC also highly used. While the DNC occurs, users can expect to see the official Democratic hashtag of #DNC2012, as well as #DNC to trend. While listening to speakers, Twitter users can reflect on speeches, argue their points on issues discussed, and you can expect to see a lot of quotes by Presidential candidates and speakers.

YouTube pages are especially hot spots for social media users to watch and stay tuned in on convention activities. This year’s RNC saw more than 2.5 million YouTube views, with over 300,000 hours of video streaming, and a view time of more than 30 minutes. In addition to listening to speakers, YouTube offers infographics and social data to keep online audiences informed of the latest numbers.

Regardless of what social media site you’re on, you can expect the conventions to be a highlight, especially with the 2012 Presidential election rolling around the corner.

Twitter is instantaneous, it is engaging, it is fun…and organizations across sectors continue to find new and interesting ways to use it for all different kinds of purposes. From promotion to personal customer engagement, Twitter has become an essential tool, and we have written to great length about this development here on the blog.

A trending practice now though is the in-event tweeting to promote an ongoing event adding online exposure and pushing excitement regarding the organization and event throughout the Twitterverse.

And this was the experience last night at Smart CEO’s Brava! Awards, an event honoring women business leaders in the Philadelphia area. WebiMax was present for the event, learning from the inspiring honorees and supporting Smart CEO, a growing outlet for quality business insight that currently serves the Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington DC markets. The event was a success and we were tweeting along with many of the event’s 400 attendees, and, we were able to come away with their “Top Tweet” honor with this little gem:

  •  ‏@WebiMax It’s tough to be the smartest person in the room… When you’re surrounded by all these area woman leaders at the #bravaawards

Smart(est)…pun intended.

Please Tweet…And Make Them Good
This trend of tweeting at events is growing. It is helpful and when done right accomplishes goals relating to both those present at the event and online marketing efforts. It directly engages with attendees at the event to join the conversation and offer their voice to what they are experiencing, and this can create heightened energy in the room and an overall more enjoyable experience for those present.

On the flip side, the benefit is clear online. The name of the game remains creating compelling content, being creative, and using authenticity, and then #hashtags and (at)mentions do all the heavy lifting to get the tweets out to the various relevant feeds that people are tracking. These comments widen the reach of the brand, increasing exposure, presenting a positive image and creating some Twitter buzz surrounding them.

With that said, Smart CEO’s event organizers were right on point, encouraging attendees to continuously tweet and reading them off periodically to give positive feedback about what was being tweeted. Such a practice has its merits. Social media and SEO agencies continuously find new ways for businesses to engage and then advise them on the actual tactics for its implementation. Depending on some variables, namely the level of formality of the event and tech-savviness of attendees, businesses should go for this, fully encouraging the exposure and engagement of in-event tweeting.

For more information about using Twitter in this way or to further your business’ general marketing and exposure goals, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.

Terms such as “domain authority” and “page authority” are part of the everyday vernacular in the Internet marketing industry, but what do they mean for online business owners?  As it pertains to visibility on the Web and greater revenue, they mean a lot.

Essentially, a website or page’s authority is the prevalence it has in organic search engine rankings.  Higher authority correlates to more visibility and potentially, more conversions and sales.  In digital marketing, gaining said authority is a common goal of many campaigns.  In the past, that goal was achieved through efforts such as link building, content development and routine site maintenance. Today, however, social media is playing an increasingly important role and maximizing social engagement is gradually becoming a crucial part of marketing initiatives.

Greater Engagement
Companies that specialize in social media enhancement understand the value of networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.  Friends, fans, likes and tweets provide much more than bragging rights for a business; they can also provide authority to individual pages or domains.  Additionally, social media is an effective platform for gaining brand recognition, which is valuable both on and offline.

Consumers spend a significant amount of time online searching for brands, local businesses or products that they like and sharing them amongst their peers.  This phenomenon has grown to worldwide proportions and has become a cornerstone of social media marketing.  Delivering content to users and offering products and incentives via social shares has proven to be impactful on the profitability and visibility of many brands.

Following Through
Once a greater social following has been established, it is important to encourage shares and feedback through social media outlets.  By creating a “call to action”, businesses are more likely to gain more momentum in the SERPs and throughout the social space.

Social media is a long-term investment for a business.  Profiles must be carefully maintained and frequently updated.  However, a properly optimized social media presence is almost certain to increase authority and ensure success in the online marketplace.

Since the launch of Google Search Plus Your World back in January, there have been continuous shifts and developments in the world of search and how social accounts, profiles, and posts appear in the SERPs of major search engines. Google indicated Google+ would be profiled more in the search results for logged-in users and Bing announced several months ago that social media, with a particular focus on Facebook, would be in integrated into their algorithm and show in their SERPs to offer a social dimension to web queries.

Another facet though is personal and corporate brand searches and how social media factors into it. An interested study covered by Search Engine Watch entitled “Social Search Result Rankings for Top 500 Tech Writers” in February that squarely addressed personal brand searches gathering statistics on exactly how often various social media accounts show in SERPS of personal brand searches.

follow up study was just recently done that offers valuable insight and addressed changes in SERP visibility since February. They found that for personal brand searches…for which they searched 50 of the top Tech writers, the likelihood of Twitter results appearing on the first page of Google increased by 4% to 95% of the time. LinkedIn results increased from 67% to 76%, Facebook jumped by 10% to appearing on the first page 62% of the time, and Google+ increased only 3% to 36% of the time. As a follow on to those stats is the finding that Twitter results appear with the greatest frequency in the 1-3 positions of the SERPs at 62%.

The other side of the study looked at the activity of the writers on their social media accounts to see if there was a correlation between activity level and SERP visibility, and there definitely was. In short, high activity on Twitter experienced by 71% of the writers was widely seen(while 89% of the writers had little or zero activity on Google+) and Twitter is the social platform that was seen the most in the SERPs, and the most in the top 3 spots.

Takeaway for Businesses
Visibility appears to be largely based on activity (sorry to those thinking Google was arbitrarily placing Google+ above other results for such searches) and Twitter has simply dominated. Both personal and company brand should be posting with high frequency on their Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ accounts without sacrificing quality of post content. So for the company representatives and the SEO and social media agencies partnered with these companies, consistency is the key here to sustained relevance and authority…surprise.

The experience of searches for companies should be largely similar to that of personal brand searches. Thus, companies have another reason to prioritize their social media campaigns.

One large caveat is that all the searches that were performed were done while not as a “logged-in” Google user. While logged-in, Google+ results for personal brand searches could be more visible in the SERPs across the board.  It is unclear how this will develop further in terms of which platforms will be profiled, if it will remain largely based on social activity, and how it will relate to company brands going forward. The SEO community will be tracking it and there are sure to be more quality studies like this conducted and put out for all to learn from.

For more information about this, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.

Ask any small business owner what their greatest challenge is online and the answer will almost always be: Visibility.  Small companies often face this issue, as they do not have the well-established branding of large corporations nor do they possess national or global visibility offline.

Today, social media has become one of the most useful tools for small businesses.  Not only is it now possible to increase online visibility by utilizing popular brands such as Facebook and Twitter, but it can also help to increase sales and revenue, as well.

Building a Social Identity
The world’s largest social networks may have had humble beginnings, but they have grown into some of the most significant brands on the Web.  In fact, many smaller companies have actually used the popularity of those networks to expand into new markets and capitalize on E-Commerce.  In the first quarter of 2012, comScore reports that E-Commerce spending totaled upwards of $44 million.  This figure represents one of the highest single fiscal quarter online sales in history.  In fact, economists estimate that 2012 will be the most profitable year ever in terms of online sales revenue.

Using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and other networks to promote brands, products and services has been a crucial component of that online sales growth.  Many Internet marketing companies offer social media optimization and marketing services, but as social media becomes a more competitive market, it has also become more difficult for brands to get noticed.

The real key to building a strong social identity is quality.  To increase views, likes, shares and even sales, brands must offer users unique and relevant content.  Additionally, companies should deliver rich content whenever possible to help maintain user engagement.  Videos and images are more likely to be shared throughout social media than text and can be effective marketing tools.

From Social Media to Sales
Businesses with an E-Commerce platform should heavily promote it within the social space.  By directing users from network profiles to product pages, those pages gain more authority and the probability of sales increases.

Social media is undoubtedly one of the most valuable assets to small businesses.  Combined with E-Commerce, it can maximize the potential of virtually any company with an online presence.

Facebook, Google+, Twitter and virtually every other social network have become more than pastimes for the millions that use them daily.  Today, these sites are the product offerings of multi-national corporations and have not only changed many aspects of Internet marketing, but impacted popular culture around the world.

From Humble Beginnings…
The world’s largest social network now boasts over 900 million members.  That figure accounts for nearly 1/7 of the world’s entire population.  Not bad for a company that began in 2004 as a small project of then-Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg.  While the story of Facebook’s origins and rise to prominence is well-documented (and has even won Oscars), the reason for the site’s success is not as obvious.  Like many social networks before it, Facebook was merely intended to be recreational.  It was designed as a platform for people to interact and engage online, while possibly (and hopefully) generating some ad revenue to keep the business afloat.  Fast forward to 2012; Facebook is a publicly traded corporation with global reach and more importantly, international influence.

…To a Global Phenomenon
The rapid expansion of Facebook goes beyond Wall Street.  The advertising and marketing industries have noticed the impact of social media in the wake of Facebook’s growth.  Even news journalism has changed on the post-Facebook Web.  In one form or another, social media is now incorporated into the business model of virtually every company with an online presence.

Jumping on the Bandwagon
Success breeds competition and Facebook is no exception.  Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn have arrived on the social scene in the years following Facebook’s emergence as the number one network and more are likely to come in the months and years ahead.  While none of the aforementioned sites are even close to Facebook’s membership, they are showing exponential growth.  In fact, Pinterest even became the world’s third most frequented social network while still in its beta phase.

Looking Ahead
However, like many industries, social media is not without flaws and is bound to change and evolve according to the demands of its user base.  Facebook’s IPO and the subsequent backlash that it has suffered have demonstrated that social networks need to assert their influence in the online marketplace and prove their value as viable advertising outlets.  Additionally, social media sites must strive to remain in the Internet limelight in order to retain their ability to attract potentially lucrative online marketing campaigns.  There is certainly a place for social networking on the Internet of tomorrow, but innovation will undoubtedly be the key to future success in the social space.