Can Social Media Affect Your SEO Ranking?

Despite the fact that search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! don’t consider social media signals as a direct factor for website rankings, experience proves that social media is a powerful tool for leveraging your SEO if used with common sense and best practices.

So how can you improve your SEO ranking through your social media presence?

Create quality content that can go viral

Having a high-quality post linking to your website on Facebook or Twitter that generates engagement and social sharing by influencers and content creators, can contribute to increased visibility on search engines as this will speed up your content’s indexation. Apart from that, social sharing leads to longer content life, something that search engines simply love.

Keywords, keywords, keywords

Make your content keyword-centric and ensure a dual content strategy between your social media posts and your website’s pages; but don’t overdo it. It’s crucial that your content remains as human as possible, making it sound natural and organic.

Social media profiles rank high in search

Your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results and they are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names. Therefore, make sure you own the names on the top channels, but most importantly, let them be active.

Make some room for Google+

Google+ is a social media platform too – often forgotten by marketers. It goes without saying that search engine rankings, or Google rankings to be exact, are directly affect by your Google+ activity, so make sure you populate your Google+ profile with proper content.

Curate on user-generated content

Encourage your fans and followers to share their opinion by commenting and submitting reviews and testimonials. Not only will this help you better understand their needs, it can also give you a better insight on the type of words they use in order to tweak your content’s keywords. Not to forget, the more your brand is mentioned, the higher your chances are in increasing your visibility on search engines.

To sum it up, while social media does not have a direct impact on SEO, it is something that should not be neglected. Just think about the positive effects that increased traffic from social can potentially have on your search rankings. Social media and SEO are more powerful when used together, so why miss the chance to leverage your efforts?

Pinterest: An Advertiser’s Dream

PinterestWith Pinterest picking up, Facebook setting the timeline feature permanent for the business pages and buying Instagram for a billion dollars, you can’t help wondering if social media is heading toward a visual experience where Pinterest is clearly ahead of the game at the moment.

Addictive and eye-candy boards take up most of the space allowing users to re-pin or pin images and videos they like while sharing them with their followers who can also comment, like or re-pin the content if they decide to. It’s a hub for fashion inspirations, interior design aspirations, a digital dream collage, a recipe box and more. In short, Pinterest is becoming the new face of social media marketing.

Now if looking into Pinterest from an advertising eye, it is every advertiser’s dream to find a space toshare visuals that can appeal to the followers emotions and increase brand recognition. How so? Well unlike Facebook, content is shared across the platform where anyone can see, re-pin or like the content, thus reaching outside of a given users network.

Moreover, the newly blasted network also gives brands the chance to pin their products under the “gifts” tab in the navigation bar where they can add a price tag and a link to the website where the item is being sold.

Although the majority of the Pinterests users are mainly focused on sharing photos, however the network can also be a great tool of generating traffic to the brand’s YouTube channel or simply promote videos.

Though Pinterest has been around since 2010, its explosive growth in the past few months has drawn attention to the rise of social media platforms where users can create content with the push of a button.

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Social Media for a Good Cause

The world is currently witnessing instant news sharing and updates of leading happenings across the globe. Everyone has had an opinion of how social media has changed lives, but today social media is not only doing that and connecting the world, but it has also become the voice of the unheard, a revolution medium and a window to the society’s misfortunes.

Social Media For a Change

Everyone has become suddenly aware of #Tahrir Square protests; everyone has followed closely how some Arab countries claimed their political independence.

Aside from politics, NGOs have also found social media a means to create awareness and channel their good cause. Social media in this case has appealed to the better human and society.

“Please re-tweet, please share” and for a good cause who doesn’t?

The world as we know it has changed bloggers as we know them have changed (at least some).

Locally, feminists in Lebanon are marching for the Adoption of the Violence against Women Law and the removal of article 522 of criminal code.

Regionally, the Arab countries are still fighting to reach some kind of stability after the storm. While also almighty Turkey is having its own share of silent online campaign to free dozens of journalists and twitter’s #FreeJournalists can testify to this.

Our social networks are overwhelmed at the moment with the viral human causes, just login to Twitter and witness how social media is indeed helping change lives.

The Travel Industry and Social Media

The time of year where one starts planning his or her respective vacations is upon us. Well, most of us. I am sure most of us, especially those of in the MENA region, find it especially challenging to find deals and flights, and ideas on where to go. Those in the travel industry seem to not have gotten the hang on Social Media, and just how useful and beneficial it could be for them.

Spending most of our lives on the internet, and most of that time on Social Media Networks, a few questions come to mind as of late when trying to find someplace to go on vacation, the major one being: Where on earth ARE the travel companies, airlines, and Ministries of Tourism?

Imagine just how many potential customers a travel agency, be it an online agency or not, could reach just by having an online presence; constantly tweeting with followers, and updating their Facebook pages with travel information, or having contest and competition applications as incentive!

The same can be said for major airlines and Ministries of Tourism. They definitely need to jump on the bandwagon. Offering packages or deals to those social media addicts, the travel industry can tap into those frequent flyers and those business travellers that spend most of their nights in hotels. Two Swedish companies are already reaping the benefits of Social Media by actively answering questions from customers on their Facebook pages as well as using Twitter to distribute promotions.

There are a few good cases from the travel industry in Europe, which seems to be one of the industries that are most actively embracing social media. However, the MENA region could easily take note and promote their services even better, and more effectively. Don’t you think?

Social Media for Social Good

It’s a good day for us in social media when we see it being used for social good. It’s an even better day for us in the Arab world, when we see it being used to help each other out. Let’s face it, there is A LOT of negativity floating around the web, lots of competition between rival companies and brands, so when you come across a story that warms your heart, you just get that ‘feel good’ sensation, and feel the need to share such a story. So here it is:

Just yesterday, a missing child in Saudi Arabia was found thanks to…take a wild guess…Twitter!

16 year old Faisal Fri vanished from his family home in Dhahran, and within minutes a hashtag was born: #FaisalDH . An image of Faisal, as well as the contact information for his family was tweeted and retweeted with this hashtag, and a mere 3 hours later he was found safe and sound. The initial tweet that started it impressively made it to the Top Tweet position due to the many times it was retweeted and mentioned.

On the same note, but in a different region, a similar thing happened to a 14 year old girl in London in a few months ago. Serena Beakhurst went missing in December, and thanks to the efforts of hundreds on Twitter and Facebook, was found a few weeks later in the exact spot she went missing . Her family sent various messages of thanks to people who supported and helped spread the word, as well as highlighting the power of Social Media.

It is indeed a heart-warming thing to see the Twitter community (or social network community) comes together from all walks of life, not knowing anything about a person, but driven by the innate drive to help others.

2011- The Year of Digital Media in the MENA Region

2011 is expected by many in the industry to be the year to see the highest levels of digital and online advertising, especially in the MENA region. 2010 already saw record highs in the amounts of mobile, social, video and dynamic advertising. The rapid growth of technologies has played a major part in the growth of social media platforms in the region.

Simultaneously, Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media networks have seen a rise in their numbers of new users worldwide. In the MENA region, the Facebook sparked and Twitter promoted revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and currently Libya probably played a big role in the increased numbers of new users.

In addition, and in part due to the above, there has been an increase in the events and conferences in the region, catering to anything and everything Digital. Two of the biggest events are being held this month in Beirut, Lebanon: Twestival 2011 (or Twitter Festival) and Arabnet Shift 2011.

On March 24th 2011, Twestival will go ‘local’ in various cities across the globe. Events are held in any location to raise funds and awareness for a local cause that deserves it. An idea that one can work on an international scale and do good, without having to leave the city one lives in. Their website describes it best: “Twestival is the largest global grassroots social media fundraising initiative to date”. This year, Beirut Twestival will be fundraising for Breast Cancer, allowing women free mammograms, as well as psychological help for women with Breast Cancer.

Arabnet Shift, the biggest digital gathering in the Middle East, will be held over 4 days in Beirut, from March 22nd to the 25th. Each day has a theme, and is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in the region to get exposure for their ideas and start ups. Each year, ArabNet brings together ‘big names’, and leaders in the digital sector. This year, there will be more than 80 speakers and 1000 attendees, meeting and discussing the latest in the digital sector in the region. At the end of the summit, 2 competitions are held with the aim of supporting and promoting start ups and ideas.

If anything, both events are excellent networking opportunities for anyone involved in this sector. Moreover, both Twestival and Arabnet use the power of social media to organize, promote and advertise these events to the region and the world.

Five Rules for Killer Content

Have you ever heard of the expression “content is king”? As a matter of fact, content IS king, especially when it comes to sustaining a successful social presence.  If you are running a social page (Facebook page, blog, etc.) you have most probably experienced difficulty in retaining your audience and keeping them engaged. Take it as a rule, that good content will intrigue your audience once, but its “killer content” that will keep them coming back.

Below are 5 rules that will help you generate and publish “Killer Content”:

  1. Original Content: In a socially crowded virtual world, getting you decent visibility is almost impossible. Even brands with high budgets to burn on advertising, find it difficult to incentivize and push their fans to engage with them. What you need to do to differentiate yourself and stand out is create your own original content that cannot be found anywhere else.  By investing in original content you are bringing value to your social presence and in turn building credibility and loyalty amongst your fans.
  2. Engaging Content: Producing original content is quite simple, making the content engaging is tricky. How many times have you updated your status and received no comments or likes? Users not responding to your content does not necessarily mean that they don’t like the content you are providing them. On the contrary, they might like it but they don’t feel that they need to respond back. That’s why you need to tell them what to do, and always ask them to engage. When creating your content, always keep your fans in mind and project to them the need for their opinion. Ask for their opinion and you will get it.
  3. Set-up a Trend: Be a trendsetter! At the end of the day you want your fans to convert into tangible results. When you become a trend-setter, you can easily increase your conversion rate and attain optimal performance. Usually, setting-up a trend is directly related to original content creation. What you need to do is make sure to remind your fans at every occasion possible about your content and ask them to promote it. If everyone is talking about it, it becomes a trend.
  4. Fan Generated Content: When fans are submitting content to your page, this means that you have attained the trend level needed to keep everyone engaged, hence reaching optimal performance. What you need to do at this stage is revert back to your fans, filter the content and support it. When fans start feeling that they are contributing and conforming to a trend they will automatically transform into ambassadors of your social presence.
  5. Viral Elements: You wonder why some YouTube videos get gazillion views? There’s no black magic behind it. People like to share original content because they like to get some recognition out of it. People get satisfaction when their friends comment or like their posts. What you need to do is make sure that your content has all the viral elements (funny, shocking, cool, amazing, impressive, etc.) that will incite users to promote it on their own social presence and get recognition from their friends.

The 17 Rules of Social Media Optimization

Social Media OptimizationImage courtesy of

By definition, Social Media Optimization (SMO) is the process of optimizing social media marketing activities in order to attract traffic to a specific web presence.

Much like Search Engine Optimization, SMO activities can be split into two method sets:

Onsite SMO is the process of making a web presence, or website, socially enabled. This is achieved by using a combination of sharing tools and standards such as RSS feeds, sharing buttons, links to social profiles and pages… Onsite SMO ensures total integration between the website and major social networks.

Offsite SMO is the process of engaging in promotional practices with the aim of attracting social traffic back to the website. Offsite SMO can range from social media bookmarking to blog and forum engagements. A traffic-generating viral Facebook status update is an example of offsite SMO.

Social Media Optimization practices have been used since the inception and proliferation of social communities. In 2006, members of the digital marketing community collaborated on 17 rules for “social media optimization”. Although the tools have evolved and changed, the fundamental behaviors are still valid.

Here are the 17 rules of Social Media Optimization:

1. Increase your linkability
2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy
3. Reward inbound links
4. Help your content travel
5. Encourage the mashup
6. Be a user resource, even if it doesn’t help you
7. Reward helpful and valuable users
8. Participate
9. Know how to target your audience
10. Create content
11. Be real
12. Don’t forget your roots, be humble
13. Don’t be afraid to try new things, stay fresh
14. Develop a SMO strategy
15. Choose your SMO tactics wisely
16. Make SMO part of your process and best practices
17. Don’t be afraid to let go of a message or idea and let others own it

Measuring up to Social Media Efforts

While the progress of your social media efforts can be observable, the old mantra still rings true:  How can you tangibly assess social media value, gauge effectiveness and ROI? How can social media translate in sales and lead generation and when can one expect that to happen? Those are all viable expectations. The take-home lesson however is that Social Media Management requires commitment and patience. Modern times have left us with the impression that technology should shorten sales cycles. When it comes to social media, technology has placed you close to your ultimate consumer like never before, but with fewer barriers it has also left you vulnerable and more open to risk. Your success in terms of sales and rate of return on ad spent will strongly depend on your content and level of engagement over time. “It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted” and if you embed social media into your corporate culture, you will soon notice how this seed will start greening the landscape around it.

In short, what you should expect to reap from social media is worth a lifetime of seeding:

– Increased satisfaction, brand loyalty and awareness stemming from more efficient customer service. Get a feel for what your current or potential customers are saying as it happens.

– Competitive insights, business intelligence and innovation through identifying similarities and differentiating features. Join communities that advocate your products. Join that of your competitors.

– Efficient use of Public Relations and identifying influencers. Look for consumer endorsers and ambassadors and provide them with relevant content to activate a viral distribution of your brand across channels.

– More effective organic visibility and an extended brand reach through Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

– Reduced market research costs for product development and audience analysis. Listen to consumers, empower them, enable them to take charge and gain benefits while they do.

– Reduced hiring and HR costs and less churn.

Social Media measurement is not merely about displaying number of tweets, followers, fans or impressions. How you determine your success largely boils down to restating your initial objectives and goals, so try to tailor your metrics accordingly. With this in mind, look for the real value of your online plan by asking for meaningful and concrete results such as user behavior before, during, and after interacting on your social platforms, as well as blog retention rates, audience analysis, the sorting and monitoring of social media conversations, and lead generation data both online and offline. Keep a regular eye on both the frequency and depth of engagement with consumers.

The choice is yours: Do you want your ads to interrupt consumer conversations, or do you want to become what consumers are actually talking about?

Microfunding through Social Media

Instead of reaching out to companies for large donations, social media enables NGOs to reach bigger audiences and raise more donations. Recently, I came across an interesting project that has been leveraging the benefits of social media to raise awareness about several causes and gathering donations through microfunding.

Microfunding allows users to donate very small amounts ($10 for example), while working together towards larger goals. Although the donated amounts are bitty, the few donated dollars by each user sum up to make a difference in the lives of many others. The 12for12k Challenge has been able to reach a very large audience through Facebook, Twitter, blogging and other social media tools.

You might not give a lot with microfunding, but when you add up all of the people giving, you can reach significant fundraising goals to support your cause.