You might not realize it, but a pure SEO mentality on social media might be what's holding your brand back.

Social media has firmly entrenched itself in the content marketing game. Good content on Facebook and Twitter will drive even more social referrals to your site. It’s important to remember what businesses stand to gain from these additional visitors: sales leads and potential clients. 

In a situation like this, it’s easy to not see the forest for the trees. The whole point of social media marketing is to connect with customers, but treating Facebook or Twitter exclusively as SEO tools, rather than engagement vehicles as well, can be a mistake.

Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?

The Sprout Social Index contains some interesting information about the disconnect between social media adoption and engagement. The research shows that user engagement on Twitter and Facebook has grown nine times faster than the networks themselves. Put another way, social media users are active participants and expect brands to keep up.

This is great news for businesses that are prepared to take advantage of all this engagement. Unfortunately, those that view networks simply as cogs to turn the content marketing machine should realize that they’re not getting the most out of valuable connections. There are plenty of ways to wrangle user enthusiasm and interactivity while staying true to an SEO strategy. Any company can:

Use visual content

Text-only status updates are important parts of content strategies, but they won’t be as popular or engaging as pictures and video. Brafton previously reported that visual content is 600 times more engaging than text-only social posts. An infographic, a video or even a photograph is going to capture users’ attention and improve your social’s campaigns success.

Get in on a trend or start your own

Twitter has largely been defined by hashtags, and Facebook proved last year that it can get in on the action, albeit not entirely triumphantly. Their popularity comes from how much fun users can have with them – they’re almost begging to be shared. Spice up your social contributions with applicable trending hashtags. Even better, come up with your own. These posts will at least be easier to track.

Target the right customers

When all else fails, put your eggs in the right basket. Your ideal audience might be smaller than the total reach of your SEO campaign, so get to work learning about the people who want to interact the most on social media. You can:

  • Integrate Pinterest with your Facebook posts if you predominantly market consumer products to women.
  • Solicit mentions and @replies from your followers you know are active in the Twitterverse. The data suggests a very small proportion of Twitter users actually get involved and tweet back.  

The data has spoken – customers want conversation

The traffic and referrals that social networks drive can be invaluable parts of an SEO campaign, but even the most carefully designed social media marketing strategies can leave audiences wanting more. You might not realize it, but a pure SEO mentality might be what’s holding your brand back. As people embrace direct interactions with companies online, they will increasingly expect you to be responsive and engaging.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.