We've seen how valuable it can be to appear in search results when searchers are looking for what you have to offer, and we've seen the important role that links play in helping your site rank well. We've also seen how keyword research can provide insight into how your potential customers are thinking about your brand, your industry, and your competition.
Social media can help on all of these fronts, working as a brand amplifier and customer support extension to deepen engagement with your customers.
Lately, when people hear the term "social media" they tend to think of the fairly new developments of sites such as Facebook and MySpace, but in reality, social media has been around as long as we have been social and have used media. Letters to the editor in traditional print newspapers are an example of social media.
Online social media, in turn, has been around as long as we've been online. Before what we now know as the World Wide Web, people were connecting all over the world via "bulletin board systems" (BBS) and later in chat rooms on platforms such as Prodigy and CompuServe. Today, even multi-player online games such as World of Warcraft are social media—they are yet another way that people connect online. Online social media, as defined for the purposes of this book, includes:
Discussion sites—these include general and topic specific message boards.
Content sharing sites—these include any sites that enable users to share what ...