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This article was writen by Katherine Derum, an inbound marketing specialist at HubSpot. 

How will using social media or becoming social media optimized grow your business?

In a company meeting last week, Dharmesh Shah, one of the HubSpot founders, posed this question.

Before we talk about the future of social media, we need to take a step back and understand the search engines and how Google won the game.

In the beginning, AOL and Yahoo! were the early leaders. However, Google quickly came onto the scene and won the game.

How? When companies and people realized early search engines were looking at keywords and content, they began stuffing websites full of keywords that any prospect with a smidge of interest might be looking for.

This was great for the websites, but for the consumer these results weren't very accurate.

Google entered the market with a different approach: Instead of keywords, it used inbound links to sort its search results.

Since it's far more difficult to game the system with inbound links than with keywords, Google's system resulted in a more accurate search engine. The more accurate the results, the more consumers used the service, and the further ahead of the competition they surged. Today Google is so popular, and so far ahead of its competition that it's a verb.

So how does this relate to social media?

In our meeting last week, Dharmesh pointed out that Facebook is becoming more than just a social network -- it's becoming a search engine.

Imagine a search engine that could bring back results to the consumer based upon where they live, where they lived in the past, where they went to college, who their friends are, who they have in their network that have used the product/services they are looking for.

Turns out there's a search engine that's almost there. It's not Google, it's Facebook. If accuracy has won the game for Google, social connections may win the game for Facebook.

Imagine a consumer is in their buying research phase and they search for "Inbound Marketing" and the search results are delivered based upon the company in which people from their network have used or submitted to as a group member.

Now the consumer can take these results and ask the person in their network, who might have been a business colleague or friend they have long since spoken with, and ask for a reference. They can ask for the referral by sending a message or instant message all from the same platform and without having to know the person's updated contact info.

Not only are the results exceedingly accurate and convenient, but now your business can grow via viral word of mouth without constraints of space and time.

I'm not suggesting this is where Facebook is today, but if this is the direction social media is moving, the company who starts their business network now will be far ahead of the game.

The companies with the larger networks will have a far greater reach in the search results. The sooner a company starts their social media optimization, the harder it will be for their competitors to catch their reach.

Social Media is here to stay, so get SMO or lose the game.

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Originally published Feb 16, 2009 9:09:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

SEO and Social Media