Social is the new Search

SEO and SEMhave beena part of the interactive world for many years now, both efforts solely geared for attracting traffic to your website from the search engines. SEO was one way to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, master SEO and life was good…well, now times are beginning to change. We believe SCO – Social Collaboration Optimization (the acronym isn't mainstream yet, so we just sort of made it up) is the next very important interactive strategy that organizations will need to employ to stay ahead of the game. In a nutshell, it's designing your website so that it is easily connected to all major social engagement platforms and developing your social platforms to seamlessly integrate with your site.

According to 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, social media now drives search engine optimization: The top three benefits of social media marketing are (1) generating more exposure for the business, (2) increasing traffic to websites and (3) improving search engine rankings. It's hard to ignore these facts as we develop and design the next iterations in interactive websites.

User data and numerous studies are confirming that search is changing the way people are finding websites. In the past, they remembered the domain name, searched a term on a search engine and clicked a banner ad or maybe a link on another site. Today, social networks are sending more traffic to websites than ever before. It's at such a point now, that websites who optimize for users to share information among their friends, or even discuss items about the website are winning the game. Companies like Express are even taking it to the next level and embedding their entire catalogs on Facebook to allow for a seamless socially connected experience:http://mashable.com/2011/05/03/express-facebook-shop/.

The times are changing fast. Social collaboration optimization is key as brands continue to look for ways to interact with their users/consumers on their terms and in their environments. Optimizing for this new world is critical.

Think about how much information we are exposed to on daily basis. And how much a friend or colleague's advice or suggestion influences your decision about where to shop, what to eat, where to go this weekend, etc. That's our new reality in consumer behavior. Connectivity with circles of influence has never been easier and people are changing the way they absorb information and make purchasing decision based on social connections and gathering brand information online; all done instantly and in real time.

Social is the next Search and it's an opportunity for organizations to reconfigure the way they do business online. Not only should you use the search engines and click-thru advertising to drive traffic, engaging and connecting within social communities is just as important and vital to future success. The power of online social influence is limitless. And the party has just begun…