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Button down the hatches

Since April 2010, Google and Facebook have contested pole position in the race for social search dominance. First there was the ‘Like’ button, then...

Since April 2010, Google and Facebook have contested pole position in the race for social search dominance. First there was the ‘Like’ button, then there was the +1. Now, Facebook has struck back with Graph Search and it’s clear to see that the future battle ground for brands is in the field of social advocacy.

The existence of search engines, whether they cover the entire Internet (like Google) or just a social community (like Facebook) is vital to ensure that choices can be filtered or indexed for user relevance.

Whether you think a +1 on Google+ should influence Google’s organic search results or not, that’s the way of the modern world. Facebook has followed the very same path with Graph Search because it makes commercial sense and aids users.

Marketers now need to think this way too, so if you’re expanding the breadth or sophistication of your digital marketing effort, consider whether you’re providing ample opportunities for visitors to like, share, +1, recommend and re-pin your content – wherever it resides. Such as this.

It’s no longer enough to have an attractive shop window – a website, microsite, blog or social network – you need to make it socially sharable too. Which in turn makes it search-friendly.

So, rather than obsessing about whether to put a share price plug-in on your home page, think about whether you have social sharing buttons in prime positions across all of your digital media spaces. Home pages and sub-pages.

This is arguably even more important than choosing which social media channels to activate or service with content in the first place – because you don’t need to be in it to win it, so to speak.

Take Google+, you don’t need to have a Google+ business page to include a +1 button on your website and benefit from the visibility it provides within Google+ and across the entire web. The same is true for Facebook’s Like button which already impacts on users’ News Feed results. This will soon extend to Graph Search and ordinary web search (via their partnership with Bing).

It may not be considered best practice to leverage social sharing buttons without having a presence on those networks, but maybe your strategy isn’t about covering all the social bases. Maybe your resource and content is only appropriate for certain channels and audiences. If that’s the case, don’t deviate from your roadmap – just be mindful of what social sharing and advocacy can bring to the party.

Finally, remember the golden cliché that it’s all about content. You need to earn a visit, win a follow, deserve a like and merit a +1. You can only do that with truly engaging, relevant and timely content. You also need to market the availability of that content within digital and offline channels – using the combined power of paid, owned and earned media.