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Bruce Clay suggests that social media ‘likes’ will become the new ‘links’ when it comes to delivering traffic.  There’s a strong possibility he’s right too. Search engines are paying more attention to social media activity and Facebook is now becoming a dominant player when it comes to receiving and delivering traffic.

I can see real dangers in using social media as a voting platform. Social media likes will be no different to the current link-based voting system (and that is all links are – votes).  Clay rightfully points out that ‘likes’ will eventually be sold as links are now; the problem is, at present, it can take thousands of links to affect a position in search results. We have also seen businesses uses various forms of bribery to gain likes from followers. One wonders how many likes it will take to make a difference – at present, likes in the high hundreds seem to be sufficient.

As with links, likes will not represent quality. Likes will go to people who have effective social media marketing campaigns, can make offers available that attract likes (or direct bribery), and can produce effective viral campaigns. That last will become the real key. Social is far more powerful than any link-building strategy. Social already has a strong web-like structure so viral campaigns have the capacity to reach a much higher audience at faster speeds than traditional methods.

There are two dangers for many businesses, particularly small businesses. Like it or not, you will have to engage in social media. Furthermore, like it or not, you will need to engage in social media marketing targeted towards ‘likes’ as much as traffic, sales, or product awareness.

Most small business owners are not smart marketers. Where social has provided small business owners with a somewhat level playing field, the future may not be as accommodating. Will ‘likes’ improve the quality of content? In the short term it should, but long term, you have to wonder!

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