Web users are constantly finding and developing new ways to use social media. Expert Chris Marentis says that it’s not just important to recognize this and be present in the social media sphere, but to also integrate it into the sales process.

“The idea of the “purchase funnel” has been around since 1898 and really hasn’t changed,” says the CEO of Surefire Social. “When we’re talking about the progression of awareness, engagement, and purchase, the real opportunity for local businesses now is the idea of blowing out the bottom of that funnel with social media.”

Marentis says that business owners should, at the point of greatest involvement, give customers the means of providing a review of the company on Yelp, Google, or another social platform. The reason social media is so important in this respect, he points out, is about changing search algorithms online and the new definition of “link.”

“Search algorithms for the past 10 years have been about content links — you do social bookmarking or go to another website and exchange links. Those are valuable ways to borrow the authority of one site and drive it to your own,” he says. “But people are becoming links in the social world.”

Essentially, because all the available social networking platforms require user profiles, Marentis says search engines are beginning to trust people more than basic content links. “Search engines know you not just from, say, your profile on Google+, but they’re continuing to search you and they learn to trust who you are.”

Connecting With Social Media

The hang-up with social media review sites is that many users — and sometimes search engines — are skeptical of who’s posting reviews. Users often assume that an abundance of positive reviews were planted by the company itself as a way to boost its rating. Connecting through social media profiles validates the information.

“Three years ago, with Google or Yelp reviews, you could go in and game the system,” Marentis says. Now, Yelp and Google+ apps for Facebook let users go online easily to share their thoughts, and those reviews automatically get shared with friends and followers. “All your online profiles build your reputation so search engines trust you more.”

In addition to asking clients to go online and post public reviews, Marentis says that creating pages on your website to guide them there can be helpful. He adds that his firm is starting to create special pages on its clients’ websites to do just that. “We can ask homeowners on the site, ‘How did you like our service?’ If they say they thought it was good or excellent, the page directs them to use their Facebook account to sign into Google+ or Yelp to leave a review. This can really make it easy for contractors.”

Lauren Hunter, senior editor, REMODELING.

Have you found useful ways of getting social media reviews for your business? Continue the conversation on Facebook, or tweet to @LaurenHunter_HW.