When one thinks of social networking they don't often associate it with keywords. Usually, businesses or individuals look to use social networking as a means to brand themselves, connect with friends/customers, sell a product, or share experiences with people they’ve never met IRL (in real life). But what many brands and individuals miss out on is the opportunity to integrate keywords into the public messages they post on Twitter or other social networking sites for the purposes of research as well as search engine optimization.
Keyword Research and Social Media: Listen
Using social networking sites to help with keyword research only seems logical. With Twitter Search , Facebook Search , Del.icio.us  search, and other social networking search functionality, you're able to listen to what those in that particular online community are saying. What better way to see what keywords they're using, than to listen in on their conversations? You’ll be able to see:
- Which keywords your competitors are focusing on, and those that they aren’t.
- How often your keyword is actually used, and how well it’s received.
- Trends associated with your industry, and trends related to your prospects.
- Synonyms and other words used to describe your product, interests, and industry.
- Links to other sites where you can gain similar info as described above.
Then comes the hard part: organizing and processing the information you’ve listened in on and conducting supplemental research thereafter. You might find that long-tail keywords are being used often, but how many times are those keywords actually searched? If integrated into your SEO campaign, would they prove beneficial in the long run? These are all question you need to ask yourself after you’ve listened in with social media.
Using Keywords in Social Media Marketing
Another way keywords can come in handy is to use them alongside your social media marketing . At this point you likely know your priority keywords, those that are discussed the most on social media platforms (as described above), and those that have the highest conversions. Use your keywords in your messaging any way you can….without being spammy of course. Optimizing everything you do in social networking with keywords can prove fruitful:
- Sending out a tweet with a shortened URL? Why not customize that short URL text with the keywords for that destination URL? If it makes sense, is concise, and looks good then do it.
- Posting a ‘note’ on Facebook? Optimize the text on your post, add tags, and a link back to your site with your keywords.
- Uploading photos on Flickr? Fill in the captions, titles, and tags. If your keywords are applicable to the picture, then put them in there.
- Posting a video? Fill in the title, tags, and captions. Again, if your keywords are applicable: put them in there!
There are so many more ways you can integrate keywords into your social media messaging you just need to be creative.
What are some of the ways you’ve used keywords on social networking platforms?
Photo credit: ky_olsen 
Kaila Strong is an Internet Marketing Specialist and Social Media Architect at Vertical Measures. She’s also an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila).