Social commerce is gaining a lot of wind in its sails these days as marketers rally to create strategies for converting likes, tweets, and pins into sales. Social-driven commerce is just one more step in the evolution of Internet marketing, which has been amply leveraged in peer-to-peer sales platforms such as eBay and for more than a decade. As correlations between Web sales and social-driven commerce continue to seep into the marketing mix, it may be a good time to take a moment and think about how social commerce should fall into your marketing strategy.

Social data is best when used to inform content and SEO strategies. Social media platforms provide a relevant peephole into consumer preferences, echoing what they like or dislike about products. Last year approximately 81 percent of consumers used social networking sites to get purchasing advice from friends and family. Consumers in your target market also share the content they love, which is a great asset for determining what type of content and websites your audience likes.

When it comes to evaluating the impact of social media on rankings and revenue, it is important to remember that correlations do not always reflect causation. Through my own testing, I have found that social signals only boost rankings on Google for keywords on pages three to five at best. The benefits of social media in terms of branding and PR are generally greater than its benefit to SEO rankings. Still, I believe there is value in social media and SEO teams being tightly aligned around data and especially around content strategies. Although the correlation between sales and social intent is strong, in some cases it can be a stretch to say that likes, tweets, and pins reflect the consumers’ desire for a social media sales channel, or to be corralled directly into a sales channel.

An evolved SEO and social media strategy puts processes into place that reinforces the alignment between SEO and social content, allowing social data and signals to inform content strategies. Doing this also helps rankings, but what’s more important is the support given to broader marketing and business objectives like brand engagement and brand loyalty. Therefore, the most effective social commerce plan of attack spans multiple devices and platforms, integrating user-generated content and social media into content, brand engagement, and SEO strategies.

Forward-thinking technology companies use social media to support sales channels instead of forcing sales and marketing into social media. They move beyond the immediate inclination of discovering how likes, tweets, and pins impact rank and revenue into Web and mobile realms, creating conversations and conversions wherever the target audience may be.

What is your experience with integrating social media with social commerce?