How Building your Social Connections is like Link Building

When you’re active on social media you need to have a network of people that are following you. A large, qualitative network that represents your target audience can be worth a lot for your online business. These social connections aren’t magically there when you start, you have to build these connections.

When we look at building social connections it shows a lot of similarities with link building as we know it. In this post I will make a comparison between link building and building your social connections, in this case on Twitter, but it can be as easily translated to Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.

Let’s start of by looking at link building. There are some important factors which contribute to a good link (building). Amongst others, the main factors are:

* Authority/popularity of the domain and page
* Relevancy of the content of the domain and page
* Amount of links on the linking page
* Total amount of links to your page

For each of these factors I will show how building social connections is like building links.

Authority /popularity

When you build links you prefer links from authoritative websites. They are seen as reliable sources by search engines (as formulated in the PageRank formula). But they also drive more traffic to your website and help you spread your link further because more people are likely to see the link. That’s what you want from your social connections: to be seen as reliable sources, drive traffic to your account or website and to spread your links.

Authority on Twitter is basically expressed in number of followers. The more followers someone has the more people they can reach. If someone with many followers retweets you, your audience increases dramatically as opposed to someone with only a few followers. Basically you could say someone with 10,000  followers is 10 times more valuable than someone with 1,000 followers. Focusing on authoritative social connections is therefore smarter than focusing on everyone.

Relevancy of the content

When building links authority is not only factor that makes a link more valuable than others. Relevancy might be even more important. The more relevant the source is for your business, the stronger your relevancy for a specific topic is. And looking at the people who see the link the importance of relevance becomes even more important. Relevant content drives relevant traffic and a more interested audience. That’s also what you want from your social connections: to spread your message between relevant content and to a more interested audience.

Relevant followers, i.e. people discussing topics around your business, are more valuable than people talking about whole different topics. The people following them expect information related to your business and when you get mentioned by them you’ll gain more than when someone with more followers but a whole different focus mentions you.

Amount of links on the linking page

When you build links you want to be linked from a page with not to many outgoing links. The more links are on the same page the less value your link has. When more links are on a page the visibility of your link also decreases rapidly. Social connections are all about visibility. When nobody sees your messages your audience isn’t worth that much, no matter how big it is.

When you look at Twitter you could say you want to be mentioned by someone who doesn’t tweet too much. When someone tweets a lot, the one mention you could receive doesn’t stand out as much as with someone who tweets less. And someone who tweets less but still has many relevant followers must be tweeting very valuable stuff.

Total amount of links to your page

Just as you can’t have enough links (as long as they’re still relevant) you can’t have enough followers. That is, there’s no need to remove links that are not relevant, nor is there a need to remove followers that are not relevant. It simply doesn’t harm you, it could only benefit you. More followers means more reach. Of course search engines might penalize sites with an unnatural link profile. Twitter on the other hand limits the number of people you can follow based on the people who follow you.

How it’s not like link building

Of course building social links is not totally the same as link building. For instance, two-way connections are not really desirable in link building. Reciprocal links decrease the value of those links, where two-way social connections are much better because they allow you to communicate and interact. Basically the main difference between the two is that in building social connections, social factors play a major role and in link building, technical factors tend to play a bigger role.


So what can you learn from this? As well as link building, building social connections is not just about the numbers. There much more to it than that. It’s about finding the right people to spread your message. On the other hand it would also be good to approach link building more like building social connections. Now go ahead and read “10 Ways to Increase your Twitter Followers & 10 Essential Tools to do it

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About Jeroen van Eck

Jeroen van Eck is a consultant search engine marketing at the online marketing company E-Focus in the Netherlands.