A May 2013 BrightLocal survey that targeted more than 1,400 local search experts found that experts increasingly believe social media is an important part of local SEO strategy. According to the survey, 82 percent of SEOs think social media is effective in increasing local business. This number is up from 76 percent in 2011. However, SEOs point out that social media has limits: 57 percent said social media is effective for particular businesses only.
BrightLocal suggests that social media's influence will continue to grow, as research shows that friends' recommendations - which users can see through varying channels, from Facebook likes to Foursquare checkins - carry more weight for users than do reviews by strangers.
The numbers suggest this as well: Only around 18 percent of users see social media as irrelevant to their local search strategy, which is down from 24 percent in 2011. Still, social media is not marketers' number one choice for bringing in site traffic and customers. General search is still king, with more than 80 percent of SEO experts rating it as most effective, followed by local search and PPC. Though social media isn't rated number one in conversions, as search marketing expert Chris Silver Smith said in a recent article, it's still hyper-relevant for SEO, brand awareness and reputation management.