In the beginning there was light … people knew their companies should be on social networks to engage with customers, but weren’t sure how to tie those efforts to ROI. Today we have many tools, metrics and books (like Kyle’s) to help us demonstrate a return from social networking. Whether your social goals are customer loyalty, brand recognition, customer service, lead generation, or something in between or outside this box, there are ways to track, analyze, measure and optimize your efforts.

While social media marketing is no longer in its infancy, for many companies it’s still in its growing stages – and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if you’ve already successfully created your social strategy and have been immersed in it for some time, it’s a good idea to look at taking your efforts to the next level.

In the case of brand recognition, customer loyalty and other similar efforts, you’ll want to discuss how to tie your social and SEO efforts together into a neatly packed sandwich. If your social goals are more closely aligned with “sales” activities like lead generation or direct purchases, you’ll want to look at how to use social as a cycle where you bring the consumers back again for repeat conversions/sales.

In the end I think you’ll see social, SEO and multiple conversions all must come together in order to demonstrate long-term ROI, but first let’s break it down piece by piece.

Marry your social and SEO efforts

While Twitter search isn’t going to take over Google any time soon, it is likely that as more people join Twitter the more the search function will be used. Because Twitter is often used as a way to connect with friends to talk about brands, or to connect with brands for customer service/sales, it should not be ignored in your SEO strategy. When you’re constructing your tweets, be sure to include the top keywords you’d like to rank for. Doing so is likely to increase your reach and brand recognition.

Beyond that, the people who do search and find you on Twitter are very likely to engage with you (if they couldn’t find you, how could they engage you?); link to you, talk about you, want to buy from you, etc. And that, for brands, is what it’s all about: social media ROI.

Strive for Repeat Conversions

Once you’re successfully bringing in social media leads and converting them into paying customers, you’ll want bring them back around again.

Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents took you to Disney world? As soon as you got off Space Mountain you wanted to go right back in line and get on again, right? Your sales process should work in much the same way; it should be painless and exciting to keep the customers coming back.

Once your visitor becomes a customer and makes a purchase, they will hopefully be in a great state of mind– simply overjoyed by their decision to welcome a cool new product or solution into their lives. While they’re in this euphoric state, you as a marketer are presented with the perfect opportunity to have them share this positive sentiment with their social networks. By serving up a one-click share option on a thank-you page, you position your company to now be introduced, in a positive light, to many new people.

Not only that but inviting the customer to connect with you on social networks allows you to continue to keep your message in front of them, engage them in daily conversation, and subtly remind them to come back again.  That’s called killing three birds with one stone: repeat conversions (sales), increased brand recognition and increased loyalty. All of which are directly correlated to ROI.

Although every company and brand is different, it seems clear to me that SEO and social are both working towards the same goal for businesses: to bring in new eyeballs that will eventually convert. Undoubtedly, they both go about it in different ways, but when combined together, the results can be staggering.

Are you ready to take your social strategy to the next level? How are you going to do it?
Kristina Allen (@allenkristina) is the online marketing manager for @ioninteractive where she handles social media and PR initiatives. ion interactive is home to the LiveBall software platform that helps marketers create, test and optimize landing pages.