When it comes to search engine relevance and social media success online, content remains king. While the future of search results is ever-changing (check out this fascinating discussion of Facebook, Google, and the nature of relationship driven vs. numbers-driven SEO with two top tech entrepreneurs), one thing remains clear—to get noticed online, you need to be part of the conversation.

Before Facebook and Twitter and the flood of other social media sites, being part of the conversation meant you combed the Internet for opportunities to post articles, press releases, leave comments on bulletin boards and discussion groups—any relevant venue where you could post your information, your keywords, and links.

Nowadays, social media sites have opened a range of additional opportunities to build and target your online presence. I’m not just talking personal tweets and sharing photos on Facebook—all of which have their time and place. I’m talking about all of those social media profiles you can post, rich with keywords, links, and potential click-throughs. I’m talking about blog posts and articles that position you as your own “brand,” that help you grow your network beyond close friends and family to include people interested in following you because of what you have to say and the value of the information you share freely (yet another example of “paying it forward”).

“Newsletter, article, and press release sites haven’t gone anywhere,” says Laurie Pehar Borsh, public relations professional and social media PR consultant/guru, and member of the Barrel of Monkeyz Team (http://www.lauriepeharborsh.com/). “Those sites remain an important part of the online mix. But social media has really given us the opportunity to push out content and increase our online presence in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.”

According to Laurie, those most successful in growing their number of followers produce content that’s relevant to who they are and consistent with their brand message, usually as a thought leader in a particular area of expertise, plus those who follow others. “A lot of times, for example, if you start following someone on Twitter, that person will start following you,” she explains. “It’s human nature.”

“The keys are to be consistent, with 1 or 2 blogs or articles a week, plus multiple daily updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites,” says Laurie. Together with online article and press release sites, it “all adds up to increased visibility” and meaningful results in as little as two to three months. “Of course, by then, you’ll want to circle back and make a clean sweep of your profiles and information on all of the social media sites you’re on, refreshing content, fine-tuning keywords, updating links.”

What are you doing to be part of the online conversation? Once joined, what are you doing to keep your message—and your brand—front and center? As a starter, you can stay on brand by practicing the “3 C”s: be clear, concise and consistent!