In a little over a week I’ll be giving the opening keynote at a social media conference in Auckland, New Zealand called Social Media Junction. The topic? The answer to one of the most common questions asked about social media: “The Truth About Social Media ROI”.
New Zealanders aka “Kiwis” are an active bunch on the social web with more than 2 in 5 interacting with companies via social sites and 84% of mobile social networkers there having visited Facebook (Nielsen). The social media momentum is growing and companies are hungry for information and perspective.
I’ll follow up the keynote presentation with a workshop, aka Masterclass Programme, the following day focused on Social Media Content Strategy that drills down into the mechanics of social media marketing, content marketing and SEO. Here’s a bit of a preview on what I’ll be presenting in the workshop:
Optimized Content Strategy
If content or media can be searched on, they can be optimized. People who have heard me speak or who read Online Marketing Blog are familiar with this perspective. It’s a holistic approach to search that takes full advantage of all the digital assets and content types that search engines want to include in their search results and therefore, translates into opportunities for being where customers are looking.
An Optimized Content Strategy is thoughtful of customer information needs as well as search engines. Great content is worthless unless someone reads it and in today’s competitive online marketing world, shares it with others. Content optimization goes beyond keywords to making sure content distribution and promotion are as much a part of the content strategy as how relevant and useful the content is to readers for reaching business outcomes.
Social Content & Marketing Roadmap: Laying the Foundation
Setting up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and publishing a blog isn’t a social media strategy. Rather, understanding the who, what, when, where and why of your customers and industry influentials is essential for developing a strong social content plan that engages, persuades and converts. Social media efforts that work together are far more productive than the siloed activity so common amongst companies just starting out.
The foundation of an effective social media content effort starts with Listening via social media monitoring tools, participation and web analytics. First hand experience in combination with analytics is priceless for setting objectives and developing profiles for the audience segments you’re trying to reach.
How a company decides to reach those customers is often a mix of social content creation and engagement. Being reactive or proactive with a social content strategy is another consideration before identifying the social media channels and tools that will serve as the best connections for engaging with customers. We started with measurement through listening tools and it’s analytics that closes the loop with an approach that measures the KPIs or proxies to social media marketing success.
Cycle of Social Media Interaction
Speaking of closing the loop, the Cycle of Social Media & SEO is what enables a social media marketing effort to stay fresh, inspired with relevant and effective content for customer engagement.
Starting with keyword optimized content that is promoted while social networking helps build channels of engagement and distribution, the likes, follows, subscribers and links that result from great content intersect with interested audiences. That interaction between sharable content and social influencers expands the reach of brand stories and messages to an even greater audience empowered to publish, share and link.
The increasing activity creates an opportunity to mine data that will effectively inform future editorial plans, making content even more productive in terms of meeting customer needs and helping reach business objectives.
Blogging to Power Up Your Social Media Engagement
One of the most effective models my social media marketing pros at TopRank have implemented for clients is a hub and spoke scenario with blogging at the center connected to outposts of social content and networking. There are myriad reasons for a blog as the center, but there’s no reason another strategy might not put Facebook or YouTube at the center.
The point is to link from outpost social activity to a conversational destination (Tweets link to the blog) vs. linking directly to corporate website pages that offer no opportunity for discussion or easy sharing.
Social Media Marketing Applications
The social media, networking and application websites and services used in an optimized content marketing effort depend on where end consumers spend time as well as the major influences on those target audiences.
Some of the most popular social applications are: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, FourSquare and social mobile apps. But there are others that can provide more effective connections with people a brand is trying to engage depending on their content discovery, consumption and even sharing preferences.
For example: Flickr, SlideShare, Delicious and niche social networks powered by Ning.com have created some formidable connections with influencers leading to media coverage, new hires and new business.
Digital Asset Optimization
Search engines have an insatiable appetite for content and media to include in their search results. Content = inventory for search engines to run ads against and expand the search engines’ ability to be useful to people that search.
Google has made tremendous changes in the past few years including Universal search in 2007 that can potentially include different types of media besides standard web pages in the search results. Companies that expect to drive traffic through search would do well to be aware of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) landscape, including what kind of media are appearing besides web pages.
Each document or file that has a unique URL can be a potential entry point via search and a destination for someone else to link to. Links to content are how search engines find content to include in the search results. Links are also used in ranking that content.
Digital Asset Optimization is something TopRank started promoting in 2007 that deals with taking inventory of all digital assets that a company could possibly optimize for search. That includes images, video, blogs, news, real-time content, MS Office docus, PDFs and so on. These different document and media can attract customers through search, especially as part of a long tail strategy. They also fold well into social content marketing, which is why DAO is part of the SMJ Masterclass agenda.
Essentials for Social SEO in 2011
How do Social Media and Search Engine Optimization intersect? What are the opportunities for companies to make the most of these two disciplines as part of a unified social content strategy? Those are important questions and the basis for planning what key approaches companies can take in the coming year to make the most out of the optimized content created as part of social media efforts. They also answer how to best leverage SEO tactics such as link building through social channels.
There’s nothing dead about SEO, but it is definitely changing and any marketer focused solely on traditional search optimization is clearly not paying attention to shifts in search behaviors. Search within social media will continue to increase and in combination with the changing landscape of search on sites like Google, can provide a tremendous channel for discovery, customer engagement and acquisition.
Social Media Measurement & ROI
It’s the most popular question companies ask: How do I measure ROI from social media? I like to counter with, how do you measure ROI from the company telephones? Understanding the business value of being more social as a company means better understanding the impact of creating better relationships with customers, building thought leadership and expertise and activating employees, customers and industry peers as evangelists for your brand.
Problems solved or mitigated though social media extend far beyond Marketing > Sales > Revenue. There are situations where it’s completely fine to make direct response offers through social channels and with the right tracking, the ability to directly measure an increase in sales as a result.
What’s the value of lowered Customer Service costs, increased ability to attract top-shelf employees, a boost in industry media coverage, improved product development and review cycles? Here are 10 questions about social media measurement I’d recommend tackling to give you a better perspective.
Sound interesting? Think you could handle an entire day of me doing a brain dump on Search, Social and Content Marketing?
Nicholas O’Flaherty, Managing Director at Bullet PR and a pretty good sized group of Marketing, PR and Communications professionals gathering in Auckland, New Zealand are willing to give it a go Nov 16 & 17th. Of course, there will be a lot more knowledge dispensed than from the likes of me. Social Media Junction includes speakers from Deloitte & LinkedIn as well as representations from a variety of industries such as Banks, Government, Retailers, Telecom and a Beer company.