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Lee Odden

Future Trends for Marketers in Search & Social Media

By Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Social Media SEOThe intersection of SEO and social media marketing continues to gain traction amongst online marketers everywhere you look in the industry. As an example, the enthusiastic interest in our recent compendium of blog posts, Essentials of Integrating SEO & Social Media. I think most experienced marketers “get” that SEO and Social Media functions are less effective as distinct channels within a marketing program and work better as a coordinated effort.

Integration of Social and SEO makes sense for a variety of reasons when considering evolving consumer information discovery behaviors. Even so, I think a lot of companies are looking for direction and what’s next. This week Brandon Prebynski and I chatted on his Webtrends.TV show about the mix of search and social media and one area we discussed that I think is worth sharing here is about future direction.

There are two areas of focus (out of many) I think are worth considering with future of search and social media for marketers. First, is the technology that powers the search and social media experience for consumers. The second is the logistics of implementing integrated search and social media campaigns within a company.

On the technology side, you have search becoming increasingly influenced by social signals. For example, Google and Bing are getting feed data from Twitter and Facebook. If you’re logged in to Google, your search results can be annotated by things your friends have shared on Quora or Flickr. Erik Sherma recently covered the award to Facebook of a patent for curated search that combines any type of search engine results with the popularity of each result among members of a user’s social network which shows another direction social sites are taking to make search more social.

True social search is something the engines have been trying at for a long time, but now the momentum Facebook has with 600 million users gives them a lot of data and an audience with which to experiment. From a technology standpoint I think we’ll see an increasing level of influence and integration of social based signals on traditional search activity. The race for true social search is between search engines like Google adding social signals and features vs. social giants like Facebook adding more significant search functionality to their platforms. Who will win is up to consumers.

Logistically within companies we’ll see less silos between search marketing and social media functions. While it’s been up for debate a while, many companies’ social media is managed by Public Relations and SEO is managed by Marketing.

There’s an growing convergence of responsibilities between PR and Marketing. The value of relationships and influence are increasingly appreciated by online marketers. Alternatively, PR and communications professionals are beginning to value search based discovery as they look for ways to communicate more value for their efforts.

PR departments are already creating content, why not make it easy for their target audience (journalists, analysts, bloggers and direct consumers) to find via search? Google sites alone handle 88 billion queries per month – that’s an overwhelming quantity of behavior and too significant to ignore.

As part of the effort to improve the connection between searchers and content, people in the social media content creation business would do well to consider things like a keyword glossary when creating their content marketing strategy and editorial plans.

Search marketers have traditionally used social media as distribution channels for promoting content to drive a flood of traffic. Many of those SEOs are beginning to appreciate the equity in relationships (community) that they can build through social channels so they don’t have to work so hard creating new connections every time they have a new link bait campaign.

Mastering the convergence of SEO and Social Media with Content Marketing starts with an appreciation of how consumers prefer to discover, consume and share information online.

Google’s Panda update is yet another reminder to focus on content that engages. Marketers that make great content easy to find via social channels and links will be rewarded with even more relevant traffic through search engines like Google and Bing.

What can companies do to become more effective search and social media marketers? The simple answer is to develop an approach to online marketing that focuses on customer centric content that’s keyword and social media optimized. Follow how content is consumed and shared – make it easy to do those things while monitoring and engaging to develop networks and relationships. Continue to keep business outcomes in mind and be thoughtful about how success will be measured short and long term.

As many companies deal with figuring out how search and social media will work together, I am curious what your experiences have been?

  • How important is the integration of search and social in your company’s current marketing mix?
  • Are you incorporating SEO and social media efforts more or less since last year?
  • What positive outcomes have you seen as a result of incorporating SEO & Social Media Marketing?

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