Integrating content across channels of discovery and engagement like social networks is an important part of optimizing for the customer experience. In fact, according to the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 83% of marketers stated they have integrated their social media and traditional marketing activities.
Social Media contributes to all aspects of the customer journey, so integrating social media marketing with overall online marketing efforts just makes sense if you want to connect the dots for customers from education to action. But how?
I recently did an interview on this topic with Roza Tsvetkova of Komfo in Denmark and thought I’d share it here:
What is new when we talk about social integration? What is key to the integration of social media with the other online marketing efforts?
From a marketing perspective, social media is often treated as a distinct channel. Organizationally, the responsibility of social media has also been a focused responsibility within companies. What’s emerging within marketing and organizational structures is that social media is becoming more of a horizontal skill rather than a dedicated silo. Social is everyone’s responsibility.
Marketers are getting more sophisticated about incorporating social elements within their content marketing, public relations, search, email and advertising efforts to extend reach and engagement. As businesses learn more about how their target audiences discover and engage with digital content, they begin to integrate social media elements in the places were customers seek answers and interact.
The key to integration of social media with other online marketing efforts is to draw insights from the customer journey. Rather than publishing the same content across social channels, there would be an effort to understand the topics and content formats most appealing to the target audience for each social channel. With customer insight, marketers can do a better job of using integrated social media to optimize the buyer experience.
Can you tell us more on the concept of consistent customer experience/journey across social channels?
When brands do not coordinate content and media across social channels, the experience can be sub-optimial for customers. Reading a post on Twitter or LinkedIn with a link back to the company blog where there is very little additional information on the topic can be frustrating.
In many cases, different people create content for the same brand on different social channels with different voices and creative. A lack of coordination can result in information that does not connect the dots for readers.
When a brand and it’s products or services stand for something as a solution for their customers, the consistent communication or representation of those values across social channels creates a congruent and optimized experience for buyers. Where ever customers look for information about the problem they’re trying to solve, your brand should be “the best answer” – consistently.
This is not to say content and media cannot be different amongst channels. But if the brand voice and customer experience are consistent, it will create clarity, trust and inspire action more quickly.
Can you give us some practical tips on architecting the customer journey on social networks?
The model we use documents the relationship between the buyer and information in the form of Discovery, Consumption and Action. Use social media monitoring, web analytics, platform analytics and the tracking possible through Google Custom URLs to identify the behaviors and interests of your target audience on the social web. You can also ask them – through customer surveys.
Through that ongoing effort to understand the customer journey from awareness to consideration to purchase, the networks where your customers engage can be discovered. The types of content and media they prefer to consume can be identified and through testing, the offers that inspire them to act can be refined and optimized.
With that information, social content and engagement can be planned to make useful information known and available to buyers that ask their networks. That is how to architect social content across the customer journey. It is an ongoing effort and should be continuously tested and optimized.
You mentioned in your presentation that “optimizing for search is not dead, just different and more social”. Can you please elaborate on that?
The old practices of identifying a set list of target keywords, adding them to title tags and links from other sites has been mitigated by Google’s recent changes. SEO is different in that the focus should be on understanding the topics that customers care about most related to the buying cycle. Then distill those questions into related keywords to be used to flavor content to ensure it’s optimized for relevancy to the topic, not just for positioning in search results.
Rather than focusing on securing controlled links using the exact same keywords a business wants to rank for, modern SEO involves creating content worth linking to, promoting it through publicity and social channels to facilitate a natural variety of text references used to link to the site. Along with technical tasks related to markup and structured data, site architecture and page speed, aligning many people to a specific concept though content and inspiring social shares, engagement and links is modern SEO.
Social channels and links shared are important for network visibility of your brand’s content. Links within social shares could also be a factor for inclusion or even ranking with search engines. SEO is more social because social is so important for amplification of content others might link to.
How different is the customer journey for B2B and B2C companies on social media?
Only certain kinds of business purchases involve research and a decision by one person.. While that is the case for the vast majority of consumer purchases, most B2B buyers are committees or involve multiple people in the research and decision process. That means social network content and engagement should consider that there may be more than one person involved in the process. With B2C products and services, the tone and flavor of content can be more specifically directed at individual customers.
What do you think is the role of tools in the social integration? How do they affect the processes in a company and do they minimize silos?
Tools are essential to automate redundant processes, enable scale and maintain a certain level of quality. Social Media Marketing Management platforms that provide a dashboard with features like content scheduling, amplification and measurement across social channels can be instrumental to the success of an integrated social media marketing effort.
To all our European Marketing readers, I’ll be giving a keynote presentation (How To Be the Best Answer Wherever Customers Are Looking) on a flavor of this topic in just a few weeks at the Content Marketing Conference run by J-P De Clerck of Fusion Marketing Experience – Antwerp, Belgium on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014.
The lineup for this must-attend event is incredible with Jay Baer and Mike Corak from the U.S., Doug Kessler from Velocity Partners in the UK, AJ Huisman of Dutch Law firm Kennedy Van der Laan, Kelly Hungerford from Paper.li in Switzerland, Danny Devriendt from Universal Media in Brussels, Tristan Lavender from Deloitte Netherlands and many more. If your company in Europe works with content marketing in any way, this event is a can’t miss: Register Now.