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Search and Social - How to Take Advantage of Social Media

  |  May 5, 2010   |  Comments

Twitter provides search marketers the ability to better connect with customers. Here are four ways to use Twitter to improve your search activities.

We all know that social media marketing has exploded onto the scene. My views here are based on looking at social media marketing from the point of view of a search marketer - what impact it has, what opportunities, and how to work with your social media team or agency. Today, we'll look Twitter.

Utilizing Twitter in Keyword Search

Twitter, love it or hate it, has rapidly grown into a major source of real-time, user-generated content.

With so many users, Twitter provides a wealth of opportunities for search marketers to participate in the action and better connect with customers. Here are a few ways we've used Twitter to improve our search activities:

  1. Twitter search and keyword research: Perhaps the most obvious way to apply Twitter to search is for keyword research. It's so important to use the customers' language when developing keyword lists, and Twitter can really help. One technique is to use Twitter's powerful search function. A simple search on some of your key terms can provide a long and ever-updating list of recent tweets, along with related keywords and phrases that can help you refine, expand, and better understand your keyword list's usage in Twitter. Also, keep an eye out for negative keywords you might want to add to your normal search programs.

    Twitter's 140-character limit can produce some uncommon abbreviations; however, these may be the same abbreviations users are typing into search engines. Also, pay attention to articles many people link to, as these can be a source of new and evolving terminology and insights into "real-time" changes in your audience's content interests.

    Twitter's search function allows for Boolean modifiers to refine your search. The advanced search page lets you build complex searches, or for the brave, it publishes a full list of its Boolean search operators. As with many search engines, the search results' page URL won't change, so if you build a complex search you'll want to use again, remember to bookmark it.

  2. The Twitter API and your brand: Some companies are leveraging Twitter's API to provide constant feeds of relevant data to Web analytics or buzz monitoring tools. The idea is to maintain vigilance about how people use your brand name; this can help you tweak your messaging, respond to users' complaints, or in extreme cases, provide an early warning system in case something is going down. My company even has a Twitter monitoring component built into our CRM (define) system - all in one place.

    While the API is mainly useful to brand management and social media teams, it also has practical applications for search. For example, what do people praise about your site or offerings? How could you use that in ad copy and landing page messaging? Could you devise a way to better manage seasonality based on the volume of tweets about key subjects? What are people saying about you versus your competitors?

  3. Playing offense - message testing: I used to talk a lot about how PPC (define) was a great tool for testing messaging for other channels. Now, Twitter can be a testing ground for messaging even for PPC (and for free)! Work with your social media marketing team to craft promotional offers and value propositions into your official tweets. Where possible, set up simple A/B/n tests (for instance, send a related but different tweet at the same time each day). Then measure response and retweets, and there you have it - free focus groups.

  4. Getting into those real-time results: Late last year, both Google and Bing began incorporating Twitter results into their search results. This provides a great opportunity to leapfrog to the top of the page when you have a special announcement or press release, while organic or news results can sometimes take days to appear. Choose your keywords carefully, and hopefully retweets will keep your buzz visible right when you need it the most.

Twitter is a pretty new phenomenon, and no doubt there are other great ideas for leveraging it in your industry that haven't been thought up yet. Hopefully, these examples will give you a starting point to come up with some innovative strategies of your own.

Join me at SES Toronto or comment below if you have other ideas on leveraging social media marketing. Watch this space for more on search leveraging social in future stories.


Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

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