At Search Engine Strategies NY last week, I had the pleasure of speaking on ClickZ’s social media panel and attending other conference sessions. This event reinforced the trend that the lines between search marketing and online media are blurring and the explosive popularity of social media puts that reality into super-high gear.
Although this was a search marketing conference, social media (Twitter, in particular) was on the tip of everyone’s tongue including keynote speaker Guy Kawasaki. What’s clear: everything we do online is getting integrated and intermeshed into a unified platform that can drive traffic, generate leads and sales, and encourage high-value brand interactions.
Of special interest to me: hearing about tips and best practices for integrating all the elements of search, social, online media, and Web site technology to create more value, connection, and engagement. That includes things that help turn media investments into long-term connections with consumers, such as Facebook fan pages, Twitter followers, social-sharing chiclets — get consumers to spread the word about your brand.
Here are a few tips and tricks that have the potential to add a high level of social octane to any online campaign. Some are straight from me and some are from SES and other places. Please forgive me for not sourcing the ideas but to be honest they are all living in my head.
- If you don’t have a social media platform for your company, create one! Start with the basics: Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and a blog. If you are a B2B (define) company you may want to add SlideShare to that list.
- Wrangle up content that you already have and create a publishing schedule for the platform. Pepper the content mix with things that add relevance and fun. You know, things that you would not spend media dollars promoting but are important like industry news and facts, best practices, humor — things that your target audience would find interesting.
- Now that you have a platform, don’t always feel like your media, paid search, and SEO campaigns must drive traffic to your site. Think of your Facebook page as a microsite, your YouTube Channel as a video microsite, and your Twitter account as your micro-blog. Driving visits to these pages can drive engagement and create lifelong connections with consumers when they “friend” or “follow” you. Think of fans and friends as people opting into your database.
- Encourage viral social sharing by having chiclet-enabled calls to action in your banners, landing pages, and site. That includes things like “tweet this coupon” or “post this video to your Facebook page.” (See my article, “ Socializing Your Banners With Chiclets.”)
- People love hitting the “play” button, so don’t be scared to use it! Grab your YouTube channel’s videos and include them on your site. Sure, there is some YouTube branding in there but it lets people know you have a YouTube channel.
- Promote your social media assets (channels, platforms, blogs, etc.) like crazy. Post them on your site, drop press releases about them in the wire services, and link to them from your site and in e-mail signatures. How cool would it be if a huge company had all of its employees add a link in their e-mail signature to the company’s YouTube channel?
- When bloggers say great things about your company or products, thank them. Return the favor and feature them on your site, blog, Facebook page, and landing pages. Even do a little linking and SEO (define) for their post to promote their kind words! Think about it: what is more valuable — you saying good things about yourself or a blogger saying good things about you? If you are going to frequently refer to their post, you may want to get their permission first. Something like, “We love your post, can we feature it on a landing page. We will be driving tons of traffic to __ we will, of course, give you a link.”
- Apply social metrics to your dashboards and reports. It’s a lot easier then you think. Contrary to what a lot of people say, you can track the ROI (define) of your social programs.
- Track things like profile and channel visits, friends, fans, followers, and of course blog chatter. Check out IceRocket to see blog chatter levels — it’s free!
- From these metrics, you can apply a real media value using average CPMs (define) and CPAs (define).
- For example if you generate 100,000 video views on your YouTube channel of a product demo, what would you have paid to do that buying 30 second pre-roll spots?
- You can track how much traffic and actions in general you get from the major social sites using a Web analytics application like Google Analytics. For example, the month we dropped our agency’s Social Media Map, I could see that over 11 percent of our traffic came from Twitter, 6 percent came from Facebook and over 15 percent came from various blogs that reported on the map. I also know how many downloads and leads we got from each of those sources (it was in the thousands). So, with very little effort we are able to close the loop on our social media marketing programs and actually track revenue from leads back to our efforts.
I’m sure I left out a number of great ideas. Please let me know and leave them as comments!
One last thing I noticed at SES: for the most part, online marketers have stopped referring to SMO (social media optimization). I’m all for that because I always disliked that term. Clearly social media marketing is more then the first cousin of SEO and is more then about just getting links. It’s its own channel; its prominence at SES and other conferences is a testament to that.