Convergence of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Word of Mouth (WOM), Content Marketing, Social Media = Opportunity
After hearing Jason Falls‘ opening keynote talk at the SIMEngage (Social + Internet Marketing) conference May 15 at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati, I remarked to a colleague that I had already gotten my money’s worth.
Falls, a true social media marketing pioneer, spoke about the convergence of PR, Content Marketing and Social Media, with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Word of Mouth (WOM) in the middle — and the tremendous opportunity this presents for organizations to achieve their strategic goals.
He started with a quick explanation of SEO, and how Google crawls pages searching for keywords. The most relevant content comes up first, based on 200-some factors. Moving up in search rankings is our role, helping boost rankings in search engines. An old goal with SEO was getting more inbound links to your website, using tactics such as online press releases with links. This still helps, but two years ago Google changed the ranking system.
SEO has become an earned media approach. You need to provide content that people care about. Become a thought leader. Create great, unique content that resonates with your audience. Share content in social media. Promote it.
Falls pointed out that social media ranks high in searches. Social profiles appear on front page of Google and Bing results. Social media directly impacts how websites rank, according to Google. Google+ might be relevant only for that reason.
You have about seven seconds to win a customer. You must figure out your moments of truth. What are your audience members asking when they are getting ready to buy? When are they making decisions? What are they asking? When can you provide relevant content and engage them?
This is important because Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is 62% more effective than an ad! And media coverage, paid, etc. boost SEO and WOM. Gets people talking about you online and offline.
“Search cannot exist in a vacuum” Falls said. “PR, search and social must be integrated for you to succeed.”
What does it take to develop earned content that will drive your SEO? Creative content. A great user experience. Relationships and storytelling. A dash of technical geekery.
“Content is the currency for building social relationships that boost earned media,” Falls said, adding these nuggets:
- What is great content — Original (from you), Simple, Valuable and Useful, Entertains, Emotional (laugh, cry). Above all the content must be relevant to your audience.
- Key considerations — Who is the audience you need to reach? Why will they care about you? What are you doing to earn their interest? What incentive do they have to share?
- Finding topics — Ask your sales team, Mine the buying cycle, Q/A sites like QuoraYahooAnswers, mine social media, follow industry and peers.
- Next: Answer questions with blog post, video… American Express Business Forum is a good example. Others: H&R Block and the American Moustache Institute to lobby Congress for $250 tax credit. The Stache Act. Million Moustache March, etc. Make your profile. Point: Got H&R block in conversation for men 24-30, and it worked.
I consider myself one of the New Age, tree-hugging hippies mentioned in the above book, but I’m also grounded in my upbringing as the son of an electrical lineman and school teacher in small-town Ohio. I believe in the spiritual principles of giving and receiving as I incorporate social media into my personal and professional lives, but I’m also big on the strategic process — research, planning, implementation and evaluation. There’s got to be a method behind the madness!
That’s why I really liked No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing by Jason Falls and Erik Deckers. Unlike the books written several years back selling people on the value of social media marketing as a concept, this writing gives specific methods and tools for getting the job done. It provides case studies — solid examples you can wrap your mind around.
Falls and Deckers dive deeply into the seven things social media marketing does for your business:
* Enhance branding and awareness
* Protect brand reputation
* Enhance public relations
* Build community
* Enhance customer service
* Facilitate research and development
* Drive leads and sales
This paragraph on the jacket gives a great summary: “Stop hiding from social media — or treating it as if it’s a playground. Start using it strategically. Identify specific, actionable goals. Apply business discipline and proven best practices. Stop fearing risks. Start mitigating them. Measure performance. Get results. You can. This book shows you how.”
OK, now time for my tree-hugger, hippie side. I found this book through a set of circumstances I couldn’t have planned.
A friend gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, so the family went to a bookstore for the first time in a while. (We’re Amazon people now, especially since I got a Fire.) I intended to get a book about innovation or perhaps travel — in advance of a trip planned to Oregon and Washington next summer — but this one caught my eye, as well as another on a similar topic.
I brought both to the cafe area and began to recall that Falls attended my first Cincinnati Social Media breakfast and had blogged about social media at the government social services agency where I used to work. I thought about how I like following Deckers on Twitter. I recalled that both live near Cincinnati — Falls in Louisville and Deckers in Indianapolis… So I bought their book.
Perfect timing. Right when I’m trying to figure out how to improve measurement and evaluation of social media marketing.
Guess I can hug a tree and saw away at strategic communication at the same time!
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