By Cedric Chambaz, Marketing Manager of Search & SMB at Microsoft Advertising.
Social Media and Search marketing are two inexpensive digital marketing techniques that can prove costly for your business.
As search engines integrate more and more social media feeds in their results it becomes imminently critical for brands to get their strategies aligned: Microsoft's search experience, Bing, integrates Twitter feeds to offer real time search; it enables you to Ping your search results to your community through various social platforms; Bing also powers Facebook and with the completion of the Yahoo! & Microsoft Search Alliance, will soon power other iconic social sites such as Flickr.
So it is fair to say that everything you do in social media will at some point be visible in search engines. As a direct result of being armed with this data, search can influence how you act and behave in social networks.
Therefore, it is critical for advertisers to get their head around the mutually beneficial effects of a joined up “search + social media” strategy. To help achieve this, Microsoft Advertising and the IAB have produced, with the input of various experts and brands, a search and social media industry report, that I am keen to provide a digest of in this article (the report is free to download).
Before I do so, I thought it would be good to clarify how we define both search and social media marketing. Search Marketing is the process of increasing your brand’s visibility in search engine results pages, either through search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
Social Media Marketing refers to the content and information created and shared using publishing technologies to increase the visibility of brands.
So, how can both techniques influence each other?
First, Search can directly improve Social Media marketing:
1. Capturing search intents
Use search patterns to identify unmet information needs. Look at how people are searching for your brand, your services, and provide the eventually missing content in your blog for instance…
This is usually more flexible and reactive than a corporate website. You can also leverage this search intelligence to identify your audience lingo and improve your empathy as a result. A free tool like the Microsoft Advertising Intelligence Tool available at LetSearchMakeYouSmarter.com becomes very handy.
2. Organic results and branded real estate
Blog and social network pages provide freshly indexed organic results that can help you dominate the search result page with owned content, and ultimately drive traffic to destinations that are under your control.
3. Using PPC to capture hand raisers
If you start using social media pages as your default online presence, do not neglect PPC to cost-efficiently and instantly drive prospects to these pages.
SEO takes time to ramp, whilst PPC is an instantaneous way to sign post your presence. British Airways used this technique during the last Christmas strike threat to point passenger to the official micro website.
Using only SEO was not reactive enough as the destination site was fighting for attention against news update, press coverage, passenger rants on blogs and forums, etc. By displaying a PPC ad against the keyword “BA Strike” , BA ensured that they were immediately placed at the top of search results.
Subsequently, Social Media Marketing can directly influence Search:
1. Extending your branded footprint
Use social networks to seed branded content (image, video). If properly commented, tagged and linked, they will be picked up by the search engine spiders and drastically widen your controlled digital footprint. Those social networks intrinsically rank highly on search engines because of their constantly refreshed content, so your own assets will inherit the network gravitas.
2. Network with bloggers
Don’t wait for the need to arise to develop and nourish a network of independent bloggers. Engage with the critical voices in your industry, bond and engage with them. If you create this relationship they will be more likely to write about you and link to your site when provided with appropriate social currencies in due time. Don’t fall in the trap of firing away standard and not personalised press releases… Bloggers are individuals, and they require proper, personable engagement (but that is the topic for a whole new article).
3. Hosting your own community
Support forums, user reviews, wikis… empower users to enrich your site with niche information. Attention, community management requires similar skill sets as blogger management so you should go that route only if you embrace it fully. The benefit? This content enables you to cater for the long tail searches, without having to produce it all by yourself.
These are just six considerations that you can immediately action for your business.
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