How etailers manage their social media marketing channel has a growing impact on organic search results. Google and Bing have both incorporated social data into their algorithms to signal content freshness and quality. While the datasets each engine has access to differ, the fact remains that search marketing and social media cannot be managed in silos.
According to the presentation given by Andrea Fishman, vice president of global strategy at BGT Partners — a marketing and design firm — at Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2011, “57% of digital marketing impact is derived from SEO.” But search engine optimization also has a symbiotic relationship with social media, press relations, paid search, offline advertising, and other marketing channels. Though the focus of this article is on organic search and social, when all the marketing teams work together the combined efforts create an upward spiral of success across all channels.
A Search and Social Example
As usual with SEO, it all starts with content. An etailer needs a creative angle to develop interesting, valuable, sharable content that remains relevant to its core product set. For example, ADT Security produced an interesting infographic on safety and home automation systems for its blog. If this were merely a blog post, there’s no chance I’d read it. But an infographic? That’s a different matter. It lures the eyes in with its seemingly easy-to-digest information and interesting sequential information flow. Apparently ADT’s audience agreed; just look at these results as reported by BGT's Fishman:
- 17 percent increase in social connections;
- 53 percent increase branded buzz;
- 47 percent increase organic search to ADT.com;
- 305 percent increase organic search to homesecuritysource.com, ADT’s unbranded blog;
- 45 percent increase in organic leads.
Great Content Still Reigns Supreme
The etailer still needs to create, optimize and publish valuable content, managing it through the various relevant social and other marketing channels. Search Engine Land, the online magazine, recently posted a great list of 21 types of social content to get the team's creative juices flowing. Exactly how and how persistently the etailer goes about the promotion of this content across marketing channels will to a large extent determine the success of the campaign. Assuming the content is valuable to the audience, blasting it out via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and any niche social networks is just the start.
Don’t forget to blog about the amazing new content, and reach out to other bloggers to let them know you have an amazing new infographic or piece of content their audience will desire. This process will be much more successful if you’ve already been courting influential bloggers in your industry so they’re ready to receive the content. Have the public relations team reach out to the relevant trade publications and blogs. Include it in the next email newsletter. Was the making of the content particularly interesting? Then perhaps a companion “making of” video on YouTube would be another valuable promotional tool. Is there an interesting or beautifully designed visual involved? Upload it to Pinterest. Naturally it helps immensely to have the accounts already set up and populated with interesting content and followers before it’s time to promote a new campaign through tem. Last, but certainly not least, have team members with social profiles spread the word to their networks as well to maximize the initial reach?
Once the content is live and published through all the social and marketing channels, it’s in the audience’s hands. Will they like it? With they like it enough to share it, Like it, Tweet it, email it to a friend, comment on the blog post, write their own blog post about it or interact with it in some other way? The more the audience interacts with and shares that content, the greater the content’s reach will be.
How Social Campaigns Benefit SEO
And how does a social campaign impact SEO? Because every "share" creates a page with a unique URL that has a link back to the content promoted, as well as exposing an ever-larger number of people to the content. The more people exposed, the more people are likely share and create more links. Some of those links will be directly valuable to SEO efforts, especially links in blog posts and the press, as well as Google +1s. But Likes, Tweets, shares on LinkedIn and other networks also represent social SEO value, where each share is a vote of quality. They may not pass link popularity directly, but they pass social signals that serve as similar indications of trust and quality as links do.
With 4 billion pieces of information shared on Facebook, 140 million Tweets and more than 3 billion searches conducted every day, etailers have countless opportunities to lure customers to their sites through search and social. Remember to treat social media as a revenue-generating platform, not just a one-way bullhorn for shouting at followers. Create great content, promote it widely through social media and other marketing channels, interact with followers on those social sites, measure the campaign's performance, learn from the successes and failures, and do it again.