Rob Garner’s Presentation at DFWSEM focused on search & social
I was excited to attend the DFWSEM Meet-Up recently, where Rob Garner shared insightful information about how search and social media are becoming one, and how this is affecting real-time content marketing. Rob Garner is the vice president of iCrossing, a digital marketing agency who focuses on building connected brands. He recently spoke at Pubcon and is a well-respected speaker and author on this topic. Also a lot of what Rob Garner spoke about is related to my last post about the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing. He shared a brief history of real-time marketing and talked about his new Search & Social book.
Know your audience before you do search or
Rob made a clear point that you need to redefine your audience before you do search (SEO) or social. Know where they congregate online and what language they are using to search for the information they need to solve their problems. You need to be present on those communities and LISTEN to the language and the keywords used as well as the feedback on your product or services. Being present is crucial and being able to interact and respond to questions or comments can position you as an expert. This participation can help you gain valuable information and help you find opportunities that you would otherwise miss. Rob stated that as long as you have a website, you are a publisher, so it is to your best benefit to stay updated on these new changes.
The shift from passive to active communication
In the past small businesses were trained to “protect themselves” and shield their reputation by not directly communicating with customers for fear of receiving negative feedback or creating a scene. Old advertising methods took a one-to-many approach of communication, but now with the internet, if you are not connecting with customers, you could be losing them to your competitors who are taking the time and effort do it.
Instead of shouting out your message, and hoping someone will take action it is recommended to start engaging and participating in meaningful conversations. Connecting with your audience and getting their feedback makes the difference between a passive or an active approach, and can make a big impact to your bottom line. If you truly provide helpful products or services, the word will spread and everybody will know about it and be sharing it. Also businesses who could previously get away with shady practices are now being put out in the open, so this could mean good news for you when clients start looking for an alternative and find you.
Search – SEO the more technical and long-term effect
Search (SEO) is a technical term that deals with link-building, keywords, algorithms, search engines and other technical and mostly passive components. In the past search engines based rankings and authority on these details because at the time they were the best indicators of whether a website was reputable or not. In the early years of the internet this was appropriate since it took a lot of technical knowledge to create a website, but over time the bar has been lowered, and this method is somewhat outdated. Today anyone with very little technical knowledge can start a website in under 3 minutes, thus this low barrier for entry has caused some problems.
Since in SEO good links from respected websites are usually good signals of influence, generally speaking, as long as you maintain those links you can continue to rank well for your chosen terms. The ease of ranking quickly for certain highly competitive keywords has created a vast amount of spam and irrelevant content. So while link-building and keywords are still important, a social layer helps define what is truly appropriate and significant on a timely manner.
Social adds a human element and generally has short-term effect
Social media adds a human element to the internet and deals with sharing, connecting, and building a community, mostly active components. Robert stated that the most connective element that joins search and social is natural language, and the words that people use to communicate or interact. He made an interesting point that in SEO duplicate content is frowned upon, but in social media it means that your story or message was compelling enough to share, re-tweet, or blog about. All of the above are good social signals that tell search engines that your content is interesting, and relevant.
Generally speaking social media has mostly short-term effects. For example if there is a new product being launched or a big event, social media is a good way to share that kind of information and gain instant feedback. But once time goes by, the conversations tend to die and that instant boost on your website’s traffic can be gone rather quickly. Social media is good for news, and it is recent so it can help create a spike on traffic and temporarily boost your visibility for certain key phrases. Robert shared with us that 15% to 25% of search queries on Google are brand new on a daily basis, and since language trends change so rapidly, Google uses social media as a “medium” to find emerging trends.
Why you need to build your network to maximize both search and social
If you are marketing your product or service online, you want to take advantage of both social media and search results to leverage your message and maximize your reach. That is why Robert stressed the importance of building a strong social media network. The bigger your network, the more visibility your content will get and the more influence you will have. The bigger your footprint, the more likely that your story will be shared, reviewed, bookmarked, or commented on. Also when there are a lot of people talking about your brand and sharing positive experiences, this builds your credibility and helps to position you as the expert.
I think that the best way to make social more of a long term effect is to build a community and participate in it. When you have a tight community of people who continuously talk about new topics in a particular industry, you can create many short term spikes that can give you a significant advantage over time. This could also help you virtually eliminate competition, since people are more likely to buy from you when they like and trust you. Building relationships and nurturing a community where members share the same interests can help you turn social media from a short-term effect, to a long-term one.
Personally I think that SEO is like an HTML website that is mostly static and creates one way communication. On the other hand social media is more like a dynamic (blog style) website that enables 2 way communication, and constant improvement through the help of constant feedback. I absolutely agree that in order to have a solid content strategy you need to have both search (SEO) and social media in your marketing mix. The best advice you can take from Robert’s presenation is to start building your social network and creating your own community.
If you are a do-it-yourself kind of person and want to learn more about incorporating your own search and social media strategy to your business you can find Robert Garner’s Search & Social book on Amazon.com ( not an affiliate link) or find and connect with him or social media networks.
Also I highly recommend becoming a member of the DFWSEM Group to attend more events and informative presentations about SEO, content marketing, social media, mobile and other internet marketing topics.
And if you are way too overwhelmed with all the changes, and would rather have someone help you make sense out of everything, visit iSocialDesign.com for more information and local help.