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Convergence of Search and Social Media Marketing

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I know that Jordan already linked to my Podtech interview with Jennifer Jones, but social media guru (and blogging buddy) Jeremiah Owyang asked if I would embed the Podtech flash player and also posed four tough questions for me to answer.

 

The original interview was aimed at CMO’s and Jennifer asked that I keep it very “high level”, so I’m happy to answer Jeremiah’s tougher follow-up questions.

Here are Jeremiah’s questions, re-posted from his excellent blog.

Question 1) Because blogs score high in Google Search results, how does this impact corporations who spend resources on SEO campaigns for their websites?

Andy says…I think companies should consider a corporate blog first and foremost for its ability to reach out to customers, clients, partners and investors in an informal, honest tone. That being said, blog content tends to do well in the search engine results for a number of reasons.

  1. Blog content tends to naturally focus on a theme. For example, this post will likely rank well for search terms that include search marketing, social media and blogging related keywords.
  2. Blog content is picked up by more specific channels. Your corporate blog content will appear in many more “discovery” channels, such as Technorati, making it easier for it to be found – and linked to – than your regular corporate content.
  3. Bloggers link to other bloggers. A blogger is more likely to link to corporate blog posts than static content, such as a press release page.

While many suspect that blog content tends to simply rank better in Google, it’s really the fact that the content is fresh, focused, frequent and favorited (ok, “linked” but I liked the alliteration of “favorited” better).

Question 2) If Social Media is an effective way to gain in SEO (as well as engage an audience), should we increase Social Media Program budgets and reduce SEO budgets?

Andy says…Crikey, are you trying to get me lynched by my SEO peers? :-) While it’s true we’re seeing more marketers referring to “social media marketing” (SMM), I think the lines between SMM and search engine marketing (SEM) are blurring. 90%+ of those calling themselves SMM’s are also SEM’s. I think search engine optimization (SEO) is often more valuable than SMO, so more budget should be applied to it. That said, SMM is fast become a vital component of any SEO campaign. Beyond the viral, word-of-mouth benefits from SMM, you tend to pick up a lot of incoming links – which are vital for SEO – hence the birth of “linkbaiting”. After all that, the quick answer? Increase your SMM budget, but do it at the expense of your direct mail or TV budget, not your SEM budget.

Question 3) The word of mouth network is becoming more and more efficient. Communities are forming and networks are formalizing, these networks allow users to share info about products and services without using search. (Twitter, blogs, myspace are good examples). update: If these word of mouth networks become so efficient and content is shared amongst a common group, will this reduce the need for searches?

Andy says…No. Next!

Ok, you wanted something more in depth, huh? WOM/viral marketing is becoming more important for information sharing and validation, but it’s still not a proactive channel. When I read the top stories on Digg or browse the RSS of my favorite blogs, I’m still letting the information flow to me, in no particular order, at no particular time of interest and likely without much motivation for action on my part. “Search” will always be needed for those times you need to find a resource, answer to a question, or hot new product. However, that doesn’t mean that social media content won’t show up in the search results – it will and does.

Question 4) I state that Web Marketing is not on Two (corporate and google) domains only. Some savvy companies are realizing the Web Marketing battle isn’t on the corporate domain only, as the word of mouth effect becomes more important, do companies really want visitors to come to their site? Or will the savvy company realize that the most effective web marketing is using advocate customers to turn cold and warm prospects. How does this impact the SEO industry?

Andy says…Some good points and you’re definitely on to something. Consider Digg.com, must people that use Digg, don’t ever actually click thru to the site being discussed, they simply read the summary and discuss the merits of the story, without actually engaging the linked-to site. I think SEOs are starting to realize the need to manage and influence all content that mentions a company (or client company). I do a lot of consulting in the online reputation monitoring and management space. This newly emerging market demonstrates that companies need to consider all “touch points” to their clients. An opinion about your business may be formed from a review, a blog or forum without a potential customer ever visiting your corporate web site. Social media means that, instead of the information coming down two giant pipes (the corporate site and Google), it’s actually being “torrented” via many, many smaller channels. My opinion of a business is no longer made up of how pretty their web site is, or if they’re “ranking” in the Google search results. Opinions are now formed by dozens of sources. I think SEO’s that embrace this notion – which includes social media marketing as already discussed – will flourish in the future.

Phew! I thought answering Jeremiah’s questions would take just a couple of minutes, but I guess I got carried away. So, what are your thoughts on Jeremiah’s questions (or my answers)?

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