Search and social media: A power pair

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Want to maximize return on your search and social media investment? Integrate the two channels, say our four experts, who share tips on how marketers can take advantage of this dynamic strategy

Joel Lapp
SVP of account services, Reprise Media

While many marketers think of search engines and social media properties as com­pletely separate entities, the reality is that these two channels have a closer relation­ship than most realize. Marketers who truly work to integrate these two channels can maximize their ROI.

Take advantage of the fact that social media sites tend to rank very well in search results. Search engines increasingly serve up results from social media sites, including vid­eos, blog posts and forums. When searching for E-Trade, for instance, its “talking baby” ads on YouTube appear in results along with their paid search ads.

As proven in studies by companies like ComScore, the combination of a social media asset or other naturally occurring listing with a paid search ad in search results increases the likelihood that both will be clicked. Assuming the content posted on these profiles is optimized, social media gives you yet another chance to occupy the real estate for your chosen keywords on search engine result pages.

You can also use your search engine adver­tising to drive people to social media pages. Cars.com has paid search ad copy linked to characters in their TV ads. The landing page includes video of the TV spot and a link to a Facebook profile as well as navigation to key sections of the Cars.com site.

Learn to connect by learning what your customers say. Social media sites can feed into your paid and organic search marketing efforts in another way as well. Observing how people talk about your brand, your products and your product segment yields enormous insight into how they search for what you offer.

That insight can inform your search mar­keting efforts, and lead to targeted keyword generation, landing page selection, and con­tent development.

Ultimately, a unified view of search and social media presents customers with multiple inroads to your product or service, increasing the potential for audience engagement and revenue generation.

THE TAKEAWAY
Take advantage of the way different search engines rank social media site results


Ian Orekondy
Manager of paid search, Rosetta

Opportunities exist to measurably improve paid search campaign performance by inte­grating it with social media. However, many marketers are missing out on this opportunity. This is often because most of the discussion around integrating search and social focuses on organic search optimization, but also because a Web site may not have the tools and technologies that we typically associate with “social media” — for example, user-generated content such as user recommenda­tions and reviews.

In order to leverage social media to improve paid search campaigns, it's use­ful to take a step back and avoid thinking about the technologies behind social media, and instead think about what social media teaches us about how people choose to engage online. Social media shows us that people are increasingly seeking to create, share and join in two-way conversations about their interests, experiences, passions, fears and frustrations.

This broader understanding of social media can lead to more relevant paid search messaging and should be incorporated into an ongoing ad copy testing strategy. When developing copy testing ideas, be sure to look at all eligible site content from a social media perspective. If social features like message boards or user reviews exist, promoting them is easy — just be sure to incorporate the corresponding social media success metrics into your key performance indicators so you get the credit for driving these results.

However, many sites still lack advanced social media features, so take a fresh look at traditional content and use creative copy­writing to make the content and correspond­ing text ads more “social-friendly.”

For example, instead of referring to these tools in the same old ways — for example, a questionnaire — try incorporating a “social” tone into paid search text ads with calls to action such as “Share your experience…” or “Tell us about….”

While competing ads are all using stale language like “Learn about…” or “Find out more,” social-friendly text ads can stand out in the search engine results page, and drive not only improved response but greater conversions as well.

The beauty of paid search is that you don't have to take my word for it: test it.

THE TAKEAWAY
Don't forget to test paid search campaigns in order to get your message seen


Brian Chappell
Social search strategist, Ignite Social Media

One key element to social media optimiza­tion is finding folks interested in your prod­ucts or initiatives. A way to do this is to find the key influencers within a social network that might be interested in your product. At times, doing this can be a challenge. How­ever, with the right search query, it is fairly easy to find these individuals inside these net­works. Here is an example: “site:facebook.com/people ‘counting crows'”

In this query, we took Facebook, which has indexed profile pages listing relevant personal interests.

What this query does is find everyone on Facebook interested in Counting Crows. If you were looking to promote the new Counting Crows Facebook Fan application that you created, this would be a fantastic way to spread the word.

After you have identified potential influ­encers interested in Counting Crows, you can send them a quick note letting them know about your new application. Ideally you want to keep your pitch very brief and to the point. This sort of outreach, coupled with a targeted blogger outreach campaign, can create the right mix of chatter to help your application become successful.

When doing this for yourself, look to see if the social network you are trying to do outreach on is indexed by Google. The best way to figure this out is to see if the user profile pages are indexed. You can do this by running the following search: “info:http://www.linkedin.com/in/bchappell.”

Once you have identified that the page is indexed you need to look for a unique page identifier that is associated with the profile pages, and profile pages only, unless you will be searching the whole network. In this case, it is “in.” “site:linkedin.com” searches the whole site; “inurl:in” searches just the “in” pages; and “counting crows” is the term you want to search for on the “in” pages. The final product is: site:linkedin.com inurl:in counting crows.

The query example shown above can be used for finding folks on a multitude of other social networks, such as YouTube, MySpace, and Flickr. This can be very beneficial when trying to target individuals who might be interested in your product or service.

THE TAKEAWAY
Before you reach out socially, you must find your company's true fans


David Berkowitz
Director of emerging media & client strategy, 360i

The largely untapped field of online mea­surement and reporting is bringing disparate sources together. Two sources of information about consumers that can complement each other well are search behavior and social media activity.

Consider a retailer selling a line of prom-wear. First, the marketer can use a tool like Google Trends to gauge the timing of search activity. Searches start to spike in mid to late December, peak around early April, hold strong for another six weeks and fade by June until the next mid-December surge.

Facebook Lexicon tells a much different story about what people are talking about on the social network in semi-public places such as friends' “walls.” Lexicon shows a build-up of prom-related discussion from January through March, massive spikes in April and May and some strong discussion in June that dies by July 1. Looking more closely at the data, Facebook reveals that spring peaks occur on the weekends.

By looking at search and social media behavior together, that retailer can start building its digital marketing strategy in a way that respects and reflects the interests of its target audience – talking to them in the right way, at the right time and in the right place.

A couple of months before online chat­ter starts to pick up, they can plan a search engine optimization strategy so they're already well-positioned by late December. They can start running a search campaign as early as December 15 to build brand awareness and influence early purchase decisions. Then, in January, the retailer can start rolling out social media activity, building relationships with key influencers before unleashing a major integrated digital campaign in March.

The key to creating successful digital strategies is to respect each channel while using them together. If the marketer in this example used Facebook Lexicon to gauge search activity, they would miss much of the interest. If they used Google Trends to influence their Facebook strategy, they could waste effort trying to join conversa­tions that aren't happening yet. Viewed together, though, these sources can help the marketer tell their story as a logical pro­gression that stimulates interest and captures demand when and where consumers are most interested.

THE TAKEAWAY
Analyze search and social media behavior to find consumers at the right time

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