Simply stated the convergence of search and social is where search, social, and consumer behavior collide. Its the intersection of SEO, social media (SMO), and ZMOT with the last one often getting left out of the equation, but something that really needs to be paid attention to. Where do your customer go and what are they doing there when they are considering a purchase?
We live in a constantly connected world and consumers are getting more and more savvy. Walk down the aisles at any of your favorites stores and you’re sure to see people on their phones comparing products and looking at reviews online. When my wife goes to the store her phone is constantly out with her comparing different shampoos, face creams, makeup etc. (she’s studying to be a beautician) and very rarely does she use the manufacturers web site to find the info she’s looking for. She’s relying on her own and other’s social networks.
Before getting into how all 3 blend together to create what we’ve come to understand as the convergence of search and social we need to look at each part individually and what role they play.
Social media can be the perfect catalyst for telling your brand’s story and activating new customers or it can be a huge waste of time, money and resources if it’s mismanaged. It goes beyond Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. and includes blogs, wiki’s, forums, it’s own set of ideologies, strategies, tactics, and more. When used right social media can be an incredible tool that pushes business goals and helps build (or save) a brand’s reputation.
The pyramid above is layered from what social media is the most effective at to what it’s less effective at. When first wading into social media, brands tend to only play in the bottom 1 or 2 sections, but as progress is shown and the company and marketers get more familiar with it they begin adding the other layers on. This isn’t a bad thing at all, as you can see it gives a good base to build on. It’s also the main layer involved in the convergence of search and social.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been around as long as search engines. Over the years it has changed dramatically and now we have social influencing search results in all of the major search engines. While SEO is still definitely about creating the least imperfect site (hat tip to Grant for the phrasing) it’s become more and more about the type and quality of the content on the site and how it gets shared off of the site.
Like with the social media pyramid you want to start at the bottom of the SEO pyramid (originally created by Rand Fishkin) and work your way up when it comes to building your SEO strategy. While all the levels do come into play with the convergence of search and social (as do the levels on the social media pyramid) the bottom layer is the key layer.
CONSUMER BEHAVIOR – ZMOT
Some consider ZMOT the full convergence of search and social, but I feel like it’s just part of it. It defines the actions that are taking place in the Zero Moment Of Truth that pushes consumers to buy your product or move on to a competitor. ZMOT is where people search the web for that accessible, quality content you and others have created and then use social channels for either more research and opinions or for sharing the content they find about the product. Or in the case of haul videos showing what they just bought.
When planning a marketing mix, involving both SEO and social media, the same level of research and detail you give the first two needs to go into your research and detail in ZMOT. If you’re not looking at the “who, what, where, when, why, and how” of your audience behavior then you’re missing a very large piece of the puzzle. This is the lynch pin in the search and social convergence that will help dictate what social networks you should be on, social sharing on your site, type of content to create, where that content should live, how it should be presented, etc.
THE CONVERGENCE OF SEARCH AND SOCIAL
Breaking out the key areas, the new convergence of search and social would look like the above image. Thinking of it like this should help when it comes to planning your online marketing and the content you need to create.
I’ve only gone over each section briefly, but this is just the first of 5 posts. As any seasoned social and SEO practitioner will tell you, all the layers of the pyramids play into the convergence to varying degrees. To address this I’ll be doing follow up posts about each section with some examples and ideas of how to piece it all together so stay tuned for parts 2-5.
Thanks for reading,
Josh S Peters
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 1
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 2 – Social Media
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 3 – SEO
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 4 – ZMOT
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 5 – Paid Media’s Place
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 6 – Content
- The Convergence of Search and Social Part 7 – A Strategy Framework