When it comes to setting up a search and social strategy there is no end to the ways you can put the pieces together and it can be as simple or as complex to piece together as you want / need it to be. The key is to always start with the goals, then the customer behavior, and then the content followed by SEO optimization and social activation being amplified by paid methods as necessary.
Simple Search And Social Strategy Framework
GOAL: Increase awareness of blue widgets and increase the sale of blue widgets by 10%.
Customer Behavior: The goal here is to build a model of your customer, their behavior online, purchase behaviors, etc. Building this will inform the rest of the strategy, content, and social media platforms you participate on. Knowing this will inform your marketing, social media, SEO, and content strategies.
- Start with your own analytics platform(s) and see what kind of insights you can gain about where your customers are coming from and what they are looking at on your site.
- Use a social media listening platform like Radian6, Trakur, Sysomos, etc. and research your customer, your products, your competitors products, etc. and determine what blogs they read, social networks they use, forums or wikis they use, etc. and how they use / consume information on them.
- Use any other research options, like Simmons, that you have access to.
- Use Google and look for research done by others about your target demographic.
- Check Google adwords tools and trends to find the search terms used most by your consumer and your competitor’s consumer.
Content: Using the model you’ve built about your customer build your content guidelines, plans, content calendars, etc. and plan for the kind of resources (like designers, bloggers, etc.) you’re going to need.
- Use the keywords your customers, and your competitor’s customers, use in your own content.
- Make it very sharable and request sharing when possible.
- Promote your content and promote sharing in all of your digital communications, like newsletters.
- Talk to your front line employees, sales reps, and data collected from social listening tools to create content your customers want and need.
- If applicable build your content calendar around buying cycles and yearly / monthly events pertinent to your customers.
SEO: Optimize both the content and the experience on your site and off your site when possible. Part of your SEO plan should also involve the blogs and outlets that your target audience uses for research and information.
- Use outreach to get links from highly relevant sources, the kind that your customers (and Google) find valuable.
- Find sites that already rank for the terms / keywords that your customers are searching for and work out guest posts, content, links, etc. when possible.
- Do a thorough audit of your site and ensure that all of the architecture (URLs, Meta tags, OG tags, etc.) have been optimized and added where needed.
- Make everything easy to share on the most pertinent networks and optimize the sharing through the use of OG tags / microdata.
- Optimize old content for the new keywords and work with the content creation team (if it’s a separate team) to optimize new content as you’re building it.
Social Media: Promote the content on your profiles and ensure social sharing is both prevalent and relevant.
- This first one overlaps with SEO, but make sure everything is easy to share on the most relevant networks. If your customers are heavy Pinterest and Facebook users, then don’t display StumbleUpon and LinkedIn share buttons (or at least don’t make them prominent).
- Make sure every social and web property you’re on calls out to your other networks in a relevant way so that you’re holistically connecting your presence.
- Monitor online trends in your content reactions and engagement in case a content shift is needed.
- Encourage not just sharing but discussion and be a part of that discussion. Don’t just say “everyone talk” and then sit back. Participate.
- Be on the network your customers are on, not just the ones you want to be on. Check out Forums, wikis, groups, blogs, etc.
Paid Amplification: Get your content moving and make your messaging go further with some paid amplification.
- Don’t waste your money on content that isn’t performing well. Use paid to boost content that is performing well so that it will do even better.
- Use paid in the places your customers exist. For example, if there are specific forums your customers frequent then look at sponsoring threads or putting ads there.
- Paid ads (Google AdWods) are helpful if organic SEO is going to be a very hard and long uphill battle. Pay for the right terms on search engines and you can get the exact customers you’re looking for.
- Set aside paid budgets for both existing customers and obtaining new customers. They will require different strategies, content, tactics, and possibly even methods / platforms.
- Don’t use paid as s crutch. It should be amplifying and accelerating, but it shouldn’t be driving or else you’ll never see long term results.
If the content is good and your community is active you should be able to get your content ranking for the kind of terms used by your customers when they’re searching. Being on the right social platforms (even if you’re borrowing someone else’s… like in a guest blog or sponsored post) will help you be in the right place at the right time. By using paid to amplify your activities you can be sure more of your customers & potential customers see your killer content. And finally by making (and constantly evaluating and revisiting) your customer model you will always know exactly how to deliver the best content and the best experience to your customers.
Thanks for reading,
Josh S Peters
p.s. Sometimes your customer research will influence changes in your goals or even create new ones. Be sure to build in a little flexibility when defining your goals and be open to even changing goals a bit if you find more pressing issues.
- 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