People no longer have the sole expectation of searching to find information for a specific outcome. As internet users spend more and more time connecting, sharing and interacting with the social web, they now often expect to interact with what they find in the search results.
Consumers search social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo Answers, MySpace) to a small degree, as an alternative to standard search engines, for references and recommendations. People don’t trust formal marketing messages and there is something inherently more trustworthy about recommendations made by others who take the time to review and give opinions of products and services.
How SEO Can Better Meet Social Savvy Searcher Needs:
Keywords and links aren’t the only tactics search engine optimization consultants employ. Usability comes into play as well and making it easy for consumers of a web site’s content to socially save, share, submit and interact with that content helps meet increasing social expectations.
With PPC and landing pages it’s the same thing, but not to the degree that it takes away from the objective of the conversion of course. The objective for a landing page is to motivate a specific action, not bookmark the landing page – but why not make it easy if customers choose to do so?
With online advertising, there are increasing numbers of companies enabling rich media ads with social features. Links are added so that viewers of the ad can share, rare or comment. This isn’t practical with text based PPC ads but with video or graphical ads used in search, it might be something to consider.
The Differences in Consumer Use of Search and Social Media:
It’s important to understand the difference in how/why people spend time searching compared to time spent with social media. Fundamentally, a searcher has a question, unmet need or pain point to be solved and initiates action through a query on a search engine. The result is being presented with matching search results & ads. Depending on the searcher’s stage in the research process or buying cycle, they’ll drill down to a solution or continue searching.
Time spent with the social web involves many types of interactions with likeminded individuals in a community or network, one of which is looking for and sharing recommendations. The investment in time with a social community, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, along with the quality of interactions builds trust that’s difficult to duplicate in online advertising as we know it.
How Marketers Can Improve Their Social Media Marketing:
Social media marketing is where the “give to get” principle comes into play. Effective social advertising is less about attaching marketing messages to content and more about being the content. Marketing online is so ingrained with advertisers and marketers as a direct marketing channel, they don’t yet understand the opportunities from building community, creating something of value that persists and not just as a campaign, as a way to communicate their message.
Rather than looking at social media sharing sites as just another place to dump existing advertising media, online marketers should understanding what is important to social communities through content, link and tag analysis (a keyword based listening exercise) and create/promote content that meets those needs. The content created can also add to the SEO efforts for search based discovery.
The Ying and Yang Effect of Social Media Marketing