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August 15, 2012

The Convergence of Search, Social and Content Marketing

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Impromptu switcharoo. This session is described in the agenda thusly:

At any given time, there are 50-200 versions of Google’s core search algorithm handling over 12 billion queries per month. At the same time, Google has made substantial quality improvement efforts through Panda and Penguin updates that require website owners to focus on quality content, optimization, and social engagement to stay above the fold. Siloed SEO is not a competitive advantage, and webmasters must master the converging worlds of search, social media and content. This session will help you:

  • Identify key benefits and processes for integrating optimized content and social media marketing.
  • Understand how to develop an optimized and socialized content marketing plan.
  • Learn best practices optimization for social networks including Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Moderator: Lee Odden, SES Advisory Board; CEO, TopRank Online Marketing (@LeeOdden)

Speakers:
Arnie Kuenn, President, Vertical Measures (@ArnieK)
Chris Winfield, CMO, BlueGlass (@ChrisWinfield)

Chris asks who is actively engaged in a content marketing plan. A couple hands go up. Who wants to? A bunch of hands.

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Let’s look at silos. Search, social, content… He shows a screenshot of a directory listing. He gives $10 to the first person to name the directory. It’s DMOZ.

He’s seen orgs that point consumers to their YouTube and Facebook, and never their website. Pushing people off the website and to the social channels. When done in an ineffective way, too many strategies can be disconnected. You have to bring the channels together.

The world we live in moves so quickly. A screenshot of a Google SERP taken for a presentation today won’t be replicated tomorrow. Everything is converging. It’s a matter of adapt or die. So what can we do?

Content Marketing

Creating and sharing valuable free content. Stuff that gets people to trust you. Build relationships and trust. Content marketing crosses several boundaries and mediums. It helps grow a business across search, social and more.

Content Marketing Explosion: His company, BlueGlass, acquired a media company Voltaire Digital. They created content for a variety of purposes.

Remarkable content is the best PR. It tells your story in a fun, educational, memorable and non-invasive way. In the PR they epphasized the importance of their service.

Getting the Right Exposure: They gave the exclusive story to Mashable.

Leverage Resources: Reached out through email and Twitter

When people talk about create good content and everything magic happens from there, part of the story is missing. Promotion is not a dirty word. You can share what you’re proud of. You have to make the most of it.

In a post-Penguin world, content marketing is the most effective way to build links. 200+ links to their new services page from 50+ unique domains.

Deep Market Penetration: Remarkable content is highly shared across social channels, leading to highly valuable brand exposure and new touch-points. There was activity across the web, including 700 +1s, 400 LinkedIn shares. All these touch points, wherever they point to (even the Mashable coverage) leads back to them.

Conversions: Future conversion events are the immediate and future goals. The best content calls users to action. Their campaign sends more than 3 qualified leads per week from this piece today, 6 months later! Good content becomes part of the company culture.

What Should I Be Doing?

Plan: Short and long-term strategic planning should guide and inform each initiative. Any content is part of a larger strategy. A one-off content piece is a misappropriation of resources.

Keep the end-goal in mind: Content is a means to an end.

Have a reason: If you don’t believe in it, don’t do it.

Be a scientist: Experimentation is a necessity. Without it there can be no innovation. But know your risk level. Be thorough and avoid bias. Apply the scientific method.

Know your audience: Your content needs to resonate and connect in a meaningful way with your target audience.

Promote: Create a definitive list of internal and external resources to help promote your content.

You can’t get what you don’t ask for: Incorporate CTAs into all your content (even microconversions)

Build on your big wins: Each piece of content

Good content never truly dies: We’re in a digital world. Your content is your voice and it echoes forever.

Be your biggest critic: If you aren’t obsessed with what you’ve created, nobody else will be either.

Questions to ask yourself:

What story can we tell?
What can we do better than anyone else?
Where are the gaps?
Who or what can we leverage?
How can we be remarkable?

Arnie is next. He’s going to answer the questions of how to figure out what content to create, strategy and research for coming up with content. His book “Accelerate” is a content marketing how-to.

The interest in content marketing has risen as shown by Google Trends searches for the term.

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Content marketing is not a press release, nearly-identical pages, a random infographic, article marketing, cute pictures of cats.

8-step process:

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You have to think like a publisher. They hire students out of journalism school. They hire people who used to be in newspaper and magazine publishing. These people get the process of planning content and a calendar that backs it up.

Ask questions of yourself or clients to start building strategy:

Strategy will evolve through the whole process
Why are you creating the content you are creating
Who is your audience
Who are you – determine your voice
Have you taken an inventory of your current content
What types of content will you create
How will you develop your content
When will you develop your content
How will you promote your content
What will you measure
What does success look like
What will your new content accomplish (customer retention, lead gen, thought leadership, lower customer service costs, open new markets)

Research starts within the organization. Talk to the people in the warehouse, accounting, people answering support calls, sales people. Ask them what they get asked regularly by prospects and customers. Write content that addresses those issues.

More research can be done on Yahoo Answers, Quora, Linkedin Q&A, type in your money keywords, see what people are asking about. There will be spam, just filter through it. Do an advanced Google search for “Discussions” and you’ll see where people are talking about that query phrase. Go promote your content there. You can give these people answers.

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SEOmoz Open Site Explorer tab called Top Pages gives competitor web pages in order of strength (generally linking to the page) and you’ll find where you can promote your content to..

List all content ideas in a spreadsheet. Put it together in an editorial calendar. Give the spreadsheet/calendar to the content creators. Layout the year. They give each month a general theme. Three months in advance they plan the month out in detail.

Content creation:

  • Address pricing and cost. Don’t avoid talking about it on the website. You don’t have to give numbers, but write about “pricing” and “cost” because they’re being searched for.
  • Comparisons
  • Free guides or white papers
  • Interviews. These help you look like the expert.
  • Video – they aren’t as hard as you think.

Every brand has a story to tell and the one who tells it best is going to win.

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