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March 26, 2009

An Update on Social Media Optimization

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This session of the Social Media & Blogging track has a power lineup. Our moderator is
Kevin Newcomb, managing editor of Search Engine Watch. The speakers are: Liana Evans, director of Internet marketing at KeyRelevance; Dave Snyder, co-founder of Search & Social; Benu Aggarwal, founder and president of Milestone Internet Marketing; Marty Weintraub, president of aimClear; and Chris Winfield, president of 10e20, LLC.

Li Evans speaking at SESNY

Kevin says that they’ll be covering basics as well as advanced concepts of social media to set the stage for the rest of the track today.

Liana Evans is up first.

Social Media’s Rise: The Emergence and Rise of Mass Social Media

Rather than just passively accept marketing, people can share and express their experiences with like-minded people. As they do that the market is taking notice that this is where people are going to talk about us. Another industry has risen out of that.

The basics:

  • Integral part of marketing plans (strategy)
  • Complements sound SEO and PPC practices
  • A medium to specifically strategize for
  • Difficult and time consuming
  • Has many different facets
  • About conversations
  • Not the same for everyone

People don’t like to be marketed to in social media. It’s about the end user and the new signals to search engines. It’s no just about who is in your audience; it’s about where they are.

Video sharing, social networks, photo sharing — it’s more than Digg and Facebook. Creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators and inactives are the different profiles of social media users. Most people are watching videos.

Define Your Goals Before Setting Out

There’s a lot you can measure. Barack Obama did it right. He understood his audience. He started the conversation in the community. He added videos and his YouTube channel had more than 19 million views. It led to people creating their own videos. He put his photos on Flickr. This also led to people putting up their own photos. He started a LinkedIn profile and a BlackPlanet profile and discussions sprung up. His team tweeted, and it led to people talking and discussing him. He’s dominating the SERPs with all these profiles.

Dave Snyder is next. The biggest problem he sees in SM is the cookie cutter approach. Every brand, consumer and social media platform is different. You can’t anticipate that every social media campaign would be successful with the same tactics. When the cookie cutter goes wrong you’re seeing practices that cost time and money. He’ll be pointing out mistakes that companies have made to learn from.

Overstock.com put a community on their site that nobody used. It became a haven for spam. So then they tried to do it again on Facebook. In the last year only 20 comments were made. In 2007 another SMO meltdown happened. The put a feed into people’s Facebook streams about purchases made on Overstock. People tweeting for the company put up irrelevant things like birds pooping on your head. Papa Johns has been abusing their Twitter feed by just saying “buy pizza” all the time.

Keep away from the cookie cutter:

  • Find out where your consumers play.
  • Find out the kind of content that plays best on those platforms.
  • Don’t be afraid of the niche.
  • Don’t be afraid to lose the big brand names.
  • Set measurable goals before your campaign.
  • Use an analytical approach to measurement.

There are lots of ways to measure social media. Many social platforms offer analytics solutions as well.

The number one rule is that you get what you give.

Benu Aggarwal is next and she asks how many people have found themselves in a management nightmare when it comes to social media. It is coming from the agency/customer side — what are the easy tools to help you integrate your online and offline campaigns in a packaged format.

Decide which profiles you are going to play in. Then put each in a bucket: social networks, UGC, articles/news/events, videos, blogs, bookmarking, and photos.

UGC: What Should You Do?

  • Create and enhance your profiles in the online UGC channels.
  • How to enhance your profile?
    • Photos, descriptions, links, videos
    • Tag with most important keywords
    • Buy sponsored listings/banners in UGC channels
    • Update information about your product

Online Video Optimized

  1. Keyword research, content, voice over
  2. Optimize existing videos, develop video from photos or create an HD informative video
  3. Encode the video
  4. Surround video with HTML
  5. Create media RSS

Online Photos

  • Create a profile for your brand or business on photo sharing sites
  • Upload pictures and tag them with relevant keyword phrases
  • Reference your business photo sharing profiles on local profiles
  • Reference pictures uploaded on these profiles while writing blog posts or content
  • Reference pictures on community map

Be sure to include all your SM profiles in your local listings.

Personal Social Networks

  • Create a business profile
  • Add widgets, Twitter feeds, blog feed, Flickr account feed, YouTube feed
  • Join Groups and Association networks, add special offers, give away whitepapers, tutorials, etc.
  • MySpace can be customized in design

Blogs

Take into account your online marketing plan, do keyword research, think of design and development and promotion. Decide the architecture of your blog based on all of that. If it’s not doing well, put your blog on your home page and include all the social media profiles. When her company did that the PageRank of the social media profiles went up.

Pulling It All Together

Invite users to join social media networks with a social media dash board. Create an incentive, for instance with time sensitive offers. If you have a Facebook account, check out the plugins that area available.

Marty Weintraub is going to share the things that blow his mind the most.

You can use PPC for SEO multivariate testing. PPC moves much faster and is precise and controllable. You can prove your funnels, conversion, design and more. This kind of testing validates your instincts. You can test SM ideas on Twitter. If you tweet it and it gets a lot of interest that’s positive feedback. Twitter is a great research tool. It’s a real time proving ground. Test blog post topics, headlines and so much more. With TweetDeck you can have great demographic filtering. Find out if your demographic is talking about the subject.

There’s a new intersection of content management and social media. You have to be able to publish yourself in the proper way. It’s possible to pre-wire powerful personal distribution networks and touch millions of users quickly. Auto-push your feeds to Twitter.

Great marketing starts with your team members. Use an inside out strategy and identify insiders who are already active. Expand the inner circle and give them a reason to care.

Do the math. If you have 5,000 people in your first degree circle, multiply it by about however many people they are connected to.

Marty Weintraub at SES NY

Crappy sock puppets are dead! Long live professional avatars! (He’s using a sock on his hand as a puppet!) People want actual engaged ambassadors, not fake LinkedIn or Facebook “people”. Be authentic and holistic, whether using your actual name or not. Complement your brand with superior resources and it won’t help if you’re not likable. He makes the wise recommendation not to out bloggers. ;)

Chris Winfield is up next with back to the basics of SMM. With all the new sites/mediums, make sure you use what works for you. Companies are investing in the wrong thing. Look at your logs and analytics to see where people are coming from. Ask customers or potential customers where they spend their time and make buying decisions.

Experiment, test and try new things. But don’t get caught up in the hype. If something isn’t working for you, don’t waste your time. Balance what works for you:

  • Facebook pages vs. Facebook groups
  • Micro-blogging vs. forums
  • Flickr groups vs. wikis

Too many people totally ignore forums. But if that’s where your customers are every day, participating in that will be one of the most effective uses of your time. Big-forums.com ranks forums by users, comments, etc., and you might be surprised at where people are.

Strategy:

  • Join communities and participate
  • You get out what you put in
  • Don’t use Twitter just to tweet
  • Mix Twitter with other mediums

How large sites work:

You’re on Digg. Digg connects to TechCrunch, Lifehacker, TMZ, which feeds to Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Facebook, and these are seen by more and more people who share with mainstream press and forums and non-profits and aggregators.

Niche social news sites are great for gaining a targeted audience and building relevant links. Digg won’t work for everyone but you can find a targeted niche social news site for you. There are about 40 that he thinks could work well for niche markets. It will be less people but it will be very targeted. Become a contributor in your niche. Smaller communities mean it’s easier to reach the home page.

Finance:

  • Tip’d
  • Feed the Bull
  • Motley Fool Caps
  • Value Investing News

Products and commerce:

  • Dealspl.us
  • iliketotallyloveit
  • Dealigg
  • ThisNext

Sports and leisure:

  • ArmchairGM
  • BallHype
  • Yardbarker
  • AutoSpies

Art and design:

  • Design Float
  • PhotographyVoter
  • PixelGroovy

There are more and he’ll put them on the 10e20 blog tomorrow.

Final tips:

  • Find out what works through tests
  • Scrap what doesn’t work
  • Be active and helpful in communities
  • Leverage different social sites — if a blogger picks you up, promote it like it’s your own
  • Find your niche

Q&A

Kevin starts of the questions: Some say there’s a right and wrong way for social media. Do you have guidelines for ethics or appropriateness?

Li: What would my mom or grandma think about what I’m doing? It’s about being honest and transparent.

Dave: What’s going to make me money is his guiding principle. Social media ethics are a fallacy — if he’s not hurting anyone he’s not doing anything wrong. The grey things he may do may serve better content than people who serve things “ethically” (air quotes).

Chris: Look at the same things as SEO. Look at the type of company and the potential repercussions. A smaller company may have a higher risk threshold than a Fortune 500.

Benu: Small businesses may get excited about things they don’t understand. They may not have the bandwidth or the time to invest. Let them know.

Marty: He’s first concerned about what the law says. You don’t want you or your client getting sued. The other thing is the topic of brand ambassador avatars. He thinks it’s okay to manipulate to serve people as long as the friendships you make are real.

If you have a multi-lingual company and are on social sites, can you write social content in both languages?

Chris: Check out mediame (I’m not sure if I got that right). Use that as an example of what to do. Content can get popular there if you translate it into Spanish. It’s okay if just a straight translation.

Li: If your audience already expects you to be bilingual, then using more than one language on one page is okay. And it won’t hurt you to be in two places if they expect you to be in both places anyway.

Are you seeing lifts from older social media activities?

Everyone cries out an adamant “yes”.

I’ve heard clients that are fearful of giving up their secrets on social media.

Chris: Companies can’t be entering social media because they think it’s cool. There have to be goals, like links and traffic. He wouldn’t suggest companies give up secrets. A big mistake companies make is going from zero to 60. Pick where you can specialize and drive business results.

Benu: Last year she gave tips for social media in a YouTube video. Companies were sharing the video. If you know something, don’t be afraid to share. It’s not about knowing, it’s about doing. There will be few people that will actually do it even if they know how.

Can you make your competitors social media efforts less successful?

Benu: Make you content better than theirs.

Marty: Make your tools for communicating more relevant. Render your competitors obsolete by removing all of your communication barriers.

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One response to “An Update on Social Media Optimization”

  1. Elmer writes:

    Thank you for this useful piece. Just submitted to Sphinn. It’s interesting to see how popular sites interact with each other. “Digg connects to TechCrunch, Lifehacker, TMZ, which feeds to Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Facebook, and these are seen by more and more people who share with mainstream press and forums and non-profits and aggregators.” Makes us think that we have a lot of assets to leverage on various social media entities than we can image.



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