How to Improve Search and Social Teamwork #SMX Liveblog

Not unlike peanut butter and jelly, search and social work best together. In this SMX West 2015 liveblog coverage, Ford Motor Company Director of SEO Ellen White, and Kenshoo Content and Media Manager Kelly Wrather, discuss the importance of teamwork and cross-channel strategy between social media and search marketing teams.

From left: moderator Lauren Donovan, speaker Ellen White and speaker Kelly Wrather.

Ellen White on Digital Marketing Teamwork

Ellen White has been at the helm of Ford’s SEO since July 2011.  She is “very committed to bringing rigor, discipline and standardization to the search profession.” She mentions “They Say, I Say” is one of her favorite business books.

Social media is new and young and exciting and sexy — and there’s a bit of a rivalry between search engine optimization and social media.

Search and social professionals tend to veer naturally toward a cowboy mentality; a mindset contingent on rugged individualism and characterized by:

  • Competence
  • Getting things done
  • An “I’ve got this” attitude

but also …

  • Rivalry
  • Jockeying for position
  • Fear of showing inadequacies
  • Ignoring weaknesses
  • Low-grade anxiety
  • An “I’ll figure it out” mentality
  • Tendency to focus time and effort on what is already known
  • Potential for burnout

White encourages digital marketers to move away from rugged individualism toward teamwork.

She encourages search and social pros to keep these five truths in mind:

  • No single person or team can master all the complexities in today’s search and social discipline. (Tweet this!)
  • Your colleagues’ knowledge in no way diminishes your knowledge.
  • Sharing your knowledge in no way threatens your place in this world. A rising tide raises all the ships. (Tweet this!)
  • Knowledge gaps are not intelligence.
  • We are all capable of learning.

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Hedgehogs are mentality is characterized by clarifying focus; they know what they are doing. The fox on the other hand is scattered, diffused and inconsistent. White says it’s easy to feel like the fox in the digital marketing industry, but it’s better to be the hedgehog.

Focus on the one thing you do better than anyone else at the table. Be a specialist. (Tweet this!)

The best thing thing you can ask your manager? What can I do to help you?

In order for an atmosphere of unique expertise to thrive, all parties must feel safe. (Tweet this!)

Everything is emerging. No one is a complete expert. 

We are in a constantly changing environment and that can make communication challenging. Vocabulary, strategies, tactics, goals and objectives — they’re all constantly changing.

Remember to:

  • Rely on the knowledge of others.
  • Receive knowledge graciously.
  • Assume a level of expertise with all teams and clients.
  • Avoid the tendency to jump to “I knew it first.”
  • Don’t worry about your weaknesses, worry about the weaknesses of your teams. (Tweet this!)
  • Expose your weaknesses so that you can get knowledge and training.

Use Checklists

  • Create a set of checklists that fit your organization.
  • Create checklists for processes and teams.
  • Add communication checkpoints.
  • Print your checklists.
  • Use the checklists and refine.
  • Avoid the dumb mistakes.
  • Complexity of today’s digital world demands checklists.
  • Don’t let overconfidence cause you to make mistakes.

White recommends reading “The Checklist Manifesto.”

Search Marketing Strengths:

  • Deep research on important terms.
  • Strong knowledge of ranking factors.
  • Success measured on one platform.

Search Marketing Challenges:

  • Slow turnaround.
  • Architecture and design roadblocks.
  • Frequently restrained from using common language.

Social Media Strengths:

  • Quick insertion into the cultural conversation.
  • Ability to use common language.

How Search and Social Can Work Together:

  • Social can — and should — leverage the SEO team’s knowledge of linking and keyword research data. (Tweet this!)
  • SEO can leverage the social team’s ability to deploy content when brand site content is thin, non-existent or unable to be reached by search engine crawlers.

Kelly Wrather on Search and Social Cross-Channel Strategy

62 percent of global marketers agree that messaging, execution and delivery strategies aren’t actually aligned across channels. Cross channel coordination is important but people just aren’t doing it.

The top challenges in coordination?

  • Current technology
  • Organization Structure
  • Budget

Cross-channel strategy is not having two channels operating in silos or focusing strategies to fit. Cross-channel strategy is leveraging success across channels, gaining a holistic view, reaching targeted audiences and optimizing for true value of all interactions. 

3 Reasons Why Search and Social Should be the Next Channels You Integrate

(Tweet this!)

  1. They are the top online activities.
  2. Consumers trust search engines and social media. 65 percent of users trust search engines for news and 47 percent of users trust social media for news and information.
  3. Search and social comprise more than half of digital advertising budgets.

Running Facebook ads on top of search ads can improve paid search campaign performance, says Kenshoo, who performed case studies that found a direct positive affect all around when adding Facebook ads into the mix.

She advises digital marketers to target people, not just keywords. She also praises the ability take search data and create custom audiences — that data fuels our custom audiences.

Develop a Cross-Channel Plan

  • Rally internal stakeholders.
  • Create a measurement framework for both search and social.
  • Figure out how to solve pain points using cross-channel initiatives.
  • Always be testing.
  • Show how the industry (and competitors) are advancing.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “How to Improve Search and Social Teamwork #SMX Liveblog”

Awesome post, Kristi. Search engine optimization and social media go hand in hand. I agree that it is important to have separate teams that work together – two minds work better than one, right?

I agree about running Facebook ads along with the search engines ones. I would also add LinkedIn ads, too.

Great article. You should always be looking for social ideas. I use kind of the same strategy, only I use social media.


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