Monthly Archives: July 2014
If you are just starting out on your commercial social networking journey or have reached the point where you need to enhance the work of your Online Marketing or Social Media Company with your own responsive socialising, then we may have some tips to help you on your way.
When looking at other companies and wondering how they built their presence up online you could be forgiven for thinking they have earned that position simply because of their size, but social media, like organic search is not just about domination by the big boys, it is about clever marketing strategies and hard work.
Ideally you will need to be working towards building up a network of quality followers but this does not happen overnight – building a following takes time and effort and it is a continual process.
There is no doubt that now is the time to act if you haven’t yet figured out how to tweet or have a dusty corporate Facebook page with no updates and no likes. Search is becoming increasingly social and with Google rolling out algorithm updates more quickly than you can reel off the list of black and white animals it tends to favour, it makes sense that everyone should be looking to drive traffic to their site socially and not just relying on organic search.
So where do you begin building your brand socially?
First I think you need to approach social networking in the same way that you approach the design and wording of your website or marketing materials – by identifying your USP – what it is that makes you stand out from the crowd.
What do you do that your competitors don’t?
What can you deliver that no one else can or what can you deliver that is better than everyone else?
Identifying what it is that makes your brand unique will stand you in good stead as you start your social journey.
Social channels cannot simply be used to sell – in fact if you think that tweeting or pinning up images on Pinterest is going to be all about peddling your own wares you need to take a step back. Creating a presence socially is about giving something back to the community, to your potential customers, it is about creating something of interest which may then lead to increased brand awareness and a rise in sales.
Building a Following
In order to generate more interest in what your business stands for and the products or services you provide you will need to build up a following of like-minded people who will care about your ethos and the services you offer. Quantity isn’t everything so don’t be tempted to follow any old profile simply to get the follow back, targeting the right kind of audience will be more important as these are the people that are most likely to be interested in what you have to say. If your business is local, look for people in your local area and other businesses that may have need of your services or that you may be able to collaborate with rather than approaching those people in another region or country who will, in all honesty, not be able to access what you are offering.
A great way to build up a following is to join groups or even create your own. This can work particularly well on platforms such as LinkedIn or Google+ where you can identify yourself or your business as a leading authority within your industry.
You also need to get a better understanding of your customer demographic and know who your competitors are. There is nothing wrong with trying to emulate the competition so long as you ensure that you are honest about why you need social marketing – to improve brand awareness, to increase traffic, to increase communication with customers or to reach new audiences – and that you put your own spin on everything and make it unique to your business, your brand and your ethos.
Also don’t act in isolation. If you want people to like and follow your business you need to ensure that you are socially active and follow/like other people. Join relevant groups and start making a name for yourself and share others’ content if you feel it would be of interest to your own readers.
Asking for Help
Of course there are social media and online marketing companies out there who will be more than happy to assist you with your social marketing, but even at the highest price tag and with the best intentions they will never know your business as well as you do. Any social media marketing that you pay for needs to be supplemented with your own responses, status updates, comments and community development because at the end of the day it is your reputation that is being built.
Ask anyone what they think of SEO and you may sense a negative response in the offing. Even if that person has an SEO provider they are completely happy with, the 27 spam SEO emails they receive each day from India and other far flung places has probably contributed to giving the industry a bad name in their eyes. If connotations of spam were not bad enough, the issue is supplemented by the underhand tactics our search god Google uses to manipulate SERPS to suit none but their own needs. With changes to Google algorithms causing loss of rankings, loss of visibility, loss of sales and in some cases the loss of a business, there is a lack of trust in the marketing strategy that provided this visibility in the first place.
Call it what you will but it looks like SEO has become a dirty word.
For a long time the term ‘SEO’ hasn’t sat particularly well with internet marketers, purely because the name itself suggests we optimise search engines. We don’t do this because if we did we’d have spammed the hell out of Google and got the search giant to slap a manual spam action on itself! We optimise websites for organic search but that is now, only the beginning of the story.
As competition levels swell and progressively more brands demand a place online, marketing has become so much more than simply SEO. Gone are the days of building huge amounts of backlinks to a website using optimised content and specific keywords. Now it’s all about making a great first impression, then sustaining and compounding that level of interest. Websites need to be full of interesting, engaging content to fly under the Panda radar and poor quality links removed ready for the next Penguin refresh to demonstrate to Google that you are on your best behaviour and have learned your lesson. It is no longer sufficient to simply publish content, you need to syndicate it socially, get people talking about it and prove that you are a brand worth engaging with. How do you do this? By spending more money with an SEO, or if you have the budget, hiring an in house team of search and social gurus. Dream on.
If SEO is a dirty word then perhaps you’d rather do it all in house, save yourself the shame of working with these minions from the internet underworld, or, better still, maybe you don’t need it at all? Perhaps that new website that you have spent your entire marketing budget on will deliver all the shiny, new traffic you need to make your fortune online? Again, dream on.
What is often neglected in the debate about beating algorithms and recovering from black-and-white-animal-related nightmares, is the fact that without optimisation, websites simply can’t be found, putting us back at square one. This suggests SEO is not an option, but a given. However, if the term is tainted what should we now refer to our services as? Online marketing? Digital marketing? Internet marketing? They surely do a better job of describing what we do?
Online marketing certainly offers a more precise description – after all that’s what we do – market businesses online, but with the consumer just getting their head around the SEO concept how much confusion will bringing in a new term cause? Many will rightly argue that they have used the term ‘online marketing’ all along but if they had any sanity or financial hunger pre April 2012, they will have optimised the heck out of certain SEO related keywords to ensure when people were searching for a little online voodoo, they showed up on page one.
So call it online marketing, digital marketing or SEO, it means the same thing – it is just the service behind the name that has changed. Search Engine Optimisation helps you reach new audiences, increase traffic, improve search visibility and engage with potential audiences online. So too does digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and so forth. If SEO is a dirty word then so too is any other synonym and if you call yourself an SEO you’ll have a history of spyntax to apply here.
Posted by Frances Berry