One of the main questions I hear from our brand clients is: "How can I integrate all this social media stuff into my already highly productive search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) programs to make all of my marketing initiatives deliver more ROI?"
Before you integrate your search and social programs, you need to use a social media measurement and analysis platform to find out with certainty what your social programs are delivering in terms of ROI and brand engagement. Once you've figured out what ROI and bottom-line sales results your social media marketing programs are delivering -- whether your program consists of a simple Facebook page or a sophisticated mix of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and word-of-mouth content -- you can start to integrate social media with search.
Step 1: Use the link-building power of social media to drive SEO traffic.
Social media activity drives a huge increase in searchable and linked content about your brand. When people share links with friends to your campaigns and website, talk about your brand in blogs and on social networks, read and interact with content and videos related to your brand via social networking sites (Facebook and others), or become a follower of your brand via Twitter, they are generating tons of links online that point to content and sites that contain your brand name and product information in most cases.
That's why tracking the flow of word-of-mouth content about your brand should not be an isolated activity for the brand marketers in your company; search marketers also need to know what conversations are taking place and the influence of the sites on which they occur, so they can optimize landing pages and site content to reflect these critical conversations as they occur.
Step 2: Track online conversations about your brand to make keyword buying decisions.
You already have lots of ways to analyze the value of a keyword in search: clicks, conversions, ROI, etc. But what about the buzz value of a certain term? People may be talking about one of your campaigns or your products for a day or two, and then move onto another conversation. Most paid search marketers miss these micro-trends and bursts of targeted interest, because they appear and disappear in a matter of days.
Instead, use social media tracking tools to see exactly what people are saying about your brand in real time, and then buy keywords associated with those conversations on the fly. In many cases, you'll see a huge uptick in click-through on those terms that are particularly relevant to a topic that's hot or on its way to being so, and then it will die down as the conversation shifts. Then, it's time to find the next micro-trend.
Step 3: Measure and analyze ROI of search and social together.
Many marketers get search, and others get social - but few understand how to combine the unique characteristics and strengths of both to drive lasting branding, a lift in sales, and maximum marketing ROI. You need to measure the impact your search marketing efforts are having on the performance of your social media marketing campaigns -- and vice versa.
Start by correlating changes in natural search traffic with changes in traffic volumes from social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Similarly, you can analyze the number of back-links from the aforementioned social sites with the organic search traffic you're monitoring through site analytics. These simple tests will begin to quantify the benefits your marketing program is receiving when search and social are working together.