For all of the talk about “search and social” as an interdependent concept and discipline, perhaps the most important connective point between the two is the use of shared language. I mention this because many search professionals are not fully leveraging their keyword skills in social areas, and social media marketers are not leveraging search-based keyword tools for social audiences as much as they should. In the following excerpts from my upcoming book, “Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing,” (Sybex, 2012) I discuss how language connects search and social, and also provide some additional keyword advice for social media managers:
Natural language as it relates to search and social is just like it sounds --it reflects the keywords, tone, content, conversation, and tastes of your audience, as they project and reflect them in search and social channels. Whether your audience is using a keyword in a search engine, dictating commands with their voice, or writing their thoughts down in the activity stream of their favorite social network, the language they use tells a lot about them and what they’re seeking. Accepting the natural language of your audience is a critical aspect of succeeding in modern online marketing,.
Observing and using the natural language of your audience is a way of enabling the spirit of your audience into your brand conversation. Simply put, the effectiveness of your strategy and tactical execution is in many ways proportional to how well you use and understand the language of your audience. For a search marketer, this means sunderstanding the keyword and content tastes of your audience and optimizing for existing or newly created content. For content strategists, it means understanding the topics and interests of the audience in order to provide engaging content. Social marketers must also have a similar grasp of language, in terms of the way a company communicates, and how it creates content. To an even a greater degree, understanding natural language helps you find your audience when they don’t know where to look for you.
“Keywords are Connections to People”
Keywords are not just for search marketers. Serious social marketers should also have masterful command of keyword research as well. Taking a social view of keyword research helps you extend your communications to audiences by shared language, and also listen to your audience in their own language. If you use TweetDeck, Twitter hash tags, Radian6, or other popular social programs, all of these use keywords, or other language cues to identify audiences, topic, sentiment, and conversation. No matter how you try to divide it, the role of social media manager relies on the use of shared natural language. Within this shared language there are common triggers, and within these triggers there is keyword and linguistic research to be done.
Social Media Managers are the Curators of the Living Keyword Language of Their Audience
In contrast to a paid or natural search marketer who focuses more on the somewhat static keyword lexicon, social media managers are often on the frontlines with their audience, and know the real-time lexicon firsthand, as they interact and consume the content that surfaces in their like-minded networks. The key to capturing this living language of your audience is being present in your marketing efforts. In other words, if the language is alive, then as a real-time content marketer, you need to be alive and present as well. As a frontline social media or audience manager, you know what topics resonate at a given moment, or what news is tracking within your area of business. This means that you should be literally tracking new words, adding dates they appeared, adding notes about their significance, and mining real-time tools and your internal analytics programs for similar trends. Monitor and track this language, use it with your audience, create content using the language, and also use these keyword triggers to find new audiences in different spaces using popular search engines.
Keyword research is largely perceived by social media marketers to be a “search thing,” but this is far from the truth. I would posit that keyword skills are one of the things that separate the great social marketers from just the good ones. It is up to you to determine which kind of social media manager you want to be.