The Strategic Integration of Internet Marketing and Social Media: What’s your plan?

by Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Masters of Business Online (MBO) conference; an event put on by Slingshot SEO and featured a number of great speakers. The purpose of MBO is to bring marketers from businesses and industries of all types together, with an agenda full of case studies and recommendations on how to use the Internet as a marketing tool. The goal of an event like this is to learn how to maximize your company’s sales and leads by utilizing Internet marketing and social media(s); understand relevant analytics to evaluate/test your campaigns; create a bridge between your brand and online objectives; and simply to connect with other marketing professionals and industry experts.

“Every day, thousands of potential customers are searching for what you offer. Are they finding your website, or your competitor’s? The way people search for products and services today has drastically changed from what was common practice just a few years ago. Today, potential customers are seeking out information through Google, blogs and social media. They are active participants who are more in control of their purchasing decisions. Still, businesses are failing to capitalize on modern, inbound marketing techniques – search engine optimization and marketing, leveraging the blogosphere and engaging in social media – to take advantage of the way prospects seek out information.” (Hubspot)

*Yawn*, right? Wrong dragon breath! You’ll soon be as excited as a baby in a…nevermind. Here are some notes I got from a few sessions. Some old news, some new, some common sense news.

The Human Side of Search Engine Marketing
Communication is the key to human interaction. Internet marketing is still in its infancy state and the way people respond to it is constantly changing. I walked away from this session with some new ideas but mostly with some interesting statistics regarding the way people think, search and interact with the Internet. People search for something to fulfill a need and everyone searches differently to achieve this need. They’re doing multiple searches, trying several terms, and using the leading search engines. There’s not an exact loyalty to one particular search method. Statistics are showing a younger audience uses Google, Bing used by consumers, and Yahoo is a mix of males and females.

In regards to B2B searches, previously people were spending longer times searching, doing more research, and playing their cards one at a time (like my grandmother) in order to make the right purchasing decision. Today however, they’re acting more like consumers – wanting deals, watching for promos, searching for discounts, and buying quicker.

Pay-per-click programs are people focused, and great social/internet marketing campaigns results from solid solutions created by people. Analytics are black and white and are there to support or disprove theory. They create new points-of-view and allow you to make solid business decisions. This is not a Field of Dreams strategy; you must understand that it takes work. A company who has a strong understanding of their customer base, awareness of analytic data, flexible, open-minded and aggressively committed to their programs will be successful. Simply reading a book won’t cut it. If you jump into an empty pool, you’re going to get hurt – meaning, if you jump in without knowing what to do, your online initiatives will suffer.

Some ways to better connect with your customers is to monitor their search terms, call tracking and recording, online video communication, and surveys.

B2B Marketing Automation to Influence Awareness, Conversion and Advocacy
This session was a case study that focused on how they utilize social media. There’s a preconceived notion that traditional media is dying in comparison to social media, when in fact it’s getting stronger. Social media focuses on context and serves a different purpose than traditional media. Traditional media is the pre-sale and social media is the post-sale. The key between outbound and inbound is the way you integrate them into your strategy programs. With social media you aim for content conversations with a goal of converting potential customers into returning customers and recruiters. Simply put, your goal is to tell people what to do.

Developing a Digital Content Strategy: The Five M’s
Content is behind everything, it drives every piece of interaction online. (Duh, right?) Without content, your digital marketing serves no purpose. Think about it. Our daily content comes from mobile devices, blogs, emails, online video and social media outlets. Who’s to say you can’t turn an email from a client into a blog post or Facebook/Twitter post? A well-defined content strategy should be a holistic approach to a thorough plan for obtaining a goal or result through content aggregated from text, data, graphics, video and audio.

There are three types of content: published, reactive and proactive. Published content is your website, email, video, social sites – content posted to a device for your audience to discover. Reactive content is created as a response to other content such as a Facebook ‘Like’, retweet or tag. Proactive content is being shared, promoted or published on other people’s platforms. Posting to someone’s Facebook page, direct messaging or replying on Twitter, and inviting people to an event through Facebook are consider proactive forms of content.

To understand the Five M’s is to understand that everything you do is based on a content plan through frequent updates, monitoring and reacting to information, and engaging directly with your customers. First you must make the content through blogging, emails, video, social media and other forms of online communications. Once you have your content you will need to manage it through internal teams, agencies, public relations, etc. to ensure quality control and that all content meets your strategic goals. A lot of companies want to jump on the social media bandwagon but fail to understand that it requires monitoring. Monitoring dialog provides you a way into the lives of your customers and what they think about your brand in a real time environment. Stay focused on identifying risk and opportunity, while maintaining a list of relevant influencers. Then moderate the dialog and respond according to your content plan, even if you have to edit and approve the incoming content. Measure your efforts through the analytics you have in place. Social media is one large, ongoing focus group and your goal is to obtain growth, knowledge and expectations as defined by your content strategy.

There was a nice quote presented here: If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.

Blogging: The Most Effective Social Strategy
Statistically speaking, learning how people communicate online was very interesting.

  • 81% of consumers are using social media
  • 81% of consumers expect response
  • 70% of consumers go online to search
  • 74% of consumers want regular posts
  • 72% of consumers want to know about you
  • 59.85 of budgets were for digital content in 2010

One of your content goals should be to make your blog the hub of your activities, and pursued people to subscribe to your RSS feeds. When doing searches people trust organic search results more than paid results. You base your keyword search terms from the viewpoint of your customer and they should be focused on a problem/solution idea. There are a number of resources online that will evaluate your site’s content and auto-generate keyword suggestions. Find those keywords and monitor them. Use them in your domain name, home page title, heading tags, blog post tags and of course your content. A strategic thinker can integrate keywords into any form of content, even if it’s an informal post on your favorite sport or hobby. Optimize your site by submitting it to the top search engines. Syndicate your content and promote everywhere through the use of apps like Hootsuite. Blogging gives your business a voice and plan for negative comment and questions. Most importantly, give thanks for positive comments, acknowledge all comments and don’t make people wait for your response. Finally, measure and adjust regularly the quality with scannable, effective content.

In conclusion
A common piece of information from the guest speakers was this – in order to make social media successful for your business, you have be an active member in the social community. Whether it’s contributing to other blog sites through guest posts or comments, responding to customer needs, or you’re actively maintaining your own blog and social sites, you must provide relevant and fresh content to keep people interested and coming back for more. As mentioned in a previous post by moi, welcome to a new way of life called social media. Shake hands, sit down and learn it, live it, deal with it. And be sure to smack it on the backside for a job well done.

What have you done recently to integrate Internet marketing and social media into your marketing strategy plan? Don’t’ have anything set up yet but want something really, really bad? Contact us; we can help.

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