Search & Social are Marketing’s Dynamic Duo: #SMX West Recap!

The AIMCLEAR team enjoyed our time at #SMX West in warm and sunny San Jose last week! On Day Three of the conference, we attended a really cool session on the Social Media Track, Better Together: Search & Social.

Photo Credit: SMX
Photo Credit: SMX

Moderator, Lauren Donovan, Community Editor at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, welcomed Ellen White, Director of Organic Search at Team Detroit/Ford Motor Company, to the stage. Ellen started out the session by taking a deep dive into how the organic SEO team works within the agency.

She explained that their SEO team creates recommendations based on analytics data. Start with the data, and then present the prevailing theories. If the marketers back up their strategy with cold-hard facts, they can say, “we really agree that this is the way to go,” with a greater degree of certainty. Ellen recommends stating why the recommendations matter and also clearly identify what you want from the client.

Ellen explained that the goal is to evolve as individuals and as a team. Most of us go through the stages of Dependence -> Independence -> Rugged Individualism (where most of us are at) ->Interdependence.

In the rugged individualism phase, people often think, “I’m getting sh*t done and I can do this!” It’s a beautiful place to be. But, when you are at this stage you can also be plagued with a sense of rivalry, fear of sharing inadequacies and tendency to jockey for position. Do you tend to focus on what comes easiest to you?

Here’s the new goal: Leverage interdependence characterized by unique teamwork. To do this, we need to be humble and teachable. Ellen suggests keeping these five truths in mind.

  1. No single person or team can master the complexities in today’s search/social discipline
  1. Your knowledge in no way diminishes me
  1. Sharing my knowledge in no way threatens my place in this world
  1. Knowledge gaps are not intelligence gaps
  1. We are all capable of learning

We want to move from rugged individualism to leveraging interdependence.

In order for an atmosphere of interdependence to thrive, all parties must feel safe. Ongoing and continuous change is inevitable, bringing profound complexities including search algorithms, influence of social media sites, emerging vocabulary, thought leaders, strategies, tactics, etc. Ellen shared a powerful image that is something we should all keep in mind:

Photo Credit: Ellen White
Photo Credit: Ellen White

Ellen went on to explain that the standard search marketing model for her company is to drive consumers to their platform from Google, Yahoo and Bing by distributing content, links and site architecture. All of that can be a struggle and take a while to get it right.

Social media’s distributed content model is to meet consumers on their platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, by sharing content and links. Ellen’s presentation featured a great slide that breaks out search vs. social:

Photo Credit: Ellen White
Photo Credit: Ellen White

So how can social and SEO leverage each other for a successful partnership?

Social can leverage the SEO team in the following ways:

  • Knowledge of linking
  • Keyword research data

SEO can leverage the social team in the following ways:

  • Ability to deploy content when brand site content is non-existent or unable to be reached by search engine crawlers

Create a linking strategy and content calendar that uses the compelling duo of social and SEO.

Here are a few tactics outlined below:

What is your brand’s theme? For what topics do you want your brand to show up? Where should your brand show up online? Extend your branding by way of social posts, images and videos. Remember to use the SEO team’s keyword research to create content strategy.

Keep in mind:

  • There should be one voice and cadence across all platforms
  • Be likeable

The navigation of this process can be tricky. Remember to get your bearings and then keep refining your strategy.

Next, Kelly Wrather, Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Kenshoo, took the stage. Kelly dove into the ways to activate search & social synergy. Kelly opened with a powerful statistic: 62% of global marketers agreed that messages, execution and delivery strategies aren’t actually aligned across touch points. The top challenges to this include current technology, org structure and budget.

She dispelled the myth that cross channel is two channels operating in silos or forcing strategies to fit. Cross-channel strategy is:

  • Leveraging success across channels
  • Reaching your targeted audience
  • Gaining a holistic view
  • Optimizing for true value of all interactions

Kelly then gave three reasons why search & social should be the next channels you integrate:

  1. Top online activities: Search has remained one of the most popular Internet activities. You have a real detailed consumer path that allows you to get a deep understanding of search intent and provide users with the best-targeted information.
  1. Consumer trust: 65% of Internet users worldwide trust online search engines for news and information. 47% of Internet users worldwide trust social media sites for news and information.
  1. US digital ad spending is on the rise for paid search and social media.

As we know, organic reach is on the decline. This is where the paid side comes into play. Engagement really hasn’t faltered with this change, which tells us that marketers are getting smarter at targeting and consumers are engaging.

Kelly used the delicious analogy that search and social go together like PB&J.

Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather
Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather

There’s a floor & a ceiling when pumping money into social. The goal is to find the sweet spot.

Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather
Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather

Kelly also shared an informative slide in her presentation that lays out an example of path-to-purchase:

Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather

Search & social activation tips to make data driven decisions:

  • Target people, not just keywords or interests
  • Understand how much an individual customer is worth in retail
  • Harness data signals to inform & optimize each other: collection, analysis and activation.

Signals act as a proxy for consumer value. What did the person do? Did they visit the shopping cart? Did they view several products? Did they visit Facebook? Did they exit the site?

Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather
Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather

We want to build audiences from search intent. Technology is evolving and now allows you to take search data and create custom audiences. You can take that search intent data and define further with the native targeting that’s in Facebook. Then, go further with Facebook custom audiences and look-a-like audiences.

Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather
Photo Credit: Kelly Wrather

So what’s next? Developing a plan of course. 🙂

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

The Better Together: Search & Social session was filled with awesome information from two really smart ladies. If you missed this panel, we hope you were able to enjoy this post and feel as if you were there. 🙂 Thanks for reading and stay tuned for another post from one of our other favorite sessions at SMX West!


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