While I think that social media is “the last item up for bid” in terms of a company’s battle plan in search marketing, this doesn’t mean it’s not an important part of an overall strategy. I’ve said it before, an SEO has to be fluent in every discipline. Social media is a the perfect way to:
1) Get links from a variety of outbound sources, at a variety of IP address (though the anchor text is an if’y proposition)
2) A great way to get brand recognition through several communities, marketplaces, and verticals quickly
3) And, if you can pull it off through nice landing pages, a great way to boost conversions
The strategy with any social media marketing effort is, simply put, to hold a conversation with a community, while manipulating them to perform the desired action. It sounds cold and calculating, but to say it is anything else from a search marketing viewpoint, would be a lie.
In order to create a successful campaign, not only for your own branding efforts and promotion opportunities, but to for your clients’ as well, there is a need to coordinate efforts between all of locations to reach the widest audience possible.
A Cooperative Blitzkrieg
It’s very rare you see the word blitzkrieg in anything other than World War II references to German attack methods. But, in this instance, we’re talking about your internal strategy to push your social message out into the wilderness (see the diagram below). The aim of this strategy, which I’ve found to work well, is to create “waves” of pushes throughout these communities.
The 1st Wave
The Parent Entity in the diagram above is a social media asset (i.e. company blog, parent Twitter account, parent Facebook Fan Page, or LinkedIn Company Page, etc.) When the parent entity publishes on the aforementioned platforms, it will have it’s own natural push into the community(ies) at large. Without an internal strategy in place, this is where the meme dies: in an isolated space left to generate it’s own buzz and movement.
To combat this, every company should/needs to encourage it’s employees to become satellite proselytizers of the brand and the meme. It will take time for the individuals to create and manage a trustworthy reputation within their given communities; therefore, this is a strategy that is intended for the long haul and relies heavily on the 2nd wave.
The 2nd Wave
This, perhaps, is the integral piece of the strategy. Not only does it rely on the “individual” off-shoot from the parent to have a good reputation within their respective community and following, it also relies on them to time their re-issuing of the meme so as not to seem “disingenuous” or “spammy”. Which is why Parents should allow their employees to enter communities unattached to the Parent.
Let’s be honest. We all know we’ve done the internal eye-roll when we see an employee spread the parent message. Especially when the meme is re-blasted within seconds of the Parent. If the meme is spread by people unattached to the Parent, then it’s going to have a much higher trust factor and that the information is valuable.
The second wave can last a couple a days, if need be. This is where the coordination comes into play. Depending on how many individuals you have, you can set up “mini-waves” at the 2nd Wave. The objective at the second wave level is to penetrate as deeply as possible into the 3rd Wave (The Communities-At-Large)
The 3rd Wave
If the 1st and 2nd wave really possessed the cooperative blitzkrieg element, and the meme was actually “valuable” to the community, then deep penetration in the the 3rd wave should be all but guaranteed. Controlling the meme at the 3rd wave is close to impossible, which is why it is imperative in the first two waves that message be engineered but not feel contrived. It’s walking a fine line of control and art.
While this may seem cold and calculated, it has to be done. Real spontaneity and viral memes are like Halley’s Comet: it don’t happen often enough to really count on as a staple element. The more strategy you can apply to social media efforts to ensure visibility, branding, and interaction to elicit the desired reaction in a community/communities that have the attention span of ferret on a triple espresso, the better.
I know that seems like a large leap of logic, but when it’s distilled and deconstructed down to the central idea, that is exactly what Google intends to do.
Here’s what Amit Singhal says about how they calculate your TweetRank (in a nutshell)
In the case of tweets, the key is to identify “reputed followers,” says Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, who led development of real-time search. (Twitterers “follow” the comments of other Twitterers they’ve selected, and are themselves “followed.”)
“You earn reputation, and then you give reputation. If lots of people follow you, and then you follow someone–then even though this [new person] does not have lots of followers,” his tweet is deemed valuable because his followers are themselves followed widely, Singhal says. It is “definitely, definitely” more than a popularity contest…
In fact, that is exactly what it is. A popularity contest. Of course, we all had some inkling of that notion to begin with, but now it’s official. I do think they are trying to determine relevance and trustworthiness and integrating that into the TweetRank algorithm, but like meta-keywords in their heyday, it’s a lot easier to “filter out noise” by a simple follower count. It’s more than that, it is, to say the least, another Orwellian attempt by Google to “filter” information they deem “relevant and trustworthy”. Just look at the article’s example for “Obama” tweets.
Google is now Controlling the Conversation
Do not attempt to adjust the vertical or the horizontal. They have control. With the inception of TweetRank, and the newfound importance of RTS (real-time-search) and the RTR (real-time-results), if you want exposure you’ll have to play by their rules. What does that mean exactly?
Hello. I’m SPAM-BOT #6257. I’m now following you.
First: don’t manage who follows you or who you follow. As pointed out, high follower counts, like the PageRank algorithm theorized, is essentially a vote of confidence the user is worthwhile, trusted, and relevant. If follower count is the initial indicator of “trust”, then we’re about to see quality take a dive. Anyone who’s been using twitter, say for more than 2 months, knows spam is the prevalent thing in the tweet-tubes.
Second: put the brakes on your hash-tag use. I can see Google’s point on this, and there is no limit to hash-spam out there (i.e. #ThatsOldSkool). But, for much of the users on twitter, particularly the SEM crowd, it’s more artistic expression and blunt force. Personally, I use the hash-tag for sarcasm, blunt honesty, and to call out industries of importance to me. Hash-tags on Twitter are part of the socio-culture. It’s ingrained. To be so wholly injudicious and lump ALL hash-tags together is ridiculous.
Google: Can it Change the Culture of Twitter?
No one is really taking this seriously yet, so I don’t expect the change to happen overnight. However, as RTS and RTRs are pushed to the forefront of search, and Google makes good on the RTR algorithm, you’re going to see marketers drop hash-tags from their tweets. You’re going to see an over-abundance of spam infiltrating the ranks of everyone just to have massive follower counts.
It will only take 6 months of this algorithm being applied before Google goes back to the drawing board. Google picking on the easy marks to establish faux-quality guidelines: Followers and Hash-Tags. It won’t take long before QDF (query deserves freshness) queries and results are overrun with pure and utter garbage, under the current guidelines. These two major indices DO NOT indicate quality of tweet or Tweeple.
I think Google will fail in its quest to re-mold the conversation on Twitter. And, ultimately, Google is going to have to really put some complicated thought into how it serves RTRs. Perhaps an algorithm that matches the complexity of the is SERP algorithm. This is the easy way out, and it’s only going to lead to poor quality and bad results.