Paid, Earned, Owned & Shared Media – What’s Your Online Marketing Media Mix?

July 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Online Marketing

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media mixIn the Content Marketing Trilogy of Discovery, Consumption and Sharing, there are a mix of media types online marketers employ to facilitate the connection between brand information and consumers / buyers across the customer lifecycle relationship. Those media types are often characterized as Paid, Earned, Owned and Shared media.  What do those media types mean and where do they fit within an online marketing mix?  Here’s a 30,000 foot view of each media type and what they might contribute to a content marketing strategy:

Paid Media - Often thought of as “traditional” online advertising through display ads, pay per click search ads and sponsorships. The pro for paid media is it’s ability to be implemented pretty much on-demand, the ability to have some degree of control and also that it scales. The growing popularity of social advertising on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (YouTube as well) adds another option for marketers to gain presence in channels where consumers and buyers are spending their time. The appearance of brand messages and content within paid media can work together with social sharing and organic search.

Earned Media – The result of public & media relations efforts to gain coverage in publications – on and offline. Or essentially, brand presence within media without having to advertise. This definition also extends to brands that behave online in such a way that “customers empowered to publish” create content on the brand’s behalf inspiring buzz and word of mouth.

Owned Media – Media, content and assets that the brand controls, like websites, blogs, newsletters and brand social media accounts. Brands are increasingly behaving like publishers with editorial staff managing content creation steams. “Content Marketing” is the hot topic when it comes to Owned Media and can facilitate brand information discovery through search and social channels. Content engages customers and fosters relationships throughout the customer lifecycle. Brand content to serve both broad and niche audiences is not immediately scalable, but can provide long term growth benefits without corresponding growth in costs.

Shared Media – Brand social web participation and interaction with consumers on content on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that  results in content is “shared media” since it’s a result of a shared interaction. Because of the nature of social sharing and engagement on social media sites, Shared Media can propagate across an individual’s network to others, and so on and so on.  Paid and Owned Media can inspire Shared Media. Shared Media can inspire Earned Media.

As more online marketers are exposed to these terms most commonly used by Advertising and Public Relations Agencies, I think it’s useful to explore what they mean for content marketing and the options for marketers to best facilitate consumer information discovery, consumption and sharing.

Within your marketing organization, do you refer to media in these terms? Do you use different definitions? Which of these media are in your online marketing mix?

 


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Socialize & Optimize with Content Marketing at SES San Francisco 2011

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SES San FranciscoCertainly one of the best cities in the U.S. for a conference is San Francisco and in a little over 2 weeks the famous ClickZ Connected Marketing Week returns with 5 days of deep dive online marketing education, networking and knowing SEOs, plenty of fun.  A big part of the week is the SES San Francisco conference.

I’ve been attending SES conferences since 2005 and while both the online marketing industry and the SES conference have changed quite a bit, that change has spurred continuous innovation to the benefit of attendees, sponsors and speakers. You’ll find many sessions at 90 minutes instead of 45 or 60, so speakers can really get in-depth with their topics. There are also a number of sessions completely programmed by specific advisory board members, an approach that is new to this SES. To Win a Free Pass to SES San Francisco, Read on!

This year I’ve been given the opportunity, no, THREE opportunities to talk about 3 topics that are near and dear: Social Media, SEO and Content Marketing.  And they all happen on the same day! Here’s the lineup:

Thursday, August 18

9:00 – 10:30am – Content Marketing Optimization
The core of any search or social media marketing program centers on content. Digital assets, rich media, web pages, MS Office and PDF docs as well as content created and shared by consumers all offer opportunities for optimization. If it can be searched, it can be optimized!

Online marketing is increasingly competitive and brand marketers world-wide are seeking real advantages that will improve the efficiency and impact of their Social Media and SEO efforts. This session provides unique insight into content based optimization strategies and processes as well as tactics for sourcing, creation and promotion of optimized content on the social web.

Speaker: Lee Odden, SES Advisory Board & CEO, TopRank Online Marketing

10:45-12:15pm – The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing
The Google Panda update just made great content critical. Social media is grabbing all the headlines. Search gets more powerful every year. But how do they all play together? How do you increase your odds of being found both in search and social media? How will you consistently create content your a will enjoy? Join this panel as they provide case studies and walk you through a step-by-step approach that any organization can follow to grow their business online.

Moderator: Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR
Speakers:
Aaron Kahlow, Chairman & Founder, Online Marketing Summit
Arnie Kuenn, President, Vertical Measures
Lee Odden, SES Advisory Board & CEO, TopRank Online Marketing

1:15-2:45pm – SEO Track,  SEW Labs – Social SEO
Expanding on the popular site clinic approach, which features live web site audits from leading experts, the SEW Labs Series is a peer-group learning experience. This SEO Lab will have a special focus on Social SEO.

In each 90-minute Lab, the audience will participate with industry experts and search engine representatives in analyzing and auditing attendee web sites and in delving into the topic at hand via lively discussion. Think “crowd-sourcing consultancy” sessions in a live classroom environment.

WIN A FREE PASS: If you would like your website reviewed for Social and SEO best practices, leave a comment below with your website URL and be sure to include your email address in the appropriate form field. I’ll announce which site(s) get picked during SES liveblog coverage.  One lucky winner might even get a FREE PASS to SES San Francisco August 16-18, 2011!

Moderator: Lee Odden, SES Advisory Board & CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
Speakers:
Jonathan Allen, Director, SearchEngineWatch
Ian Lurie, Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President, Portent
Todd Malicoat, Independent Search Engine Marketing Consultant, stuntdubl

I have to say, this will be a true test to my speaking endurance to have three 90 minute sessions back to back (although there is a lunch break in between) but I’m up to the challenge. The importance of search, social and content marketing along with the accelerating convergence is core to what we practice in our consultancy at TopRank Online Marketing and has been a focus in the writing here at Online Marketing Blog for the past 3 years.  It’s great to see this Online Marketing Trilogy of Search, Social & Content Marketing get the attention it deserves at an event as important as SES San Francisco.

But of course, SES SF isn’t all about TopRank :) there’s over 100 speakers at Connected Marketing Week and plenty of learning and networking opportunities. I’m looking forward to the opening keynote presentation from my friend Susan Bratton (who I’ll be interviewing here later in the week).  She’s a true pioneer in the digital marketing industry (as Mike Grehan has called her) and will be talking about getting into the psyche of your customers with “Conversion Triggers – Persuasion Strategies for Digital Marketers“.

Beyond the keynote, there are many other sessions covering the gamut of topics ranging from basics to advanced for SEO, PPC, Social Media and Analytics. There are technical topics like WordPress and HTML 5, sessions specifically for in-house Search Marketers, plus sessions on Local to Global Search Marketing.  SES really is one of those “something for everyone” types of conferences.

Be sure to check out the SES San Francisco conference agenda and info. Follow the hashtag #sessf on Twitter and watch for posts on my Google+ account as well to see photos and video from the conference.

 


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Socialize & Optimize with Content Marketing at SES San Francisco 2011 | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 Ways Salespeople Can Use Social Media to Grow Leads

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social media salespeopleOne of the practical opportunities for companies that acquire and engage customers through a sales force, is through social media content and participation.  In fact, many corporate marketing departments have found their field sales reps active on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even YouTube before headquarters has.  Such “rogue” social media activity might be proactive, but can also create issues without adherence to corporate standards and provide conflicting experiences for customers.

A salesforce that functions as educators, consultants and in some ways “subject matter experts”, can be a formidable asset for corporate social media efforts towards engagement and customer acquisition. Rather than shutting down individual sales reps blogs and Facebook accounts until corporate gets their social strategy in place, companies should consider how to coordinate and empower sales teams as social media ambassadors of the brand to their individual circles of influence and social networks.

Those same sales people are already maintaining contact with prospects and customers through other communication channels like email, phone, snail mail and newsletters. Why not social networking and media sites?

As business managers decide how to best leverage sales people for social media objectives, here are a few ideas on tactics they may decide to implement:

1. Create a Destination - Whether it’s a blog, tumblr, posterous site, YouTube or even Facebook Fan page, a destination for social participation can serve as the hub for a salesperson’s social media activity. This is where social content is published, aggregated and curated. It’s also where calls to action, offers and invitations to engage on a more business level can be posted. The social hub scan serve as a destination for other publishers and bloggers to link to and appear within search results.

2. Monitor for Leads & Engagement – As more consumer and B2B buyers participate on the social web during the discovery and consideration phases of the buying cycle, sales people can monitor for comments and conversations that indicate engagement opportunities. IBM’s Listen for Leads program has uncovered millions of dollars in sales by monitoring social media sites for keywords that indicate prospects with questions or in the search phase.

Simple tools like search.twitter.com, board reader or a variety of Facebook search engines can provide access to discussions. Free social search engines like socialmention.com or topsy can also be used along with Google Alerts. Ideally, a robust social media monitoring tool would be used that includes advanced filtering options.  It takes some refinement of search queries to make this kind of monitoring work, but can be very effective at identifying prospect conversation opportunities at their greatest moment of need.

3. Create, Curate & Repurpose - Most Sales Reps, Account Executives and Business Development people that I know are pretty busy, so efficiency with social media and content is essential. With an understanding of relevant search keywords and social topics that matter to prospective customers, salespeople can create a content plan as a guide.

However, creating new content on a regular basis while maintaining high quality can become a challenge, so it’s important to think about where content can be repurposed.

For example, salespeople might each maintain their own blogs that they publish to once a week. But they might also share portions or customized versions of their blog posts with other industry blogs, online publications and industry newsletters. They could compile blog posts into ebooks or could be used within corporate content marketing materials.

An effective way to become a “go to destination” for information on a particular topic is to aggregate or curate news from different sources on the web to the salesperson’s hub.  Subscribe to other industry news sites, newsletter and setup Google Alerts for topics of interest to collect news. Collect the most interesting and/or themed news of the week and add short comments.  The same curation tactic can be used to create a newsletter. With some practice, the process of scanning headlines and putting together a weekly news roundup can be done in only a few minutes a day, resulting in one beefy blog post per week.

4. Participate - In the course of researching useful industry news to aggregate or to cite in original blog posts, salespeople will undoubtedly find other blogs and online publications that allow commenting. They’ll also find others discussing topics of interest on sites like LinkedIn, Groups & Forums, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others. Searching or monitoring for prospects also reveals these kinds of interaction opportunities.

Answering questions, sharing useful resources and asking questions on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ helps communicate personal characteristics and thought leadership for the salesperson. Corporate marketing might be able to use their resources with social media monitoring tools to identify social channels, groups or individuals that are most influential and relevant.  Salespeople could also use tools like Klout to find others with influence to engage with.

This can seem like a very time consuming task, but many salespeople who are the most productive with lead generation through social media make a consistent effort to participate on a frequent basis. Setup a recurring reminder in Outlook to spend 15 minutes each morning to ask/answer questions, collect, aggregate and share useful links. Spreading this activity over several days using a consistent amount of time is very productive. Schedule Tweets and Facebook updates during the day in advance using a tool like Hootsuite.

5. Collaborate - Corporate sales and marketing leadership can keep tabs on the most effective uses of social media and networking sites by their sales teams and create best practices for the benefit of all. Continuously improved processes, new social tool evaluations and tactics evolution can improve salesforce social media effectiveness and overall ability to create value and engage prospects.

In the end, it’s about empowerment, not control.

Companies can provide sales teams with templates, process and training plus regular internal networking opportunities to share best practices in order to help salesforce social media efforts succeed.  It’s also important to provide ongoing education so salespeople know what it looks like to be overzealous and forward with their social participation efforts.

As with all social media marketing efforts, mileage varies according to the target audience, industry, resources and sales teams capabilities. There’s no doubt that strategy alone doesn’t sustain long term social media marketing success. Ongoing training and feedback mechanisms are essential to improve skills and identify both productive and non-productive behaviors.

Has your organization had to deal with “rogue sales reps” initiating social media marketing efforts? How did you handle them?  Have you implemented or observed other companies effectively incorporating sales teams social media participation as part of corporate social strategy?


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Social Media Marketing Expertise: Master the Half Pipe, Master of None

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Mastering Online MarketingThis is the second of my “workation” blog posts this week, so I hope you enjoy the brevity.

My oldest son is a relatively new fan of skateboarding and I’ve noticed some interesting comparisons with his advancement of skills to the experience of many social media marketers – or any new discipline for that matter.

To be clear, I don’t know much about skateboarding beyond the games of suicide and smear we played as kids, skateboarding down the hill by my childhood home. Think “Mad Max” on skateboards. There were no ramps, half-pipes or skateboard parks back then. Trust me, it was a very, very long time ago.  But the challenge of learning something new, seeing other accomplished skaters and the social aspect made it appealing and fun.

As with skateboarding, there are accomplished and highly promoted individuals in the social media marketing world that attract people to the promise of achieving the same. The appeal of  seeing others that are successful (or the appearance of success) plus the ease of online publishing has brought a deluge of “social media experts” to the web. Clearly, “expert” is a relative term.

As I’ve watched my son start practicing with his skateboard on a half pipe, it seemed hard at first. But after iterative improvements & watching others who obviously focused on developing their own skills, he got the hang of it. But in the scheme of things, mastering a single half-pipe means very little in the skateboarding world.

Credit to him that he’s never called himself an expert or even a great skateboarder during this formative stage. Not that I have a problem with that, people calling themselves “expert”, but I do appreciate the focus on growing expertise over grandstanding.  With each successful trick accomplished, he’s also realized that there’s still more to learn. And I’ve tried to reinforce that the learning will never end. When you’re really passionate about something, the journey of learning, testing, failing, succeeding, challenging and connecting with similar interests is where accomplishment comes from.

What does that have to do with social media marketing?  My 14+ years in the online marketing industry overall and more recently in areas like social media marketing are a passion and an opportunity for eternal learning. I am a student that will always seek to advance meaningful knowledge that can be used to advance success for my team, our clients and our online marketing agency.  For each thing mastered, there are many, many more ahead.

The industry changes. Customers change. Tools change and so does the level of competition as others advance their individual and collective organizational knowledge of social business. Knowing that things will change is really interesting to me and I enjoy working with a team and industry peers that feel the same way.

As a reader of this blog, I think it’s safe to assume you’re someone that is interested in learning and advancing your own skills.  I would hope that we continue to be a resource in this way. I would also like to think that our readers might buy into the notion that success in the social media marketing world is the journey not a singular destination.

Self professed social media experts that align themselves with superficial KPIs and social proof as business value are something to view with some skepticism. Your time is valuable and in an age of information overload, it can be tempting to follow the shiniest objects. I challenge readers to measure their exposure to social media marketing information sources to a healthy mix of: Subject Matter Experts, Research and MOST of all, your own hypothesis, testing and discovery.

Get ideas from watching others, but keep in mind that your most effective mastery will come from testing things out yourself. My son got great ideas about skateboarding tricks from watching others, but he certainly didn’t master anything until he tried those things himself. He also learns by testing new things and sharing those experiences with others.  Master your social media half pipe, then find another, and another and build your ability to adapt and evolve with new tools, industry changes and marketing problems to solve.

I guess I failed on the “brevity” promise for this post. But hopefully I inspired some thinking about how you’re advancing the social media marketing knowledge of your organization and for yourself.  Do you see social media marketing as something that can be mastered? How do you approach individual and organizational learning when it comes to the social web?


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How SEO Can Work With Content Strategy

Content Marketing OptimizationRecently I spoke with Content Strategist, Margot Bloomstein, who was conducting research for an upcoming publication about Content Strategy intended for a variety of audiences. In particular, we discussed productive interactions and exchanges between Search Engine Optimization professionals and Content Strategists.

Organizations advance their reach and engagement goals through content and Strategists work to audit, develop strategy, plan, create and maintain that content. Ahava Leibtag provides an excellent and practical approach at CMI in her post, “Creating Valuable Content” which outlines how content should be: Findable, Readable, Understandable, Actionable and Shareable.

SEO and content strategy intersect in more ways than optimizing web pages with keywords. My take on Margot’s question, “How does SEO and content strategy interact?” starts with understanding customer segments, behaviors and preferences for information discovery, consumption and sharing. Knowing what customers care about and how those concerns and interests manifest as search keywords and social topics folds very well into the keyword research practiced by professional SEOs.

Keyword Glossaries and Editorial Plans aid in planning relevant content that is inherently optimized for customers and target audiences.  Specific keyword optimization is appropriate as well, but the end content product becomes much easier to find, consume and share if there’s empathy with customer needs translated into topics and keywords from the start. Readers of this blog know that I’m a fan of optimizing for customers before search engines and that you can certainly do both.

An Editorial Plan outlines content types, topics and the keywords they’re optimized for. It indicates where and if the content will be re-published and re-purposed. The plan also shares what channels of distribution will be used to promote the content and share it via the social web. There very well may be an augmentation of the search optimization effort for the social web that emphasizes popular and relevant social topics vs. search keywords.

Planning, creating, optimizing, promoting and engaging with content on topics that customers and target audiences care about is where modern SEO has evolved: Content Marketing Optimization.  SEO expertise, which also includes knowledge of how search engines crawl and index websites, content management systems, the impact of how websites are coded and organized, provides a powerful ally to Content Strategists when goals and objectives are in alignment.

I think the publication Margot is researching will provide valuable insight not only for SEO, but any other element involved with an organization’s content from web developers & designers to copywriters and marketing executives. In case Margot reads this post, what tips would you share on how your area of expertise best interacts with Content Strategy?

Note: On August 18th, I’ll be giving a presentation on Content Marketing & SEO at the SES San Francisco conference which will be a deep dive into the topic with 90 minutes allocated. I hope to see you there.

 


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Fixed & Dynamic Keyword Lists for Content Marketing: It’s NOT Either Or

July 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Keyword Research, Online Marketing, SEO

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keywordsBringing insights about content marketing to light often involves the importance of understanding what topics and pain points customers care about. Creating content for business communications with customers, peers, employees and the industry is an essential part of doing business.

Creating content alone isn’t enough to ensure intended audiences will read it, so researching search keywords and social topics related to your business is a helpful way to empathize with what customers are looking for and what they’re interested in.

Content and SEO go hand in hand, especially for improving discovery of brand stories and key marketing messages. SEO and content marketing best practices call for research into what language customers use when searching for your products and services so that content can be optimized for better visibility. The result of that research is a keyword glossary managed through a SEO Project Management tool and/or a spreadsheet. These phrases are a mix of broad concepts the company wants to be known for as well as phrases indicating more specific customer intent.

For example:  ”online marketing” is a very, very broad phrase we like this blog to be known for. At the same time, there are more specific phrases like “facebook marketing”, “twitter marketing” and “infographic marketing” that represent relevant sub-topics of interest to our readers. Even more specific phrases might include “b2b social media case studies” or “social media ecommerce examples” which are more specific indications of interest in the subject matter we cover for our target audience.

A fixed list of keywords is something that provides editorial guidance for content producers accross the organization. However, putting a keyword on a list and thinking the initial effort at producing content will result in a top position on Google for that key phrase is nothing short of naive. Broad topics that are highly competitive can take hundreds of posts and links to those posts before a search engine like Google will decide your brand is the best answer for a search query.

If I decided today that “internet marketing: was going to be a focus phrase, we might have some advantage because of an abundance of related content and numerous inbound links from relevant and credible sources, but we’d still have to work long and hard to achieve and maintain a top position. Companies that go after broad concepts from scratch will have even more of an uphill battle. That said, anything is doable with the right vision, expertise and resources.

The problem is, I’ve heard more than one new media or social media thought leader describe the notion of using keywords in an editorial calendar as “limiting” and pooh poohing the practice. They suggest that content creators write in the moment or focus solely on real-time monitoring for inspiration. Those perspectives come from a lack of implementation knowledge about SEO, especially within large organizations. That can be very costly for brands in terms of missed opportunity and allowing others to gain competitive advantage on important search terms.

Best practices SEO calls for a combination of fixed keyword lists and monitoring real time conversations for keyword and content opportunities. I’ve called this “Search Keywords and Social Topics” in numerous presentations over the past few years. These two types of keyword research and monitoring are not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s essential they work together, especially in competitive categories  Fixed keyword lists aren’t really “fixed either”. They often get audited every few months with weekly or monthly updates based on trends observed from web analytics.

Dynamic keywords are managed with spreadsheets as well and focus on real-time and social media monitoring in combination with web analytics and public trending data sources to reveal conversational content creation and optimization opportunities.

Working together, a content marketing program that’s savvy about SEO and Social Media to inspire discovery will be far more successful that focusing solely on keyword sourcing from social media monitoring or fixed keyword lists alone.

  • The cost of focusing solely on fixed list keywords is not producing and optimizing for content that’s current and trending,
  • The cost of focusing solely on real-time topics is never dominating for more popular keyword phrases or general topics that represent the brand’s industry of focus. How important do you think ranking #1 on Google for “laptops” is for Best Buy? That keyword phrase represents an important product category for Best Buy and wouldn’t be possible without smart search engine optimization.

Hopefully, if you’re one of those social media rock stars, keynote speakers or agency heads that discounts SEO or the usefulness of managing the words that represent what customers care about, you’ll have a more open mind and a deeper understanding of the interplay between fixed list and dynamic keywords for managing editorial plans.

And if you do continue to think SEO and keyword insight isn’t useful, that’s OK too. Because Online Marketing agencies like mine will continue to take search market share away from your clients with smart  Social SEO & Content Marketing. :)


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Fixed & Dynamic Keyword Lists for Content Marketing: It’s NOT Either Or | http://www.toprankblog.com

Big Business Blogging, The Right Way #IntelSMP

July 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogging, SEO, Social Media

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Lionel Menchaca DellAt Intel’s first Social Media Conference in Portland this week, 100+ Intel social media practitioners from all over the world came together with about 20 industry subject matter experts to share and engage social media best practices.

One of those speakers was Lionel Menchaca, the Chief Blogger at Dell and a real pioneer in the world of blogging and social media for the enterprise. Lionel told the story of Dell’s initial blogging efforts that turned the tide of Dell Hell as well as other practical insights. Here are his tips on best practices blogging for the enterprise:

1. Write about topics that matter to your customers, especially the tough ones. Dell has a social media command center to track topics and inspire ideas, issues to deal with.

2. Provide context for a range of customers. Be thoughtful about the interests for specific segments of customers. Find a balance that allows you to appeal content to a range of customers. To do that effectively, you must listen online and understand the convergence of issues that you can address with content though the blog.

3. Write to educate and serve. If you’re doing your job correctly you’re doing both. Informing customers about more than products, including industry news and trends as it relates to your customer’s perspective builds trust and makes your corporate blog a source of information that’s meaningful towards what customers care about.

4. Be authentic, be human. If you can look back and see what established a blogger as a personality that audiences engage with, that’s what’s important. Write from a personal perspective, not from a “brand messaging” perspective.

5. Let your passion and personality show through. There will be points that the brand wants to make, but it’s important that the blogger’s personality show through. When tapping Subject Matter Experts for contributed blog posts, coach them on writing from a personal perspective vs. just providing the facts. [This reminds me of the Facts Tell, Stories Tell adage]

6. Provide an inside look. Content should complement, but also offer a different view than corporate website content, press releases, and other brand communications. Examples: Video interviews with internal subject matter experts about product features and what they personally like about them.

7. Don’t be afraid to disagree, if you can back it up. Dell uses Radian6 as a listening tool to monitor for discussions. Techmeme is also a useful site for tracking stories that drive discussion in the tech space. Show that you’re there to be part of the conversation when you find dissent, vs. trying to steamroll it.

While blogging within businesses has been around for a very long time, I think a it’s important for companies to take a second look at how their communicating through blogging platforms. Far too many business blogs are lacking in reach, readership and engagement because of approaching business blogging solely as a distribution channel vs. a platform for engagement.  It’s by finding that right mix of personality and brand representation  Thanks for the insights Lionel.

 


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Big Business Blogging, The Right Way #IntelSMP | http://www.toprankblog.com

Content, Social & SEO Lead Customers to Great Experiences

July 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Content Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

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Content Social SEOMy friend Bob Knorpp has a good piece on AdAge this week:”Why Marketers Should Break Free of the Digital Content Trap” about the fallacy of content. He makes some good points about companies going through the motions of creating and promoting content on social channels with motivations of retweets, likes, shares and links over real engagement. I have to agree where he says, “content alone is a dead end for ongoing engagement”.

While many savvy online marketers don’t see content as a shortsighted substitute for social strategy or simply as a SEO tactic, but a proxy to creating customer experiences, there are even more who do.  Content is a vehicle for discovery, engagement and sharing.  Content is the mechanism for storytelling and if social and search optimization are also involved in a qualitative way to aid in discovery and sharing of those stories – then all the better.

Bob makes great points about the need to think of new ways to approach digital storytelling beyond single dimensions like videos that “go viral” and infographics that spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook. Engagement is indeed more than a click, a share or a link.

In the way that many business bloggers and marketers approach online marketing with an egocentric perspective, promoting messages they want to persuade audiences with vs. empathizing with customer needs and interests, many agencies that create content are more interested in creative self expression over experiences that are truly meaningful to customers.

In our Hub / Spoke and Constellation models for content marketing, we emphasize an understanding of customer needs and behaviors through persona development and attention to variances during the buying cycle. Those insights, combined with ongoing monitoring and engagement, drive content marketing strategy and the creative mix of content objects designed to help prospects have meaningful experiences with the brand.

The content itself is made easier to discover in more relevant ways through search engine optimization and social media optimization. A “Socialize and Optimize” approach to content marketing increases the connections between consumers that are looking (i.e. searching) and discussing (social networking) topics of relevance to the brand solution.

I’ve said it before, great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.  Littering the social web with scheduled Tweets, status updates and blog posts alone is not engagement and certainly not creating the kind of experience that builds brand or motivates customers to buy, be loyal or advocate.

What say you? Can great user experience and storytelling co-exist with social media marketing and SEO?


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