Social Media Optimisation, SEO and Channel Linking: The Bigger Picture

Search Engine Optimisation

It is said that the hype around SEO will die down and businesses going forward will rather only be concerned with Social Media Optimisation, an all-encompassing concept that includes all elements of SEO. So what is SEO or search engine optimisation in the first place?

Search Engine Optimization is a tool deployed to more effectively market your products, services, or brand by utilising all aspects of the internet.

At the core of SEO, is the art of understanding how search engines are used, and therefore the importance of your website, your website content, social media content and strategy, as well as how you deploy your social media platforms.

I like referring to the above as Channel Linking. To support your SMO and SEO effort, ensure your channels are linked effectively, both amongst social media channels, social media and other website channels and all of the above, with your traditional multi-channel.

SEO loves a blog and your corporate blog should sit at the heart of your Channel Linking effort. When posting on your blog, and having linked your blog with other social platforms, a notification of your blog post will automatically be posted on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, posted on Google+, posted on LinkedIn (and specifically groups on this network) and so on. This requires a single action – posting that blog post, yet you enjoy double, triple or a fourfold reach as opposed to reaching your audience on your blog only. Within your blog post itself, make use of links as search engines are specifically on the lookout for this. Link the right content to the right pages on your website to drive traffic to your site.

Another good example of Channel Linking can be found where platforms such as Twitter can be used to drive traffic to a desired location on your website, where your sales force or marketing team can further engage with visitors via more traditional communication channels, such as live web chat. By deploying a website visitor tracking tool, you can track the effectiveness of this strategy by monitoring the start journey of your visitors from a link posted on Twitter. Having the right KPIs to track the effectiveness of your Channel Linking effort is critical to shape, amend and improve your strategy in the future so make sure you have the necessary in place to track what you are doing.

Developments are happening fast and Colayco forecasts several trends website owners can anticipate in 2014. He argues that, Social media is more important in the context of marketing across the internet than it has ever been. According to Colayco:

“Today, the algorithms in the search engines are geared more towards understanding and appreciating the important of social signals. Having shares, likes, posts, comments and followers will expand your business ot only in the branding aspect of your business, but the search engines as well.”

It immediately becomes very clear that there is a bigger picture here and that social media cannot be treated in isolation of your SEO. At the same time, SEO is never only relevant to your website and channels can be linked as part of a more integrated and effective strategy to drive your marketing effort and generate traffic. The key is to approach your SEO strategy as an tool that has benefits for various functions in the business. Bring your ICT, marketing, customer engagement, creative and social media teams together, and plan your SEO strategy across the full spectrum with the input of all interested stakeholders.

Your fully integrated SEO strategy coupled with a SMO and Channel Linking effort will yield great benefits for your business in the short and long term. The sooner you learn this art as a whole, the better it will support your marketing effort.

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The Digital and Social Workplace: Driving a Happy and Engaged Workforce

Virgin Richard BransonSir Richard Branson could not have said it better: ‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’.

 
Is this true for your business? If the answer is not an unequivocal, no, or if you hesitated in answer this question, then perhaps it’s time you consider a new approach?

The digital age has brought about many challenges for businesses across the board and while many choose to ignore the many rapid changes and continue business as normal, smart businesses have turned to modern technology to drive a social enterprise strategy thereby embracing the social age and are deploying new digital workplace technology that creates a positive climate resulting in driving a great culture in the organisation through enterprise social collaboration and networking.

 
So, how is this relevant to Branson’s quote above?

It’s quite simple actually –  the social enterprise engages its workforce, gives the workforce a voice, involves them in every aspect of the business, create a platform for them to sharing ideas, opinions and views, and to collaborate on projects, and ultimately drives a communities effort. This ultimately leads to creating a belonging for your staff to the organisation and will result in employee loyalty. Of course, many other factors need to be considered as well but this may be a very good place to start.

Still feel your command and control leadership style works best and we can continue to ignore the many changes that are happening all around your business?
The developments in digital workplace technology have brought about massive benefits for the enterprise which I would like to share. In a follow up post, I will discuss ten of these benefits that will hopefully convince you to explore social enterprise technology a little further. The sooner you embrace this new form of working the better, it will not go away.

Social Sales: 5 Factors to consider in B2C and B2B organisations

B2B_SocialMedia_InsideviewThe minute you mention social selling you have the attention of your business audience. There are generally those who are interested in exploring all the opportunities social media has on offer, including social selling, and those that seem to be unable to get their head around the idea of using social media to support their sales process. Either way, you’ll have the attention of your business audience on this topic.
Before you embark on a proactive social selling effort, the key word here being, proactive, there are a number of important factors to consider. In the coming weeks I will discuss each of these, including the bonus tip separately.

1. Develop a clearly defined social sales strategy

Your first step is to ensure you have a clear social sales strategy that is aligned with the rest of your integrated digital marketing communications. It is imperative in social media business communications that your marketing message is consistent across these channels. You will be interested in which conversations to target, who will action these conversations, how will this process work, how to engage with prospects, what success will look like, how will you measure success (KPI’s), linking up your efforts with other sales activity and so on.

2. Use a suitable Social Media tracking tool to access any opportunity:

If you are interested in social selling my advice would be to invest in a good social media tracking and monitoring solution. These solutions allow you to build a query (search terms) and apply a set of tags (filters) that allow you to track conversations across the social web that would be of interest to your sales team or community manager. Usually the system will allow for a workflow process that will enable you to direct the conversations, posts and comments to the right individual to take action. Twitter specifically is a wonderful platform to support your social sales efforts so ensure you go for a tool that has access to the Twitter Firehose giving you a hundred percent access to all Twitter mentions – you don’t want to miss any opportunities to engage.

3. It’s all about conversation:

Don’t be aggressive, it’s all about having a conversation and building rapport. The number one reason why there is reluctance to embark on social selling, relates to a concern that the effort will be met with hostility and damage your brand efforts. Remember every engagement, with every person, every time, is a reflection on your brand. Try and be subtle in your approach but work for it and put the necessary effort in.

4. Link your social efforts up with other sales channels:

I’m a big fan of the concept of Channel Linking. Try and think outside the box. Here is an example – if you have an existing sales team using traditional channels or more modern customer communication channels such as live chat on your website, you want to make sure you drive traffic to the desired location on your website to complete the sales process while engaging across the social web. Not all customers will be happy to engage until the end with you on social media. Deploy a tracking solution to measure website traffic emanating from your social sales activity, so this can be measured and reported against. Where you do obtain contact details from a potential customer via social media engagement, have your community management team trained up to pick up the phone and get in touch with the prospect. Alternatively, establish a process where this can be passed directly, ‘with priority’, to your sales team to take action. Lastly, give the customer a choice by providing inbound contact details, email address or a web address, but only fall back on this as a last resort.

 
5. Get your sales team involved: Cross-promotion

Many sales professionals are already using social media channels as a gateway to networking and finding information on the right decision makers (in the case of B2B). Get these guys involved in your social engagement efforts and have regular meetings with your community management team. It’s a single linked up process and effort, and should never be a fragmented approach. The best way to drive brand reach and to support the sales effort is to ensure your sales team become more active on social media. Your organisation’s reach on social media is limited as is our won individual social footprints. By on-boarding your sales force you can effectively increase your brand reach a great deal. Encourage your sales team to become ‘super social’ and cross-promote your brand message, product promotions and other marketing efforts, share information, videos, recoded webcasts and so on.

Bonus Tip: Go after the customers of the competition

Yes, you heard me right. It’s a free marketplace and we need to be creative in our approaches to the modern sales effort. By using your social media tracking and monitoring solution you can create queries with specific search terms relating to unhappy customers of the competition. Trust me there are many of these conversations and may just be the right time for you to step in and offer the customer an alternative. Again here it is important to be professional and business-like about it, so don’t be blatant.

As with social media, social sales will not go away. Rather it be you doing something about it than your competitor chipping away at your customer base with you still pondering about if it is the right thing to do – very few customers lost will become a customer again!

 

The Social Dinosaur is still ‘Alive and Well’

Social DinosaurOver the past couple of weeks I had conversations with various professionals and companies asking for help with their social media strategy. It may come as a surprise to some of you that many companies still has no or very little presence on social media, to some of you it may be no surprise at all.

One of the most common objections I get is from b2b organisations and a very good objection I had from a CEO the other day. ‘We are a b2b operations and Twitter will not help our business in any way’ he quickly stated  when I brought up Twitter. The company in question is an entrepreneurial technology company specialising in idea generation and idea sharing software. My obvious response was that Twitter is one of the most effective platforms in driving a brand presence and brand reach, and as such, can play a fundamental role in driving website traffic, supporting your sales process, help you establish thought leadership and drive traffic to all your other online profiles apart from all the other benefits presented for a b2b business targeting the prospects they target.

It has become clear that the old Social Dinosaur is not dead and still very much alive. The resistance element from senior management and lack of buy-in continues to be a problem and businesses are loosing out on the many opportunities presented by social media. There seems to be many more common misconceptions out there than you may think.

Another interesting development is where companies have a small presence, for example a Twitter handle and Facebook page, and are of the view that they have fully embraced social media. When having a closer look, there appears to be nothing more happening than the odd update and a one-way push of company information and irrelevant posts or tweets.

The critical thing to remember is that social media spreads across functions in the business and a clear social media strategy is not as hard to develop and implement as one may think. Social media has been created by the people for the people and businesses need to embrace that, get on with it and figure out on a learn-as-you-go basis instead of pondering on about if it is the right direction for the business to go or not. We all started somewhere and then gained valuable knowledge on how to do things along the way along the way. It is pretty simple, so the sooner you start, the lessor the chance of your business staying behind.