Why Social Media and Paid Search Should Fall in Love and Get Married

April 6, 2010 by Renee Gannon

One thing I’ve noticed from internet marketers is that there seems to be a great divide on the concept of what gets the best “bang for your buck" with internet marketing. There are the “marketing traditionalists," as I like to call them, who focus their efforts solely on search engine optimization and online paid advertising, and then there are the “new age” marketers who believe that digital and social media is the marketing wave of the future. My biggest issue is with the divide itself. Why focus your efforts on one aspect of marketing when you can take the two practices and marry them? Moving forward, you can call me the Minister of Marketing, because I am about to pronounce Paid Search and Social Media as husband and wife.

Building the Foundation for Marriage

Paid Search/SEO and Social Media need each other like a fish needs water, but for different reasons. Many traditional marketers aren’t viewing their targeted search from a brand identity perspective, which is a big mistake. As a devout supporter of social media, I know how important it is to participate in social brand engagement as a way to create an active dialogue with consumers around products and services. The main goal is to build brand value and connect with consumers, with the secondary goal of driving traffic, and, ultimately, sales. It’s important to stress that if you are looking to drive traffic for instant sale conversions, social media is not going to give you direct results. On the other hand, most marketers know that using paid search and standard SEO practices will primarily drive sales, leads, and conversions, but they don’t expect the short text of their paid search ads to do much for branding.

We understand that as a business, you have a limited marketing budget (and a good chunk of that budget goes to non-digital marketing efforts). Fortunately, most social media resources are free, so you are only paying for as little or as much time spent engaging those campaigns. If, in addition to that, you are willing to set aside a decent budget for paid search, you 'll find it's incredibly easy to track and analyze the conversations as they happen. Many supporters of social media find the communications that happen from it (and the traffic generated by it) aren't quite as easy to quantify… yet.  Luckily, Google is constantly changing their search algorithms to cater specifically to social media. In 2009, Google struck a deal with Twitter, rumored at $15 million, to integrate tweets into keyword related Google searches. And in January 2010, Google also integrated real-time search technology to surface blog posts and news content as they hit the Web – dramatically improving the previous five to 15 minutes its spiders would take to crawl the Web.  And it’s only getting better.  This is great news for social media marketers who are providing great, consistent content with search-friendly titles.

Something New, Something Old and Something Borrowed

As a business with a digital presence (website, blog, social networks, etc), it is imperative to embrace paid search (old), social media (new) and SEO (borrowed). This is why: By creating social content that attracts an engaged audience, marketers can then craft targeted paid search campaigns to “capture” this audience and turn them into buyers, thus making it easier to quantify and analyze success with social media through the powerful analytics available with paid search. It’s easy to make your social media updates “search friendly” by using hash tags on twitter, optimizing blog titles to include searchable key terms, and submitting your content to high-traffic social networking sites like Digg, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Not only are you constantly building your social network, you are inevitably increasing your Google page rank each time you link to someplace other than your website, thus driving organic search results.
A Match Made in Heaven

Both YouTube (71 million unique users each month) and Facebook have already married their social foundation with page search. With Google behind YouTube, it is not surprising that they offer paid advertising to users through several options, including self-service ads, brand channels and affiliate advertising. YouTube advertising aside, I’d like to take a moment to focus on Facebook ads.
Currently Facebook boasts somewhere in excess of 400 million users. As a business with an established social media presence, you would be crazy to not want to tap into those numbers. Thankfully, paid search has “gone social” with Facebook advertising. Facebook advertising has taken the concept of text link advertising like Google AdWords and paired it with one of the more popular social media avenues available to businesses:  the Facebook fan page. If you are a business who is currently promoting your content through a Facebook Fan page, then with as little as $100/month you can easily set up an ad campaign. Facebook ads offer you two options: You can choose between a cost per click (CPC) model where you pay only for clicks or a cost per thousand (CPM) model where you pay per 1000 ad views. Most research suggests that the CPC model is slightly more effective in terms of ROI (return on investment).

One of the best things about Facebook advertising that distinguishes it from Googles online advertising model is the ability select who sees your ad using a number of variables, including keywords. You can target by geography, age, gender, education, relationship status, workplace and keywords. This all comes back to social engagement vs. traditional paid advertising, and that with socially targeted media, you must think in terms of targeting a specific demographic to promote content, value and brand awareness and not directly selling a product or service. The most successful use of ads on social networks is to create deeper engagement so you have the ability to sell once trust is built.

Building a Long-Lasting, Successful Marriage

Like any successful marriage, there are many aspects that lead to long-lasting love and success. The same goes with the pairing of traditional paid search and social media. Here are a few tips to optimize your internet marketing efforts and boost overall ROI. 

1.    Get Friendly (search-friendly that is) - Make sure your social media campaigns (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn etc.) are appropriately tagged and indexed, and that the metadata for your pages include your top keywords. This will allow people searching for your brand content to not only find your paid search ads and natural search results, but to find your social media content as well.

2.    Experiment (outside of the bedroom) - Facebook and YouTube both allow for keyword targeted advertising, but the way that these ads work is vastly different from how advertising works on Google. Facebook ads allow you to target users based on preferences they list on their profile. YouTube’s advertising system allows you to target specific user queries. However, remember the queries that occur on YouTube are different than those on Google, because users on YouTube are searching for content, not products. You can find success by experimenting with different search terms on both.  Put yourself inside the head of a user on Facebook or YouTube. What interests in their Facebook profile might draw them to your Fan page?  What queries on YouTube might lead them to click on your ad? You can use both Facebook and YouTube's powerful analytics to gauge what key terms are working best and tailor your campaigns to maximize results.

3.    Communication is Key (for a successful marriage) - Analyze the topics and discussions taking place around your social media campaigns, and then source these discussions for new keywords you can use in paid search campaigns on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Whatever people are talking about, bid on keywords that reflect these conversations.  Google has an amazing Keyword tool that allows you to compare global search results for keywords so that you can determine popularity (and ultimately cost) for terms you are bidding on in your advertising campaign. 

Overall, for any successful digital marketing strategy (like any successful marriage), you really need the whole package: A well-designed website, a social media presence, a blog, a working knowledge of SEO, good communication, brand awareness, social interaction and a decent budget dedicated solely to paid search (Google AdWords, Facebook, YouTube, etc). If you have the budget, the time and the know-how, you will find much success in the power that exists behind marketing your products and services on the internet. Many agencies, like Pomegranate, offer fully integrated digital and social media strategies and campaigns to help get your company’s internet marketing efforts off the ground.
For more tips like this, you can follow Pomegranate on Twitter (@seedingideas), become a fan on Facebook or connect with us on LinkedIn

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