As social media gets widely adopted across organizations of all sizes we’re starting to see social media and search marketing teams operating in silos. That is already the case in many organizations. It isn’t unusual to have a 5:1 ratio where there are five community managers for every search marketer.
Due to nature of daily social media management, it’s natural that social media teams will outnumber small search teams (including one man teams!). This puts the onus on SEOs to reach out to their social media counterparts and ensure SEO is part of social media process as well.
An in-house SEO invests a lot of their time into creating an enterprise-wide process to work with developers, IT, and other important stakeholders. SEOs should also create a process for social media teams since they create a huge amount of content on a daily basis.
One of the first steps to get SEO integrated into any existing process is SEO training. But there are additional ways SEOs can work with social media team on an ongoing basis to ensure that even social media team members integrate SEO and leverage their daily community management efforts. Let’s jump in into what I think are the top 5 ways SEO’s can work with their social media counterparts:
1. Train Social Media Managers on SEO Essentials
SEO, especially in-house SEO, is a lot about demystifying the SEO myths across the organization and to me that starts with a ground level SEO training. I like to call this “Essential SEO Training” as the goal here is not to make SEO experts out of your social media managers but just enough to ensure that SEO is built into the social media process (most importantly not missed out on).
Many community managers come from a non-technical background so if you start with technical jargons like server response codes, faceted navigation, etc. then you will lose them. Instead, focus more on meta tags, H1 tags, alt text, page titles, and so on.
It is also assumed that you as an SEO would be working with IT or developers on the technical side of SEO so better to keep it simple for social media team members. Reaching out and offering to train them can be a good icebreaker of sorts and is also a great way to make an impression with the social media group.
Remember, most of the times blogging responsibilities also fall under social media team. Training them on how to write optimized blog posts can benefit your SEO performance a great deal.
2. Show Them the “Whys” and “Hows” of Keyword Research
Search marketers understand that keywords are the cornerstone of SEO. But not everyone understands that, so driving that point across to social media team members should be your goal.
Besides the obvious importance of keywords, you can show them how to use the various keyword tools.
One common mistake people make is picking keywords with highest number of searches. Instead, you want to train them on why that may not be the right approach.
It’s important that they learn how various keyword tools employ different data collection methodology. The other advantage of empowering them with tools is they are self-sufficient thus allowing you to focus on more strategic initiatives.
3. Optimizing Tweets For Visibility
As engines start integrating more tweets in their SERPs, we’ll see an increasing number of tweets show up for normal keyword queries. Twitter too is constantly updating their internal search engine, so getting found inside Twitter searches becomes critical as well.
Inserting one good keyword in each tweet is a good tip to share with social media managers. Think about the search impact social media managers can create if they target the same keyword while writing a blog post, creating few tweets, posting on Facebook fan page all the while using the same keyword.
I’m always amazed at the amount of content a social media team ends up creating on a daily basis. It is not just the original tweets but the retweets, mentions, etc. that makes up the lifecycle of a tweet.
Think of the SEO opportunity if you can take that content and house it in your domain – something to the effect that Zappos has done at twitter.zappos.com. I talked about this last year during SES Chicago in one of my in-house SEO panel. Again, SEOs are well suited for this kind of initiatives.
4. Optimizing Facebook Fan Page
A tremendous amount of time and resources are poured into building a company’s Facebook community that it makes sense if we start optimizing that content on fan pages for SEO.
Jeff Widman and team at PageLever recently did an interesting study on the referral traffic that search engines send to Facebook fan pages. They looked at almost 1,000 Facebook fan pages and found that almost one-third of external traffic is sent by search engines.
The key takeaway here: optimize your Facebook page just like you would any web property. It would be a hard battle convincing social media managers to allow you to make changes on Fan pages (it’s their baby!) but looking at back end analytics (Facebook insights for starters) and then making an “SEO case” can help you win this battle.
You can customize your training session to tackle Facebook posts while keeping your SEO process transparent. This way social media team can integrate SEO on an ongoing basis without you being involved.
This is another social media property where so much content (and engagement) is created that it makes perfect sense to leverage it for SEO. This can also be another source by which SEO can attribute the gains to their performance.
5. Teach Them the Importance of Conversion Metrics
The science of measuring conversion metrics like a search marketer doesn’t come naturally to “many” social media managers. Most of the time, search marketers create campaigns with end conversions in mind. They launch campaigns only if the ROI makes sense.
Not so with social media as collectively we are still in the “figuring out mode.” On top of that, the social media customer conversion funnel is slightly longer with more emphasis on fan engagement.
It’s easy to get carried away with the “coolness factor” of social media like number of fans, followers, design, apps, and so on that folks forget the purpose of a business is to create customers, as Peter Drucker said.
True, direct marketers can get little disappointed with social media as there is no straightforward “input X amount of dollars to get Y number of customers” ratio on social media. This is where SEO’s can help social media team understand common performance metrics the “search world” follows.
Search marketers should realize the engagement factor of social media so search marketers can also do with some unlearning of their own. Collaborating and coming up with common set of metrics is the way forward.
Increasingly, more collaboration is needed between search and social teams if an organization’s digital marketing strategy is to succeed. The nature of search marketing makes it easy to measure performance in terms of dollar amount and this is also where SEO can take a lead and support social media activities.
These were some of my top items. Would love to hear yours now.