Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You would "be surprised by the degree of listening involved" in your social media strategy. You don't just "deposit information," it's a conversation

By Mark Helfen

You would "be surprised by the degree of listening involved" in your social media strategy. You don't just "deposit information," it's a conversation.

So says John Thyfault, speaker at the next MarketingSIG meeting. Thyfault is Vice President Search Engine and Social Media Marketing at Beasly Direct Marketing. His topic will be Search and Social: Making the Sum Greater Than the Parts.

The meeting will be on Monday, September 12 at our regular EMC location. Please sign up in advance on our Meetup page - a requirement of EMC security.

Thyfault has been at Beasly Direct for 5 years, originally managing their Search Engine Marketing practice. But it turns out that there is a lot of synergy between search engine optimization and using social media for promotion. Helping clients with both is his current focus.

Social Media marketing, if done properly "naturally reinforces your search engine ranking," said Thyfault. Mentions of your product or company on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin in and others increase the "social authority" of your web site, and can get noticed by Google and other search engines. The effect can be long term, or immediate. Google can "quickly pick up" mentions on social media and can change search ranking.

Developing a social strategy starts traditional marketing thinking - understanding your product, audience, values, and benefits. But there are new twists applying these in the social arena. Thyfault works on identifying the small number of thought leaders that effect opinion and develops a strategy of direct communication with them. In some ways it's a traditional P.R. strategy, applied to a new target.

Thyfault's analysis divides people who are talking about your product into four categories:

  • Creators - who create new thinking about a product or service - about 1-2%
  • Critics - who take the ideas of creators, add their own thoughts or "flavors" - about 5-10%
  • Collectors - who pass on information to their social circle without comment - about 30%
  • Everyone else.

The idea is to identify Creators and Critics, which are typically only a small number of people - 5 to 10, listen to what they are saying, and then communicate with them directly. In some ways similar to how you might have targeted an editor or reporter in the past.

If you are a startup with a new product, no one is talking about you yet. So the same strategy is applied to the problem or need your product will address. Just listening on social sites might help you define and articulate these ideas.

Finding these key communicators could be a lot of work, but there are software tools to help you locate them. But once you find them, the communication isn't automated. This is a human skill of understanding what these thought leaders are interested in and looking for. By carefully crafting your messaging and communication, you both get people to help with your message, but also assure that its worded in a way that help with search engine optimization.

If you are looking for a way to do social media marketing on autopilot, it doesn't sound like this presentation will help much. But if you want to apply your marketing experience and intelligence to new strategies, come by next Monday.

PLEASE REGISTER IN ADVANCE for Social Media in the Real World at our Meetup page:


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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