MediaPost Publications Giving Up Control To Prepare For Search In A Social World 08/14/2009

From Online Media Daily – By Laurie Sullivan

Give up control to achieve success in social media campaigns, because in the end, brands really have no choice. That’s the message that Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and coauthor of “Groundswell,” sent attendees during the Search Engine Strategies keynote Thursday in San Jose, Calif.

Marketers have heard it all before. Don’t try to control the conversation in Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. But Li believes preparing for the future of search also means accepting that social networks will become like air. People who tap social graphs will take them wherever they go. And marketers need to realize this.

Preparing for the future puts the focus on people to develop relationships by giving them tools to provide input on products and services. It also requires having the means to analyze the data, and building out long-tail keyword campaigns by knowing existing and potential customers.

Li says marketers need to rethink the way they view search. People must remain at the center of the search strategy, not keywords. Putting people in the middle of the strategy requires not only building relationships, but also considering their intent.

Preparing to tap into the “chain of intent” in searches will require analytics. It will influence keyword bids for campaigns and help marketers see the importance of content through the eyes of consumers. It will entail integrating offsite behavior data gathered from social networks with existing customer data from a company’s Web site. Knowing the way to reach consumers will require having good data to analyze on the fly and providing that information back into the system.

Since sharing content has become one of the most important aspects of the Internet in recent years, it allows marketers to tap into social graphs to get a closer glimpse of consumer behavior. Li says marketers will augment CPC bids with social data, taking into consideration influence, friends, and the number of influential friends someone has.

Targeting inside search engines have begun to advance. Social CRM will play a bigger role. “Go out into the community, such as Facebooks and blogs, and come back with engagement data and use A/B testing to see what messages resonate in the social sites,” Li says. “It’s no longer about managing keywords. It’s also about understanding how people use all the tools that impact search and have it reflect back into your strategy.”

Li says to focus on the people, not the keywords. Once they come to your site through search engines, such as Google and Microsoft Bing, know how they will interact with you.

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About Ivan Cevallos

Blogger, entrepreneur, strategist, and digital producer. View all posts by Ivan Cevallos

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