As the course leader for a Search and Social Media Marketing CPD course at the University of Salford, MediaCityUK, I sometimes get asked for contributions to publications. I wanted to share these tips with you – I hope you enjoy them and please feel free to contribute!
1. The right people – If you do not have expertise within your organisation, seek advice and training from reputable sources. Search and Social Media Marketing is not rocket science, but you will save a lot of time and money if you work with experienced people with a successful track record.
Seek out recommendations from customers, employers or colleagues and speak to the people that they have worked with previously to gauge how effective they have been with previous projects.
2. The right strategy – Planning is everything. Understand your customers and future customers needs – how are they finding your business online and how might they find you in the future?
Once you understand your customers, formulate a comprehensive plan of what you would like to achieve with your search and social media marketing campaign. What is working or not working to date, how can you improve and where are the gaps? Make sure you factor in staff time as it all costs money.
Think about your digital and traditional marketing holistically and make sure they work in tandem at all stages of the customer journey.
3. Evaluate your competitors – How well are your competitors doing in the search results for Google, Yahoo and Bing? What social networks are they using and how many followers do they have on Twitter, Facebook fans or +1’s on Google Plus? How are they engaging with their customers? What is working for them or not working and what can you learn from these successes or failures for your own strategy. Compare your own search keywords to the ones used by your competitors.
4. Produce great content – put your plan into action and produce great content. A blog can be an excellent way to create great new text, audio or video that people will want to view and link to. Your content could be produced by someone internally or employ experienced people. Your content should be engaging, informative, interesting and relevant to your company. A great idea for content could lead to a lot of positive interest in your company and products if it ‘goes viral’ on a service like YouTube. Even the driest subject matter can produce useful and engaging expert content.
5. Optimise your website – Check your website for any problems. Make sure your website titles and meta description tags are correct, check for broken links or things that your customers or the search engines will have trouble with. Try this free website tester on your website to spot problems www.found.co.uk/seo-tool
Make sure you have got access to your websites visitor information and that you have good people to evaluate this data to help ask questions and inform company decisions. Google Analytics is one solution to allow you to capture and report on this data www.google.co.uk/analytics. You should also have website statistics to compare from your website hosting company control panel.
6. Social Media – You cannot make the most of social media without a social media marketing strategy. Evaluate which social media platforms are being used regularly by your target audiences. Services like www.addthis.com provide an easy and free way to add social media sharing icons to your website.
Setting up a presence on a small number of social networks relevant to your target audience can be an invaluable way to promote your business, gain customer feedback and engagement. Devote time and resource to a small number of networks and make them work for your business. Register your company name for free on Google’s social network plus.google.com – it may be useful in the future!
7. Link building – Links from high quality websites to your website are vital to your websites search engine rankings. To gauge the quality and authority of a website, or to see who is linking to your competitors, you can use tools such as Open site Explorer www.opensiteexplorer.org
Start off by requesting links to your site from people you know. Make sure the incoming links are from high quality and relevant websites. If you produce excellent content and newsworthy stories, great websites will be happy to link to you. You can also employ a reputable link building expert to help with your ongoing link building strategy.
8. Local searches – If you provide a local service, make sure people can find you locally, by registering your website and business at services such as Google Places for Business. Make sure you have good pages on your website devoted to the fact that you provide services in the areas that you operate. Local searches can be crucial, particularly in the age of mobile devices.
9. Go Mobile – It sounds obvious, but make sure your website works on smart phones and tablets. You may not need an app, but your website should work properly and quickly on all the popular mobile devices. Increasingly, more purchases are made on mobile devices than desktops. This means it is vital that your website functions properly on these devices.
The new Google algorithm is called ‘Hummingbird’ and it is designed for the future of search including mobiles and for answering questions quickly. Remember this when you are producing your excellent and expert website content.
10. Return on Investment – your search and social media strategy should form part of your overall marketing plan. This includes everything you do offline and online. All of your communications should be targeted carefully at different points of the customer journey from their initial awareness of your service, to their final action or purchase.
Make sure you track and record this process carefully so that you can gauge which aspects of your strategy lead to return on investment.
Salford University Business School have worked with Manchester Digital marketing companies to develop our Search and Social Media Marketing course which is designed to help you and your organisation. The course is delivered at MediaCityUK in partnership with reputable local agencies and is geared towards helping your organisation to get return on your Search and Social Media Marketing investment. What are your top digital marketing tips? Feel free to add your thoughts below, I look forward to hearing from you.