One thing I don’t hear a lot of social media consultants/experts/gurus or whatever talk about is starting the social media strategy process. If you listen to Forrester you use the POST (people, objectives, strategy, technology) method and if you listen to any other consultant they will all say you start with listening to the conversation before you engage. Ok, that’s great. I say start with your SEO and your analytics. Let me explain.
If you are a large brand or company you are using an analytics solution such as google analytics (you are using one…right?) to track your traffic and understand your visitors. Do you seeing where I’m going with this? I think the first phase a social media strategy should be understanding what your users search for when they are looking for your product or brand. For example if you are Microsoft and you are looking to create a social media strategy around Office, what are you going to do? Sure you can “listen” and research around the web to see what people are saying about your brand, but the answer may be right in front of your nose.
Let’s briefly outline some of the things your analytics can show you and why these things are valuable:
- What keywords users are typing into search engines to find you, this can give you a good idea of how users see your company or your brand. What keywords or phrases do they associate with you/your brand?
- What keywords users are NOT typing into search engines to find you. If the company brands itself as one thing, but the users see the company as something else; well then you know you have an issue here. Understanding this will help you create your communities.
- Where your traffic is coming from, is it through digg, twitter, etc? This can give you a good idea of where your communities already exist (if you have them) or where you need to create them. If I see a good portion of my traffic coming from twitter, then I probably already have an evangelist or a community that I can tap into.
- What part of the world are my users coming from? This will help me understand where I need to focus my efforts of community building. If I am a global brand trying to target Germany yet I see no traffic coming from there, then perhaps I want to step up my game, maybe hold a few offline events/speaking engagements, create a more German targeted site, etc.
- Top content categories. If I have a page with several tabs (X, Y, Z) and I see that Y is the most popular tab, then perhaps I would want to build a community around “Y” or see if existing communities exist. Knowing what your users love the most on your site is a great starting point for a social media campaign or strategy.
- Visitor segmentation by language. This is simple yet powerful. If I see that I have an English speaking site that is getting interest from a lot of foreign speaking countries, then I should create communities or microsites for my foreign speaking friends.
- Drilldown by network location. I can actually see if most of my users are coming from charter, comcast, verizon, bellsouth, etc. Understanding this may help in possible cross-branding communities or promotions through social media channels.
- Visitor loyalty lets me see how many times the same person has visited my site. This can help me understand if I have possible fans or evangelists out there, of course this is crucial. If I see that I have a few brand evangelists I would invite them to help me promote my content.
These are just a few of the things your analytics can show you. Keep in mind that this all information you have access to right now at the click of a button. Open your analytics and get to know your users and consumers. I’m not knocking listening and I’m sure some of you may even group this into the listening phase but I have not heard about or read any posts that mention starting social media from your analytics or SEO. The benefit of having a background in SEO and in social media is that you can understand how to sync and utilize the two together to build a powerful and effective strategy. Every time I think about social media I inherently think of intertwining SEO.
Something as simple as understanding what keywords your visitors use to get to your site can help you understand the anchor text to use when/if you write guest posts, which in turn can help you rank higher in search engines for your target phrases, which in turn can help increase brand awareness and visibility and hopefully and eventually increase revenue.
Yes, there are a lot of variables that come into play such as whether or not a company is already using SEO. The point of this post is to get you to realize and understand that you have a lot of the data you need to get started with a social media strategy right in front of you. Your site analytics is a very powerful tool that will give you a lot of targeted information specifically about your users.
How are you using SEO and analytics information to mold and form your social media strategy?
Thanks for reading!