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Using Your SEO and Analytics to Create a Social Media Strategy

Posted by on December 11, 2008

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!

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    • I agree with you manobyte – your existing web analytics CAN tell you where your traffic is coming from, and what keywords brought people to your site, but it does nothing to tell you where existing conversations are happening on the WWW, which is where you need to be.

      However, it your website analytics is a good starting point. To really get into social media conversations, however, you will need to set up online monitoring tools to track your brand and keywords. Or pay for expensive services like Radian 6, which will track those conversations and stack rank them in prioritized order of engagement.

      Free tools can help with monitoring but are hard to scale for large enterprise companies.

      For a down & dirty solution, you can try Kingsley Joseph's Social Media Firehose


      Lorna Li

      • lorna, well hello hello!

        the point is not to just rely solely on seo and your analytics, it;s to incorporate some of the actual data that you have when forming a social media strategy. you have data for a reason, you have to use it 🙂

        thanks for stopping by!

    • not sure you understood my point. you don't solely rely on seo or on your analytics. you incoporate it as part of your strategy. not looking at how your existing users are already interacting with your site is a huge mistake. you can't immediately start off a social media strategy unless you understand the current situation. you start with home base and then expand. your analytics has a lot of valuable and insightful information that can help you identify listening channels and communities.

      im not advocating targetting “you” im advocating understanding your existing user and customer base. your analytics is not going to give you 100% of the information and it's not an end all be all solution.

      funny how you keep talking about starting with “people” yet you don;t want to start with “your people” which again, I think is a huge mistake that marketers and social media folks are making. I'm all about starting with people, that's why i want to look at the analytics to see how users are currently interacting with my site…

      makes sense?

      thanks for the comment

      • Good points! Yes I agree that using SEO as a part of the process is important.

  • Great, great information – an often missed component of designing a social media strategy 🙂

  • Hi,

    I also use my analytics to sell. I think you can use the region from where you get the most visitors to try and sell your products there or maybe what is the keyword that delivers the highest traffic volume. Analytics can offer very helpful informations that can be used in your marketing campaign especially if the numbers are high.

    • oh, you're analytics can give you some extremely valuable and powerful information. far more info then any form of traditional advertising or marketing can give you.

      thanks for the comment!

  • Great article, Jacob. This is a component that I have not yet used, but will start examining right away.

    • you better! play around on your analytics platform, you will be amazed with the info you have access to at this very second.

      thanks for the comment!

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  • Ghennipher

    I've had some really interesting discussions with others in the SoMe space who feel that starting by listening is the only right way to proceed with a Social Media strategy. I only partly agree because I think that view leaves valuable customer insight unused.

    My idea has always been, 'Since we've got analytical data on visitors, why not incorporate it into a listening strategy?' Certainly, Social Media is 100% about the customer – therefore a Social Media consultant sets up a business to monitor conversations. But why ignore the obvious, just because conversations may have more immediate impact? If businesses truly care about their customers, they'll care about the little things too – how visitors came to their site, how they use their site, how often they come back – in addition to the Social Media conversations they're having about their products, services, brand, etc. As in offline relationships, it's often 'the litle things' that make the most difference. Analytics should not be ignored in an effective Social Media Strategy.

    I think as time goes on and measurements rightly become a standard part of any new Social Media strategy, we'll find more collaborations between Internet marketing pros and Social Media pros. And what a coup for the business owner who hires a Social Media Consultant who understands the symbiosis between SEO, analytics, and creating a truly effective Social Media strategy!

    Great post!

    • listening is great but not looking at your existing information is just sinful! you have to start off at home base with the information you already have, this can technically be a part of listening.

      thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed!

      • OK So let's go back the POST Method. Which starts with PEOPLE.

        Yes we need to “Listen” to PEOPLE and using SEO and Web Site Analytics give your valuable insight insight into the existing people. Then we need to “Listen” across the social web to learn what our web site analytics are is not telling us.

  • Great post and I agree totally. Understanding the audience is a key factor to defining the strategy.

    • thanks a lot for the kind words sharon! definitely must understand your current audience to see potential for new audience.


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  • bob

    Jacob, Nice post! As social media matures in 2009 more and more leaders will realize that social and search are part of one big digital strategy. Social is definitely the flavor of the month but it cannot hide from the fact that search is second nature now to most people on the internet now. So, to your point it cannot work in isolation but companies who merge the two will reap greater rewards and actually see some ROI coming from their “social” strategies. To add to your post, you can in fact use social networks as a great tool to mine new keywords for your business too. Most of the time, Search marketers are optimizing for the same set “head” keywords but it is the “tail” approach that pays well. Social networks i have found is a great keyword research tool and can be used to further your search marketing efforts. TO your point, search and social complement each other as at the end of the day they all become part of the 10 blue lines. Thanks, Bob.

    • hey bob, thanks! social media and search definitely need to be integrated and there are a lot of learnings that can be shared between the two, such as keyword research as you mentioned. 2009 will be an interesting year!

      thanks for the comment!

  • hey bob, thanks! social media and search definitely need to be integrated and there are a lot of learnings that can be shared between the two, such as keyword research as you mentioned. 2009 will be an interesting year!

    thanks for the comment!

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  • Anonymous

    Great post and I totally agree. Understanding the public is an important factor in defining the strategy.
    SEO Company

  • Alexandra

    This post is have very nice information about SEO, social media marketing. But i say that you would need more reading about this

  • jhon smith

    This post is very nice, its helpful for social media marketing , Social Media Optimization has great techniques that we use for increase web traffic

  • Anonymous

    Hi this is the best post I found so far on creating extensions! Thank you for posting this, regards! keep it up

  • I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!