My biggest takeaway from BlogWorld: Employee-powered SEO

June 1, 2011

In-depth, Social media

On the path to purchase, search provides the exposure and social seals the deal. (Image credit: eMarketer)











This is the third in a week-long series of posts recapping the Blogworld NYC experience. What I learned, who I met, how I’m planning to apply it all to my day job.

How do you come up with your blog post ideas? It varies for me. But whenever I am stuck on blog topics or just the best way to approach a post, I try and fall back on research. Data always sparks a conversation. And at BlogWorld last week, I found plenty of numbers to talk about.

Case in point: Lee Odden gave an incredible presentation on SEO tips the first day of the conference. If you have never heard Lee present, make a point to do so. He really knows his stuff and I could probably write about 10 posts detailing the value he added. But one piece of data stuck out over all the others:

Buyers who purchase or convert online are almost as likely to use a combination of search and social resources (48%) as they are to use just search (51%) along the path to purchase. Furthermore, when consumers were exposed to both brand-specific search results and social media, search clickthrough rates increased by 94%. (eMarketer)

So what does this data actually mean for our search and social efforts? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Customers don’t use channels in silos today and search and social media are no exception. While search is a valuable exposure tactic and the channel many people start their online sessions with, social is where they go more and more for the trusted opinion(s) that closes the deal.
  • We have more control over SEO today than ever before thanks to social media. First of all, Google indexes all the major social networks. So every time someone shares brand content from a company or personal account, it creates an opportunity for that content to be found via search. And that means another shot for your brand to stick out on the customers’ path to purchase.
  • Second, social search is changing the name of the game. Have you seen social search in action yet? It’s where you do a regular search and Google prioritizes the results it feeds you based on recent content your “friends” have searched or accessed. That means that the more content being shared via social networks, the better chance a customer’s friends may have searched or accessed your content.
  • Which leads us to the final point — Companies that aren’t training their employees to understand social media and how to best use it to help brand awareness and perception are missing the boat. Big time. Look, when you are on Facebook, you might like a brand because one of your friends does, right? Well, social search is providing the same opportunity. It’s enhancing the opportunities for a search and social convergence right where the customer is already used to going for information — Google and his/her friends. But only if your company is prepared to take advantage of it.

So the question is: What’s your content promotion strategy? Lee says companies should be spending 60-70 percent of their “content” time dedicated to promoting what they create. I know I don’t do that. And at first, the thought sounded completely outlandish. But take a look at that data again and see if it doesn’t make you think twice.

It did me. In fact, it led to my biggest takeaway from BlogWorld NYC. It was actually a takeaway I’ve known about for a long time, but Lee’s presentation was a nice reminder:

Employees are a companies biggest asset. And most trusted “marketing” vehicle. But brands rarely dedicate big dollars and resources to educating employees or helping them market the brand on a personal level. And the data that served as the spark for this conversation indicates that approach is a big mistake.

If companies want to position their brands as relevant and trusted, they’ll start by empowering the stakeholders standing right in the middle of that search and social nexus — their employees.

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5 Responses to “My biggest takeaway from BlogWorld: Employee-powered SEO”

  1. michelletripp Says:

    Excellent post, Justin! These are words of wisdom. The combination of search and social media gives a brand incredible power, but so many companies aren’t leveraging that yet. I really liked that you put emphasis on the importance of investing resources in educating employees and empowering them to engage in social media and ultimately broadening the path to purchase. That’s a key component of a project I’m working on and it’s a great validation to see someone I respect emphasizing its importance and making a really great case for it. I’m going to have to grab that chart!


  2. JGoldsborough Says:

    @michelletripp Hi, Michelle. Thanks for stopping by. Definitely grab the chart. I have an employee comms background and am always looking for ways to validate more time and resources for that discipline.

    You are smart to be incorporating that employee training angle into your project. Nielsen and many others report that “third-party advocates we know” are the most trusted form of marketing. The awareness has to come from somewhere and often comes from search. But the third-party reccos can seal the deal, especially now with social search, as leeodden noted in his preso.

    If your employees are the most trusted form of marketing, why would you only spend the big bucks on branded marketing and engaging? Those disciplines dominate when it comes to budget time. But in the end, employees are the resource and advocates brands get the most out of from a trusted marketing perspective. And it gives you a bigger team to help promote your content. Cheers.


  3. joebertino Says:

    Woah, can you tell me more about this: “Have you seen social search in action yet?” I want to see it in action. What should I do? My mind is about to explode.


  4. JGoldsborough Says:

    @joebertino Search for it on Google :) . Kidding. Try this link for more.


  5. joebertino Says:

    @JGoldsborough Google? Oh, right, right +1. Good stuff.


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