As social media moves from the edge to the center of adoption and practice, the future of marketing hinges on the ability for brands to evolve from the broadcasting of one-to-many sales and marketing messages to an authentic media company that creates and publishes meaningful and timely content. In Part 1, we examined the idea that every company is a media company: EC=MC, the various forms of pervasive media in the social Web, the need for editorial calendars, and how through the creation and proliferation of social objects, businesses could earn awareness and presence.
In this Part 2, we'll now examine the infrastructure necessary to create a fully-functional media team and channel and also how to optimize social objects to dramatically increase findability and shareability.
Introducing the New CEO
Editorial Calendars and bringing them to life are uncommon today, but necessary to compete for the present and the future. Decision makers in every business, from entrepreneurs to local business owners to executives at enterprise organization are learning to appreciate the prospectus of social media and its promise to materialize a brighter, more interactive and customer-focused future. Very few however, create the change necessary to support the establishment of new media programming and perhaps more significantly, do not endorse or lead the humanization of the company and its culture. Again, actions speak louder than words; that's why we need a little less conversation and a little more action.
Obviously the creation of new roles and the support of new programs is far easier with access to an unlimited fountain of resources. Whether we realize it or not however, we do have access to capabilities in house or within reach. Marketing, communications, and PR already produce and distribute content today. And, while their content is driven by top-down, messaging rich content blasted towards markets through one-to-many cannons, they are merely performing as instructed and remunerated.
Many of these departments or those individuals performing one or many of the above, report to a conductor responsible for the performances of the many instruments that form the brand's orchestra. Whether it's the president or founder, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, everything they know about content production and distribution works against the laws and virtues that vivify social networks.
Therefore, I suggest the creation of a new role or at least the introduction of new insight and responsibilities within existing roles that resemble the role of Editor-in-Chiefs within today's traditional media hierarchies. The new CEO is for all intents and purposes a Chief Editorial Officer and is responsible for the timely creation and distribution for relevant and material content delivered as attractive and engaging social objects. Once social objects are introduced into the wild, businesses are then challenged to ensure that these objects are supported by representatives who will spur conversations and reactions as well as implementing Social Media Optimization (SMO) techniques to ensure their "findability" when consumers are searching for relevant information.
When the right person is not on staff or readily accessible through existing vendor networks, Ike Pigott offers a compelling option worthy of consideration. As the axe swings vigilantly at all media properties affected by the evolution of journalism and the finances and systems that support it, rampant cutbacks set the stage for new opportunities. Perhaps placing a bona fide editor or publisher in the role of newly created Chief Editorial Officer or Editor-in-Chief role would transform the elusive into something tangible and actionable.
Optimizing Social Objects
As alluded to earlier, Social Objects inherently possess the capacity to represent our brand mission and purpose even in the absence of brand ambassadors. Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a derivative of the more extensive discipline of Search Engine Optimization, SEO. The saying goes, "if it can be searched, it can be optimized." And, such is true for social objects. When placed in social networks such as YouTube, Flickr, blog posts, etc., these objects are contenders for the top of results pages that are generated for each search query. SMO optimizes social objects so that they appear when relevant or coveted keywords are used to seek relevant information.
SMO is defined by the distribution of social objects and their ability to rise to the top of any related search query, where and when its performed. SEO + SMO = Amplified findability in the traditional and social Web.
However, the technicalities involved with wiring SEO are not the same processes required to boost visibility in social networks like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter. And it's in social networks like these where people are increasingly spending time communicating, finding relevant and interesting content, and sharing it with their connections. So now, in addition to SEO, we have to implement and manage a SMO program around our content to increase visibility in these new environments.
At the center of any successful SMO program are social objects. Social objects represent the content we create in social media, including images, videos, blog posts, comments, status updates, wall posts, and all other social activity that sparks the potential for online conversations. As such, the goal of SMO is to boost the visibility of social objects as a means to connecting with individuals who are proactively seeking additional information and direction.
The Social Web relies on metadata, leveraging "the crowds" to classify and organize the volumes of user-generated content uploaded to social networks and blogs everywhere. In some ways, we became the web's librarians by indexing the volumes of useful social objects to help others discover them quickly and easily.
At the very least, social objects are contextualized through keywords, titles, descriptions, and/or tags.
Keywords are the terms that people use to find relevant information in searches. When selecting keywords for your social objects, it's important to remember that the keywords used by customers and influencers are not always what you think they'd be. To help, I suggest visiting Google Adwords to generate keyword ideas:
It's also important to use Web analytics on your Website or blog to see how people are phrasing searches to arrive at your site. This allows you to calibrate your keywords accordingly.
Titles refer to the official designation or name of your content. Instead of focusing on a sensational or controversial title as in other forms of marketing, headlines on the social web should feature title tags and keywords upfront. In Social Media, your headline must contain the keywords that explicitly match the search patterns of the people you hope to reach.
Descriptions further refine the context of your social object to entice visitors to view and circulate your content amongst their social graph.
The description field is your chance to frame an object in order to further convince the viewer to click through to it. A good rule of thumb when writing descriptions is to make sure that your copy includes at least three keywords related to your business/brand and target viewers - without reading as text explicitly written to manipulate search results.
Tags are keywords that further group and organize your Social Object within the social network.
Tags are based on folksonomy, a system of classification derived from the practice of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content within specific networks. In order to make sure that your tags are categorized most effectively, make sure they include keywords related to the branding and marketing of your product, as well as its competition.
Links are the currency of the Web and serve as the primary undercurrent of search engine optimization. As in SEO, links help fuel traffic (as measured in views) to your social object, and contribute to your ranking within initial search results. Links equate to authority, and by amassing an extensive inbound linking infrastructure, the visibility of your social object can earn significant inertia. This, in turn, allows it to traverse from resident social network searches to appear in matching results in traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
For example, sharing a link on Twitter and Facebook that points back to a video on YouTube extends the reach of the video to people in one or more forums, potentially connecting them to your content. If individuals within these outside social networks decide to share the video across their social graphs, we further extend the visibility and the authority of each object.
From "Sales Rhetoric and Messages" to Influence
No brand is an island and the idea of our Web properties serving as destinations is quite honestly dated and no longer effective. As many online activities begin with a search, creating and deploying strategic beacons of information within targeted social networks creates roads and bridges back to our business.
This "inbound" form of unmarketing, enriched through the production of meaningful content, helps us connect our value and our story to those who are already searching for solutions and guidance. We're either part of the results or we're unfortunately absent from further consideration.
Our road to the future begins with understanding that attention is finite and is increasingly thinning. It is now our responsibility to connect purpose and value directly with individuals where, when, and how their attention is focused. We must help ourselves by introducing relevance, discoverability, and shareability into the mix. Empowering consumers to view the most material information and in turn, make advantageous decisions is now a critical priority and will determine our stature not only in online societies, but also in the markets where we hope to thrive and excel. We are either part of the information gathering and decision making cycles or we are absent from them. Where we rank once connected is established by our understanding of people and the information they seek combined with our mastery of the networks, tools, and services they use to communicate. It's as simple as this: absence equates to irrelevance while pervasiveness equates to ubiquity. And, through the creation of compelling media, we earn the presence, awareness and ultimately the influence we deserve.
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