Wednesday, January 07, 2009

5 Ways to Integrate Search and Social Media

Much has been written and practiced when it comes to leveraging social media to impact organic search rankings and traffic -- often via link-building campaigns or addititional listing opportunities afforded through Universal Search (image, video, news, local, etc.).

But paid search should not be ignored when it comes to social media, though it often is ignored in this regard, since paid search operates under a different set of rules. Since Google's Quality Score does not yet take into account the social nature of the landing page, let's reverse the challenge. Rather than think about how social media can impact paid search results, let's explore some ways to that paid search can help drive social media results, which in turn can help drive organic search results.

Here are five ways that marketers can begin to leverage paid search to improve social media campaigns. Together, I hope we can build on this list in the days to come, so please share your thoughts in the comments section.

1. Use paid search to help launch a new social media effort; (e.g. Facebook Page, YouTube Channel)

It's common for a brand to spend time and money to create a Facebook page, YouTube channel, and seeding it with compelling content and opportunities for users to share the content virally. Marketers may also invest in a Facebook social ad campaign or a YouTube display ad campaign to help promote the page or channel.

Too often though, the initial results are fleeting. The Facebook page or YouTube Channel initially gets a decent amount of visitors, pageviews, fans, and subscribers, etc., but the initial excitement tapers off quickly once the marketers, their agencies, employees and friends have are done joining the fun.
Creating paid search text ads to drive to branded content on social media sites may not fit within your stated objectives and key performance indicators, which are usually around driving traffic to branded websites where people can "convert" by signing up for a newsletter, so modify your key performance indicators as necessary. Build social media results into your paid search key performance indicators.

Supporting social media with paid search can provide immediate and sustainable traffic to your social media effort, and can be quickly paused once momentum builds.

2. Create text ad copy with a "social tone".

Many websites have surveys, questionairres and other tools that are more "social" than you might initially think. For sites that solicit consumer feedback, I've found that using phrases such as "Share your experience" or "Tell Us About" have generated higher than average clickthrough rates, which in turn has led to better ad positions at a lower cost per click.

3. Promote your live podcast with paid search.

It's always a bigger client success when the live version of the podcast attracts many viewers, even though we know that it's the archived versions that ultimately receive the most amount of traffic over time. One way to combine the immediacy of paid search with the immediacy of a live podcast is to develop a series of "countdown" paid search text ads. For example, rather than the typical text ad that drives to your typical website/landing page, create ads that promote your live podcast, leading off with the date in the headline. Then drive to the page on your site that allows users to register for the podcast. Easy enough, right? A small, but well-targeted paid search campaign could be the difference a happy client and a disappointed one.

4. Start a local Meetup and promote it with a geo-targeted paid search campaign.

5. Drive paid search traffic to your Twitter profile?

Controversial in the blogosphere, yes. Does it make sense? Join the fun! Share your thoughts in the comments below!