If you’re in the digital marketing world you know the keyword drill – visual, social, mobile, local, and content marketing. They’re the vitamins, nutrients, cardio, weightlifting and supplements that brands need to stay healthy, vital, and in shape.
2013 marks the year fit brands of all sizes can win the war against the competition and the race to gain or maintain a customer relationship.
The gimmicky yo-yo-SEO days are over – that was so last decade. Today’s healthy brands are doing press releases because they’re newsworthy, attracting links as a result of good content, and collaborating between all departments, including creative, public relations, digital marketing, advertising, and customer service.
Build a Community, Think Different
The traditional business model is changing thanks to social media communities and social conversations. Digital marketing experts report that the majority of a company’s sales cycle today happens without a company’s participation; brands and agencies that “get it” will survive.
“Small businesses all the way to the enterprise level should think entrepreneurial,” Copyblogger CEO Brian Clark shared at BlueGlassX 2012. “In order to appear on the customer’s radar early and expand marketshare, brands must shift the mindset to become media producers and think like an editorial team whether it is content, social or search.”
So how do you create a relationship with your audience before the sales cycle starts? Digital marketers chimed in offering tips on how smart brands can gain market share (and muscle share) by leveraging the best practices of content marketing and thinking like a media company.
Social PR Dos
- Find ways to get in the social and mobile newsfeed. More organic visibility equals more publicity. “If you want to grow your social presence, and right now let's admit that means Facebook, you have to find ways to get around the limits that Facebook is putting on organic visibility for your posts. Sure you can pay to show up in your fans’ newsfeeds, but you have to get creative to show up to a large percentage of your fans without paying. Right now that means images!” said Rob Woods, director of marketing, Reinvent.
- Go visual by using pictures your audience can identify with! But they don't need to be, and in most cases shouldn't be, directly related to your brand. Woods offers this tip: Make the images 403 pixels wide by 271 pixels high. That's the best size to look great on the web and on mobile.
- Dial into local mobile search. “The biggest under the radar opportunity for local brands in 2013 is the explosion happening right now in local mobile search. Smartphones are now the fastest spreading technology in human history, and – as Mary Meeker just reported – 13 percent of all Internet traffic now comes from a mobile device, up from 4 percent just two years ago,” said John Denny, VP Marketing, Advance Digital.
- Encourage users to “Google” your brand to find you rather than typing in your domain directly. “You still get the visit, but in addition to the visit you are getting a powerful signal to Google that you should rank for terms related to your brand, and you are teaching users to repeat that searching behavior,” Woods said.
- Think like a magazine. Smart brands will have a chief content officer charged with an agile content marketing plan that includes an editorial calendar, non-promotional types of content, strong visuals, email marketing, and offline advertising.
- Utilize paid search for positive and negative public relations. Remember that what people are talking about drives search trends on a daily basis. Janel Landis Laravie Founder, Chacka Marketing, offers this social PR tip: Everyone knows that they need to incorporate special offers and promos into their paid search campaigns, but don’t forget about positive and negative PR. If you are in the spotlight for good or bad reasons, utilize paid search to make your response the first result searchers are seeing on the results page and drive traffic to a dedicated page or blog post about it. Bidding on related terms to a recall or a community event will also let you assess just how big of a deal the subject is to your customers, because you will see how many impressions and clicks there actually were on the related keywords.
- Pay to play for social publicity! All Facebook community managers should be familiar with Facebook ads and take advantage of the second degree visibility opportunities advised aimClear’s Manny Rivas. Facebook Page Post ad units are the most underused type of Facebook ad yet are extremely powerful in driving cheap traffic to external sites (like a blog).
Social PR Don’ts
- Don’t have OCD with what your competition is doing. “Find what's different about your brand and promote that...it's going to come across as much more sincere than doing a zombie infographic,” said Julie Joyce, owner and director of operations, Link Fish Media.
- Don’t let Google run (or ruin) your life. Google isn’t the only form of digital muscle. There are other sources of protein to build up marketshare strength. Joyce noted that the key is to win the popularity contest on other networks and build out a content marketing system across a multitude of digital channels and platforms.
- Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter
- Bing, DuckDuckGo
- Other quality niche websites
- Don’t ignore the local SEO opportunity. Brands that understand that local organic search results is a public relations opportunity will win the local marketing race. “The smartphone essentially becomes a local discovery machine, and that fact is driving skyrocketing numbers of local searches. The two dots that many brands have not yet connected is that once people are out and about with an always on internet device, a large part of what they do is related to searching for things around them. Google is increasingly favoring local results in the SERPs that are personalized to the user’s exact geo location. If you are a digital marketer connected in any way to driving results in local markets, you need to begin orienting your brain toward the unique set of local seo best practices that help you rank high in local search results,” noted Denny.
- Just say no to useless content and get focused! Stop overdoing guest posts on low-trafficked sites and trying to get a giant variety of thin content posted all over the web,” said Joyce. “Start building up content equity on a few great sites.”
- Focus on writing one great article a month and promoting the article versus focusing on a higher quantity of articles per month but less quality and less promotions.
- Find authority sites in your niche and ask to do a guest post there, then promote the heck out of it and if it goes well, ask if you can turn it into a series or become a regular columnist.
Get Fit for 2013!
So how can brands get stronger and stay fit in 2013? Bulk up on a healthy content strategy and load up on exercises that help create brand longevity and vitality. Avoid toxic social media influences and unnecessary SEO indulgences.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!