Much has been written lately about SEO and its convergence with social media, content marketing, and other inbound marketing techniques. While many people in the SEO field embrace the convergence of social, content, and inbound marketing strategies others remain resistant to change and convergence.
Change is something that search, digital, and in-house marketing departments need to adapt to quickly. Clients seek solutions on how to integrate SEO, social media, and content marketing. Structuring the way we present our products and services, our talent, and adapting to a more holistic way of thinking is how we help them do this.
In a recent article from the search congress in Barcelona Lee Odden from Top Rank quoted “It’s not SEO anymore, It’s Marketing. Deal with it”.
The question today is…. “Can people actually deal with it?”
While we sit and gasp at the marvels of Facebook and Google engineering that have got us to where we are today, we often overlook for the most marvelous and complex piece over engineering ever – the human brain.
With a little help from the experts we have dug a little deeper into this subject to come up with ideas, questions, and tips that may help us find easy answers to some overhyped problems on the convergence of media.
Seize Opportunity – Don’t Resist Change
As marketers we spend lots of time talking about user behavior, buying personas, and the psychology of sharing related to our products and services, such as the psychology of sharing and the psychology of link building, social influence, audience segmentation and remarketing.
However, we spend very little looking into and analyzing our own approaches and personas.
Two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different ways of thinking and as soon as we look into the difference between the left and right brain hemispheres it clearly becomes apparent why some people are more technically driven than others and why so much conflict and debate surrounds topics such as inbound media, SEO, and social media.
To put is simply and go back to basics - left-brain marketers who tend to be analytical collide with right-brained marketers who think holistically and are more open to conceptual thinking. Ring any bells?
The winners in this industry are the people who sit in the middle and can adapt and balance left and right brain thinking. They use technology to diffuse creativity and create concepts that become measurable.
Build Your Own Converged Media Mind
The converged media mind utilizes both the left and right part of the brain and applies this thinking to the appropriate channel with the appropriate metric.
From this you can build the right relationships with your peers (counterparts) and share the right skills to engage with the right audience via the right channel and via the right medium.
Inbound Marketing & SEO or Inbound Marketing + SEO?
After spending a full day reading through articles and analyzing debate I am beginning to wonder. Is the whole debate over nonclamature and the inbound marketing vs SEO debate really down to channel conflicts or do personality conflicts play a more prominent role?
Maybe we have so much conflict and debate on the future of SEO because technical people are battering marketers with left-brain philosophy while only using the emotional part of their right brain.
Maybe less tech-savvy, marketers are trying to take advantage of situations without the necessary technical acumen or left brained realism to back up and implement their concepts.
Barry Adams, from Pierce Communications states exactly that “I think technical SEO – and the associated left hemisphere mode of thought – is increasingly important as Google et al. takes cue from the likes of rich snippets and well-crafted information architectures. I’m still not convinced ‘inbound marketing’ isn’t just another hype phrase embraced by those lacking left-hemispherical skills."
It’s a great point and a reason why the debate about inbound marketing vs. SEO vs. technical SEO is a topic that will be around for a long time unfortunately.
Left brained thinkers have been born, trained in many cases, and developed to purely focus on logical, factual, planned and coded information. In contrast, right brained social media and content marketers focus on elements of marketing that are not entirely logical and require a number of different ways of thinking.
It also leads into another important topic that is likely to raise (quite rightly) its weary head again also – The specialist v generalist debate.
Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director at LBI bigmouthmedia points put that to be successful in search you need to be an expert “but that does not mean you need to be a specialist. The question is can you be a left brained expert if you cannot see the bigger right brained picture?”
SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing Convergence
The Question: What’s the difference between an economist and a marketer?
The Answer: An economist believes that consumer’s decisions are bound on rationality (marginal utility theory) whilst marketers understand that consumer purchase decisions are not always rational…
The same theory applies for some arguments between social media and content marketers vs. technical algorithm chasers.
The issue isn't about what channel is best, what is dead, how it should be named. Rather, it's how do we, as search marketers, adapt our way of thinking to make everything work together. This encompasses everything from personal development, talent management and integration with other departments, channels and agencies.
Converged Media (a.k.a., Whole Brain) ways of thinking - balancing elements of left and right brained thinking - are now essential if you want to plan, run, and optimize your campaigns, relationships, and business in line with change and the convergence of search, social and content marketing.
That’s the biggest challenge many people face – not Google, not platforms, not technology, not marketing departments, sales departments, or IT departments – it’s you as an individual, your content and your communications and collaboration strategy.
Using SEO as an example, Angie Schottmuller, founder of Interactive Artisan, highlights five key areas in which SEOs can collaborate and combine left and right brain thinking by identifying who is your ______?
- Content and link builder
- Data-mining metrics master
- Tech/social/mobile/international specialist
- Cutting edge tactical advisor
- Search algorithm/penalty guru
“It could be a colleague, industry friend, or online blogger, but you’ll need to know who they are - and who you are - to effectively play the game on the right field with the necessary skills and proper equipment," Schottmuller said. "Game on."
Michael King, SEO Manager at Publicis Modem makes a powerful point on the convergence of media and the need for integrated thinking.
“It has to happen because at the end of the day content strategy is at the heart of all these things and using data from social allows refined and accurate targeting of campaigns,” King said. “There are tenured search people talking about how the way we do search hasn’t changed in 14 years.”
Under our hypothesis there can be little doubt that these people are extreme left brain technical thinkers.
“If you have not rethought your approach, after Panda and Google SPYW then I not sure what to say…” King said.
Those who can adapt to change and engage in whole brain thinking stand to win the more that search, social, and content marketing channels converge. If you think holistically then naturally your way of thinking matches the way that the industry is moving.
For those extreme left or right brain thinkers it is time to engage and collaborate with your counterparts and peers, look at developing your skills and, if you are a business or agency, train and manage talent whilst structuring your agencies accordingly.
Ralph Tegtmeier (a.k.a., Fantomaster) nicely summed up the convergence of left brain and right brain thinking: “The specific character of the industry is demanding for a unique mix of systematic diligence, structural thinking, process based analysis and technical and social creativity”.
Now that’s black hat creativity adapting to a changing marketplace!
For those who continually resist convergence and change then hey…that's fair enough. It’s your business and your revenue so feel free to sit in an ever-decreasing circle and argue as much as you like. It’s not so much about how you name what you do its more how you describe it.
Just know that others will soon be seizing your opportunity – call it what you like!
(P.S. Take this fun left/right brain quiz - kudos to James Carson from Bauer media for pointing this out to me.)