26 September 2012 - 3:26pm | by Steak

The future of social is not in a silo

The future of social is not in a siloThe future of social is not in a silo

The last eight months has seen the discipline mature beyond recognition. Heading into the future, social will sit at the heart of all digital marketing, not because bright minds have a gut feel it’ll work out, but because all the evidence supports this mind-set.

People generally discover things on the internet in two ways. Through search and through social media. The past five years has seen a distinct split in the way we hunt out content. Essentially, platforms like Facebook were the discovery spaces and the Google was the search place. We’re now starting to see the search engines embrace the signals of social to help people discover content that is relevant, not because the content is linked to multiple different websites, but because the people have told the web that content is relevant and important.

Social and search is an integrated discipline. Social is no longer simply a branding mechanism you have to have because the people demand it. It’s now fundamental to the machinations of search. What binds the two disciplines? Content. I’m not talking any old content either, I’m talking world class content.

Great content should act as a traffic honey pot in more ways than one. Firstly, by presenting your consumer with great social content that taps into relevancy, you show that as a business you understand their needs and wants. In return, general social media behaviour dictates they will engage with and share this content to like-minded people, be that on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook or Pinterest. The action of sharing is the closest human ranking factor available online at the moment.

Google wants to know how much of an authority you are on a subject, then it factors in the human sharing signals or relevance. Google is categorising the web and it’s categorising authors. A brand can be an author and the more social signals Google can relate to an author, the more successful you’ll be with your search goals.

This is where the cross over is most apparent, by feeding the consumer with shareable relevant content, your business will rank higher for your keywords which in turn leads to a substantial uplift in natural search traffic. Social media has forced SEO agencies into a 180 degree change in how they view the purpose behind everything they do. It’s no longer about figuring out what an algorithm wants, it’s about finding out what people want, which in essence, is exactly what marketing has been about since its inception.

That’s why STEAK believes search and social should sit under the same umbrella. Search departments are now using social media as a research tool to find out what sorts of content will be relevant and valuable. On the flip side, social looks to create content that will not only fly in the social channels, but also fly up the listings for Google. Creating discoverable content is of utmost importance if any campaign is to be successful. By integrating the two disciplines you can decide on a theme and build out a coherent strategy that performs across both social search and traditional search. Through consistency across both disciplines, you maximise efficiencies, attain transparency and ensure a standardised message regardless of how your potential consumer finds you.

To master the convergence of search and social, brands have to become content creators to one degree or another in order to survive the new digital era.

That’s not to say they need to be constantly running Facebook competitions, or creating mobile apps to help people ‘engage’ with them, it’s simply saying that in the digital age, a brand needs to be ‘always on’, because their customers will be.

Pete Wood
UK Social Media Director
STEAK

STEAK
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7420 3500
Web: www.steakgroup.com
Twitter: @STEAKLondon

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