Avoid Managing the Minutiae of Social and Search

Remember all of the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone? How could you not? He only made 6 of them. In the very first movie, Mickey, Rocky’s crusty trainer played by Burgess Meredith, had a couple lines in the movie that I will never forget. Some of which seem to be appropos for two reasons. One, they apply to the worlds of search and social and two, they just makse sense from a business standpoint.  But beyond the lessons that we can learn from Mickey-the real lesson is in the title of this post. But first let’s look at one of those lines and see what “the Mick” has to say. 

#1 Mickey constantly is telling Rocky to “Stick and Move”

Mickey wanted Rocky to “stick and move”  because essentially Rocky was too slow to stand in front of someone and go toe to toe with them. Sticking and moving is a method involving landing  jabs, while backing away without giving his opponent, Apollo Creed, an opportunity to launch a barrage of shots to Rocky’s head. Apparently Rocky did not heed that advice as well as Mickey wanted him to. 

In search and in social, there are so many moving parts that it’s easy to become stuck in doing one thing and one thing well or badly for that matter. Call it Myopic or blinded by focus, while not necessarily a bad thing in search and social, there are just too many moving parts. It’s better, or I should say tantamount, that you understand how search can makes a good social strategy better and vice versa, but all the while not becoming bogged down in the 101 type of activities that alot of people tend to hover on. Stay high level and keep moving; and yes I know it is the little things, but in this case, it’s about moving and being effective and the bigger picture.

For instance in search, there’s the whole aspect of campaign planning, or the strategy itself before you even launch or relaunch. There is creating search programs just for branding purposes. There is SEO, both on-page and off page for main sites and micro-sites. There is PPC, there is mobile, local, and of course the whole analytics side of it all. The point being that all of these can be managed separately and or they can be managed as channels that contribute to or funnel into the bigger picture. It’s a huge task and yet one that is best managed by sticking and moving. 

The key here is to attack and address all of these and see where they fit or fall within your organization, but not get caught up in the minutiae of managing them. Now some companies, the smaller ones, can get away with just doing some of the above mentioned tasks and not doing others, and I might add, doing it well, but larger ones at the enterprise level cannot. If we’re to understand that all of these components contribute to greater profits for a company, think how social now is playing into all of them. Social has virtually the same amount of moving parts.

In social you have to have the ability to create and manage a strategy, understand and manage social analytics, create blogs, wikis, microblogs, manage profiles and activity feeds, create and manage communties, create tags, create and manage campaigns and then rinse and repeat. Very similar to search, and yet, both very complimentary as well. The scary part? All of this can be done at both the enterprise level and the SMB level.

The common themes? A couple of them. One is the digital consumer. Another is the digital vendor. and still another are the digital expectations of and aspirations of both. Another, is how extremely well search and social play together. And still the last 2 themes? One is how important it is to stick and move in managing both search and social concurrently-especially in todays rapidly changing digital world and the other? Don’t get caught up in the minutae of managing both search and social- they are large, fluid, everchanging monoliths. “Stick and move Rock, Stick and move”.

SEO and SMO are conversation starters.

Last year Jason Calacanis wrote a blog post how he thought that SEO and SMO were bullshit. Now I know in some parts Calacanis is approaching demi-god status and in other parts he’s villified to no end. Hell, he has 35,000 followers on Twitter, which is a fairly significant number of people who put a lot of stock in what he says. I’m one of those followers too. But that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything he says.

I had been thinking about the role of SEO and SMO in internet marketing lately and decided to do a cursory search and that’s when I found Jason’s article. It’s not the driving force behind this post but it does give it some legs since Jason and others have deemed some of what is done on the level within SEO and SMO circles as unacceptable.

Over the last year and half and even before that, I have engaged in some pretty healthy SEO as well as SMO for clients. And it has worked. I utilized what was available and knew what I was doing. According to Calacanis that would make me a snake oil salesman. Talking SMO then, Calacanis said the following:

Anyone who hires an SMO firm is an idiot. The whole point of social media is TO BE REAL NOT FAKE!!! Just be yourself and participate… that’s all it takes (and note, participation is not just putting in your own links, it’s voting/commenting on/submitting other people’s content too!).

To which I have to say that “SMO is the process of realizing that being authentic and strategic within a social media marketing context or environment can be beneficial.

Here’s a generic example. I have a demographic of women smokers in their mid 30’s for instance. They  happen to use Facebook. So I create a widget that provides them a way to maybe quit smoking and track the results and share them, which in turn drives them to a blogsite, a branded microsite and a branded community. To get this ball rolling, I’ve also seeded/posted articles related to all of these sites and the product and the campaign on Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious, Technorati, Propeller and say Reddit. All of these linked together creates a tremendous opportunity and buzz for these users to not only meet, but also to share, and perhaps learn more about a product dedicated to them. Does this mean that what I have done is black-hat or disingenuous? No. Does it mean that I have taken certain elements, linked them together and have enjoyed the linky-goodness via SMO and SEO? Yes. Am I bad? Am I evil? Am I hiding? Am I not being “transparent enough”?  Why can’t I let these social bookmarking sites know about a product launch?

Want a good example?  Buddy Media created the Check your Dudeness app for Facebook-Couldn’t this be construed as some element of SMO? They’re taking a product, a branded one and using social media to promote it. Is that gaming the system? No.

We need to get away from the fact that what the system allows us to do, does not neccessarily mean that we are up to no good, or that we’re not being transparent enough. Ok I get it. I don’t need to be told over and over and over again to be transparent and authentic. Yes there is a difference between black hat seo and white hat seo as well as black hat smo, no doubt about it. Just check akismet for aspects of that. But.. most of your brand marketers are only using the tools that are available. I can show you at least 130 examples where companies used certain aspects of social media to promote or further their brand exposure using some of the above mentioned sites and tactics. This doesn’t mean that they are operating behind a cloak of deceit.

Listen, there is a big big difference between gaming the system and utilizing what is provided to promote your product, your brand, and your company. It truly boils down to how you use it. I’m all for engaging in conversations but someone has to start the conversation. The better you are at starting a conversation, the better your chances are of someone listening and responding back. Maybe we should be looking at not how to be transparent and authentic, but more on the proper way to enagage and start the conversation.

My Social Media Morning

Here’s the drill and it varies, but I’m curious what you’re social media mornings are like. Let me preface that this particular morning I have a headache from 2 glasses of red wine coupled with my inability to go back to sleep at 4:30 this morning. Thus, you lay in bed and you “fake-sleep” until 6 which at that point you do fall asleep and wake up a half hour later and you’re ultimately tired beyond belief.

  1. Fire up the machine (this particular morning we’re trying  out Google Chrome) While this is occurring I try to read either DM news, electronic retailer or the latest book.
  2. While it’s booting up I’m usually also thinking about a blog post. This morning, I’m thinking of a post in which I can compare bars to social networks-not sure there is something there though. what do you think? We all love to go to our favorite bar but why? What keeps us coming back? The beers and the drinks are no different at another establishment right?
  3. Staring at a product that a potential client gave me yesterday wondering whether it has legs for a social media campaign let alone a marketing campaign. This happens a lot.
  4. I have to put together a marketing matrix for another client in which I Identify the decision makers and their buying habits and then try to tie it back into social media.  In this case, it’s a supply chain software company, wondering aloud if that’s possible?
  5. Knowing we have to do a site redesign for the corporate site, I pull up some photoshop files to stare at the latest iterations. Initial thoughts: It’s not Web 2.0 enough. I’ll talk to the designer later.
  6. Rereading an article by Aaron Kahlow in which he writes about the 5 deadly sins of social media and thinking “I’m reading this after I wrote about social media marketings 7 deadly sins” and after a quick search I realize that there is a lot of sinning going on in social media based on this 7 deadly sin post and half a dozen others. It’s at this point that I think I’m very predictable.
  7. While chewing on that, I pull up Social Media Today, which is an incredible resource and provides lots of talking points on what’s going on in social media and I gravitate to post titled  Social Media, what about the risks? by Amber Naslund. I’d suggest reading it, it brought back some not so fond memories of a rogue social networker who terrorized all of our networks and efforts and made the experience very enriching. NOT!
  8. Thinking that Chrome is ok. For now.
  9. I have to call a recruiter in Chicago about an SMO/SEO strategist position. Not sure what I’m going to tell him, but it’s nice to be wanted. Couple that with the fact I’m in Naples, Florida. Never hurts to listen. right?
  10. Logging into LinkedIn, I like checking it everyday. Periodically, I like to read  the answers section or ask questions. I usually have a request or two to respond to as well since I started a LinkedIn group called the “Digital Response Marketing Group”.  It has a great name and has a world of potential to be developed into something larger, but hey, I gotta eat and sleep. I’m willing to partner on this, so hit me up.
  11. Time to fire up Twitter. I’ve been digging Tweetdeck more than Twhirl of late, but sometimes Tweetdeck just freaks out. yesterday i wasn’t in a very Twitterlike mood.
  12. I have to do a proposal for a client with a business (product) they’re getting ready to launch. I tried to counsel the CEO on the merits of social media and it’s potential. She didn’t want to hear it. She wants a DRTV proposal and that’s it. Ouch.
  13. Starting to read some various tweets.
  14. Need to do some related SEO/SMO stuff for another product we are marketing. Not sexy but needs done. Some people do not realize that social media marketing is hard work.
  15. It’s only 9:36 in the morning and I’m thinking of about 3-4 different social media strategies for  a few of the products that we market. But the problem is, not every user or audience is a perfect fit for social media.
  16. Just decided to scan through Outlook mail. Also opening Hotmail as well. I dread both activities.
  17. Have to talk to a client about creating a blogsite for his skin care line and forthcoming book. I’ll call him later this morning.
  18. Just got an invite email from Signalpatterns.
  19. Going to now fire up Pandora, it helps me work, though I’m worried about them lately. Logging into Facebook too. Thinking I might as well open up Ning. During Gustav I joined a Ning group devoted to the 2008 hurricane season, it is very well done.
  20. Now firing up Google Reader, throughout the day I’ll read over a 150 blogs, or I should say scan, since some don’t update everyday. Though there are a few that are a must read, and I would suggest you create that short list as well. If you want my short list let me know.
  21. Sitting here wondering what the next big thing is going to be in social media. I have my ideas, and to that end my thoughts are that as the number of social sites continues to grow exponentially, our usage habits might become more diluted. We may have to pick a few and leave the rest behind. But if there is a better way to aggregate them, then maybe not. I’m just sayin…
  22. Ok, I’m done with Chrome. it’s dragging too much.