This blog is prompted by a heated debate
on our Property Tribes forum concerning the title of our 27th January networking event
"Why a portfolio of web content is as valuable as a portfolio of property".
This proposed presentation brought some interesting opinions on social media to light, and during the course of the discussion, I clarified my own thoughts on the thorny issue of social media V's SEO, PPC and Google ad-words in respect of measuring ROI.
The discussion was interesting because it was so polarised. In one corner, we have the new boy "social media", and in the other corner, "marketing using traditional channels".
But hold on. For sure there is a fight to defend corners and ideas, however, most of them are irrelevant to what is being suggested in the first place.
I would suggest, therefore, that we look at what we are talking about as a "bigger picture".
We are talking about the web. And the web is bigger than SEO, SM, SB, SN, PPC & GA (see below for clarification of what these mean) combined. As we breath today Jan 2010 it would make sense to practice all, depending on what products or services you have.
Some of us will not and they're right, some of us will and they're right.
But in reality it would seem to be silly to get all worked up over minor points when what we need to be discussing is the bigger picture i.e the web.
In truth web 2.0-4.0 has caught us all with our trousers down as no one really understands it fully - no one, the original thread
amongst others has documented that beautifully.
There are those that believe in using arguably older methods on today's web, in a very short space of time we will see if the gamble will pay off. Others will use new methods on today's web. It's still a gamble because it's too new and no one really understands the best way of monetising it in a traditional sense but on the same note we are!
What we do know is there is a new kid on the block, some call it social media, most don't know what it means let alone how to use it!Does it mean:
- Being social with a media?
- A word that conveniently covers all that we do on the web.
- A "freemium" model that will save the world.
If it is a convenient method of covering all that is done on the web then that's about as useful as walking through Tehran in a "Star of David" tee shirt!
If it's the latter then maybe, we'll see.
I would go for the former, as this has been going on for thousands of years. being social with a specific media, thus creating conversation
Some would like to use it solely to get business, some will use it in a social manner and let business come to them.
Take your pick. Neither one is right or wrong - at the moment.
The only way to get it wrong is to use monologue on it's own, which as part of dialogue is non existent. It's no different to daily life that you are practiced at already.
Portfolio of web content.
If I want to create a "portfolio of web content" then I will knowing that with 31 billion searches per month (just google) someone will (and has) stumbled across my conversation and joined in, and in some case they have chosen to do business with me.
If I want to emulate that with any other method such as SEO or PPC/GA then I can - however it's not very straight forward to have a conversation with a static advert as static adverts are monologue. Moreover, I will have to keep paying for it to stay there, whereas "organic content" stays there in perpetuity. Also I might add that SEO and PPC/GA have yet to break into "real time", you can't pay to be at the top of a twitter search - please note I said "yet" they may at some point but at this point in time they do not.
As I said before both are right in the greater good of the web. Both have their advantages as well as their disadvantages.
IMHO the way to use the web in it's current format is to create the ability to be found. Both fit the bill, both have a different model, both work.
But, I would propose that they way the web is heading at the moment would suggest the future may hold a different approach.
It would appear that conversation on the web is quickly catching up with surfing on the web (SM is to conversation as PPC is to surfing)*. Based on this I'm sure you will agree that SEO and PPC is far more suited to surfing than conversation, like wise SM is far more suited to conversation.
So we have a choice either SM, SM&SEO PPC/GA, or SEO &PPC/GA - what about SN and SB (see below for meaning)? When are these coming into the mix? They all need to be used to get the best out of the web.
As John said
(in the original thread) SM is akin to Brand advertising. I would agree to that in so many words. However, SM is a specific action not the sum of effort and put against the web is only part of the collective.
The average human speaks 5000 words a day and yet we don't worry about the ROI in talking when we get up in the morning. Can we measure it? Yes, if thats what you want then you can.
We can also measure the ROI in custard, If you try, the only data you’ll find is weight and calorific content. And colour. And custard-ness. All of which are good barometers of great custard. But what number does custard taste like? Is it a 10? 4? 28? Might be. If I tell you my custard tastes like a ‘34′ - would that mean anything to you? I would presume not! (courtesy of Michael Greenland
If you don't like custard then you probably don't care about it's ROI, if you do like custard then you probably don't care about it's ROI.
If, however, you want to use some of your 5000 words a day on business and you want them to count then you might be interested in the ROI. Well there are tools to help you with that. If you are a purveyor of custard and you want to measure how good your custard is, you can do that too, there are tools.
You could also "monitor" conversations on the web and target them. There are web tools out there that allow you to "watch conversation" thus giving you data on your product and/or a competitor. Not only that but allows you to join in the conversation - Question: Would/could this be a smarter way of deploying advertising?
If so then SM is paramount as no one will take you seriously without the backing of your brand.
Traditional advertising (on the web) means the customer finds you. Now you can find the customer.
It's not that far fetched to accept that in the future, products and services will find us as opposed to us finding them/it. The algorithms are getting that tuned. This, in turn, negates the necessity for SEO and PPC to a certain degree - they will still be there but their importance will diminish.
We're doing it already, albeit, on a more manual scale.
Just prior to Christmas and over 2 weeks we used this method for Linda McCartney foods and increased their traffic by 800%. All it took was using the web app's that are already there. Could this be an ROI? They asked us to increase traffic and that's what we did with just twitter alone.
The "red herring" with SM seems to be the necessity to speak first then measure, whereas, you should always listen first then react to what is being said, this way cause and effect can become much clearer. Which means you will have to put time into something that you cannot measure before you start - but thats OK we're all used to that it's called listening, which as a rule precedes conversation, which in turn is called social media.
The act of being social with a specific media.
So as we sit here today Jan 2010 we can see that the act of paying for eyes, which has dominated advertising for thousands of years, has a partner called social media (to use the term in a very general manner).
It is clear that it is here to stay. It is clear that it has a place. It is also clear that all of us need to use it and it is clear that even new technology is being formed because of it.
But, it is only part of the greater good of the web. SEO,PPC,SM,SB,SN are all subordinate to the web, so you have to be very clear in what you want to achieve with the web to just focus on one or two.
Therefore, determining your objective is critical.
If you are just starting out on your social media journey or want to clarify an existing strategy, I have devised a training day on Saturday 6th Feb at our new offices in Guildford.
This will entail determining your objective, without which you may "scattergun".
Please click on the link below for full details.
* Technology is, at last, emulating what the web community is wanting/needing. Mobile devices are becoming mainstream for communication and sharing knowledge. This, in turn, maps IMHO the way of the web in the future (or at least the near future). With interest this is not the case for SEO and/or PPC/GA.
SM - Social Media
SB - Social Bookmarking
SN - Social Networking
SEO - Search Engine optimisation
PPC - Pay per Click
GA - Google Ad-words