Friday, August 21, 2009

Involvement, Engagement, Social Media Engagement and Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization

I know this won't apply to what few friends left that read this blog. But I'm frustrated and could use some guidance on the topic.
Social Media Engagement and Marketing versus Search Engine Optimization.
Where the hell is the line? How much should they overlap? Is one more important than the other? Does marketing play any role in SEO? (don't get me started on the crap field that is affiliate marketing.) Should SEO be a small part of SMEM? Or should SMEM be a tool to assist in SEO?
(yes, I know 99% of you have no idea what language i am speaking right now)
I'm frustrated beyond belief right now regarding this subject. My company (that I love and willingly work very hard for) is just not all that concerned with a marketing plan. But we are huge in SEO. SEO dominates every little move we make. Which as the SMEM person drives me crazy. I frequently feel like we completely overlook the true spectrum and potential within SMEM.
Please note, I choose to use SMEM, not SMM as the description for what I do. That right there should tell you something. I believe SMM is a tool to ENGAGE the customer. Not just create links.
Now, I have a strong interest in making all tools more interactive. However, I am limited by my own knowledge. I will admit to being jaded and the most impossible customer to reach. But as soon as I see a truly interactive and engaging marketing campaign, I am sucked right in. I haven't clicked on a Google Ad or Facebook ad in... years?? And that even includes the google ads at the top of my google search results pages. In other words, I hate ads. But if you involve and engage me, I will buy it every time. I believe that any company that is willing to take advertising that far into social engagement will continue to take my interests into consideration if and when I must ever access their customer service side of things.
So talk to me from both sides here. I admit that from the get-go I hate all things SEO. The more I see it in search results, the more I tend to avoid those websites. And don't get me started on how I refuse to every cooperate with anything that even remotely smells like an affiliate site. As a true SMEM professional, I can't help but believe that if people truly did SMEM right, we wouldn't have affiliates and SEO.
Don't get me wrong. I know SEO has its place. We need it for somethings. But should SEO drives a marketing or SMEM campaign? If not, what should?
Anyone have a great example of a viral video campaign, btw? Or an interactive campaign they have enjoyed?
Seriously, I'm at my wit's end here. I'm ready to give up this stinking career in SMEM and go back to events planning soon. I need to be creative and plan. And you just can't do that when SEO dominates marketing.
HELP! Someone throw me a lifeline!


  1. It takes all kinds. I am probably the opposite of you. I hate engagement. I will probably never buy a ticket from cheapoair even though I trust you, admire you and follow your blog. It is just the way I am. I have a different purchasing style. I am the person that SEOs market toward. I'm not influenced by other people. I know what I want and I type in the keywords. I understand that some people need the engagement though.

  2. You bring up a good point. When I research/google something, I want to know that I'm getting exactly what I am looking for. It is the so-called "marketers" that annoy me, and manipulate SEO so that their barely related websites come up over the ones I actually want. SEO is too easily dominated (which is where SMM can really help make a difference in organic searching).
    I thought about it a lot last night and came up with an engagement marketing plan I enjoyed. And it wasn't even targeted at me. A few years ago blog friend Stacer blogged about it. She received, completely out of the blue, a box of Miss Stacy's potato chips. They were a new company, launching a new product, and they did so by sending all of the "Stacy's" they could find a sample box of goodies. I thought that was so cool. And of course, she blogged about it. (Talk about awesome viral campaigning.) Ever since then, when I am looking for chips, and I see that brand, I almost always buy from them.
    That is good marketing. Getting someone who wasn't searching for you to want to buy from you.
    SEO finds the immediate searchers. Good marketing finds your immediate audience, plus your potential audience.

  3. I love Stacy's pita chips anyway.

    First tried them when they were in my boxed lunch on an airplane flight.

    Read about Stacey's Stacy blog and adimired it... but already yummed the chips.

    I know this comment doesn't help you at all but felt compelled to share.

  4. SEO has a HUGE place in Marketing. If you want to have an online presence, and especially if your company is a web service, you won't survive without extensive involvement in search marketing. And, the newer your company is, the more you'll rely on search and affiliate programs (however you feel about them) to bring in traffic. (Most companies use SMM or SMEM as a portion of their marketing portfolio and as a CRM or PR tool but it's generally not a primary method of traffic / customer acquisition.)

    Keep in mind, you have to distinguish between SEO and SEM, which is what it sounds like you don't like. There are a lot of great websites that specialize in search education for marketers - MediaPost puts out a great daily newsletter I subscribe to called Search Insider.

    As to frustrations with the way websites use search, a lot of websites really misuse the technology and put tons of adwords in their site code to attract organic traffic or purchase keywords that have nothing to do with their website, and that's definitely annoying. Google (and other search engines) have ranking systems, however, that give your site placement based on how well your site actually matches what you say it does. Because of the sheer number of websites and pages that are indexed on a daily basis, though, it's never going to be perfect and the ranking changes all the time. Purchasing keywords and sending clickers to pages that have nothing to do with them is called "cloaking" and is extremely frowned upon and will negatively impact your search ranking.

    A GOOD website makes an effort to purchase relevant keywords and make sure that the adwords in that listing match up with the landing experience on the site... they also make an effort to make sure the SEO code on their site matches what they're actually offering so that organic search results will match much better with the intent behind the searcher's query.

    A GREAT website will set up landing pages and dynamic messaging that target incoming traffic based on referring domain and/or search query with an experience that's as close to 100% relevant to the search query as possible. They'll also attempt to make sure the landing experience surfaces content right into that page that will be completely relevant and direct the user down a customized path to get them what they're looking for as quickly as possible. This is the ideal way to minimize friction and improve the possibility of a conversion success.

    Please don't paint all "marketers" with the same brush. Some of us work very hard at providing a great web experience for users who come to us be it through SEM, SEO, display media or offline advertising. Marketers are not all unethical monsters attempting to con everyone into purchasing whatever we're pushing. Besides that, whatever your personal thoughts are on search vs. social media, search, when done right, is one of the most effective (if not THE most effective) ways to bring a new user to your site. The key to remember, which is typically where websites fail, is that a user's website experience begins before they ever get to your site and if you don't make an effort to match the on and offsite experience and serve up the messaging and content that they're looking for, you've just hurt your brand and lost a potential customer.

  5. Gwen, that was beautifully put. It may not have sounded like it from my ranting, but I do actually completely agree with you. I just tend to get very frustrated when my marketing campaigns become dominated by SEO to the degree that we lose complete focus of messages and themes.


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