For years, certain companies have made a living doing something akin to 'gaming' the Google search results. By focusing on a single distribution channel, they have built visibility in the search engine result pages in order to acquire new customers or new leads. Recent changes in the Google search algorithm have made this practice less useful and as a result seen companies engaging consumers or potential business partners through a holistic, integrated strategy rising to the top.
The integration of search, social media and PR may have been seen as inevitable by some, but most companies are not integrating across these channels. While some notable recent examples such as Three and their #danceponydance marketing campaign show the potential of social media, search and PR, most companies have silo'd these disciplines and these departments almost never work together.
The internet is constantly evolving, and businesses have had to evolve with it. From the earliest days of email to the current environment of HTML5, mobile sites, social media, search, iAds and more, it can be difficult for marketers to know where to invest their money and time to the best benefit of their company or clients. A recent study by Beyond into the Science of Sharing revealed that for almost all verticals search is by far the most used channel for research leading to purchase.
Search may be the most important channel but social media is also widely used. With 42% of social brand interactions leading to a purchase among 1500 people studied in the UK, social media is an extremely important sales and lead generation channel as well. Reaching out to these people is important and requires a strategy integrating across multiple channels.
The low cost of entry into social media belies the complexity and importance of this channel, and underestimating its importance can be disastrous. Social media, requires an understanding of what to do where and with whom and how. In order to ensure that a brand's PR strategy, implementation and materials are optimised, an understanding of SEO helps so that PR and social media activity will positively affect the position within search engines. Integration means working across teams and sharing knowledge and resources to achieve a total result greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Understanding each of these channels, and that they work together both directly and indirectly for client and customer acquisition is important. While the mechanics can be left to the specialists, it is imperative for a CMO or channel head to bring the specialities together and ensure that together they create an integrated strategy. To help, I've created a whitepaper which illuminates the role PR, social media and search play in complementing each other, some deeper level knowledge of how each channel works and some strategies for getting these departments working together. To make it easy, you can see the slides here:
Social media, PR and SEO are about getting a brand seen which should then increase sales/leads. Social media, requires an understanding of what to do where and with whom and how in order to ensure that a brand's PR strategy, implementation and materials are optimized so that it will positively affect their position within search engines, as well as portray them in a good light.