Last Tuesday I attended a Social Media and Search event called HitMe! held at Microsoft organised by my company.

The Event was about social media and search, and how these two components compliment each other.  The information below is a mixture of the speakers information and my opinion.

2010 will be the year Social Media and Search really meet

Speakers:  Cedric Chambaz – Marketing Manager and Mel Carson – Community Manager at Microsoft

Optimising search has always been important and the primary focus for businesses on the web but now social media has become just as important as search. Social Media on the most basic level is content, as it is the search engines job to index and organise content, it is inevitable for it not to appear in search engines. By having presence across mutilple social media platforms, you are ultimately increasing your chance of being found via search. We have already seen the likes of Bing and Google integrating Twitter feeds into their search engines. The convergence between Social Media and Search will no doubt continue to increase.

Quick tips to optimise your Search Results using Social Media

Encourage bloggers – Try and find key blogs in your industry that can influence your target audience, establish meaningful relationships with them so they start blogging about your products and services.

Host your own forums – Integrate a forum into your website. Forums are updated frequently with new content, having fresh content on your website is important for SEO (Search engine optimisation).

Increase your Social Media presence – Search engines are indexing all the different platforms and trying to make them easier to be found. Try to put videos on Youtube, updates on Twitter, a corporate blog, by doing this you will be able to have a wider reach on the search engines.

Interesting Stats about Twitter

Speaker: Mark Shaw – Twitter expert

 •8 Million New Users per month
•Growth of 1400% in 2009
•Over 75 Million Twitter Accounts
•50 million tweets sent per day – that’s 600 a second
•10 Billion tweets since launch 2006
•20% contain reference to a brand
•57 of FTSE 100 are on Twitter
•72% of those have not used their account to respond to customers

Some of these figures seem extraordinary, great. But what does that mean for a business?

Clearly Twitter is growing at a rapid rate. It is not a fad that is going to be disappearing anytime soon, therefore businesses should embrace it and learn how to use it properly. 57 of the top 100 FTSE companies have realised the importance of Twitter, yet 72% percent of these have not responded to their customers. Either they are plain stupid or they can’t cut through the red tape to actually allow someone to take control, either way they are missing out on a huge opportunity.

Quick tips for Twitter

Engage don’t broadcast – Twitter is not about shouting to your audience and trying to sell, it is about engaging, listening and talking with your customers.

Upload a photo to your avatar – Include a photo of yourself, make your Twitter page personal, having a photo of Darth Vadar will not win you followers.

Be committed – Don’t tweet once and then never look back, it will do far more damage in the long run, if you can’t be bothered why should your customers.

Engaging social media and creating communities to enhance natural search

Speaker: Rob Shaw – Managing Director of Epiphany Solutions

One of the statistics I found interesting from Rob Shaw’s presentation was “78% of consumers trust peer recommendations – only 14% of them trust advertisement” (Source: Social Media Revolution, 2009).  This certainly rings true.

As we have become accustomed to the Internet we have learnt to filter out ads, I manage to close pop-up ads before they even have a chance load. When I come across sales copy on the Internet I tend to ignore it or occasionally skim read it, however when reading a blog post I find myself reading almost every single word. Now think of what would have happen if that same sales copy was in a blog post using blog style language, would I have paid more attention to it? Certainly.

If you are able to build a network of bloggers, especially the key influencers within your industry then you can have a very powerful marketing tool at your disposal.

Quick tips for influencing bloggers

sandeep vadgamaMonitor your industry – Radian6 is a paid for social media monitoring and engagement tool (recommended by both Rob Shaw and Mel Carson). Monitor your industry for bloggers who have influence, try to establish a relationship with them and encourage them to blog about you.

Engage – Start engaging with the blogger via their blog. Join in on the debates in the comments or better yet initiate them. Try and develop a relationship with them.

Give them credit – If you have a website, perhaps include a link to their blog and state why people should visit, granted this cannot always be done. If you have Twitter, again link to their posts which you find interesting.

5 Myths of Social Media

Speaker: Nancy Williams – CEO of Tiger Two

1. It is not about the numbers
When starting with Social Media, you often become obsessed over the numbers. How many followers you have on Twitter or how many fans you have on Facebook, but at the end of the day this means nothing if they are not relevant or doing anything. Having 50 real and relevant followers is much better than having  200 random auto followers on Twitter.

2. Social Media does not replace traditional marketing
Social Media should not be substitute for traditional marketing, but rather a compliment. While it is large enough to require a considerable amount of time and devotion it should not be done in isolation. It doesn’t replace traditional face to face and telephone marketing. 

3. Not everyone is on Social Media
Clearly not the whole world is on Social Media (not yet anyway). This means that not all your customers can be reached using this method. Think about the other ways you can reach your customers and integrate this into your overall marketing efforts.

4. Have a plan!
You need to plan before you jump on the Social Media bandwagon, ad-hoc tweeting is not going to work. Take some time out to prepare a social media marketing plan. (read the first part of my developing a social media marketing campaign)

5. It is not  a get rich quick initiative
You are not going to make millions overnight, let alone a few years. Social Media should be viewed with a  long term view in mind, think of it as an extension to your brand online. Be committed and you will reap the rewards in the long run.  

Quick tips for your social media campaign

social media at microsoftPlan, plan, plan! – I cannot stress this enough. Take some time to put down on paper what you plan to do, how you will measure it and then execute, review and reevaluate your plan.

Listen, monitor and engage – Use seach engines and other tools to listen for conversations taking place about your organisation, monitor these and then engage in them.

Be committed– Make a long term commitment to your social media campaign. Think of it as a brand extension, not just to try and make sales and generate leads, but to extend your brand presence online. The sales and leads will come as a result of good representation of your brand online.

I am learning as I go, therefore I always welcome comments and feedback. Please comment below. 

Do you agree/disagree with any of the above? 

Sandeep Vadgama

Sandeep Vadgama


Editor of Fourth Source and freelance SEO/Digital Marketer based in London.