In What Digital Marketers Should Bet On: Part 1, I suggested that understanding the business strategy for our most important third-party platforms will help us plan long-term, viable marketing. If you didn’t read it (or don’t want to), here’s the recap: To continue to grow, Google wants to help you solve your problems and Facebook wants to keep you on their site.
Okay, Linds, so what? Just knowing these things doesn’t ensure success on these platforms, so what does it actually mean for your approach to SEO and Facebook?
Recommendation for SEO #1:
Make a consistent effort to give your audiences a GREAT experience.
Answer their question quickly, solve their problem cheaply, tug on their heartstrings a little, and make a consistent effort to do it better all the time.
For Google and SEO, I believe that publishers who provide a great experience for their audiences will have a distinct advantage. When I say “great experience,” I’m not being coy. I mean your title tags and meta descriptions are intentionally crafted to speak to specific needs. I mean your website loads quickly, looks great on mobile, is easy to navigate, and empowers the user to do exactly what they are trying to in the simplest and quickest way possible. Also, you should probably take this opportunity to make them laugh, cry, or in other ways establish an emotional connection to your brand.
Your actual plan is to first understand where your current website may be falling short and then systematically fix it. The bigger the shortcoming, the higher priority it should be on your fix-it list.
Recommendation for SEO #2:
Optimize your content to capture the SERP features most useful to your goals (and perhaps reconsider how success is measured).
SERP features are a thing we all get to experience, but we may not consider the impact or frequency of having weather forecasts, restaurant reservations, flight statuses, product reviews, YouTube videos, Tweets, related questions, news updates, Wikipedia page summaries, and more keeping us right there on Google.com.
Figure out which SERP features will help your audience and your organization find each other in the most useful way. This might be simply a brand impression, but it might be something more, like a click to a map or even to your landing page.
As you’re considering this, we need to acknowledge that nearly 40% of desktop searches and 65% (!!!) of mobile searches don’t generate a single click. How much value does your brand get from just showing up in the results? That will be different for everyone.
For Facebook, I also have two recommendations, but I think that marketers should be more actively involved in choosing which one takes priority at any given time. You’ll see what I mean.
Facebook Recommendation #1:
Play their little reindeer games, but keep score.
Okay, that’s a bit dismissive, but also how I feel about it. What that actually means is that you, as a brand representative on Facebook, should produce content that they favor, i.e., visually appealing, generates comments and replies (not just likes and shares), and you should pay whatever you can to get it in front of as many people as possible.
Of course, I know this isn’t useful advice because this is just what Facebook PR is telling marketers to do. Here’s the useful part: Pay close attention to the results. Right now, you should have solid benchmarks for how much money (as reported by your credit card) generated how many new followers (as reported by Facebook), or website visits (as reported by your analytics tool), or whatever the goal is you’re trying to accomplish. Cost per action or acquisition or whatever you call it will be a VERY important metric to track as the months roll by, so that as soon as you can see your stuff getting less efficient through no fault of your content, you’ll be already working on recommendation #2.
Facebook Recommendation #2:
Capture your audiences, then engage with them elsewhere.
Yep, I’m saying cut out the middle man. Use Facebook to find your people, then invite them to a party somewhere else. Instead of paying Facebook for more likers and followers that you will then need to pay Facebook to show your content to, use Facebook to build an audience that you own outright.
The simplest approach to this is to promote your email newsletter subscription to your existing likers and followers, or encourage and incentivize your supporters to recruit more like them.
There’s a significant hardship to this approach: If your content is mediocre, then convincing your audiences to add a channel to their already overclocked brains will be difficult. However, if your content is mediocre, then you clearly didn’t follow any of the three previous recommendations, so that’s on you.
Coming up next: Part 3 where I will not blame you for anything, but will instead offer you three overarching lessons for planning smart marketing beyond Facebook and Google.