The Importance of Social Search
My friends at Overdrive Interactive recently issues an ebook on social search. It does an excellent job of laying out the ways social media marketing can improve search rankings on the two largest search engines, Google and Bing. They also did an interesting test on the subject which highlights the differences.
The graphic highlights the closed-loop process. It supports the value of the effort put into SMM. At the same time, it suggests that tying this activity to business outcomes will often be difficult. In the case of sales leads, as long as their source is identified, they can be tracked through to conversion, verifying the importance of leads that come in from social media. Increases and fans and followers can be tracked, but remember that a “so what?” Appearances in social search and the impressions created are going to be more difficult to track and especially to link to sales. Tools are improving and that time will come also.
Two recent studies highlight the importance of search in the purchase process and thereby provide indirect support for social search. GroupM called it “The Virtuous Circle”—wish I’d thought of that first. Their study early in the year found that 58% of potential purchasers started with search while only 24% started with the company site. 51% of the searches converted compared to 48% for search and social combined in the purchase process (which they found to generally be 15 days) but only 1% for search alone. A followup study by GroupM, reported in Media Post, showed 86% of shoppers using generic search terms before the shopping trip and 90% clicking on the generic results when compared with branded search.
It suggests that we should all be following social search best practices because search is still key in the purchase process. Some of those, according to Overdrive are:
• Create compelling content that is worthy of being shared and use sharing tools to encourage your visitors to share.
• Keep your social profile updated.
• Be sure your website and blog are socially enabled. Overdrive also has an excellent ebook on the use of chicklets.
• Understand how your content looks on the various platforms.
• Keep up to date. The controversy surrounding Google’s ‘Panda’ update is a good example.
The wheels of social media marketing continue to spin, and social search is one thing driving them!