The Year Ahead: When Social Media and Search Emerge As One

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San Francisco Agency Discusses How the Convergence Of Search And Social Media Can Help Smart Companies Thrive In The Current Economy

If brands talk, customers talk louder. Companies looking to have an impact in 2009 and beyond must start shifting focus from traditional marketing and advertising to integrated interactive marketing and social media strategies. Attributing an increase or decrease in sales volume to the millions spent on recent television ads is not enough anymore.

The San Francisco based agency e-Storm International has been helping over 100 trusted brands make this transition. William Gaultier, co-founder and CEO, explains that "social media creates the platform of true interactivity. As we continue to see marketing budgets contract, it will be the companies that can adapt to engage in two way conversations and a balance of professional and customer created content that will thrive. The convergence of online search with social media makes Social Media and SEO a must combination of marketing activities in 2009 and beyond." According to Forrester Research Inc., recommendations from consumers and consumer opinions posted online are two of the most important factors when making a purchasing decision. Consumers and professionals trust their friends and colleagues.

e-Storm explains that companies that are ready for social media interactions must first accept that social media impacts their bottom line and be willing to integrate it into their marketing mix. In addition, companies must understand that it is a long term commitment and a two way conversation and not an individual campaign. From there, planning and execution are relatively simple. It is important to benchmark early in the process. To achieve this,

Conduct a thorough social media audit of conversations about your company, products, services and your competitors on all channels such as twitter, blogs, bulletin boards, social networks, SMS, text messaging, photo, video networks using social media tracking tools such as Radian6

Next, Develop a 12 months social media plan that includes:

  • How social media goals should be aligned with business goals
  • Staffing of all social media initiatives
  • Identify ways for your Social Media initiatives to create a "link bait" or content which many bloggers/sites will want to link back to - helping your SEO
  • Contingency plans on how to respond to crisis
  • Executive participation programs (where, when, how executives should respond)
  • Marketing/customer service/business units participation programs (where, when, how to conduct two way conversations with customers, partners, prospects)
  • Develop social media guidelines for employees of the company

Measure the impact of your social media efforts on your customer acquisition, retention rates, customer satisfaction

Last, although SEO is finally getting the recognition it deserves, many social media practitioners don't understand the impact Social Media has on SEO. e-Storm recommends that companies engaging in Social media should always ask of their experts (internal or external) how to optimize Social media initiatives for search engines.

e-Storm has given been providing insights into Social media and SEO, the following are resources that it contributed at marketing conferences:
http://www.slideshare.net/wgaultier/convergence-of-social-media-search
http://www.slideshare.net/wgaultier/integrated-marketing-seo-paid-search-social-media-online-advertising

About e-Storm International
Established in 1998, e-Storm International, headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Asia and Europe is a strategy-driven online marketing & advertising services firm whose close relationships with clients are built on generating ROI results. With a focus on Strategy, Marketing Research, Custom Training and Implementation Services (Interactive Advertising, SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing), e-Storm has been providing smart thinking and smart strategies to more than 100 business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations in technology, finance, education, travel, healthcare and many other industries. Organizations including Hanley Wood, National University, NatPoly, SelectQuote, Mocana, Behr, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Bank of America. Visit http://www.e-storm.com or call 1-415-352-1200.

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William Gaultier
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