I had the opportunity to attend one of the best search engine conferences of the year: SES Chicago. The conference runs the first week of November and brings together the top minds in the Midwest and abroad. I should mention that SES is a well-known, traveling conference that builds incredible momentum as the year goes on – and Chicago happens to be one of the last stops. This means a wealth of knowledge is collected by way of speakers and social media coverage that comes to a boiling point in the Windy City.
There was a great deal of chatter around the topic of social media; specifically, what is the best use of social media and how does one measure it in a way that is meaningful to the business. There were also a lot of theories on mobile, and what makes for a great mobile experience today and in the future. Here are some ideas that I walked away with and will be working with various members of our team to accomplish in the coming year.
What are you really talking about?
One of the loudest messages heard during the three days at SES Chicago was: Do you know what message you are sending to your audience? This simple question can take on several different meanings because no audience or community is the same. What I mean is: You shouldn’t expect the same reaction that your Twitter followers had from your fans on Facebook or your circles on Google+. This is, in my opinion, the starting point to any attempt into social media with the hopes of increasing visits to your website. You can only understand what metrics are important for your social media efforts once the correct message is applied to the proper platform. This is where SEO and social media marketing converge into a discipline known as Social Media Optimization (SMO).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that social media and SEO are becoming one and the same and that all social media practitioners should start brushing up their skills or look for another job (<3 you, Sarah!). What I am saying is, there are measurement strategies and best practices that can be applied to social media marketing in order to evaluate the strength of any initiative put in play. Avinash Kaushik, the digital marketing evangelist for Google and web analytics champion, gave the following metrics that should be measured (at the very least) by anyone who is serious about increasing their social media effectiveness:
- Conversation rate: Number of comments or replies received that create threads
- Amplification rate: Potential reach based on number of followers and their followers
- Applause rate: Positive engagement number which gives insight to what didn’t work
- Economic value: Number of last clicks from social compared to last clicks from other sources/micro-conversions
There’s nothing mobile about that
The second message that was painted vividly focused on the concept of user experience, specifically in the realm of mobile usage. The key here is to understand and, better yet, empathize with the person who is using their mobile device to solve a problem. The next step is to create the mobile experience based on what is logical for the device. This happens before anything is actually built because it doesn’t matter if your site is responsive or lives on a mobile sub domain; if you do not take into account what a mobile (someone who is physically on the move) user needs and how to best present that on their device, then all is lost the moment they get a poor experience. Mobile is not just having a copy of your desktop on a mobile sub domain, it is about creating an experience that lives up to the expectations that the device is known for.
So what can I do?
Start small. There is no need to try and tackle everything all at once. The best part of social media is that it does not end, it just gets refined and fine-tuned for the appropriate audience. Creating a proper mobile experience requires a little more work because it will differ from business to business. The point is, there is no quick solution to the problems that really matter. Understanding what works best for your business and your audience is the 580 million dollar question (Powerball, anyone?).
Feel free to weigh in or comment on any points I mentioned below or take the conversation to Twitter and use #aptsblog. Happy searching!