Monday, May 3, 2010

What Is Your Social Media Hub?

Sergio Balegno, Research Director for Marketing Sherpa, is a recognized thought leader in Internet marketing best practices. He gave a superb guest lecture in my social media marketing class last week. There was one thing in particular that he articulated much better than I’ve been able to do. It has to do with organizing your ‘traditional’ Internet and social media marketing around well-defined hubs.

It’s clear that any Internet marketing effort needs to have an activity hub. In the early days—before social media—it was equally clear that the hub was the website. All marketing efforts, PPC and display advertising—pointed there and Internet marketing objectives were achieved there. Objectives might have been driving traffic to retail stores, providing content for customer acquisition and retention, conducting ecommerce, or others as appropriate for the enterprise marketing strategy. Whatever the Internet marketing objective, the website was needed to achieve it.

Enter social media and our efforts to understand how to integrate these networks effectively into our marketing strategy. What is the correct centerpiece of for this marketing element? Social media efforts can point back to the website, and sometimes that may make sense. But often the efforts on public networks are best pointed back to the corporate blog. Sergio used as an example the Cisco Collaboration program that I wrote about last week.

Why should social media point to the blog and not to the website? The main reason is that blog content can—and should be—updated frequently with content that supports the social media efforts with precision. By its very nature, website content is updated less frequently and often is less precisely targeted to particular user segments and/or interests.

That led me to a second ‘ah-ha’ moment--the importance of recency in achieving prominence in search engine results. I hadn’t updated my thinking from the era (a couple of years ago) when things like keywords, number of incoming links, and number of clicks were only determinants of rankings in organic search. Here’s a summary of rank determinants; click through for a mind-numbing list from seo experts. With the addition of things like news, images, and videos search results pages provide the most current as well as the most relevant content. Search any current event and see for yourself!

The take-away is this: Your website is the hub of your ‘traditional’ Internet marketing. To be direct, it’s where you can sell things or acquire sales leads. An increasing number of the people who become leads or customers are going to find you, learn more about you, and develop trust in you through social media. The blog provides timely content and connects to activities like your YouTube channel and other social networks. It points readers to your website for conversion when their time is right. Their time, not yours! That makes your blog the hub of your social media marketing.

There’s still a lot of work to do in integrating all this activity. But a clear understanding of this key principle is necessary to an efficient strategy with marketing effectiveness!


About JAMie Rauscher said...

The hub and spoke strategy makes a great deal of sense and reinforces the importance of creating linkages across social media platforms. I would advise adding spokes judiciously, based on the number of employees dedicated to the social media strategy. Each spoke requires nurturing, management and time! I suggest no more than three to start--especially in a small organization.
Jamie Rauscher

MaryLou Roberts said...

That's a good point, Jamie. If the link is worthwhile, it represents a strategic partnership. Those are built on personal relationships, which as you point out, have to be nurtured--for pete's sake not purchased!!!

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