As social media optimization continues its rise as a bona fide business objective, more and more professionals â€“ marketers (traditional, digital and search), PR folks and even IT pros are claiming expertise and responsibility for it. Having attended a handful of seminars and conferences, it seems to me alleged social media experts are popping up from all walks of life and every imaginable discipline. Everyone wants to own it.
Search Marketing Expo events, one of which I proudly attended and learned a great deal from, are heavy with search marketers staking claim on the social media space. Nearly all recommend social media as a component of good search engine optimization. Some offer the claim they can optimize your social media efforts. While each individual or firm is different and there are exceptions to every rule, for corporations and brands with millions of dollars at stake, this is like trusting your speechwriting to the copier guy.
Okay, perhaps a harsh simile, but bear with me.
Search marketers are individuals focused on increasing your website’s visibility in search engine results pages. Those results are dictated by algorithms (mathematics and computer programming). Thus many (but not all) search marketers are a descendent of web programmers and developers.
Social media optimization is a set of methods for generating publicity through social media, online communities and community websites. The keyword phrase â€“ my, the irony â€“ is “generating publicity.” Would you trust your publicity generation to the ASP.net developer in your IT department, particularly considering you probably don’t know what an ASP.net developer does?
Certainly, and due to pedigree, I am biased, but social media optimization, strategy and programming, the leading component of which seems to be content generation, is best left to those whose job it is to generate content. Public relations professionals, journalists and other professional communicators offer the most qualified skill set. While I will be the first to admit these professional groups are, in large part, behind the curve on developing the appropriate expertise, would it not be wiser to equip the communicators with the resources and training needed to guide your social media efforts since communication is the key to success in that arena?
Edward R. Murrow, arguably one of the finest communicators of the last century, perhaps put it best:
“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.”
My point is not to say search marketers and social media practitioners shouldn’t mix. As my friends at Vandelay Design affirm in their thorough dissection of the differences between both, “I really think that the two work together rather than separately.” And, to clarify, search marketers, developers and programmers, IT professionals and marketers of the more traditional training are all instrumental components of an effective marketing strategy, on-line and off. PR folks aren’t the only answer, just the most qualified leaders in finding one.
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