Earlier last week I was fortunate to attend the Social Media Marketing World 2013 conference put on by Social Media Examiner and held in our beautiful back yard of San Diego. Most social media marketing events I had been to in the past were comprised of a fairly predictable audience (20-something tech geeks like myself) and a similarly predictable agenda of speakers and trendy topics (“How to Go Viral”).
I am very glad to say that my experience at SMMW was nothing like this; I was surrounded by an incredibly diverse group of marketers and business owners, while the speakers and topics all offered something of value and held my interest (not always an easy task). Below are some of the key insights I derived from the event that impact our clients, our agency, and projects like the Win the Web Internet Marketing Podcast.
Content Marketing is the New Organic Link Building
Link building is a concept that has existed in its purest form since the advent of search engines and, subsequently, the SEO industry. The types of strategies that have generated links have shifted dramatically over time, mostly due to changes in technology and consumption habits, but also very much due to the changes made by major search sites like Google. The traditional philosophy of acquiring links in large quantities has quickly shifted to a model that favors quality links generated in smaller amounts, supported by signals such as social media sharing, authorship, and other semantic data.
The message here is that as more brands and individuals become content creators, audiences’ expectations of quality correspondingly rise. Unless you are paying for ad space, it is mostly unacceptable to market directly to an audience. The exception to this occurs when you build trust in an audience by providing something of genuine value. Once trust and value have been established, you have earned the right to deliver a “sales pitch.”
Pinterest and Google+ Need More Content Creators
Pinterest and Google+ may not appear to have much in common on the surface; one was an invite-only community that blasted onto the scene and the other a network that many joined after being “encouraged” by Google to upgrade their accounts. The demographic split between the sites is also very different, but what both networks have in common is that they have millions of users who rapidly consume content and very few users creating it. For marketers and brands, this signals an opportunity to inspire conversation in a relatively untapped area.
Guy Kawasaki is probably most famous for being the former chief evangelist of Apple (and somebody Steve Jobs actually listened to), but today he is extremely well-known in the social web as a powerful influence and regular sharer of interesting content. I saw him speak at the conference and he informed us that he bases his entire personal social media strategy around Google+, with his goal being to have something in the Top Posts each day. By doing this, he has gained far more fans and generated better interaction than on Facebook or other networks.
Speaking about Pinterest at the conference was Melanie Duncan, who made the lack of content on Pinterest very evident when she revealed that 80% of pins are repins (recycling existing content). The same marketing opportunity exists at this moment to become a leader as a content creator (posting to Pinterest) rather than a consumer. Retail brands in particular need to secure their Pinterst presence now–there is still plenty of time to enter the game and quickly become a leader among your competition.
Podcasting is Finally Here… No, Really This Time!
Although podcasting made its debut more than a decade ago, the medium has not exploded as quickly as many thought it would. Today, the ubiquity of smartphones and mobile Internet has created the technology backbone to power widespread adoption of podcasts. As people continue to have greater control over the content they view and develop a stronger distaste for traditional media’s archaic advertising model, podcasting is growing rapidly in popularity. The tweet below from renowned social media speaker and author Mari Smith was the most retweeted tweet from the entire event (#SMMW13):
— Mari Smith (@MariSmith) April 8, 2013
Certainly, the same types of hyperbole have been uttered many times in the past, but podcast creation, discovery, and consumption have all taken very legitimate steps forward in the past year. Apple recently removed podcast functionality from its Music app and developed a standalone Podcast app with access to the entire catalog of podcasts available in the iTunes store. For those who may be unaware, all podcasts are available to stream or download for free at any time. Ask any podcast listener and there is no turning back after making the leap to the world of on-demand, commercial-free digital audio that goes wherever you do.
My trip to Social Media Marketing World 2013 resulted in a nice boost of energy, creativity and additional confidence that Best Rank is an agency that is making informed and innovative recommendations for our clients’ content. Many of the speakers discussed topics that we have been considering and implementing internally. It was assuring to know that we are also ahead of the game with more than 55 episodes out from the Win the Web Internet Marketing Podcast.
The entire Internet marketing industry, but particularly SEO, is becoming more deeply intertwined with the world of creative development in the same way it has long been interwoven with the web development world. Business owners and marketers that begin investing today in strategies focused on quality content will be well positioned to reap the benefits of establishing a trusting audience that your competitors do not have.