The million-dollar question - does social media matter in marketing?
The world of social media saw a huge milestone this week - Facebook hit 900 million monthly users. Combine that with 340 millions Tweets per day, 1.6 billion daily Twitter search queries and billions of users across other networks and you end up with a massive opportunity for marketers. Marketers have been quick to respond by engaging users across these networks but questions about the impact of social media persist. Does social media activity improve marketing results? If yes, how and how much? How can I show ROI on social media efforts? How can I integrate social media campaigns with everything else in marketing, including search? Read this post for answers! Let’s first dispense with the fundamental question - does social media make a difference to marketing?
Yes, social media makes a difference - ask Tiny Prints and Feeding America!
You may have seen the MediaPost coverage of the joint study by BrighteEdge and Twitter about Tiny Prints' 47% increase in organic search rankings and Feeding America's 2.5X bump in traffic, both using Twitter. Clearly, social media has an impact and we'll look at best practices to get the most out of social, specifically Twitter, in this post. We will also look at the specific BrightEdge tools that helped Tiny Prints and Feeding America make use Twitter to get real results.
Many thanks to Twitter for working with us on this study, and to Tiny Prints and Feeding America's marketing agency Performics for choosing to partner with us and giving us insight into their sophisticated marketing capabilities!
Apply basic marketing principles to succeed with Twitter
The Tiny Prints and Feeding America success stories highlight the power of marketing ‘basics’. Nothing is rocket science here and you’ll agree when you see the pillars of their success below:
- Set targeted goals for Twitter activity
- Identify how Twitter will drive rank, traffic
- Uncover page and keyword opportunities
- Deliver the right message through Tweets
Note: The leading agency Performics manages digital marketing for Feeding America. All the actions and decisions related to Feeding America described below were taken by Performics.
Step 1 - Set targeted goals for Twitter activity
Both TinyPrints and Feeding America were clear about the role of Twitter in marketing. Tiny Prints pursued higher organic rank Tiny Prints wanted to bridge the gap between search and social. It translated this vision-like statement into the specific goal of improving rank for targeted pages and keywords, using Twitter. Conversion rates increased exponentially with rank and using Twitter to improve rankings not only made business sense but also helped measure the return on Twitter activity. Feeding America aimed for greater traffic through Tweets Feeding America, on the other hand, eyed higher traffic because it historically led to greater conversions (donations and volunteer signups). Feeding America’s goal was specific - improve traffic for pages oriented towards specific keywords/trending Tweets.
Step 2 - Identify how Twitter will drive rank, traffic
Tiny Prints recognized that sharing pages through Twitter is good for SEO and they were clear about the chain of events that would potentially lead to higher rankings for targeted pages and keywords:
- Tiny Prints would engage users by Tweeting relevant content (see next section) related to its pages and keywords
- User engagement would trigger social sharing through Tweets and Re-tweets
- The sharing would result in higher rankings for those pages and keywords
Feeding America believed Twitter sharing leads to direct site traffic Feeding America had a similar idea of using Twitter engagement to achieve its goals. The difference was that Feeding America had an eye on site visits directly through Tweets and not necessarily through search engines.
Step 3 - Uncover page and keyword opportunities
TinyPrints and Feeding America both recognized that engaging users through Tweets presented opportunities. They also understood that discovering these opportunities amounted to identifying the site pages and keywords that influenced the content of the Tweets. However, they had a different approach towards identifying opportunities. Tiny Prints scanned competition to uncover opportunities and they uncovered opportunities through competitive analysis :
- It zoomed in on pages which could potentially outrank competition through Twitter activity for the pages, using BrightEdge S3.
- The key was to look for those pages which were similar to competitor pages in every way aspect except the number of Tweets.
- The example below shows the West Virginia Mountaineers merchandise page on the sports merchandise site Fans Edge. This page is ranked 10 on Google and is similar in most respects to the pages ranking 1 through 9 (not shown). However, it has no Tweets and increasing Tweets for this page presents an opportunity.
- It sought to identify the hunger-related topics that mattered to its users and for which it has high-quality site content.
- It used the Twitter Keyword Volume tool in BrightEdge S3 to identify trending Tweets containing keywords that Feeding America tracked.
- The Twitter Keyword Volume tool also automatically identified pages on Feeding America's site that were already oriented towards the trending topics.
- Now, Feeding America knew the topics that mattered to its audience as well as the pages on its site which were right for promoting on Twitter.
Step 4 - Deliver the right message through Tweets
The key outcome of the previous step for both Tiny Prints and Feeding America was knowing which pages could be promoted on Twitter and the keywords that mapped to these pages. The next step was logical - reach out to users through Tweets which contained the following elements:
- Target keywords or keywords related to trending Tweets (Feeding America)
- The URL of page which was related to these keywords
The Twitter activity achieved the desired results for Tiny Prints and Feeding America. Tiny Prints saw a 300% rise in user engagement which, in turn, improved the average rank across keywords for targeted pages by 47%. This was over a four week period. Feeding America's users responded positively to the Tweets since the content of the Tweets ( keywords and pages) matched their interests. This resulted in a 2.5X improvement in traffic for the pages mentioned in the Tweets.
Needless to say...
Here are some guiding principles that Tiny Prints and Feeding America religiously followed - very basic but so critical to their success that calling them out is worth it. Let data be your guide as both companies took a close look at data at every step of the way:
- Tiny Prints scanned the competitive environment to identify pages which stood a good chance of outranking competition through Twitter activity.
- Feeding America took a close look at their users to identify topics/keywords that were relevant to them as well its own cause.
- Both companies kept a close watch on the correlation between their Twitter activity and rankings/traffic.
Use technology to enable you Technology is not the be-all end-all of digital marketing. But it does enable you when it presents the right insight - so you can spend time on making the right decisions driven by data without relying on guesswork.
- Tiny Prints used BrightEdge S3’s competitive intelligence capabilities to identify pages that could benefit from Twitter.
- Feeding America used Twitter Keyword Volume tool within BrightEdge S3 to identify trending Tweets and spot the best pages oriented towards those keywords.
- Both used BrightEdge S3 for monitoring success of their efforts by correlating Tweets with rankings (see chart below) and traffic.
Communicate and collaborate Tiny Prints stated what's in the hearts and minds of most digital marketing organizations - reaching that elusive integrated marketing utopia. Whether or not this is a stated goal for you, there are synergies in making search and social work together. If you want to explore these synergies, close cooperation between the two teams is essential.
Twitter can make a huge difference to marketing. Tiny Prints and Feeding America proved it by achieving a 47% increase in average ranking for targeted pages and keywords, and a 2.5X increase in traffic respectively. It takes careful planning, meticulous execution, reliance on data and close cooperation to get these results. Hope you found this post useful!