Smashing Old Silos: The Necessary Integration Of Search, Social And Content
Is today’s agency model broken? This is the endless debate. Every few years, the marketing pendulum swings between the need for integrated agencies and specialists in one area of expertise. This shift has historically been driven by brands, procurement divisions and agencies themselves.
Let’s be real. Consumers DO NOT CARE about your procurement processes and your marketing silos. They’re no longer just listening to radio or watching TV.
They’re streaming messages from the internet, shouting requests at Siri to find the closest bagel shop and jumping into their cars and expecting to hear the song they were just listening to start up as Waze guides them to what they’re looking for.
Consumers are connected everywhere and are empowered to ignore brands that don’t speak directly to them with the content they want when they want it. Nothing is linear anymore.
If we as marketers all agree, why aren’t we doing anything differently?
A prospective client recently asked me if it was important to integrate search and social and to pitch my agency’s vision for it. The value of integrating search and social is a topic that has been talked to death, so I was shocked that big brands today are still grappling with its importance.
Why Content Has To Rock
You can’t look at search and social without also addressing content. Great content is the currency that drives both. It is key to winning consumers in those crucial moments that matter.
To be there for your consumer in search, you need content that matches their query. You can’t answer that query unless your search team is feeding your content team insights on what people want.
To inspire your consumer to click through in social, you need content that connects with them emotionally and breaks through the noise. Social is a wonderful testing ground for content. We can see what resonates with our audiences and then write more of that very content.
Content is your brand’s most important currency. It’s the tool you need most to create relationships with your consumers.
It’s what is going to change their minds, answer their questions or prove your value to them when they visit your site. Good content should reflect the heart of your brand and appeal to that of your consumer.
How Does That Look In An Agency Setting?
You will only effectively matter to your consumers if their needs and desires are at the center of everything you do. You truly have to listen with your brain and your heart — to discover the stories that are worth telling.
You need a healthy mix of technology and human creativity.
The search, social and content teams must work together seamlessly to tell stories successfully across channels. Remember, nothing is linear anymore.
If you work with a search-only agency, they will be quick to tell you that all of your problems will be solved by search. The same goes for social.
There must be an endless and immediate feedback loop among these three channels (search, social and content) with insights gleaned from the success of each. If we see a spike in a particular type of search traffic, we should immediately create content that addresses it and publish that content on our social media channels.
Once we know that content performs, the social team should funnel that information back to the content and search teams so they can tailor their approaches appropriately. The content team should be watching time on-site and evaluating what is sticky.
If people hit content and immediately leave, it wasn’t valuable.
Where Does Public Relations Sit In All Of This?
Your feedback loop is even more insightful if your PR team is plugged in. After all, PR pros are taught from the beginning that their number one job is building a mutually beneficial relationship between brands and consumers.
With the rise of social media and the importance of content, we are better equipped to create those relationships than ever before.
Your PR teams are extremely adept at identifying consumers’ touch points and addressing them. PR’s unique insights serve an invaluable role in propagating stories your consumers care about.
If your approach is effective, your consumers should never see the line between what your brand is doing online, in social media and in the news. Your content should be entertaining, unique and valuable. It should be written to answer a need and tell your brand’s story.
Only then will it have a chance to break through the vast expanse of content on the internet to make an impact on your consumer.