Posted November 24, 2008 12:05 pm by with 1 comment

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The social media sessions at SMX last year were a packed affair and this year was no exception with the subject proving equally in demand.

Jane Copland – SEOMoz

Jane told attendees that relevant link bait is not just a good idea these days but a necessity. However with the link bait explosion there were some winners and losers and this year there was noticeably a more serious tone in the air…

She cited a case study where a web based widget was originally created and used on a dating website. The widget had a link contained inside back to the source website whenever it was placed on a website.

This was all fine when the link was relevant to the theme of the widget – however on this occasion a company had acquired a website and the rights to use the widget and decided to inserted links to a less relevant website – in this case a payday/ loans website.

The widget helped rank the website fairly quickly as many links were secured as more and more people used the widget – however Google was soon alerted to this and penalised the website and the website network as a result. Google’s reasoning can be assumed to be that the widget was being used to contain a hidden link to an off-topic website.

The story and the web developer behind the widget ended up in the Guardian newspaper causing a real stir on and offline with some rather unfair criticisms launched by the press at the widget creator.

Oatmeal Screenshot

So Jane warned us that marketers need to be careful and tread carefully with techniques including things like ‘bait and switch’ (where a page is replaced with a more commercial alternative once links have been built to it) as well as being careful with the use of 301s (simply redirecting a heavily linked page to an alternative page that no longer contains the original content people linked to).

She prompted the audience to remember “…Google can reinvent its own rules”.

Jane summarised with 3 main rules of thumb to follow when it comes to link bait pages, linking and keeping on the right side of Google.

1. Be creative and not tricky
2. Stay on topic – If the words aren’t on the page then don’t include them in the link to that page.
3. If a website is penalised clean it up COMPLETELY before submitting a re-inclusion request to Google.

Ciaran Norris – Altogether Digital

Ciaran addressed the planning of a social media campaign and referenced the Forrester theory of digital marketing called ‘POST’. This translates to People, Objective, Strategy and Technologies.
Broken down this means:

1. Think about the PEOPLE – their demographic etc
2. What is your OBJECTIVE – what is the end game
3. What is the STRATEGY – you open yourself up to a 2 way conversation with social media so clients need to be prepared to take criticism.
4. What TECHNOLOGIES should be used. The decision on what technology to go with can often be the first consideration for some – but really it should be the last consideration once the other 3 have been addressed.

Ciaran informed us that at his agency the model had been reworked to what felt like a more appropriate version to fit the needs of online marketers (even if it didn’t make a convenient word like POST).

The revised version went like this:

1. AUDIENCE – Who are they? What are their attitudes?
2. OBJECIVES – Decide what it is your trying to achieve
3. CHANNELS – Select which channel to use
4. CREATIVE – Define the message
5. DELIVERY – Deliver the campaign.

Ciaran gave us some examples of people who he felt were not getting it right and some people that definitely were. On Twitter Andy Murray’s page came across as rather dull, boring and uneventful updates and he rarely (if ever) replied to any comments from his 500 or so followers.

On the other hand Stephen Fry was doing a much better job and regularly engaged with his followers and the number of followers he had showing on Twitter was an impressive 12,000 +!

Ciaran then continued to demonstrate some successful social media campaigns, including the Bob Dylan widget used to promote the latest compilation album on FaceBook, as well as the ‘Awareness Test’ with the dancing Gorilla produced for Transport for London and the latest version that is a send up of a period drama who dunnit.

Who Done It Video graphic

Anyone who has not seen Ciaran speak is missing out… he’s a very entertaining speaker, and delivered another great session this year.

Andrew Girdwood – Big Mouth Media

Up next was Andrew Girdwood. Andrew who works for probably the largest search marketing company in the UK and is a veteran at search conferences.

Andrew addressed the popularity of social media in the marketplace and used the volume of social media enquiries at his agency over recent years to illustrate how more and more client enquiries were related to social media over typical SEO.

In addition Andrew showed how the average salary of a social media expert was now significantly higher than the average salary for an SEO in the UK.

Social Media Jobs - Average salaries 2007 to 2008

He also went on to cover some legal aspects relating to social media – in particular the recent unfair trading act that effectively made fake commenting an illegal practice in the UK.

Andrew made it clear he felt it was now time for marketers to ensure they were open and honest in their campaigns.

  • What a post!

    Couldn’t agree more….with more and more people getting hooked on to various social media websites, search, promotion and marketing are not confined to search engines and conventional banner advertising anymore.

    We need to look beyond the obvious and think out of the box and this post shows us the way.

    Amazing one….keep it up!