Noticed any change in how search engines behave? How social networks behave? If you did and wondered what caused it, the answer is semantic web.
Semantic web is characterized by algorithms, capable of learning from interaction touchpoints taking place online. When an ad suddenly pops up and urges you to buy from a store you visited a few minutes ago, be sure semantic algorithms are at work.
The touchpoint was generated immediately after you landed on the e-commerce page. Invisible to you but not to the algorithms deployed by search and social sites. They are smart enough to assume you lay interest in the products, listed in the store’s catalogue.
Don’t pay heed to semantic trends when designing promotional strategies and you risk losing marketing dollars. Follow the trends and finetune your digital marketing plans accordingly and you place yourself ahead of countless other marketers competing for a small share of the pie. It’s up to you to decide which option you choose.
Assuming you choose the latter, here are 5 handpicked social media strategies you should follow:
Prioritize user intent
Hard selling in the past met with drawn out rejection because it treated every customer the same way, ignoring their atypical needs. Intent based marketing is now the way to go. This kind of marketing acknowledges customers are all different and tracks their behavior to recognize their intent.
Search marketers find tracking easier than social marketers as search terms and resulting page visits are clear indicators of intent. For social media marketers, the task is a bit more arduous but equally rewarding as insights obtained from social networks are higher quality. On social media, most people identify who they are. They talk to others, like pages, express interest in various activities. So, it’s easy to track them.
What you should do is collect info about them via interaction and social listening. And then run automated analysis to gauge their intent. Next, tally intent data sets and branded products to identify prospective customers and the products they are most likely to buy.
The buzzword is automation. Allow it to handle everything for you. Automated systems identify the right audiences from data sources, and shows them relevant ads, in and out of social networks, based on their intent. High-end automated solutions explore connections – between groups of users, between users and websites, between users and their past transactions. They finally stretch of the connection is to include the brand into it.
Intent marketing puts you in the right direction. But you need authoritative content to keep going. What is authoritative content? You ask.
Any type of content that emanates authority. The introduction of definitive parameters for scaling content quality was a sign of semantic web taking over. As a part of the shift, content now must satisfy rigorous parameters to be considered high-quality. How much high-quality content you can produce decides whether you could build authority.
Social media can function both as tool and platform. Strategies may vary depending on the social channel being used. On Twitter, hashtags are the traffic driver. On Facebook, short duration videos, and GIFs. On Instagram, pictures captured by high-quality cameras and on Pinterest, Infographics, and cinemagraphs besides cool images.
To create authoritative content on social media, follow these general rules of thumb:
- Begin with the usefulness of the content. It offers content producers a tactical advantage as it creates a meaningful connection between them and the users.
- Steer the content clear of brand name and brand-specific references. Instead, use phrases that are semantically matching.
- The content must have a lasting impact on those who consume it. Search engines will pick up on audiences alluding to the content and give it a high semantic score.
The last one is especially important as semantic web is all about connections and correlations. And at times interpreting correlation as a connection. More and more people willingly connecting to the content increases its semantic score and makes it powerful and authoritative.
Be the talking point
Technicalities aside, the difference between structured and unstructured data is the former is recognized as meaningful by humans while the latter is not. Semantic web congregates structured data. When everyone is talking about a blog post or an infographic, a lot of structured data is generated in favor of the brand it’s promoting.
It’d be a crime if I don’t mention UGC here as nothing else seems more contextual. Positive UGC on social media can promote a campaign given the brand endorsed by the content knows how to play its cards.
Playing the cards right means diversifying marketing tricks as each individual social network contributes to UGC production in its own unique ways. It also means incentivizing people so they do the talking. Incentives don’t have to be gift cards, redeemable coupons or monetary perks. Something as simple as being spoken to politely by customer service reps can be classified as an incentive and can prompt UGC creation.
How advertising, especially rich media ads fit with all these? Semantic algorithms search for organic connection. Since programmatic ads are intent-based and non-intrusive, they don’t irk those algorithms. That means you can use laudatory responses about your brand on C2C channels or videos uploaded by you on social media which have gone viral for advertising purpose. That’ll create a positive feedback loop and connect paid marketing with organic marketing.
Common wisdom says chatbots and their scripted responses could pull semantic score down few notches. But today’s chatbots are more than a set of preordained automated responses. Work is underway to build chatbots on NLP to improve customer care.
Facebook Chatbot is a great example of customer communication picking up on semantic cues. I am not sure if it’s built on NLP but its API can be used to scale up e-retail businesses. CMS integration is seamless. Those who have their e-commerce stores hosted on Magento can use this extension to communicate with customers.
Benefits? Product search keywords automatically get added to its kernel, allowing it to big up relevant products to customers – products that somehow have a semantic resemblance to customer’s previous search queries on Facebook.
You are risking a lot if you are not assimilating social media and SEO – the two foundation stones of any marketing campaign. I have already described in great detail how clubbing these two can benefit. More importantly, how a new form of content could emerge from the fusion – content that ticks every semantic checkbox.
What is the biggest benefit of blending social with SEO? In my opinion, you won’t have to download both Google and Facebook Graphs. Facebook Open Graph would be enough. Bear in mind SEO is not fully content-driven yet, and perhaps will never be. Content dominates 90% of SEO but the rest 10% is pure technicalities. On-page tweaks, developmental issues and user-interface bottlenecks make up the remaining 10%.
Because Facebook Open Graph is more streamlined than Google Knowledge Graph, it could stop you from getting lost in the on-page technical jungle. It narrows down your on-page requirements by informing you what kind of makeover your landing page needs and related technical requisites.
I am not saying conventional SEO is dead or Google Knowledge Graph holds no importance. All I am saying is social media being more inclusive, as in search engines endow content with top rank based on social virality score and accompanying metrics, eliminates the need to mug up, often unnecessarily, with on-page jargons which ultimately brings little to no difference to the website.
Bonus strategy: Voice search
Dubbed as the year of voice search, and rightly so, 2017 has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of voice-activated search queries. The handheld frenzy gave way to mushrooming of downloadable personal digital assistants, eliminating the need to type in search queries for mobile users.
It’s a part of a larger trend that will take maybe a decade to fully cement itself. And then, mobile will be the de jure gateway to connect to the web. At this moment, it only adds a semantic tinge to the whole SEO framework. But its implications for social media is far, far wider.
Social networks do have search options. But these are not technologically husky enough at this moment to put up with widespread voice search. And by widespread, I meant 20% of all searches.
Are we blindly simulating the search environment, discounting the contrasts?
No, we are not. People are fond of their habits. Once a person gets habituated in a certain way of searching on the web, they expect every web entity to let them search the same way. And if you think people don’t spend enough time doing searches on social media, you are wrong.
In-network searches aren’t restricted to user profiles and cutesy puppy images. People search for events, jobs, news stories, personalities, branded products and more. We can expect search and interaction on social media will be voice-based in the future and individual social media outlets will be forced to upgrade their structural setups.
If as a brand you want to get the maximum amount of exposure then, which I suppose you will begin devising strategies already on how to beat your competitors in a primarily voice-led social environment.
The day is not far when everything – from doing a simple web search to writing complex programs – will be voice-activated. The algorithms will function by automatizing natural language and by exploring the interconnectedness of expressions. If you want your website to keep pulling a crowd on that day the way it is pulling a crowd now, pay attention to the 5 tips discussed here in this article.