If you follow the Online Marketing Blog many of the themes Lee and his team write about there are distilled, refined and presented an easy to read book.
“Lee tackles the triple crown of online marketing – SEO, social media, and content marketing,” wrote Geoff Livingston in a review on Amazon.com. ”As social networks became entrenched in the online space, search increasingly used social verification to qualify online content…The result is a seamless intertwining of the three disciplines. None of them alone are strong enough to succeed, but together organizations can deploy knock out strategies.”
There’s one other major theme in Lee’s book: PR. Lee’s done a lot to get the basics of SEO across to PR pros because whether they know it or not, PR pros are perhaps one of the best means for authoritative link-building. And link’s are arguable still the top determining factor in search rankings, which in turn, is still a primary means for people to find content.
As I read through Lee’s book, I found myself underlying and highlighting points that stood out for me. There are nine take-a-ways I thought I’d share here — and hopefully influence you to make a sound investment of time and money purchasing and reading the book.
1) Purchase is just the start of social engagement with the customer, which extends across a life cycle that takes the customer from prospect to evangelist.
This is an important point because social media doesn’t impact prospects at just one stage. They might first hear about our products or services on Twitter. They might look for third-party validation on LinkedIn. And they might like our brand on Facebook only after purchasing the product or service. The point is the buying cycle has changed — it’s more circular and less funnel.
2) …many investments in [search] optimization are specifically to generate leads and sales, since search is an explicit expression of need or want….social media as a marketing channel can be hit or miss for many companies, because people don’t tend to join social networks to make purchases. [emphasis added]
That’s right, and it’s why even suggesting we build a strategy around a tactic, especially social media, is so misguided. These tools, these vehicles, they work together to execute a higher level strategy; strategy drives tactics. Search alone is not a strategy. Social media alone is not a strategy.
3) …on the web, the currency of influence is content.
What is currency? What is a dollar bill? It’s really nothing more than paper, but it works because a) we have faith we’ll be able to redeem its value for goods or services and b) it’s a heck of a lot more efficient than bartering on the town green. So if content is the currency of influence, then content can be used in trade for influence. Money is earned — it doesn’t grown on trees — and the same goes for influence.
4) Content is the reason search engines exist…the primary value provided by search engines is to connect people with answers…
Optimization, in Lee’s book, is about helping us help people find the answers we are providing.
5) Engage with your community, and ideas will come out of those interactions. Look for common questions, misinformation to be clarified and unique stories to share.
If we write often, then from time to time we might be a loss for ideas; Lee’s suggestion is simple: what questions are people asking on Twitter, or LinkedIn? Since people are already searching for this content it’s a good indication our answers will resonate and those people are already providing us with the terms they are using to search for that answer. Likewise, when we get a ‘shout out’ on social media, follow up, acknowledgement turns fans into fanatics and we just might get a deeper story to share.
6) Many companies go after the most popular social networks with a “fish where the fish are” approach. That’s not an unreasonable strategy, but it’s a lot like putting a billboard up on a popular highway. What if our customers don’t drive down that highway? Choosing a social network based on popularity alone is not effective. Why? Because relevancy rules on the Web.
Influence is not the same as popularity. ”Influence is the ability to cause desirable and measurable actions and outcomes.” And this point is so important because it sets up the next take-a-way.
7) A big part of effective content marketing isn’t just about having a well-written and compelling content. You must be able to get that content in front of customers who care, as well as people who are influential and will pass it along to all their networks.
Take-a-way? We’ve got to tell someone. If we tell someone on a popular highway where our customer’s don’t drive — then our content, as currency, has little velocity.
8) If it can be searched, it can be optimized.
If I had to boil Lee’s book down to one phrase, this would be it. And it’s an important point for PR pros and the use of key words. We all love to coin new terms, but if people aren’t searching for those terms, then they might not find our content, and we’ve missed our chance to have a voice.
9) No matter what your staff tells you, they will never know enough. There is no end to search and social and social media expertise for content marketing.
Indeed, I believe that’s true. As I wrote on Lee’s blog nearly two years ago, in a guest post titled, 7 Social Media Lessons from Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid, there’s a first time for everything, even for the experts. Perhaps Brian Solis said it best when he noted we are “forever students of new media.”
There’s something in that take-a-way that leads me to believe if this is Lee’s first book — it won’t be his last. In marketing, it’s not the destination it’s the journey that counts. Without reservation, I’d recommend Lee’s book.
Photo credit: Flickr, Lee Odden speaking at the 2012 Vocus User Conference.
Shameless plug: Interested in hearing Lee speak for free? Lee and thinkers with five big marketing ideas will be featured in the Vocus Virtual Conference on July 19th. The five hour event is entirely online and free with registration.
Enjoy this post? You might be interested in this post, on another book I recommend:
Unintended consequences: don’t blink, it’s buyology