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Why SEOs Already Know What Social Media Marketers Are Just Learning- Here’s Why #168

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They say everything old is new again. Social media marketing is reeling from the chaos and crisis happening around major social platforms now. Could what SEO experienced a few years ago point the way to the future?
In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Mark Traphagen explains the parallels between the crisis that nearly caused the fabled death of SEO a few years ago and the upheavals happening right now in social media, and how the lessons learned by SEOs then can help social marketers survive and thrive today.

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Transcript

Eric: Mark, there is an old saying, “Everything old is new again.”
Mark: Yes, Eric. And in the digital marketing world, it doesn’t take long for something to become old and neither does it take it long for its newest manifestation to pop up.
Eric: Sounds like you have something specific in mind.
Mark: I do, indeed. But let me start with the new thing.
Right now, we’re seeing social media in more upheaval and crisis than ever before. In just the past few months, we’ve been through things like the revelations of Facebook and Twitter being used in attempts to manipulate our elections, ever-tightening algorithmic control of organic reach, and the removal of key metrics such as share counts. I mean, just to name a few of the stunning news items hitting the social media marketing world.
Eric: And those things all impact social media marketing?
Mark: Well, they certainly impact business as usual social media marketing.
Eric: So, what do you mean by business as usual marketing?
Mark: I’m talking about the kind of marketing, or “marketing” so-called, on social media that relies primarily on tricks and hacks, on gaming the News Feed algorithms or trying to trick followers into taking actions they could care less about. All of that is pretty much of no value now, and I say, “Good riddance.”
Eric: Because it won’t work well anymore.
Mark: Because it never really did work. Oh sure, you used to be able to get those tricks to get more reach or gain more followers, but there was never any evidence that doing so helped anyone achieve real business goals. It was just social engagement for engagement’s sake.

What SEOs Have Known for a While

Eric: You said that’s the new thing. What’s the old thing that this is recapitulating?
Mark: Well, it’s the experience of SEO, Search Engine Optimization. As you well know, at one time, SEO was way too dependent on hacks and tricks of its own, all meant to try to fool Google into ranking pages that often had no business ranking.
Eric: But then, Google began to crack down and became much more sophisticated at detecting and penalizing things like paid link schemes and low-quality content.
Mark: Exactly. And quickly, all those games and tricks of the past began to lose their value. It was such a shocker at the time that many proclaimed the death of SEO.
Eric: But, of course, SEO didn’t die.
Mark: Far from it. Although, who knows how many former SEOs gave up at that time, but a great many didn’t. And a lot of those including all of our SEO practitioners here at Perficient Digital even thrived in the changes.
Eric: So, what happened?
Mark: They grew up. They matured as individual practitioners and as an industry. Instead of railing at Google for taking away their paychecks, they learned how to become real marketers. They learned how to create real value for users, how to be better technicians to work with Google and to broaden their horizon into things like user satisfaction and brand building.
Eric: And so, that’s what you think social media marketers need to do now?
Mark: Yes. It’s time for social marketing to emerge from its infancy and its dependency on the toddler toys of hacks and tricks and learn to become real marketers, providing superior value, engaging with their real audiences, and returning measurable value to their companies.
Eric: Thanks Mark. For a list of the specific steps Mark advises social media marketers to take to thrive in the brave new world of social media, please read his Marketing Land column titled “Social media in 2018: Time to grow up or get out.

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About the Author

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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Thoughts on “Why SEOs Already Know What Social Media Marketers Are Just Learning- Here’s Why #168”

  1. This post is very interesting and contains a lot of truths, which as a marketer I can relate to, like many others will
    The bit about embracing Google, is particularly relevant, as this is, in many peoples mind the right way to market
    Thanks for producing very valid points here.

  2. I agree 100%. As someone who has done some of both, Facebook in the past, but mostly SEO these days, the similarity is striking. Buying Facebook Likes and linking, 10-15 times per day to content was enough to generate 6 figures in most verticals.
    Dedicated Social Media guys will have to learn how to create quality content that draws engagement.
    Great Post guys, thanks, Adam.

  3. Do you think the industry is ready for the change? Or do you see Facebook for example reverting back a little to easier times? With higher post reach, maybe pre 2016 numbers.

  4. Mark Traphagen

    I think much like Google, there will be no going back for Facebook, if going back means letting more spam, fake news, and valueless posts back into the newsfeed. Every indication I’ve seen is that Facebook got the message and knows how close they came to disaster. They also know government regulators stand always poised to look like heroes by pouncing on Facebook. However, I do expect to see some more balance in news feed, with a little more high quality brand and news content coming back, as Facebook’s algo adjusts to what people really want.

  5. Well said.
    I feel that Facebook has gone too far. I’m all about the fairness and freedom of the web. For example, large brands can pay for AdWords but organic results still get the majority of the clicks. It’s a level playing field. If you produce top quality content you can outrank companies 100 times your size. At least in theory.
    What Facebook has done is made it a highest bidder game. The more you pay in Ads the more exposure you get. And this is pricing many of the little guys out. I think this goes against the principles of the web. And to be honest, the principles I thought Zuckerberg had.
    Maybe that’s all a bit idealistic and naive. But it smells like a smash ‘n grab. That will turn many small and local businesses away from the platform where they should naturally live.
    Thanks for chatting Mark, it’s been a pleasure.

  6. Mark Traphagen

    Adam, I totally get why you have that take, and it sure is shared by a lot of marketers. And no denying Facebook has brought that on itself by its too-often appearing cavalier toward businesses. But at the same time, we need to realize that Facebook’s business model is different from Google’s, and so is the intentions and purposed of its users.
    People go to search with a very specific intention (a question, something they want to buy, etc.). Google only succeeds if the person is satisfied with the results they get. Satisfied users come back again, thus increasing exposure of Google’s ads. So Google not only can afford to be more source agnostic, they really have to be. The best result is the best result, period. And if the searcher’s intent is commercial, Google does best when they show lots of business sources in their results.
    Facebook users have a very different purpose. They come to Facebook not with any specific intent, but to be entertained, informed, and to catch up with friends. So it’s not surprising that business and commercial content would be perceived as much more of an interruption on Facebook than in Google. Facebook said their research showed that the more non-engaging business content shown in users’ feeds, the less happy they were with Facebook.
    So while I don’t deny that restricting commercial content in the organic news feed raises Facebook’s revenue potential, at the same time I am more understanding that it was something they had to do. And while we may grumble about having to “pay to play” on Facebook, we should also remember that paying gives us access to Facebook’s amazing targeting abilities, something probably worth paying for.

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