If you have an extra hour in your very busy workday day, don’t spend it fine-tuning your site for algo search, or optimizing your SEM campaigns for efficiency, ROI or profitability. Spend it building out and executing on your social media strategy. I know, shocking advice coming from an old search jockey like me, but I mean it. Seriously, how much cash are you really going to squeeze out of your already-optimized site or SEM program compared to the huge opportunities in front of you in social media?
Let me take a half-step back. First of all, I just finished a monster piece on the Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance detailing the upcoming transitions for advertisers and publishers, and I’m admittedly a teensy bit weary from the experience. Not complaining, mind you, it was a great opportunity and hopefully a decent article. It’s just left me with a bit of a search hangover, if you will.
Second, while I was making the final edits to the Alliance piece, I was attending BlueGlass LA in Marina Del Rey. Chris, Dave, Brent and the rest of the gang did a bang-up job and we ended up in an intimate setting with an all-star cast of talent and an incredibly savvy and engaged audience. What struck me at the conference was not only that search marketing had clearly established itself in the mainstream of digital marketing, but also that the tactics around SEM and SEO had somehow suddenly become mind-numbingly complex and sophisticated. Don’t get me wrong, I could sit and talk all afternoon with Kris Roadruck about how to legitimately bootstrap link authority through strategic content in a competitive SEO space (and nearly did). And, I was proud as the proverbial peacock when at the conference I presented my favorite graph that shows positive statistical synergy between paid and organic search. However, it occurred to me as I nibbled on a chocolate-covered macaroon at lunch on Tuesday, that at some point in the last several years, likely when I was busy building infrastructure to support automated keyword bidding algorithms, we not only reached the point of diminishing returns, we shot past it a warp speed and kept right on going into outer space.
Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that anyone ignore paid search or SEO. I’m still search marketing’s number one fan, and I’ll be the first to chastise any marketer for leaving search out of the mix (if Melanie Mitchell doesn’t beat me to it). But what became so abundantly clear to me as I polished off that last bite of macaroon was that there is so much “white space” in social media compared to search marketing, that the real challenge in a resource constrained world is to understand when you’ve optimized your search efforts to the point that the next hour of your work life would be better spent on something else.
Social media is today what search marketing was ten years ago when I started. It’s completely wide open. BlueGlass is a prime example of how search marketers and social media-types are teaming up to exploit the massive opportunities that arise when the lines between search and social begin to blur. I’m not going to go into great detail about social media tactics, and I’m not (yet) going to pretend I’m an expert at it. There are plenty of folks even here at Search Engine Land writing in the Let’s Get Social column who are dropping massive amounts of free social media knowledge on us. What I’m suggesting is you spend just a little (more) time researching, communicating, and trying a few new things in social. Dip your toes in the social media pool and see how the water feels. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll be lagging behind the curve, just like all the search marketing nay-sayers of the last decade.
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