Archive for April, 2013

Search & Social Synergy: Build Buzz, Get Links, Grow Your Brand

April 22, 2013 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

Mark Jackson, April 22, 2013

search-site-social-opportunity

For some time now, social has been all the rage. Yet, many people are still trying to figure out exactly how social plays into their search strategy.

Where are things headed? What rightful place does social has in the search marketing mix? What are some tactical considerations you may want to incorporate into your plans?

For some insights on those questions, as well as how to attain search and social synergy, I interviewed my friend Rob Garner, former VP of strategy at iCrossing, member of the board of directors and vice president at SEMPO, and author of “Search & Social”, published by Wiley.

Mark Jackson: What do you think are some of the most important elements of synergizing social and SEO efforts?

Rob Garner: First, leverage natural language for both search and social. Language is the tie that binds search and social together. Language informs content, dictates keyword theme, and sets the tone for social conversation. Study the language of your audience through keyword research and social listening to create solid strategies that will resonate in these channels.

Second, remember that without content, search engines and social networks do not exist. If your strategy leads with meaningful content, then you are on the right track. Content strategy that links between search and social channels is the key to overall success.

Third, get your search and social teams to work together, and not separately. This may not be much of a problem with individual practitioners who understand the nuances of both, but it is a big issue for business that operates these channels in silos. Get them together to understand how each of them can benefit the other to get more out of your overall efforts.

MJ: Do you believe that tweets (and specifically retweets) are “counted” in search engine algorithms?

RG: Yes, particularly in Bing. In Google+, their own version of the retweet is the share, and is used for personalized and G+ search.

MJ: Google’s Matt Cutts has said that links are still “the” metric. In your book, you mention that Bing uses Facebook Likes to rank content. Where do you think we are with Likes being the new links?

RG: Likes are being used as links in different forms of Facebook and Bing social search, but they are very weak in terms of forming a direct intent signal toward many types of content. The main reason is that a Like only represents one feeling, and therefore as a signal it has no range of feelings at all.

People use the same Like button for a picture of a kitten in the same way as they do about a story on serious local crime stories. People Like things that they truly don’t like, and this muddies it up as a search signal.

Facebook has a lot of work to do on leveraging the Like as a true link, and true signal of intent. They could start with a Dislike button to disambiguate intentions.

MJ: What are your thoughts on where Facebook is with respect to Graph Search? How do you see this impacting, if at all, market share of search with traditional search providers, Google and Bing?

RG: For many years now, I have written that the game to watch in modern search is to find out which entity has both the best crawler-based engine technology, combined with the best human social layer. Neither Google nor Facebook are there yet.

Facebook search and Google search are apples and oranges, and always will be to some degree. What I do like about Graph Search is that it has the potential to be a true social search engine, or in other words, a search engine about people, rather than topics, shopping, or websites.

Overall, it is a vertical play within the overall definition of search engines as we know them, though there is potential to take some market share, and it is in single digits percentages at best.

If Facebook wants to get serious, they will need a full crawler based engine to complement their social layer. This will happen through deeper integration of Bing, or who knows – maybe an acquisition of Bing at some point.

MJ: When drafting an editorial calendar for a corporate blog, do you focus more on viral-ability or keywords?

RG: The short answer is “both”. Planning is certainly important, but “planning for the moment” is also a key consideration.

Turning on a dime with good content is critical, and simply being fluid in social monitoring and content response are the key considerations here.

There are essentially two types of real time content. One is “planned,” and anticipates seasonal or predictable events. The other is “unplanned” or more serendipitous content that comes up in social conversation or topical events. Both require being present in social spaces, good keyword research, having a nimble place to publish your content, as well as have a quick process for approval

MJ: When it comes to pushing content, which social sharing platforms do you believe carry the most “juice” for search engines?

RG: For Bing, the social platforms with the most juice are Twitter and Facebook, because they have direct integration with both of those properties.

Google uses a myriad number of social signals, especially if you have a wide definition of the term “social.” So this includes quantity and quality of comments, voting, shares, etc. Of course, Google uses Google+ signals.

MJ: Do you find that social activity increases brand awareness or otherwise increases the number of searches for a brand/company name?

RG: There is no question that search and social are in complete balance in the Internet universe. I can’t recall anyone I’ve met who only uses social networks, but does not use a search engine.

The people who use search engines and social are the same people. This seems very basic, but it is worth repeating over and over, because I believe many marketers miss out on this point.

The bottom line is that social interest drives search interest, and vice versa. People seek answers, content, and conversation in both search engines and social networks, so marketers need to be in both places where these conversations and searches are occurring.

MJ: What are you favorite tools to find social influencers?

RG: I like to use my brain, and I believe that smart people are the most overlooked tool of all. I manually view networks and look for influencers who are active, authoritative, and responsive. No tool can do this as fast as a knowledgeable person. One hour of manual review can save you weeks of headaches.

If most marketers would open their eyes, they would find more than enough key influencers to work with for a very long time. If you don’t have knowledgeable people indentifying influencers “manually” or using tools, your influencer outreach strategy is screwed.

MJ: There’s no doubt that social “works.” But, in what capacity would you say it “works”? How should one set expectations for the CEO?

RG: The key for readers of this interview is be sure and carefully define what you mean by “social”, and what your CEO understands the meaning of “social” to be, before you start to qualify and quantify it for them.

Social works in a variety of ways. One key way is that social works in the same way that links work. So if your CEO buys into the importance of links to your SEO visibility (which is SEO 101, and they should), then social is now just as important of a cornerstone for SEO. Social works also in terms of user-generated content, and also in development of audience language.

MJ: You mention that traditional SEO and social signals are very much alike, in your book. I have often said that until social figures out “spam” (fake profiles/automation, etc.) the way that search engines have figured out link spam, social signals can’t be as relevant as we might like. What are your thoughts on this?

RG: This is one of the reasons that social networks are becoming more algorithmic, and more like search engines. As they get bigger, they must deal with a tsunami of spam to maintain a good experience for the user.

Those of us in search know that Google has been fighting this battle since its beginnings, and they are the experts. As social networks become more algorithmic, you will see more social media marketers reverse engineering their presence (some are already doing this for EdgeRank).

It is also fair to provide a definition of the word “social” here. Because the term “social” is used to mean almost everything on the web these days, I would posit that that any signal that shows true human activity is a social signal, as opposed to robots and scripts, and can potentially be used as a signal.

The implication for sustainable social marketing strategy is to keep everything clean, and maintain your social presence just as cleanly as you maintain your website presence for SEO.

MJ: There has been a lot of chatter about “real time marketing” recently in the context of the Oreo ad during the Super Bowl blackout. Is this really what “real time marketing” is all about?

RG: The Oreo ad created by 360i during the Super Bowl blackout was a great example of spontaneous real-time marketing, but it was only one small slice of what true real time content marketing entails.

RTCM does not have to happen during a major media event, and the truth is that successful RTCM requires a marketer being present during many other smaller events and topics that are relevant to their business. It is the sum of these events, along with a fluid real time content presence that makes them successful.

There are some companies that actually produced ads during the Supreme Court hearing on DOMA, and also on the naming of the new pope, and this is a total misrepresentation of true real time marketing. Real time marketing is a philosophy that affects all parts of a business, not just on-the-fly creative.

The foundation for RTM was created by Regis McKenna back in 1995, and while his original writings are nuanced to the time, I believe his work foreshadowed modern Internet marketing, and also what we now call social media.

MJ: How does social relevancy compare to search relevancy?

RG: Social relevancy and trust is measured on the same model that search engines use to measure the authority and trust of websites, as well as the linked connections between them.

Every social media presence has a domain or user ID, and smart social networks apply the same principles as search engines. So your likes can infer intent, your connections like followers and friends infer a link, and the language used in your streams infers a theme and keyword relevancy.

MJ: “The more you give, the more you get” is a philosophy that I have believed in. What are your thoughts?

RG: All successful Internet publishers operate this way to some degree. This philosophy is the foundation of original Internet culture. Open source, GNU, and Creative Commons licensing are all based in this spirit.

The bottom line is that marketers need to apply this line of thinking in the way they produce content and publish commercially on the web. So if the “business as publisher” is going to be successful in a similar way, they need to understand this culture and rapidly adopt it.

Bottom Line

I rarely send out a proposal for search engine optimization services without mentioning, sometimes heavily, the need to incorporate social. Everything from the power to write content that is “human friendly” on a corporate blog, to promoting content to followers/influencers so that you can earn the “buzz” and – yes – generate some natural links to the website and what impact all of this activity can have on growing your “brand” online…all of these things, we know, aid in building up your presence in the SERPS.

While some will call this “content marketing”, others call it “social media marketing”, and still others (such as I) will just say that search engine optimization is (as it always has been) evolving to include these methods of marketing the business and generating natural presence across a multitude of channels.

Social channels have a way to go to perfect their algorithms so that they can, as the search engines have before them, account for spam. Additionally, many companies are still struggling with their “voice” and how they might create engagement with their target audience in a more “human” way.

The key here is to get started. And, try and have a plan for how social works with other things that you’re doing, from PR, to web design, to promotional marketing and – yes – to search engine optimization.

This article originally appeared on searchenginewatch.com

10 Killer SEO Landing Page Tips

April 15, 2013 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

Grant Simmons, April 15, 2013

landing-page-engage-beyond-the-click

When we talk landing pages, most online marketers think pay-per-click, where the input of a destination URL into Google’s or Bing’s paid search offerings allow marketers to drive keyword-targeted traffic to (hopefully) optimized pages.

My previous article extolling the death of keywords talked about developing intent-based topics and building content that connects with those topics – intent to content.

We can now apply that mantra in a “first engagement” scenario, after a user clicks a search result, to ensure SEO landing pages:

  • Connect with intent: Offering a user what they expect.
  • Resolve (initial) user query: Answering their initial query.
  • Engage the user: Sending user signals to search engines.
  • Drive further user engagement (if necessary): Additional signals to both users and search engines.

A searcher intent to site content engagement scenario I call “CRED“.

In these scenarios where signed in users, search query modification, Chrome browsers, “cookied” users and toolbar data provide massive datasets of engagement signals to search engines on how users interact on sites, we need to drive optimal engagement scenarios.

Here’s a checklist of 10 “killer” tips to ensure you’re able to add a bit of CRED to your SEO campaigns, as well as demonstrate campaign success!

Connecting

1. Are the primary headlines aligned with intent?

The first thing users notice is content structure, headlines, headers, bolded elements, graphics etc. Your 2 seconds of opportunity to grab attention begins with a mental assessment that needs to immediately connect with the original search query and inspire additional engagement via clear communication of what the page is about.

Content should be created with specific intent in mind, with headlines, and/or graphic headers that are obvious, short, surrounded by adequate white space. And the content must be specific enough to inspire a user’s attention.

2. Are you matching content type with query intent?

If the target query includes “how to”, “best”, “top 10″, “compare” or other intent refining modifiers, or if the query demands a certain level of text content, are you obviously offering something that visually connects, confirms relevance, displays lists, video or images?

Users won’t have time to read, but they will make a quick decision on whether the format they review matches an expectation. For example, a query on top 10 bars should have a list with numbers displayed – or one entry with numbers. Or a query on the history of search should probably have an index and look robust – not just a 200 word paragraph.

Users have short attention spans, and most have a preconceived expectation of what theyshould find, not matching that initial expectation can equate to a quick “back click.”.

Resolving

3. Can users perform a quick scan above the fold to answer who, what, and why?

As noted above, users don’t actually read on a first pass, they make a decision based on visual cues and click expectations (what they expect after they click).

Some websites fail in obviously reinforcing the click expectation, missing an opportunity for engagement, underscoring brand recognition, and providing obvious reasons of time-worthy value.

Click through to your site and ask the following:

  1. Is your brand obvious?
  2. Is it obvious what you do?
  3. Is it obvious why they should stick around?

Especially important with homepages, but equally important on other SEO landing pages, is ensuring your brand is obvious. Make sure what you do, or how you plan to address the user’s intent, isn’t buried. Give users obvious information and/or justification to stick around and/or click around is key to moving people to engage further.

Remember: for instant user assessment of resolution potential, anything below the fold doesn’t exist!

Engaging

As noted with the Home Depot example, key engagement options exist such as an “add to cart” action button, search for intent refinement or modification, other options to dig into additional information and links to similar products that other customers have purchased.

Each of these elements contribute to answering the next question:

4. Is it obvious what they should do next?

For Home Depot, the answer is most probably yes. It’s easy to find the “Add to Cart” button, it’s placed in an obvious position and there’s multiple options to view additional information.

The product page offers multiple ways to engage, with a zoom button (subjectively probably not big enough), and plenty of other user-centric options such as writing reviews, checking inventory, etc.

Occasionally there can be too many options that can confuse users. In the Home Depot example there appears to be duplicated “check inventory” buttons/links, but these may have been tested and justified.

5. Are there on-page modification options? (based on query modification)

Home Depot offer a good example of obvious search functionality, related products, and other options that can help modify the user’s search query onsite rather than have them click back to the search results to modify.

These kind of onsite modifications do not always need to be driven by site search.

Breadcrumbs, side navigation, filters, related prods, color/size selection are all feasible options to mitigate click backs and improve onsite engagement signals.

Driving

6. Are ‘next clicks’ consistent?

Part of great site engagement is a consistent user experience for similar queries. By monitoring user interaction on a per query basis, website owners can identify consistencies or deficiencies in matches of search intent to site content.

Duane Forrester of Bing said in January 2013:

“In the long run, the brand names secure rankings through depth of content, trust in brand, and user interaction (searchers clicking a SERP result and staying on their site because the site is trusted and answers the searchers question)”

Providing key “next clicks” – obvious steps from landing pages to conversion or core information – is a better user experience = better potential rankability.

7. Can they share what they’ve found?

Probably the most obvious of tips, it the provision of social sharing and social connection buttons. If landing pages provide the value users expect, will they be inspired to share, and if they are, can they?

Sharing of a page is different than a click through to your social property (i.e., Facebook page or Twitter stream), and should be a key component on most landing pages, with the caveat of audience vs. social platform.

For pages with images, is there an option to share on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter? For business text content, is LinkedIn an option? Social signals are imperative in closing the loop on user intent satisfaction, demonstrating to both users and search engines an endorsement of your content.

8. Ultimately, can users find the banana?

Seth Godin published a book a few years ago called “The Big Red Fez” – rather than repeat all the key concepts, I can state simply is it’s all about bananas – users finding what they need from obvious choices. There’s an excellent synopsis here.

Give your users clear navigation to improve consistent engagement and “banana-discovery.”

Measurement

The final two tips cover justification through measurement of metrics that matter.

9. Have you segmented traffic by topics?

Google Analytics offers segmentation by query topics through Analytics filters (beyond the scope of this article but more information can be found here) or by exporting data and consolidating offline in Excel.

Custom segments allow you to monitor performance across keyword query topics, understand topic traffic and conversion trends, and leverage this data to identify the key landing pages for each topic.

10. Are you tracking first click queries for optimized pages?

Although in an ideal scenario the page you optimize will attract the keyword queries you’d expect, custom segments by topic also offer up insights into competing pages (entry pages in your site that compete against each other), highlighting opportunities to consolidate similar pages, mitigating potential thin content issues and improving topic relevance on merged pages.

Utilize custom segments, organic traffic keyword query reports, together with landing page association to provide insights into potentially competing pages.

Summary

Landing pages have historically been the domain of paid search marketers seeking improved conversion rates.

User experience, site usability, and onsite engagement have become more important for major search engines in their assessment of a site’s “rankability”, so SEO practitioners need to ensure SEO landing pages have CRED as a key to SEO success.

This post originally appeared on searchenginewatch.com

Google Penguin, the Second (Major) Coming: How to Prepare

April 10, 2013 By: admin Category: News

Simon Penson

Unless you’ve had your head under a rock you’ve undoubtedly heard the rumblings of a coming Google Penguin update of significant proportions.

To paraphrase Google’s web spam lead Matt Cutts the algorithm filter has “iterated” to date but there will be a “next generation” coming that will have a major impact on SERPs.

Having watched the initial rollout take many by surprise it make sense this time to at least attempt to prepare for what may be lurking around the corner.

Google Penguin: What We Know So Far

We know that Penguin is purely a link quality filter that sits on top of the core algorithm, runs sporadically (the last official update was in October 2012), and is designed to take out sites that use manipulative techniques to improve search visibility.

And while there have been many examples of this being badly executed, with lots of site owners and SEO professionals complaining of injustice, it is clear that web spam engineers have collected a lot of information over recent months and have improved results in many verticals.

That means Google’s team is now on top of the existing data pile and testing output and as a result they are hungry for a major structural change to the way the filter works once again.

We also know that months of manual resubmissions and disavows have helped the Silicon Valley giant collect an unprecedented amount of data about the “bad neighborhoods” of links that had powered rankings until very recently, for thousands of high profile sites.

They have even been involved in specific and high profile web spam actions against sites like Interflora, working closely with internal teams to understand where links came from and watch closely as they were removed.

In short, Google’s new data pot makes most big data projects look like a school register! All the signs therefore point towards something much more intelligent and all encompassing.

The question is how can you profile your links and understand the probability of being impacted as a result when Penguin hits within the next few weeks or months?

Let’s look at several evidence-based theories.

The Link Graph – Bad Neighborhoods

Google knows a lot about what bad links look like now. They know where a lot of them live and they also understand their DNA.

And once they start looking it becomes pretty easy to spot the links muddying the waters.

The link graph is a kind of network graph and is made up of a series of “nodes” or clusters. Clusters form around IPs and as a result it becomes relatively easy to start to build a picture of ownership, or association.

Google assigns weight or authority to links using its own PageRank currency, but like any currency it is limited and that means that we all have to work hard to earn it from sites that have, over time, built up enough to go around.

This means that almost all sites that use “manipulative” authority to rank higher will be getting it from an area or areas of the link graph associated with other sites doing the same. PageRank isn’t limitless.

These “bad neighborhoods” can be “extracted” by Google, analyzed and dumped relatively easily to leave a graph that looks a little like this:

They won’t disappear, but Google will devalue them and remove them from the PageRank picture, rendering them useless.

Expect this process to accelerate now the search giant has so much data on “spammy links” and swathes of link profiles getting knocked out overnight.

The concern of course is that there will be collateral damage, but with any currency rebalancing, which is really what this process is, there will be winners and losers.

Link Velocity

Another area of interest at present is the rate at which sites acquire links. In recent months there definitely has been a noticeable change in how new links are being treated. While this is very much theory my view is that Google have become very good now at spotting link velocity “spikes” and anything out of the ordinary is immediately devalued.

Whether this is indefinitely or limited by time (in the same way “sandbox” works) I am not sure but there are definite correlations between sites that earn links consistently and good ranking increases. Those that earn lots quickly do not get the same relative effect.

And it would be relatively straightforward to move into the Penguin model, if it isn’t there already. The chart below shows an example of a “bumpy” link acquisition profile and as in the example anything above the “normalized” line could be devalued.

Link Trust

The “trust” of a link is also something of interest to Google. Quality is one thing (how much juice the link carries), but trust is entirely another thing.

Majestic SEO has captured this reality best with the launch of its new Citation and Trust flow metrics to help identify untrusted links.

How is trust measured? In simple terms it is about good and bad neighborhoods again.

In my view Google uses its Hilltop algorithm, which identifies so-called “expert documents” (websites) across the web, which are seen as shining beacons of trust and delight! The closer your site is to those documents the better the neighborhood. It’s a little like living on the “right” road.

If your link profile contains a good proportion of links from trusted sites then that will act as a “shield” from future updates and allow some slack for other links that are less trustworthy.

Social Signals

Many SEO pros believe that social signals will play a more significant role in the next iteration of Penguin.

While social authority, as it is becoming known, makes a lot of sense in some markets, it also has limitations. Many verticals see little to no social interaction and without big pots of social data a system that qualifies link quality by the number of social shares across site or piece of content can’t work effectively.

In the digital marketing industry it would work like a dream but for others it is a non-starter, for now. Google+ is Google’s attempt to fill that void and by forcing as many people as possible to work logged in they are getting everyone closer to Plus and the handing over of that missing data.

In principle it is possible though that social sharing and other signals may well be used in a small way to qualify link quality.

Anchor Text

Most SEO professionals will point to anchor text as the key telltale metric when it comes to identifying spammy link profiles. The first Penguin rollout would undoubtedly have used this data to begin drilling down into link quality.

I asked a few prominent SEO professionals their opinions on what the key indicator of spam was in researching this post and almost all pointed to anchor text.

“When I look for spam the first place I look is around exact match anchor text from websites with a DA (domain authority) of 30 or less,” said Distilled’s John Doherty. “That’s where most of it is hiding.”

His thoughts were backed up by Zazzle’s own head of search Adam Mason.

“Undoubtedly low value websites linking back with commercial anchors will be under scrutiny and I also always look closely at link trust,” Mason said.

The key is the relationship between branded and non-branded anchor text. Any natural profile would be heavily led by branded (e.g., www.example.com/xxx.com) and “white noise” anchors (e.g., “click here”, “website”, etc).

The allowable percentage is tightening. A recent study by Portent found that the percentage of “allowable” spammy links has been reducing for months now, standing at around 80 percent pre-Penguin and 50 percent by the end of last year. The same is true of exact match anchor text ratios.

Expect this to tighten even more as Google’s understanding of what natural “looks like” improves.

Relevancy

One area that will certainly be under the microscope as Google looks to improve its semantic understanding is relevancy. As it builds up a picture of relevant associations that data can be used to assign more weight to relevant links. Penguin will certainly be targeting links with no relevance in future.

Traffic Metrics

While traffic metrics probably fall more under Panda than Penguin, the lines between the two are increasingly blurring to a point where the two will shortly become indistinguishable. Panda has already been subsumed into the core algorithm and Penguin will follow.

On that basis Google could well look at traffic metrics such as visits from links and the quality of those visits based on user data.

Takeaways

No one is in a position to be able to accurately predict what the next coming will look like but what we can be certain of is that Google will turn the knife a little more making link building in its former sense a more risky tactic than ever. As numerous posts have pointed out in recent months it is now about earning those links by contributing and adding value via content.

If I was asked what my money was on, I would say we will see a tightening of what is an allowable level of spam still further, some attempt to begin measuring link authority by the neighborhood it comes from and any associated social signals that come with it. The rate at which links are earned too will come under more scrutiny and that means you should think about:

Understanding your link profile in much great detail. Tools and data from companies such as Majestic, Ahrefs, CognitiveSEO, and others will become more necessary to mitigate risk.
Where you link comes from not just what level of apparent “quality” it has. Link trust is now a key metric.
Increasing the use of brand and “white noise” anchor text to remove obvious exact and phrase match anchor text problems.
Looking for sites that receive a lot of social sharing relative to your niche and build those relationships.
Running back link checks on the site you get links from to ensure their equity isn’t coming from bad neighborhoods as that could pass to you.

This post originally appeared on serchenginewatch.com

How to Avoid PR Disaster With a Social Media Policy

April 05, 2013 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

Lisa Buyer, April 5, 2013

social-media-policy-tips

Does the saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” apply to social media blunders gone viral?

Your brand ending up as a gag skit on “SNL” because of a socialmedia mishap is probably not part of the PR strategy. As opposed to the social media sentiment when you land an interview with Oprah that trends on Twitter, gets replayed on YouTube, and shared on Facebook with a behind the scenes shot on #Instagram.

If you think social media and public relations are two different departments with separate agendas, think again.

Zen of a Social Media Policy

The good, the bad, and the ugly stemming from social media sentiments that bubble up to a brand are a direct reflection on the company’s image, credibility, influence, and visibility – and if you’re a public company or a company trying to raise money, how about those investors?

In more cases than not, employees behaving badly by accident or intentionally have the formula for PR disaster. Now social media is part of the PR department and it’s their problem.

Your Employees are Social! #FTW or #FAIL

As the popularity of social media grows, brands small and large must face the fact that the people with the closest connection to your organization – employees – are active on social channels.

While employees can be your perfect brand advocates and evangelists, they can also burn your reputation when they lose control on social media networks.

The Employee Social Media Manual #Trending #HR #PR

To mitigate that risk, develop a company-wide policy that clearly defines acceptable (and unacceptable) behavior in social media, and dictates how employees can effectively communicate your brand culture, voice, and message.

Include guidelines about confidential and proprietary information and how each should be treated and balanced against the transparency that consumers increasingly expect from social media.

Social Media Training Program #Breaking #Success

The company picnic and holiday party just got bigger, wider, and riskier with social media snapshots landing on Facebook and Instagram. Is that a shot of tequila the CEO is doing? Hello front page news and public relations hangover!

Who is providing your employees with these resources takes the guesswork out of determining what’s appropriate to post, tweet, or share? It also increases the consistency of communications about your brand. Consider delivering these resources to your employees as part of a company-wide social media training program.

A recent report published by the Wildfire Google Team – The Road to ROI: Building Strategy for Social Marketing Success speaks to how to influence the conversation without trying to control it. One of the key areas focused on was the internal planning of social media and how that ties into the external public relations and reputation management of a company.

Top 10 Questions Your Social Media Policy Should Answer

  1. What are the goals of your social media policy?
  2. How will you update your policy and reinforce it?
  3. What information about your business can employees share?
  4. Which social networks will you maintain a presence on?
  5. How will you monitor conversations about your brand on social channels? Who will monitor these conversations?
  6. How will you maintain a consistent social tone and style across these networks?
  7. Will you encourage employees to participate in social media as a representative of your brand?
  8. How will you respond to consumers who communicate with your brand through social channels? Who will respond on your brand’s behalf?
  9. Who is authorized to proactively post on your brand’s behalf? Does this authorization account for different regions and teams?
  10. What constitutes a social media “crisis” for your business? What is your process for handling a post that could be categorized as a crisis?

This post originally appeared on searchenginewatch website.