Even the most technologically sluggish of businesses have now come to terms with the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO), as part of their online marketing campaigns. Indeed, many are even guilty of relying on rather archaic methods and somewhat over-simplifying the process. As with most technological tools, SEO passes through a constant evolution and, thus, requires astute attention and unabated focus.
Even fresher to the online marketing scene, however, is social discovery and, with many experts suggesting that this approach is the only real challenger to SEO, it is essential that businesses begin to educate themselves regarding digital marketing’s newest tool.
An Introduction to Social Discovery
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Social Discovery, fundamentally, is riding on the crest of social network’s success, but, a giant leap on from that, it too is finding new ways of making digital social interaction useful. Indeed, in an overtly simplified sense, social discovery is the utilisation of social networking tools for individual or organisational (business) gains.
Quite simply, if social networking is like the digital version of your local pub, social discovery is the latest city forum. In essence, it is the difference between connecting to those you know, and connecting to those you want to know. Not only that, but increasingly social discovery enables you to ‘discover’, quite obviously, anything in any sector, based on geo-specific data, as well as sector-specific preferences.
How Does My Business Benefit?
In a business sense, imagine the benefits one can draw from a sector and geo-specific seminar or forum – a networking event, if you will, and then imagine that this forum is digitalised and ongoing. The benefits can be quite astounding.
Not only are these benefits restrained to the marketing sector, but too they can open up new lines of dialogue to enable you to improve your products and services, and even catalyse new collaborations and partnerships. They can help you to attract and communicate with your client base, as well as interact with other ‘players’ in your sector. They can connect you to your local business community and enable you to expand the digital scope of your business.
As far back as 2011, Jeff Bullas wrote a blog on the impact of social media on business, which included a 12-point list of benefits:
1. Increased awareness of the organisation
2. Increased traffic to website
3. Greater favourable perceptions of the brand
4. Able to monitor conversations about the organisation
5. Able to develop targeted marketing activities
6. Better understanding of customers perceptions of their brand
7. Improved insights about their target markets
8. Identification of positive and negative comments
9. Increase in new business
10. Identification of new product or service opportunities
11. Ability to measure the frequency of the discussion about the brand
12. Early warning of potential product or service issues
Although these points were based around social media as a collective tool, they are also true of the benefits brought about through social discovery.
More specifically, social discovery is based around the ease of access to information and is a natural progression of the way in which many of us are now choosing to explore the world. With the increase, globally, in smart phone and tablet technology, not even Google searches are instant enough anymore. Quite simply, individuals want a tool that moves with them.
On top of this, Marketers are having to find new ways of connecting with individuals, who, according to a leading market research firm, Yankelovich, process an average of 5000 advertising messages each day. This has led to the necessity of increased innovation within marketing, as people have simply become better at blanking out marketing when it is not what they want, or not in the form that they wish to receive it.
What this has led to in the product/services sector is the same as what has been witnessed in SEO – a move towards improved quality. The science of algorithm tools have created the necessity for relevant, unique, useful and well written content, as well as highly trusted links. With regards to marketing, social discovery, is like an advanced version of ‘word of mouth’ – capable of reaching a large volume of individuals, but reliant on positive feedback.
Social discovery is the tool that can help to ensure that the quality of your goods or services is forwarded on to as many potential clients as possible. But, this marketing approach is a new direction from the concept of ‘selling’ and, rather, focuses on the idea of ‘sharing’.
Sharing is the New Selling
In Layman’s terms, the concept behind traditional advertising is ‘how do you get someone to buy?’ Or rather, ‘how do you sell a product or service?’ Social discovery is changing that reality and seeing a shift towards – ‘How can I get someone to share?’
It is not an overly complicated concept to understand – simply, the more people that share something, the more your brand is promoted – but, it is not always so easy in practice. The approach is a new one and, thus, we have not yet fully understood the ‘share trigger’.
What we do know, however, is that individuals use social networks almost as their own identity platform. They like to share things that are funny, attractive, and cool and, most importantly, that represent their own unique style, sway or persuasion. In addition to this, people innately want to help and inspire each other, and thus any branding that integrates a product or service with a positive message is always a share favourite.
Both written content and visual media – infographics, videos, images etc – need to be optimised at a high level of quality and it is imperative that a strong and consistent branding approach is established. SEO, too, is still of high value, as it can offer benefits within certain social discovery tools, as well as, of course, search engine queries.
It is also important to research and get to grips with the ever expanding list of social discovery tools available. A good start would be to research those in your specific sector and locality, in addition to the most popular Apps on the market.
With the speed at which social discovery is set to grow, it is crucial that your business jumps on board as soon as possible and stays one step ahead of the competition.
Mathew is the proud owner of www.townfish.co.uk a social discovery Web site.