April 27, 2009

Creating Social Media Outposts

By Mike Fruchter of MichaelFruchter.com (Twitter/FriendFeed)

Roll-Your-Own Social Media Campaign: Outposts

I recently started a new job at a software company. One of my responsiblites is creating and launching an effective organic SEO & social media strategy for our customers. Our customer base deals primarily with the auto industry, not the keenest when it comes to marketing on the Internet, much less social web. The majority of our customers spend their advertising dollars on print, TV and radio ads. This strategy for the most part works well, as it's locally targeted to a geographical region.

My main objective with this task is primarily for search engine purposes only. Creating back links and outposts. Brand monitoring is also another objective. This is a roll-your-own strategy tailored for the three objectives I mentioned only. Educational training on social media comes later. These type of clients are salesmen who are on the sales floor all day long trying to move product, and often these clients will have an employee assigned to the Internet division, but that employee usually does not know the first thing about Internet marketing. Their sole task is updating online inventory and responding to Internet requests. These are the employees who will require ongoing training about Internet marketing and more specifically social media marketing, engagement and interaction. More on that on a future post, but lets get started.

Think of outposts as a sort of toll booth. This is the analogy I'm making here. It's pretty much the same in real life. On the Internet there are many toll booths for many destinations. You need to own and operate that toll booth, instead of your competitors.

1. Reserving and creating the brands name online, aka vanity urls.

The first step is creating accounts on the major social networking sites. All I'm concerned with at this point is Twitter , Facebook , MySpace , YouTube and blogging. Blogging for this objective will be using Blogger.com, eventually leading to in house blogs as well as hosted on the brands website using WordPress. I need to reserve the brand's name on these networks for search engine traffic, but equally important is to keep them out of the hands of name squatters and potential competitors. I'm not concerned about the smaller social networks, they can come at a later point if needed.

Why choose Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Blogger and YouTube?

  • The ability to create dozens of blogs utilizing targeted keywords.
  • Easy to use with no learning curve.
  • Vanity URLs
  • Google juice
  • Marketing
  • Branded outpost
Self hosted WordPress blogs will eventually be the main informational hub for consumers

  • Real time search capabilities.
  • An API we can hook into to pull and post data.
  • Consumer interaction, engagement & lead generation.
  • Broadcasting inventory, specials, etc.
  • Vanity URL & tweets are indexable by search engines, Google being the prime target.
  • Branded outpost
  • The ability to create a public branded fan page & vanity URL
  • Public pages are indexed by search engines. Google being the prime target.
  • Consumer interaction, engagement & lead generation.
  • Rich multimedia environment.
  • Branded outpost
  • Vanity URL
  • Public pages are indexed by search engines, Google being the prime target.
  • Multimedia environment, primarily will be used for video/photo purposes only.
  • Branded outpost
  • Vanity URL
  • Distribution hub for videos created in house.
  • Ability to create a custom channel.
  • Embeddable share options for videos and soc nets.
  • Indexable by search engines, great for Google juice.
  • Branded outpost
2. Creating consistent brandable outposts.
Now that all these accounts are created, it's time to turn them into outposts. Remember an outpost is used for driving traffic back to your central hub. The hub in this case is the brands website.
  • Outposts need to be streamlined and most importantly consistent across the board.
  • Corporate contact information, banners, logos and URL name should all be the same.
  • Outposts always link back to the central hub.
  • Always use targeted keywords in profile information.
  • Goal is to achieve uniform omnipresence on all outposts.
  • When information is changed on the central hub, it needs to be reflected on the outpost.
  • Link back to all your outposts. Always remember main emphasis is on the central hub.
  • Encourage following and fans on your outposts and always follow back.
  • Keep the outpost fresh with content as often as possible, this is key for search engines.
That's part 1 of this roll-your-own strategy. Outposts are relatively easy to set up and maintain, and are key for organic search traffic. Part 2 will cover maintenance of the outposts and will also dive into brand monitoring.
Image by thetruthabout under Flickr CC

Read more by Mike Fruchter at MichaelFruchter.com.