June 11, 2010, 2:35 PM

Making friends with online commentators pays off

Search engines are picking up comments on blogs and social networks, so it’s worthwhile to chat up the commentators.

Lead Photo

David Larkins, vice president of marketing at marketing services firm NetPlus Marketing, speaks on social media and search marketing at the Internet Retailer Conference 2010.

The successful marriage of social and search marketing begins with indentifying bloggers and other creators of online social content, understanding what drives them, and reaching out to them in a friendly manner to help guide their future content, which search engines are actively picking up.

“Leveraging social marketing to boost organic search rankings is about relationship building,’ David Larkins, vice president of marketing for NetPlus Marketing, told an audience at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2010 in Chicago. “Google loves social content, but the key is to get good social marketing content into search results, which is why retailers want to build relationships with content providers to guide the direction of their content and gain some control over how content providers represent them.”

Retailers can identify social media content providers, such as bloggers and Facebook fans, through Internet searches about their brands. Once a social content provider is identified, the retailer should monitor the frequency, content and tone of the postings. Once familiar with the work of the online commentator, a retailer can reach out and start a conversation with that individual.

Ways to build a relationship with content providers include providing brand evangelists with sneak peeks into new merchandise due to arrive, special offers they can circulate to their friends, and exclusive access to special events.

“Every social content provider responds differently to outreach efforts, but the key is for retailers to build a relationship with them so they can provide some instruction about how to craft the message they put out in the world of social media and make that marketing message more of a collaborative effort, rather than reacting to what is said in social media circles,” says Larkins. “Social media posting that turn up in organic search results can create a lot of awareness about a retailer’s brand, a lot of high quality in-bound links to the retailer’s site, and increase the time consumers spend on a retailer’s site. So it is important to manage it proactively.”

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