|After living in Canada for 4 years, I realised there was a lack of guides and resources for up and coming Internet Marketers in the Australian marketplace. What’s more as digital innovation ramps up, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for client side marketers and small business owners to focus on current business priorities and keep up to date with the latest digital trends. Digital Marketing Lab aims to provide an Australian hub for digital process improvements, trends and statistics, as well as actionable advice to enable marketers to effectively exploit the digital realm. I hope Digital Marketing Lab proves to be a useful guide for seasoned marketers as well as those just starting out.|
For those of you starting to delve into the world of social media, you may be looking for some tools that will make the process of monitoring a little easier – without the large price tag. Whilst there are many high quality paid services, free options are very useful early on particularly if your organisation is unwilling to invest heavily into social media until a return is demonstrated.
This article details 4 tools that I think cut the mustard– and also lists a suite of other free tools which you may find useful. Whilst each tool provides some useful functionality they also have their draw backs. Thus marketers may want to use a combination of these tools to monitor their social media activities.
What does it do? Enables users to create a customised dashboard of the latest topical issues in their industry as well as tracking brand conversations across social sites which range from Twitter / Digg & Delicious to Bloglines, Bing News and Google Blog search.
Good for; Dashboard interface makes it easy to gain a quick snapshot of brand references and conversations occurring about your industry on the web.
Not so good for; This tool doesn’t pick up all conversations containing site links but is a great for identifying topical industry issues “passion points” or keyword searches using “brand names”.
What does it do? Provides a quick snapshot of overall site characteristics from traffic to site ownership information. In particular this site provides a “social popularity overview” – detailing social bookmarks, inbound links from Wikipedia, latest tweets and related blog content on the web.
Good for; A useful quantitative overview of a sites performance across social platforms.
Not so good for; Viewing the content that has been bookmarked and by whom – the site does not provide the ability to drill down on the results.
What does it do? Provides a simple way of measuring your brands social visibility on the web. The site crawls 22 social platforms from Facebook, to Twitter, Google Blogs, Flickr, Delicious and a range of others. Through the collation of results the brand is then allocated a score on the basis of visibility across the social web.
Good for; The site provides a quick benchmarking tool to compare your “brands visibility” across social platforms with competitors. It also provides a quantitative overview of your brand mentions as well as the ability to drill down results to access the results on each platform.
Not so good for: The brand visibility rating somewhat favours social networking video and image sites, and largely ignores social bookmarking / news sites with Delicious the only site considered as part of its visibility measurement portfolio.
What does it do? Samepoint positions itself as a conversation search engine, tracking the social landscape. Samepoint indexes everything from groups, microblogs, social networks, reviews, wikis, documents, videos and more.
Good for; The site provides positive and negative sentiment measures for conversations and mentions across an array of social channels. In addition the site pinpoints the most recent conversations / activity for your brand.
Not so good for; The site has a large index across network platforms such as LinkedIn & Facebook as well as good coverage of FriendFeed and blogs, however the site seems to lack coverage of social bookmarking sites.
Apart from the above, there is an array of other tools available.
Are there any free tools you have found useful to monitor social media activities? If so share them below
The post 4 Of The Best – Free Social Media Monitoring Tools appeared first on Digital Marketing Lab.
There is a definite disconnect between Australian consumer usage of the internet and the investment in digital from organisations. Despite the many articles promoting the potential of digital – it is only few – mainly the pure play online organisations that are benefiting from the digital phenomenon.
However despite the strong signals of consumers both spending increasing amounts of time and money online, organisations are not slow off the mark to invest in the digital channel. And the statistics prove it.
Australian Online Behaviour & Organisations Online Spend
Statistics from Mike Hall, Director of Holler advised that more than 13 million Australians are online and the digital life survey suggests that as a nation we now spend one-third of their leisure time online, which according to Nielsen is 16.1 hours online per week. But our time online is not just spent browsing, according to Mike in 2008 Australians spent approximately $24 billion dollars online.
The Nielsen advertising report, released in March 2009, demonstrated the significant gap that exists between online promotion and consumer consumption of media. Of the top 10 retail organisations advertising in Australia, only 1% of ad spend is invested online. This same trend currently exists within the beauty & cosmetics sector whilst in the entertainment and leisure sector the proportion is slightly higher at 3%.
But the time spent online by consumers is not matched by the online spend of organisations.
So whilst many businesses will claim that Australian consumers are not likely to buy online, the above demonstrates the lack of investment by organisations.
So why is there such a disconnect?
I believe there are several reasons why organisations are not jumping on the digital bandwagon, these are;
Poor Digital Leadership;
Traditional marketers are not equipped to lead the digital charge and champion the digital channel at a senior level. If senior stakeholders are not truly convinced of the opportunity the channel will not be taken seriously, and the appropriate investment will not be made – leaving digital unable to live up to its promises.
Mark Freidin from http://www.internetretailing.com.au understands the impact a bad online investment experience can have on an organisations attitude towards the channel. Mark has witnessed the early introduction of eCommerce by Australian organisations and feels bad experiences in the earlier part of the decade have left a bitter taste in retailers’ mouths. He says “A lot of national retailers jumped on board in the early stages because everyone else was doing it. Instead of trying to understand this new channel and how it would work (and what it would entail to run and manage) many businesses did not tie eCommerce to their master strategy and spent money on the technology without defining what they wanted to achieve and how they were going to market themselves online. 10 years later in Australia many CEO’S are older, and more wary about their online experiences so they steer clear of selling online.”
Lack of client side knowledge;
Whilst there are many digital consultants and agencies in Australia, there is a lack of digital knowledge on the client side at all levels that are continuing to drive the implementation of digital tactics. Organisations looking to invest in digital must not only invest in the tools, but invest significantly in retraining traditional marketers to ensure they are equipped to drive the value from the digital channel.
Lack of local training & case studies;
Australia has developed a strong community of independent bloggers on various digital topics. However Australia lacks the formal nationwide digital training that is required to re-skill traditional marketing professionals. Many traditional client side marketers wishing to up-skill are unsure of where to go both online and offline to gain the skills required to grow their digital knowledge base. As a result marketers are more inclined to use techniques where their expertise lies and those which they can comfortably implement to show return.
In addition, whilst there are many online case studies for brands successfully leveraging digital channels overseas, Australia lacks the local examples to prove that digital campaigns can be successful in the local market. This makes it difficult for marketers to push the digital agenda within their organisation.
Local big boys aren’t leading the way;
If the big retailers are unable to monetise the digital channel, it casts doubts over its potential. Small to medium organisations are not in the position to take risks and invest in a channel without knowing the outcome – thus these organisations are looking for the reassurance that there is money to be made. Thus as this is not currently occurring it casts doubt over its potential for the wider business landscape in Australia.
Lack of understanding of the online influence for offline sales;
Research by Outrider at the end of 2008 demonstrated that many Australian consumers are researching their purchases online before making the final transaction. Whilst the dependence on the internet during the research phase differs greatly depending on the category, 1 in 4 consumers are researching white goods online prior to purchase, nearly 1 in 2 are researching electronics, automotive and telecommunications, and nearly 80% of consumers research their travel arrangements online.
Thus many organisations are failing to see the direct correlation that exists between online efforts and offline transactions. Organisations need to understand that not being there during the initial research phase, may mean the brand is not in the consumers final decision set when it comes to making the purchase. Until organisations can quantify this, uptake and investment will be slower than it should be in the Australian market.
Do you have any thoughts or insight into why Australia is slower on its uptake of Digital? If so share your thoughts below.
Want to expand your digital knowledge base?
If you are interested in learning more about Digital Marketing in Australia, visit www.internetretailing.com.au. This new site has been created as a knowledge centre to assist Australian organisations to learn about how to market themselves online.
By now we all know the importance of both content and link building to an SEO strategy. But the phenomenon of social media has delivered new tools to provide SEO’s with new techniques to dominate the SERPs.
Social SEO – What is it all about?
Whilst past SEO strategies have largely involved artificially creating relevance and popularity of a site, social media has provided new tools to leverage collaboration and interaction to build real popularity and authority on the web. It is this which some experts believe will form a major part of Google’s ranking algorithm in the future as they continue in their quest to deliver users truly relevant content.
Social Search Tool Box
The diagram below lists 4 of the key social tools that I believe search marketers can leverage to dominate the SERPs.
A closer look at the tool box
Search engines reward fresh content – which is one of the key reasons blogging can form an integral part of a search strategy. In addition, as a blog provides topical, humorous or even controversial content, it is more likely to be of interest to the user and shared with peers, as opposed to traditional site content which in some cases is prepared solely for the purpose of ranking within search engines. In addition user interaction in the form of users reviews and comments can also play an integral role in SERPs, as comments provides additional fresh content that can be indexed by the search engine.
However despite the content benefits, blogs provide a much bigger opportunity to search marketers. Popular blog content is often syndicated through RSS or cited by other blogs and sites which can generate additional back links to your site – which would normally take weeks to build manually.
Digital Asset Sharing Sites
With nearly 1 in 3 of all search results including universal/blended content, rich content is an important part of SEO. Over and above the basic optimisation techniques however it is the social aspects of sites such as YouTube, Flickr and many others which can help your organisation to dominate the search results. Social popularity measured by views, ratings, comments are sometimes used by Google to rank results. For example YouTube video’s ratings, views and comments are used to rank video content within SERPs. In addition the more popular the content is on these sites, the better they will then rank when new users search for related content on these platforms. This will in turn enables users to find your rich content and either embed it into their blogs / sites or share it with their community, all of which assists to generate additional inbound links for your site.
Social Bookmarking / News Sites
Social bookmarking and news sites have empowered users to store, organise and in some cases rate their favourite content on the web. As sites such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit and many increased in popularity, it has enabled brands to bypass the traditional PR channels, and enables web users to determine what is newsworthy or simply useful to their needs.
So you might be thinking that these sites have linking value. Unfortunately these sites use nofollow tags, thus there is no direct link value derived from such a strategy. As however these sites rank prominently within SERPs, it can assist organisations to dominate top 10 results with additional offsite listings. And similar to digital asset sharing sites, prominent content is more likely to be easier to locate and published on sites/blogs creating back links to your site.
A blog is obviously a great platform of content to leverage social news/bookmarking, however to do so it is important to empower users with widgets to circulate this content. This unfortunately means that brands have less control over their brand than previously – but this is the nature of social media.
Whilst links featured on the major platforms, ie Facebook, Twitter, MySpace do not provide the valuable link juice, social networking is still an important part of the strategy. And by now you would understand why? Social networking provides a strong platform for content from blogs or sites to be distributed and shared across communities and the web. In addition however content on these networks such as profiles, questions and answers and other branded content are often indexed providing organisations with additional opportunities to dominate SERPs through offsite methods.
However probably the most significant development in this space is the evolution of “social search” which is expected to be the next big trend – and Twitter is leading the way in this area. The key benefit of social search over traditional search is; content is indexed in real time, providing users with the immediacy to answer timely questions. As a result it is important to consider how your organisation can integrate with platforms such as Twitter, as an increasing number of users will begin to search via such networks and I have no doubt more of the traditional engines will look to leverage this content more and more in the future.
Final words to the wise
Whilst the above techniques will leave many SEOs salivating there are a few important considerations.
A social media marketing strategy is not just an extension of the existing SEO strategy. Social media marketing is a shift from traditional marketing techniques and can require the involvement of many organisation stakeholders. Thus it is advisable that a senior stakeholder determines the key objectives social media must achieve for the organisation, and SEOs can then determine how best to form part of this greater strategy.
Whilst many of the above techniques cover the viral nature of the web – the heart of any social search strategy is the content. Whilst SEOs have in the past had more control over crafting copy for search engines – the balance of optimisation and quality content has never been more important. In addition as the web becomes increasingly saturated with content, organisations need to innovate in this area and push the boundaries to provide users with something truly unique and worth sharing.
The post A Social Step in The Right Direction for Your SEO Strategy appeared first on Digital Marketing Lab.