IT shops to become social marketing gurus in 2010

While many IT shops have probably already been forced into supporting their company’s forays into social media and Web 2.0 advertising, the next 12 months will lead IT managers even further down that path and into social search optimization (SSO), according to Webtrends Inc.


The rise of SSO will lead to big changes for IT professionals, as many will find themselves brought into marketing planning meetings, said Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, vice-president of marketing at the Portland, Ore.-based enterprise customer intelligence firm.


The prediction stems from a company news release on Tuesday which outlines Webtrends’ top five Web analytics predictions for 2010. Other major trends that will keep IT shops busy in 2010 include the need to integrate online and offline data to power marketing programs and greater responsibility in supporting ad networks and analytics software.


Recent moves to index content from Twitter and Facebook by search engines such as Google and Bing already highlight the importance of this trend, said Kaykas-Wolff, who added that 2010 will set the standard for how IT professionals will be required to assist social media marketing efforts over the next 10 to 12 years.


And just as search engine optimization (SEO) has driven the way the back-end of Web sites are built, SSO will drive the way IT shops optimize their discussion forums and Facebook or Twitter pages to ensure that content is being picked up by search engines effectively, he added.


“This is something most (IT managers) are willing to make investments in, yet they don’t really understand what to do,” he said.


For Webtrends, to do any of this effectively, IT shops need to understand the different channels they’re operating in, which could include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or their own custom forums and social apps. Kaykas-Wolff said that once IT teams have a decent understanding of the channels they’re operating in, they can start to look at the way those channels interact with customers.


“As an example, on Twitter you’ve got the ability to see and track trends related to your brand by using tools like Webtrends Social Management or Radian 6 or Scout Labs, and you can actually look at the topics and the conversation cloud that exists around your specific brand,” he said.


Once you are aware of these conversations, you more effectively gear your social media content to grow your interaction with these customers, said Kaykas-Wolff. It’s comparable to key word optimization, but in the social media space.


Simply putting up a Twitter page and sporadically updating isn’t going to be effective going forward. Kaykas-Wolff said that in the automotive industry, a lot more customer feedback can be found on the blogosphere rather than on Twitter or Facebook.


“So if Ford or Chevrolet were to say, ‘We want to have an engagement strategy to talk to our customers,’ and they started to setup their Twitter account and talk to them via Twitter, they’re going to lose the real opportunity to engage in the social media space,” he said.


This advice is echoed by other firms such as San Francisco-based Reality Digital Inc., a technology company that helps other businesses launch social media campaigns. The company is a big proponent of calculating ROI for its own uses of social media as well as for customers’.


CEO Cynthia Francis said calculating return on investment starts with understanding what you want to accomplish, which might range from establish real-time connections with customers to generating and tracking sales leads.


Then, you have to figure out what tools will help you achieve that goal, she added.


“The idea that everyone should have Facebook and Twitter is not true,” said Francis. “You have to think about what people and customers want. Maybe all you need is a blog with three people in your company blogging. Bigger companies might want to be in all the public environments.”


– With files from Mary K. Pratt, Computerworld (US)

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