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Picks of the Week(s): Nov. 20 - Dec. 3, 2010

Today we take a look at some of the top articles from the past couple of weeks (in case, like us, you were enjoying family, friends, food and football last week). Read on for information on: how social media impacts search engine results, optimizing your company's Facebook page, measuring social media success, and developing a value proposition in a world where customers can see right through it.

Search & Social

What Social Signals do Google & Bing Really Count? 

If you haven’t yet read this article by Danny Sullivan, hold on to your hats: It’s pretty big news.

As social sites have grown in popularity, there has been a lot of speculation regarding if, and how, search engines use links shared in these places to determine the pages they display. In other words: Can your social media activity really have an impact on your website performance?

Danny went straight to Google and Bing and asked. The answer, it turns out, is a definitive yes.

Of course, the algorithms are complicated, and likely will continue to be tweaked over time as the social landscape continues to grow and change, however one thing is sure: reach and authority matter.

As Danny states: “Both Google and Bing tell me that who you are as a person on Twitter can impact how well a page does in regular web search. Authoritative people on Twitter lend their authority to pages they tweet.”

Whether or not social authority comes into play on Facebook and other social sites is, at this time, still a bit fuzzy. However, considering that it matters on Twitter, and social in general seems nothing but poised to grow, one can venture to guess that more social cues will continue to influence search engine result pages as time goes on.

For an interesting take on the potential implications of social influence, see Mark Schaefer’s article, Get Ready. Social Scoring Will Change Your Life.

Content Marketing & Social Media

Content Marketing Using Facebook

Great tips from Katie McCaskey for optimizing your company’s Facebook page through content and engagement with fans. She takes a look at three misconceptions about marketing on the site, and offers suggestions to improve your effectiveness. In short:

  • Rather than focusing on the quantity of fans, you should be concerned with their quality, and embrace your most active fans.
  • Filling people’s walls with loads of information isn’t as productive as sharing “micro-content” — links to relevant industry news, product or employee photos, event invitations, etc.
  • Having a human voice behind the company page can go a long way to make real, lasting connections with your customers.

For details on these and more, see Katie’s complete post.

Measuring Social Media Success

What Does Real Social Media Success Look Like?

In this article, Lee Odden discusses a disconnect he sees in social media measurement, in comparison with traditional marketing tactics.

He says: “Marketing investments should be predicated by more than chasing the competition, satisfying someone’s ego or acting solely on a gut feeling. A good handle on goals, resources and target audience help determine strategy and tactics as well as how outcomes are measured. This is the case with even the most fundamental of marketing programs… implementing and measuring value from social media shouldn’t be that different."

In other words, leading with tactics (i.e. “We should create a viral video that reaches thousands of people.”) rather than strategy (e.g. “How can we show prospects that our tool is better than the competition? Perhaps a video that shows how great it works, in an entertaining way, would catch their attention.”) can turn your attention away from the activities that drive results based on your marketing objectives.

Lee thinks that “instead of the simple math of calculating cost per views, comments, Tweets, Likes, links, visits, mentions etc… there are some important questions to consider,” such as the business goal of creating the video in the first place, what behavior the video influenced, how the video fits in with other marketing tactics, etc.

Key takeaway for marketers: Think strategically, plan activities that will help to achieve business goals, and measure the things that matter.

Marketing Strategy

Value Prop: Is There True Value in Your Marketing Proposition?

This is an interesting look at the value proposition — something every marketer has learned about since 101 courses. In the article, Daniel Burstein goes beyond looking at perceived value vs. perceived costs, and argues that in today’s world, marketers must also take into account the true value of their product or services. Because in short, if your messaging doesn’t match reality, your customers are going to notice, and they’re going to talk about it.

Daniel says, “You must optimize the product factor before you optimize the presentation factor… No longer must only the buyer beware, now the marketer must as well. There is a New World (Wide Web) Order and your customers have just as much power to influence purchases as your marketing campaigns, if not more. Transparent marketing is a fact of life in 2010…and if you won’t shine a light with an open window, your (now disgruntled) customers will be more than happy to kick in the door.”

So, before crafting the message about your company, take stock of whether or not it rings true, and how it will be perceived. Daniel also offers several questions to ask yourself in determining value propositions, including the simple but sure-fire, “Would Mom be proud?” For more on creating an effective value prop, see the complete post

What were your favorite articles of the week? Comments are open for your opinions.

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