Do social media gurus exist? (courtesy of Brian Copeland)
I'm caught in a digital dilemma.
On the one hand, I know that I should find ways to raise my social media score (courtesy of Klout.com). There are lots that I can do to "game the system".
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), content optimisation, scheduled posts, keywords, hashtags, photos, videos, headlines, newsjacks, follow (and unfollow), comment, like (and unlike)... etc. The lists of tips and tricks are seemingly endless.
According to various social media experts, the pros automate their websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts until they're pitch perfect. Content is also carefully created and curated to hit those sweet spots.
Every word is scripted to elicit a response. Every online relationship is strategic. Every photo is carefully chosen. Every link, like, retweet, hashtag, and comment is carefully timed. Every algorithm for social scoring is gamed.
The holy trinity of SEO, SEM and SMO (courtesy of Sumolabs.com)
On the flip side, we have somebody like Seth Godin who doesn't give a hoot about optimisation.
Seth's blog posts are not keyword laden, lack photos, and disallow comments. He doesn't follow nor retweets anybody on Twitter. Neither does he respond to any comments on his Facebook page.
The only way to reach Seth is via email. Oh, and he still publishes content on dead tree carcasses (supplemented by e-book and online versions).
The funny thing is that Seth Godin is still the number one (or almost) marketing blogger in the world. His following is so huge that whatever crumbs he drops is eagerly lapped up by his gazillion followers.
This guy breaks all the rules (courtesy of Seth Godin)
So what gives here?
First, gaining a great online reputation doesn't necessarily come from following all the rules. You need to be imaginative and inspirational, have a flair for words, and possess useful ideas beyond a list of "Must Dos".
Seth's success wasn't achieved in a day, month or year. It took years of hard work and perseverance for him to get to where he is today.
Second, not everyone can be like Seth Godin. Few can command the same degree of followership purely on the brilliance of their content. The rest of us lesser mortals need to invest at least some effort in building relationships and tweaking content to suit our audiences.
Third, the best approach (for the rest of us) probably comes from doing both. I'd call it the alchemy of automation and authenticity.
Inject some relevant keywords to boost your Google juice. Craft catchy headlines to draw traffic. Time your posts, Facebook updates and Tweets to catch the crowd. Generate goodwill by liking a post, retweeting a link, or providing a relevant comment.
However, don't let your social media properties be so overwhelmingly optimised that they lack colour, flavour and uniqueness. The true value of the social media lie in its personality, not its perfection. Allow for some creativity and individuality in your text, photos, videos and audios.
Balancing between the two - and conducting lots of trial and error experiments along the way - is probably the key to enduring success on the social web.
Labels: content, content marketing, Search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, SEO, social media engagement, social media marketing, social media strategy