If internet marketers weren't already aware of the need to use social media marketing to promote their brands online, this week's headlines make clear that social marketing is essential to generating leads. Along with local marketing developments, social search news took center stage this week within the internet marketing community.
The recently released Social Media Marketing Report 2011 continues to generate buzz. Brafton has reported that social marketers say social campaigns enhance search marketing efforts and bring more traffic to their sites. Additionally, 72 percent of marketers who have been using social media to promote their brands for three years or more say social campaigns have helped them close sales.
One business that is clearly jumping on the social bandwagon is Walmart. The retailer made major headlines for its acquisition of Kosmix – a social content discovery platform. Walmart officials say they will use Kosmix to create a more social mobile online experience for their shoppers – whether buying in-store or on the web. Kosmix will help Walmart stream relevant tweets, content feeds and Facebook posts to discerning shoppers as they make their purchase decisions.
While Walmart is streaming social posts to consumers to help them decide what to buy, Blekko is offering Facebook comments to searchers to help them decide where to click. As Brafton reported, the slashtag search site is now letting users see Facebook friends' comments (and comments about results) in answer to their queries. This should inspire marketers to share their content on social channels to get the social recommendations needed to bring traffic to their sites.
Social site Twitter also generated online chatter this week with news that it will update its new user experience, providing newcomers with local Tweets from nearby thought leaders or Tweets about news in their neighborhood. The company is doing this to try to broaden its appeal among internet users who don't understand how Twitter works, and this serves as evidence that locally oriented content is increasingly relevant to online audiences.
In keeping with the idea that local is the wave of the future, the Yellow Pages officially rebranded itself as the Local Content Association this week. The company will be offering local marketers more opportunities to connect with nearby online consumers.
Bing's Read/Write World might also offer local businesses the chance to connect with internet users. The one-stop shop in development from Microsoft's search site aims to index all of the “geo-linked” media of the world, and it will give online consumers a way to more easily find relevant content and “visually” map their neighborhoods.
Also on the location-based front, Groupon may be moving more toward a check-in model. As Brafton reported, the company purchased Pelago (the maker of Whrrl), and it may be using this partnership to bring check-in-like activity to its email subscribers who redeem Groupons. While this development could help Groupon continue to be relevant, the company now has to compete with Google in the local deal space.
Google Offers launched in select cities this week. Brafton reported that Offers seem to have a hyper-local focus, and Google indicates it is working with local business partners to offer “amazing” deals to community members. The company has long been soliciting local business partners, and marketers will want to watch initial revenue returns for SMBs involved with Offers to decide if it's a fit for their businesses. Google Offers likely has an edge in the local deal market because Google Places and Google organic search drive the majority of traffic to local business sites.
Speaking of Google organic search, a study released this week shows that the top Google organic results get more than 36 percent click-through rates. As Brafton reported, the study confirmed the idea that being on the first page of Google results is key to driving site traffic, and it also makes clear that long tail SEO can help bring relevant traffic to businesses.
SEO marketers developing content strategies might consider blog marketing this year. A study from BlogHer, covered by Brafton, indicates that one-quarter of Americans say purchase decisions are impacted by blogs.
Moving to other search news for the week, Yahoo had a rough time. First, news broke that the company officially killed Yahoo Buzz. Though this had been a long-planned cut, the company is discontinuing its social recommendation tool at a time when others are just launching (and seemingly thriving). Then, it was revealed that Yahoo's search revenue is down significantly. CEO Carol Bartz tried to partially blame this on the inadequacy of the Microsoft adCenter, but Yahoo search volumes have been declining.
Next week, marketers might find themselves in store for another round of local/social headlines. There may be more information on Bing's Read/ Write World, as well as initial results of Google Offers. Stay tuned!