In the past few years, social media has taken the marketing world by storm. The use of networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as advertising tools is transforming the way some companies do business and opening up new horizons in direct marketing, lead generation, and promotion. Social media, however, can also be a tricky business, with social media ROI being difficult to gauge and tie into other more traditional marketing efforts.
On Wednesday, March 30, Optify targeted that business challenge with the latest update to its SaaS real-time marketing platform. In addition to features that target keyword marketing, link management, and search engine optimization for users' sites, Optify is expanding its platform to cover a range of social media functions.
According to CEO and co-founder Brian Goffman, the traditional way that companies approach SEO isn't sufficient when it comes to social media. "The approach we're taking is different from what a lot of people have done in the past, especially in SEO, where you'd hire a consultant, get a lot of recommendations, and then try to implement those recommendations over time," he says. "But as the rules change, maybe what you'd tried worked, maybe it didn't, maybe what you were recommended to do got implemented, or not. But you really didn't get a great ROI in a lot of cases."
One of the most recent changes in the SEO rules is the use of social media in search results. According to Goffman, companies such as Google and Bing are now explicitly stating that social media plays a role in the way they rank search results. "If you have two pages and they're exactly the same number of links [and] quality of links, and one gets ‘Liked' and the other doesn't, the Liked one is going to rank higher than the non-Liked," he says. "So you're ignoring social media at your peril if your competitors are doing it."
To help companies effectively manage and gauge social media efforts, the Optify platform is gaining several new features. In addition to tracking "Likes" and sharing activity on Facebook, Optify is also adding what it calls a "Twidget" into its user dashboard. The Twidget, also called Twitter for Business, lets companies manage and track Twitter campaigns from within the Optify platform. A company can use the Twidget to control multiple Twitter accounts from a single location, as well as create and manage individual campaigns.
"If I'm doing something like a webinar that's coming up, where I have a new piece of content coming out, I can say ‘Check out the new webinar from Optify,'" says Goffman. "I can schedule this in the future, say for next week at 12:15, and then I can put it into a campaign like ‘February Webinar' and I can say post."
Beyond just sending tweets, the Twidget also gives companies insight into the impact of Twitter activity beyond the basic reporting already available from Twitter itself. By tying the basic Twitter information into the rest of the Optify platform, users can now see how many sales leads are being generated from social media. The performance of each campaign can also be tracked individually, allowing a company to determine which of its social media efforts are having the biggest impact.
Although tracking ROI can be difficult with social media services, Goffman believes that social media services, and Twitter in particular, can't be ignored. "I hear consistently from marketers, especially B2B marketers, ‘Gee, I don't know what this Twitter thing's all about,'" says Goffman. "There's no question from our experience that Twitter is a great direct marketing tool. And that's why we've invested so much in it."
Goffman also predicts that the next year is going to be a big one for social media. "I think you're going to see a big uptake in the next twelve months with direct marketers moving to social media. Particularly Twitter, more than Facebook," he says. He notes that Facebook will also be significant due to the massive audience it represents.
"Doing SEO in a vacuum," Goffman adds, "without tracking or monitoring social media is really not sufficient anymore to succeed."