10 Search and Social Insights from Zenith SocialCon 2013

SocialCon organizer and Aimclear Founder and Evangelist, Marty Weintraub with Josh Braaten.

SocialCon organizer and Aimclear Founder and Evangelist, Marty Weintraub with Josh Braaten.

Duluth, Minnesota isn't the first city you think of when it comes to social media and search thought leadership. Sure, folks like Marty Weintraub and his Aimclear colleagues might come to mind, but the list starts to taper off pretty quickly. The exception is once a year during the Zenith SocialCon. If you missed this week's, here are ten amazing insights on the future of search and social.

1. Search and Social Continue to Converge

The morning keynote featured Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan and his thoughts on the future of search and social. His presentation demonstrated how things like the social graph, Google's antecedent search, and the maturation of both search and social are driving more and more convergence between these two disciplines that were once thought to be separate. The future requires convergence in strategy.

2. Search is a Social Behavior

Related to #1, every once in a while someone puts something in such a way that it makes you look at things differently. Danny Sullivan posited that search is a naturally social behavior because we've been asking questions for years. SEO represents your ability to answer these questions, which should make the connection between search and social crystal clear if it wasn't already.

3. Paid Drives Viral. Viral Lifts Organic

Paid search mechanics have been available in Facebook through their ads for years now, but Will Scott of Search Influence gave an amazing look into the benefits of using Facebook paid promotion to give your content legs in social media. A nominal fee (relatively speaking) drives paid traffic. The paid traffic in turn leads to viral growth and enhanced organic engagement. If you're paying to create and publish content, it only makes sense to add an incremental investment to promote it, too.

4. We're Doing a Much Better Job of Playing Together

The first indication that disciplines are converging came from the growth of "search and social" as a buzz phrase. Then came SoLoMo. Zenith SocialCon featured sessions about inbound PR, paid social advertising and more. The disciplines of search, social and PR are blending more and more as brands realize the synergies of these tactics when blended together in pursuit of a greater business goal.

5. Consumers DEMAND We Play Together Better

75% of journalists prefer images in press releases and attention for PR is highly correlated with the number of rich media assets embedded within it. While it's never just been a matter of creating a press release and calling it a day, attention for your brand and the content it produces now requires a comprehensive content strategy involving text, images, a video and maybe even a download or two. This type of effort requires processes that extend beyond silos and into the core processes of your marketing efforts.

6. A Brand's Personality Affords Massive Social Leverage

Companies have traditionally shied away from being zany, fun, and clever on social media because it's not "on brand." Oreo, Wistia, Nike, Coke, and other successful social brands realize that personality builds social equity because it helps customers relate to a brand more like a person and less like a company. And the more a person can relate to a brand, the better the chances are that they'll become a fan, a customer, or even a loyal advocate. The big picture: playing it safe on social is taking a big risk.

7. Loyalty is a Strategy, Not a Buzzword

Big Door's Joanna Lord delivered a healthy dose of insights around social media and loyalty during her afternoon keynote. Joanna described how to use metrics like frequency and reach relative to your current customer base to segment them into loyalty cohorts. Being consistent, keeping promises, and making it personal are just a few things to consider in social media to achieve a measurable change in customer loyalty. Loyalty will continue to evolve into reciprocal loyalty where customers are loyal to their brands and brands are just as loyal to their customers in return.

8. Content Marketing Principles Have Worked for 100+ Years

Today we consider content marketing to include blogs, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc., but the discipline has been around for over a hundred years. From Burma Shave signs on the side of the road to the Sears & Roebuck catalog to today's best interactive data visualizations. The mediums have changed but the principles haven't, as we learned from Ric Dragon, Marty Weintraub, and Bruce Clay during their session on search, social, and content distribution.

9. In-State Events are Cost-Effective for the Whole Team

SocialCon was only $200 per person, a very reasonable fee given the line-up of national and international speakers. If you're considering sending one team member to an out-of-state conference, send your entire team on a day trip to Duluth isntead when next year's SocialCon comes around. We got in some excellent team building to and from Duluth, and learned a lot as an organization in between.

10. It's Destined to Be Foggy During SocialCon

You'd think the end of May would be a safe bet for a sunny day for learning and networking. NOPE. This year's SocialCon was once again foggy and dreary, preventing us from taking some of Duluth's breath-taking scenery. At least the conference was amazing!

Did you go to Zenith SocialCon this year? What was your number one insights?