In our last post, we defined brand and brand strategy, and noted that your public brand is rooted in your customers’ past impressions of your company, while your brand strategy is a vision of the future of your brand. Now we settle down and talk about the present, the now, the immediate. We’re talking SEO and social media, people. This is sexy stuff, so pay attention
Search engine optimization is all about the very recent past – what keywords are people searching on today, last week, last month? In many ways, keyword analysis is like a little rough focus group, a picture of how people think about a particular problem and the terms they use to think about it. But even that’s not quite right – when someone has a question and enters a search phrase into Google, what they’re really doing is trying to guess which words will appear in their answer. So SEO amounts to an awkward dance between you, your brand, and your customers, with Google calling the tunes.
Twitter, Buzz, and other social media give an even more immediate picture than SEO to measure the presence of your brand or of key words and phrases that are involved in your conversation with your customers. But of course, trending topics in Twitter are about as reliable as wetting your finger and sticking it in the wind. Still, it’s a data point worth having, especially if social media is part of your marketing witches brew.
The important thing to take away from this is that SEO and social media can be seen as a way to watch your brand strategy turn into your public brand. Some web searchers will be right out front with you, searching on the terms you want to use with your company. Others will be lagging back, thinking about their problems in older terms, and you have to speak to them, too. And others will be right there on your web site, learning to think about their business challenges in the terms you set out.
As we see these connections taking shape, we can start to move from vague concepts to actionable principles. The web and social media are conversations taking place all the time, and those conversations have a massive influence on your brand. Listening to those conversations can be a big part of your brand strategy as well.
The next step is to see how you can link the branding process – determining what your brand must be and which brand strategy will get you there – with your search engine marketing and social media tactics. But of course, that is another blog.