At a social-media seminar in Florida, Ellie Mirman learned how SEO marketing is similar to the business model of successful hotel-chains. Her blog post afterward is highly-recommended reading, and I will add a few additional thoughts here. First, here is my summary of the observations:
1. Selling rooms is the core business; you want me to come and spend time there.
2. Offer services like fine-dining restaurants to attract additional customers among people who are not looking for rooms.
3. Host events to bring even more customers who want neither rooms nor meals.
The second and third groups of customers generate revenue themselves, and those people “spread the word” about the hotel to other potential customers as well as become more likely to choose the hotel themselves when they do need a room.
As Mirman notes:
Think about how you create value for every member of your company’s community. In most cases, your community is not just made up of the folks that would buy your core product. How can you use social media to draw in more potential customers, offer different types of value depending on what they’re looking for, and help them connect with each other while rallying around your brand?
Is Your Site a Center for Social Media?
Her insights, and those of the presenter at the seminar, are important SEO and SEM marketers to realize. Every website has a core business that is usually one or both of the following: earning revenue from online advertising or the sale of products and services. This is typically done through the creation of quality content (more so in blogs) and the writing of sales-oriented calls-to-action (more so in product websites). (But resist the urge to use so-called “content farms.” See “Top 10 Blogs, More General Keywords, and a Content Farm.”)
However, just like a hotel chain, any good website or online portal will offer additional, complimentary services. A forex website may have a detailed forum, wiki, or message board that allows currency traders to discuss the latest news and economic projections. A sports website may over detailed statistics for research purposes and fan debate. And so on. People will not only to become a forex trader or sports enthusiast respectively; they will also come to become a member of a branded, popular, online community full of like-minded individuals. The resulting core-business from these people specifically is an indirect — though still-valuable — side-benefit.
And just like a hotel chain, the aforementioned websites can offer “events” to attract new customers or traffic while still engaging current ones. A good site should have many different “points of entry” through which it will become popular and increase overall revenue. This is where social-media marketing (SMM) can help. It is not enough to advertise one’s products or services on sites like Facebook and Twitter — this is seen as blatant, self-serving advertising and is less successful as a result. Rather, SMM efforts focus on the letter two options — the website’s community and events.
People use social media mainly for communication and social interaction — they are not often using the social-media networks specifically and directly to find a product or service. (Rather, they use search engines like Google — though the two are becoming intertwined. See “SMM — Art of Social-Media Marketing in Google.”)
As a result, SMM should emphasize the personal, community-based aspects of a website. When these parts become more successful, the revenue from advertising or sales will naturally increase as well. Every good website should serve as a center for social-media interaction.
Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.