Three years ago, I started a new job as an SEO copywriter with the express directive of making websites visible in search results. 36 months on, and it is now consumers who are making themselves visible online, through social networks and digital communications platform. Is SEO dead? Can we actually continue to make ourselves visible, when consumers choose whom they want to see – and indeed, whom they want to be seen by? Is there any point?
The topical Gap logo debacle is surely testament to the fact that consumers are now brand owners, although my personal opinion is that this was a cleverly construed PR stunt to generate buzz around the brand. Regardless of the intended effect, the outcome of this recent issue adds further credence to the power of social. Consumers now own brands, and social has undoubtedly been the conduit that has made this achievable. But social is only half of the story.
Once people are talking about your brand, where is the transaction? Gap may well be back at the forefront of the collective consumer mind, but if a search in Google generates no results, how does the customer journey continue?
Whereas magazine readers will sit down, engage with and caress a magazine for a discernible period of time, digital customers are fleeting phantoms. If, as digital marketers, we don’t cover all touchpoints, our potential customers will become bored, frustrated and move on – I’ve behaved exactly like that on more than one occasion.
There’s no doubt that social is now very important for digital marketers – I’d venture so far as to suggest vital. However, we have to keep social as part of an overall digital toolkit and ensure that we use those other tools convert the transaction that social generates.
Social media may be David Cameron-esque in its relative metaphorical position of power, but make no mistake; without Nick ‘SEO’ Clegg, the digital coalition would not be anywhere as effective.