5 Growth Hacking Principles for Both Social Media and SEO

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Branko Kral

If you haven’t already, you should read Andy Crestodina’s stellar piece about how social media helps SEO. You’ve maybe also noticed that keyword research helps your social posts gain more targeted reach, gleefully told your client that content marketing and SEO are best buddies forever or tweeted the social vs SEO smackdown infographic.

Now, what if you could step it up and apply the same principles to hack the growth of both your social media and search presence?

The sweet truth is, you can. All you need to do to maximize your time and knowledge is to look at the bigger picture first

Social media and SEO are much like skis and snowboards – one has been around for longer than the other, but they borrow each other’s technology and develop together. Let’s dive in.

1. The Snowball Effect

Snowball effect

The Snowball effect is a process that starts from an initial small state and builds upon itself, becoming larger and larger, until it gains momentum and starts growing at an exponential rate. It’s common in many aspects of society, and particularly useful as the mindset to have in marketing.

When your campaigns start growing exponentially, you typically also pass your tipping point. You were not making bank for a while, and now you are.

In both social media and SEO, you need to plan for that initial stage, make your client’s expectations clear and pay attention to early signs of gaining momentum. Use data and reward the most engaged audience members to grow the snowball faster and hit the tipping point earlier.

To achieve the snowball effect, you need to maintain a posting routine with high frequency. Post to Instagram daily to experience an accelerated follower growth, or make search engines favor you by creating fresh content regularly. If your hits die off, you’re starting over. If you post again while you’re still getting hits, you’re adding fuel to the warm and cozy bonfire.

Posting schedule with high frequency is effective in both social media marketing and SEO.

2. Long Tail

Long tail effect

The concept of long-tail states that working on winning market share in many small segments can be a better growth strategy than trying to win market share in a few large segments. This is aptly applied by SEO’s who know they shouldn’t use a bike if they want to win a car race (scroll to #6).

For the sake of content discoverability, keywords are very much like hashtags. They both work like radio frequencies – as soon as you know where to tune in, you find your favorite content. With one beautiful difference in favor of us, online marketers – with hashtags and keywords, you too can broadcast.

Dig deeper into Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr and you’ll fall in love with hashtags that have lower reach but higher engagement rates. Such tags should be in everyone’s social media guidelines.

I’ve best experienced this when building Instafame for my pooch. #Dog was big and relevant, but noisy. #Englishsetter was used and searched far less, but the rate of people turning into followers was amazing, and comments kept coming for days.

Hashtags are like keywords. Long tail targeting works great for both.

3. Social Proof

Social proof

Credibility today is scaled in a way that has no precedent in history. People share articles without reading them and content with high share counts always looks like it’s safe to be shared more. With SEO, the effect of social proof can be even stronger – we take search results for the best answers to the questions we type in and happily neglect that useful and informative articles don’t always rank high on Google.

These are examples of simplification that the brain naturally applies to look for clues that make the world easier to understand. Use it to your advantage by building relationships with the people that will help you gain social shares as well as backlinks. Link building is, after all, more and more about relationship building.

Gain both social shares and backlinks by building relationships with the right people.

4. Crowdsourcing Your Marketing

crowdsourced marketing

This is my favorite. Because you can always have more people talking about how great you are. A substantial difference between marketing today and yesterday is that you can use the crowd much easier.

Think of the dark time when billboards were cool and the spray-and-pray approach was as good as it got. That time is the reason so many people still think you lie for a living when you tell them you’re a marketer.

Today’s marketing based on transparency is so, so much better for all parties involved. Be a great brand that provides value people want to talk about and you’ll get mentions on a consistent basis. Ideally, provide value to those who have large and relevant audiences. Also, give up some control over what exactly people say about you, and reward those who stir up conversations for you.

Facebook is a good example. They get free exposure for their logos not just during the Super Bowl, but also across large non-Facebook social timelines and footers of all high traffic sites. Similarly, Link Explorer by Moz and page speed tests by services such as Pingdom are so handy that large amounts of people give them mentions on both social media and websites every single day.

If you’re smaller, create something timely and valuable to your niche. Attacat built a great and free cookie audit tool as a reaction to new privacy laws in Europe.

Or just be a moderator, and make sure your niche finds value in the arena you create. The LinkedIn group of SMMW16 brings Social Media Examiner heaps of social buzz, as well as it builds their relationships and makes people link to the stellar conference more. Including me.

Crowdsource your marketing by providing value to those who have large and relevant audiences.

5. Data Driven Decisions

No, wait, this one is my favorite. Remember that time you told a client or a coworker about an actionable piece of information you dug out in Facebook’s Audience Insights or Google Search Console? Most likely, the feedback was either in the form of sincere praise or in the form of complete silence because the person was so consumed by plotting how they were going to use your information.

The beauty of online marketing analytics is that it brings value to the entire organization, not just the online marketing team. So you’re off to a great start, and combining data from SEO and social media will make your impact bigger. I ask for Search Console access to my clients’ sites even when I only do social media marketing for them. It helps me in two ways:

  • Tracking is never perfect. If I can juxtapose social and SEO, I know how reliable my data is.
  • Turning a data puke into an analysis requires subjective interpretation. That is much easier when you have two different points of view about the same piece of content. It is like studying for a certificate from two similar books. You understand more, you remember it better and you are able to apply it better.

Using SEO and social media analytics together improves your data-driven marketing.

Take Action

Comparison is a very effective learning method, as well as a fundamental research method. Learning the common growth principles of social media and SEO will help you learn faster, and applying them will help you get ahead. Therefore, go do just that – go apply the ideas, take action and grow.

Talk to your SEO and social media person at the same time, not in separate meetings. If they’re both good at what they do, they’ll fall in love at first sight. Go back to your high-converting blog post and think of tweaks that will get it more social shares as well as links. Analyze the infographic that’s already snowballing on social, and reengage your distribution effort to make it do the same on Google.

Your Take

Social and SEO develop rapidly, so this list could never be exhaustive. If you have a tactic to add, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Branko Kral

Branko Kral

Branko Kral is going to analyze data on how you engaged with this article and use that insight for his future content. He’s a director of analytics, after all. He is also a linguist from Slovakia with an international background and track record of building organizations. Based in the highly delightful Mammoth Lakes, CA, he hosts workshops for remote professionals and thrives in mountain sports. To make great things happen, start by checking out Branko’s illustrated website or say hi on LinkedIn.

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Comments (11)
  • great read Branko, enjoyed it, will try to apply it.

    • Thank you Jeremiah, hope it serves you well! Feel free to reach out if you’d like to know something specific to your company.

  • Fantastic post. Really liked that you linked to the tools and posts that support your tips. I look forward to your next post.

    • Andre, thank you much!

  • Great post Branko! I have always been weary of “influence marketing” myself, it just seemed like people were being nice just to get to my traffic. But, I am finally jumping in, and so far, so good… Thanks for the great article, building backlinks through growing relationships makes sense…God Bless.

    • Thank you for thanking David! “Influencer” can indeed be a buzzword, but if you focus on the right people only, I’m sure you’ll keep doing well.

  • Great read Branko, enjoyed it!

    • Very glad to hear Jimmy!

  • Very interesting article, thank you

  • Geat I run my startup and manage my seo adwords FB twitter paid and other social media myself . I see a lot of value in the holistic approach. In fact FB has been giving the best return with their conversion tracking units

    • Arvindra thank you for the comment. What about conversion tracking through AdWords, does that bring you similar benefits as Facebook’s conversion tracking? I have very good experience with it myself.

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