Over the past several months, I’ve attended conferences and panel discussions targeted for corporate marketing and communications professionals. The pleasant conclusion I’ve taken away from these presentations is that traditional firms have gotten a much better understanding of the value of SEO services and social media marketing for their businesses. They’ve also become adept at integrating these disciplines into their marketing and outreach, from conceptualization to planning and execution. In short, search and social have gone mainstream. The mystery is being replaced by mastery.
This is a dramatic advance from just two or three years ago. You may remember surveys, focus groups of corporate communications executives, and blog posts from experts in the online space that revealed limited acceptance of this realm, and skepticism about the potential value. Many, if not most, had a tentative approach to adding search and (especially) social to the mix. The online professionals (our firm included) spent most of our time evangelizing, counseling and convincing large firms to develop plans based on goals and then execute in a thought out process. Our CEO was called on to write a book on internet marketing for small business. Then, the specialists in our firms were relied on to take part in just about every step of the corporate marketing strategy, from planning to execution, measurement and evaluation. Along the way, reasonable budgets were hard to obtain.
What a difference the past two years have made. Corporate marketing is going all in on search and social as a quantitative discipline. Measurable results are expected as part of campaigns. Skilled professionals are being added to staffs. Goals, planning and process are the norm. The days of just trying things out because someone else is doing it are disappearing.
Now, firms in numerous B2B and B2C verticals have experience with SEO and social. They’ve seen results, and want better tools for measurement. Repetition of successful processes (aka best practices) are being adopted, just as such methods were brought into other areas of the organizations. There is more willingness to try new ideas, to look for ways to get more from social and search. I’ve witnessed companies that once asked “What is this for? What does it do?,” now ask “What else can we try, how can we make it work better?”
All in all, a welcome change, a long march forward.