Keyword Optimization on Social (and how it’s Different From Search)

Keyword generation and optimization has become a core part of the modern marketer’s playbook. SEO and Paid Search campaigns depend on keywords as the basis for targeting and getting attention. Thus, marketers have perfected the art of competing for different keywords on the web. Keywords in social media are critical because they help you to find the conversations and communities your business should be involved in. That said, the approach to generating a keyword list for social media is slightly different from search. This article will explain how you should be looking at social media keywords differently.

Keyword Research

Start by thinking about the terms that describe your product or service. This might come from the messaging you use on your website or in places you describe your business. You can then use tools like KeywordSpy, SEMRush, WordTracker or Topsy to find other alternatives that you might have not thought of. This is just a brainstorming exercise to start the process. At this point, focus on finding different terms that are still relevant to your space rather than trying to find all of the word combinations that exist. For example, “Lead Generation” and “Content Marketing” might both be good terms for our space but “Lead Generation for Business” would just be another combination.

Once you have a few different terms, start to put these into Twitter Search and see what people are using in their Tweets. Are there other keywords, hashtags or handles that this leads you to? If so, make sure to add all of those to your list of keywords. For example, we may put “Content Marketing” into Twitter search and find that @CMIContent and #ContentMarketing are also relevant terms to take note of.

With our initial keyword brainstorm done, the next steps will begin to differ based on using the keywords for search marketing or for social media marketing. Here’s how:

SEO and Paid Search

Competition and volume, those are the two primary forces you’re normally looking for in your search engine keyword strategy. Lets say your target keyword is ‘Lead Generation.’ Even if keywording for campaigns is new to you, it won’t come as a shock that there’s a lot of competition and volume for this particular keyword. If you use Google AdWords, you’ll be paying a lot for it, and if you’re using SEO it will be very difficult to reach a top hit. Because of this, the next course of action is to look at long-tail (more specific) keywords. This means instead of trying to use the keyword ‘Lead Generation,’ you would use keywords like ‘Lead Generation for Business,’ or ‘Lead Generation Services’ and base your analysis on that.

Social Media

With social media, it’s different. Once you decide that ‘Lead Generation’ is the keyword you want to go after, you need to use detailed keywords like ‘Lead Generation for Business’ or ‘Lead Generation Services.’ By doing this you’re able to weed out every Tom, Dick, and Harry who may have posted about lead generation. Thus, the approach to finding the correct keywords for social is flipped. With social media, you want to start out as specific as possible. If people are already using those keywords on social media, it’s easy to deduce that they’re relevant to you. Should you have a problem with the number of results (volume), you can consider broadening your search by using more generalized keywords.

Key(word) Questions to Ask Yourself Before Committing

When trying to choose a keyword, whether for social media or otherwise, think about how you would describe your industry, product, or service. You need to be able to answer ‘if someone used that keyword, would they be interested in me? If they are talking about that subject, would they be interested in my product?’

While it would be great if Socedo was the top hit on Google for the keywords ‘Lead Generation,’ on Twitter, users don’t care about the masses who Tweet about lead generation. Instead, they’re concerned with those who Tweet about a specific area like lead generation for business. However, in the instance where you would want to reach a broader audience on Twitter, consider using a more nonspecific hashtag (like #leadgen).

Thus, there’s a difference between the keywords you’re searching for and monitoring versus what you’re putting into your own Tweets and messages. With social media it’s not just keywords similar to ones you would find on Google, it’s also hashtags, conferences, handles, and brands relevant in your space.

Not only can you utilize existing keyword tools like those listed above, for SEO and Paid Search, but use the time you’re spending researching to help you brainstorm what keywords you can use in your social media campaigns. The takeaway is that while these two strategies are slightly different, you can use what you learn on Google AdWords to strengthen your campaign on Twitter. Killing three birds with one stone, all the while creating a solid foundation for your campaign.

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