Want Better Results From Your Social and Search Teams? Make Them Work Together

Opinion: Each one needs to know what the other knows

The closer your search and social teams work together, the greater your company’s benefits in the long run
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Take a look at your company’s digital marketing team. You likely have people dedicated to paid search and people dedicated to paid social. While both can assist with upper-funnel approaches such as creating awareness and driving consideration, they can also both drive conversion. However, it’s rare to find these two teams working together, even though their goals are closely aligned.

Considering that these two teams are often siloed within an organization, it can be hard to conceptualize how search and social could offer one another valuable insight to improve performance. But joining these departments at your company can actually create a harmonious partnership and success for both teams.

Working hand-in-hand

Paid search and paid social advertising are usually separated because consumers interact with them differently.

On the one hand, search is intent-heavy. A consumer in the market for brown sunglasses simply types that query into a search engine, finds a great pair of Ray-Bans and buys them. With interest-heavy social, on the other hand, the same consumer comes across an ad on social media for a pair of brown Ray-Ban sunglasses, likes them, clicks the ad and buys them.

Both cases are highly idealistic marketing scenarios, but they highlight why you might automatically think search and social have nothing to do with each other. The problem is, they’re highly idealistic scenarios—in reality, all of these touchpoints rarely happen on a single search or social channel.

If an individual sees an ad on Facebook, he or she might not buy the product that day, or even that week. He or she might search for a few other products to compare them first, then mull the idea over for a few days before ultimately returning to the original ad or search result to make the purchase.

If you’re the company behind that ad, you want to follow the customer’s journey. Your joint search-and-social team could track everything from the initial interest on Facebook to the purposeful searches and, finally, preferred purchasing method. That way, you can make sure that your brand is present throughout that entire journey for every consumer you reach.

Leveraging the benefits of collaboration

Encouraging these teams to work together expands your audience insights, but making it all work to create one cohesive, collaborative campaign might seem like a dramatic strategy shift. You’ve already invested in building up each team’s capabilities, though, so combining them shouldn’t be difficult if you follow these three steps:

  1. Build a bridge between your search and social teams: The first step is to break down the walls that separate your search and social teams and create an environment that fosters their collaboration. The bridge between them should be built on their common denominators, with the goal of covering every aspect of the conversion funnel together. This means that your paid social team has to start considering how search audience behavior affects its results, and vice versa. You can gain a general sense of who your audience is through search analytics, for example, then segment your audience using social media insights to further hone your campaign targeting. Social results will show your team the sweet spots where its search efforts will have the most impact.
  2. Train your social team to analyze search terms data: Search terms reports are a paid search marketer’s bread and butter—and they should at least be on the table for your social marketers to use, as well. A search terms report shows all the long-tail keywords and the raw queries your audience is looking for. If your customers are asking questions about how your product or service compares to a competitor’s, your social team needs to know. Allowing the members of your social team access to this information lets them form campaigns around the answers to commonly searched questions. They can also speculate about why consumers are entering these queries in the first place and create messaging to head off those questions at the start. Finally, social marketers can use the search terms data to determine which keywords they should be targeting in their campaigns.
  3. Teach your search team to utilize keywords with audience insights tools: Audience insights reports are the social media equivalent of search terms reports. They offer the geographic locations and basic demographic data for the people searching for your products or services. This data helps social marketers learn about their audience, and search marketers can use the audience insights tool, too. If they plug some top non-brand keywords into the tool, they could discover new data about their target customers. Social channels also give your marketing teams space to test new messaging and creative approaches. The feedback is almost immediate—only a day or two, compared with the weeks or months you might wait on search platforms. You can fine-tune the message and its delivery, then deliver the refined version on search platforms to the same audience that reacted most favorably on social media.

The ultimate goal of combining your paid search and paid social teams is to let them pool their knowledge and leverage their tools to achieve a higher level of audience targeting. You’ll also better understand how each channel affects the other and, as a result, how much to invest in each area. The closer your search and social teams work together, the greater your company’s benefits in the long run.

Alex Mathews is senior director, strategy, paid social and Jesse Eisenberg is vice president of client services at digital marketing agency Elite SEM.