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Social #PPC Buyer Beware! Why Fancy #SEO Content Agencies Now Quietly Peddle Paid

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Content  /  PPC  /  Rants

It’s one of the online marketing industries waggish little secrets. One organic-only SEO/content marketing agency has a new Paid Media VP and services highlighted on their website now also focus on PPC.  Another top online marketing agency, famous for organic-only content and SEO thought leadership, has been quietly hawking Facebook Ads for years and become more overt in blogging about Promoted Tweets, Videos and Facebook Ads.  Rock on. Bring it. The cheese scramble is underway.  The content marketing game has changed. Organic content-only social SEO is not dead. It’s just wasteful absent appropriate visibility. Long live paid organic amplification of great content.

Social, Content and SEO organic über-elite agency types can’t make a too big deal about moving into social PPC because they have little history with paid. Their special content and link farms have been algorithmically minimized so organic SEO does not work quite as well by itself.  Even hard earned FB fans don’t see nearly as much content posted on the wall. Seeding social SEO content with paid, as a mantra, wouldn’t be good for elite-organic brand purity. Yet over the last year numerous we-don’t-do-paid agencies have unobtrusively mobilized to handle paid media, from YouTube PPC and Facebook Ads to retargeting.

Other agencies who specialize in content and have a legitimate PPC background are just getting around to figuring out why paid is an essential concept for content promotion.  We say have at it. Go ahead and try to catch up. Agencies with true organic and paid content roots, are going to win the social SEO content amplification race. Real social PPC agencies were selling products, generating leads and building brands with paid-organic social SEO content years before such tactics were cool. Social PPC thought leaders are already on to the next important thing, amplifying social PPC touches with content retargeting against CPA KPIs in an attribution model.

The reach of amplifying select worthy organic content with social PPC, in many cases, is less expensive then the cost of cranking out programmatic organic-only content day after day that too few people see.

No matter how vigorous your content strategy is seeding readership, reach and engagement with paid organic amplification will be the norm.  Conversations won’t start if users never see the content. Even the most outrageous would-be-viral content won’t catch fire until a seed audience first consumes the killer content and starts sharing. The sharing won’t matter if friends of friends don’t see it.  Social media sites, crucial for perpetuating content, limit mass distribution to marketers who pay.

Even awesome content sometimes needs a boost. Anyone who’s ever lit up snarky-ass-brilliant content by posting it on their FB wall and marketing it to FB users interested in The Onion, Cracked.com, and The Oatmeal knows what we’re talking about.  If you want to take your content viral, then seed the content with organic looking paid ad units, served to communities that have a history of taking similar content viral! It’s a no brainer.

We can’t blame PPC Johnny-come-lately-now-we-also-do-paid-media agencies for evolving.  They have to adapt. No matter how big your organic audience is in Facebook or Twitter, a substantial percentage of the time organic-only releases will dissipate without realizing the content’s full potential.

We <3 SEO
We don’t mean to disparage the importance of SEO. Incremental SEO traffic directly defrays CPAs and will always be imperative.  My personal background is search. Great content teams win the SEO ballgame with lots of singles and doubles in a row, not with only homeruns.  While grassroots grand slams still happen and associated SEO tail content traffic priceless, most highly coveted commercial SEO keyword rankings are out of reach for all but the companies with the deepest resources. Google’s brand bias and little-other-than-paid-above-the-fold SERPs changes have ensured as much.  Paid distribution is now an essential element of social content SEO.

We’re not saying to give up on SEO. To the contrary, it’s more important than ever to field recurrent optimized content, advised by search frequency and social patterns.  It’s just that organic does not exist in an insular vacuum any more. In fact it never has.  Agencies who understand the Tao of organic and paid will win the content race.

Such thinking applies to SMBs as well. Attaining sales and branding by amplifying great content with social PPC is especially effective for local businesses. Dominating reach and mind share is easy in small places. You can serve 100,000 users, 1000 impressions using Facebook Ads for around $3,500 in most cases. That’s not very much money for the effect, which includes driving users to undertake brand keyword searches.

Welcome To The Future
For years the organic-elite have focused on the intersection of content, PR, SEO and social media. aimClear has been all of that plus placing a rigorous emphasis on how emergent paid organic amplification seeds distribution, reach, viral propagation, social signals and prominence of classic organic SERPs.

Insiders know. All over the world organic-only content firms may be going the way of the dinosaur.  They might not publicize PPC as part of their brand. That’s because when an agency says it’s starting something new, it draws attention to the fact that the new thing was not there prior. No matter how robust your content strategy is, seeding readership, reach and engagement with paid organic amplification will be the norm rather than the exception.

Social PPC buyers beware! An agency can’t simply slap social PPC services on top of their organic offerings with an expectation that they’ll have the deep expertise of a company that’s been doing social PPC for the last 5 years.  Social PPC is a very specialized craft.  Previous experience with SEO, Pinterest, inforgraphics, forums, and blogging does not make a social PPC expert.  Ask yourself: “Are my agency’s social ads resulting in conversion?” Are my agency partners social content landing page experts? How about conversion optimization in a symbiotic program including content? </rant>

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9 Comments

  1. Dave on December 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Who doesn’t enjoy a rant every now and then? Especially an accurate one.

  2. OptimaJim on December 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Marty, your stuff is always brilliant. Unfortunately, I’m only bright enough to pick up on about half of the stuff you are talking about. This one I think I understood more completely and I think you are right on target. Keep up the great work!

  3. Marty Weintraub on December 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Jim, Thanks so much for the comment. Appreciate you stopping by.

  4. Ophir on December 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    LOL seems very much to follow our correspondence today…

  5. Chris on December 13, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Bang On. And about time somebody said it who could articulate it in it’s perfect technical form. Nice one Marty!

  6. Barry Tubwell on December 13, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I Love the smell of seo’s Burning in the morning :)

    Another wonderful post Marty! (can’t wait to meet you in person one of these days btw).

  7. Dan Tynski on December 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Seeding content through paid social channels makes a lot of sense, and it’s something that I think many content marketers are just beginning to explore with any real degree of sophistication.

    Those just entering the content game, however, should recognize there are other fundamental components that are even more important to perfect, if your goal is seeing your content proliferate. It won’t be those who are most well versed with regard to paid social tactics who win the day, it will be those who best understand two other incredibly important factors related to content creation and promotion: outreach(relationship building) & predicting virality.

    The biggest challenge to content marketers hoping to hit ‘home runs’ or even ‘singles and doubles,’ is understanding Internet culture well enough to accurately predict the viral potential of the content they create. This can be incredibly hard to do, but not impossible by any means (look at Upworthy, BuzzFeed, George Takei, The Oatmeal, Cracked — they’re not successfully getting content shared at a massive scale because they’re great at paid social seeding, its cause they’re great at creating or finding highly viral content). If an idea is sound enough, it needs very little initial push. I’ve seen this again and again. Content is viral when it takes on a seeming life of its own, spreading without control to extremely diverse corners of the net.

    I would also argue that achieving placements on high traffic sites with deep social penetration will always be a better alternative than a paid social push. Achieving these placements is a function of your ability to build relationships with publishers (which is best done by proving to them you create awesome content people love naturally and without paid incentive). But even in the rare instances where you achieve placement of content with low viral potential on a site with high engagement and interaction, you will still fail to see traction for that content. The same is true of paid seeding — you cannot breathe life into a dead idea.

  8. Marty Weintraub on December 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    @Dan Tynski: Right! All the social seeding the the world won’t fix crappy content. In fact, often we look to see what’s working well organically and amplify that. That said, there’s not reason to bother publishing content that is not promotion-worthy. Google has made that clear and they have crap detectors that are fairly effective these days. Thanks for stopping by and the thoughtful comment. Happy Holidays!

  9. James Svoboda on September 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Here here!

    TL;DR

    If you’re going to do Social PPC, or even Search PPC,you had better bring it and bring it hard! The “Insiders Know” and posers will be exposed.

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