What’s the state of the (search) union? Well, last week, some of the Buzzshift team had the chance to hear about it at the first annual State of Search Conference here in Dallas, hosted by our friends at DFWSEM.

What we took away from the conference was valuable knowledge, connections with other industry thought leaders both locally and nationally, and every attendee even scored copies of Chris Brogan’s new book The Impact Equation.

Brogan started the State of Search conference out with a bang and a keynote. His presentation focused on strategies, rather than toolsets, to engage your audience and develop real connections and emphasized the power of going after small businesses, as only 40% of them are on the web.

Brogan considers himself to be an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to social media strategy, so much so that he sends out his weekly newsletter on Sundays at 4pm just because no one else does it. The result of this is an increase in CTR and readers who have turned into brand evangelists.

Social Media

After being Broganized (yeah, we made that up) it was time to mosey on over to the Social Tactics panel. Stephanie Scott of American Airlines pointed out that the AA Twitter has been rated #1 most helpful Twitter account during Hurricane Sandy, in part because they follow the exact same model of support with every customer:

  • Publicly apologize for the issue
  • Ask for all details
  • Resolve the issue as soon as possible
  • Influence doesn’t matter, their goal is to help every single customer

Next up was The Social Panel with our friends Mike D. MerrillEric Swayne, and BuzzShift co-founder Cameron Gawley. Here’s a few of their live-tweeted thoughts:

 

When you’re working with a brand, ask two questions: ‘How Do you win?’ and “What are the trophy numbers?”

@esawyne

Trust is something Search will never have.

@cgawley

Regarding content, ask the question “What is the campaign to launch content assets?”

@mikedmerrill

Putting direct marketing into social means you’ll have a few bumps along the road.

@esawyne 

If social is all about trust, then social strategy, tactics, and monitoring are all about creating and cultivating that trust with the right audience. Here at Buzzshift, we ask all our clients “What does success look like to you?” and we add value by helping them establish goals and conversions for those things.

 Content Marketing

After lunch we listened in on Mike Orren of SpeakeasyElisabeth Osmeloski, editor of Search Engine Land, and Sean Jackson of Copyblogger, all impressive thought leaders who provided insights from the content marketing world.

(photo credits: Mason Pelt, DFWSEM)

We appreciated Elizabeth’s tips on guest blogging from an editor’s standpoint. Most bloggers are looking for a link and editors are willing to give it, but they ask bloggers to do their homework.

  • Research the website and read the guest blogging requirements
  • Write content that provides value and will appeal to the audience
  • Have a unique voice

Elizabeth also pointed out that the biggest failure of content marketing is not reaching out to your editor and utilizing content strategy. This was in-line with Sean Jackson’s comments on content marketing strategy and the need for positioning, “Content marketing should never be pursued by someone who doesn’t see marketing as a primary function of their business.” From our point of view, if your client understands the value-add of content marketing, it will be an easier transition to shape that content marketing into valuable conversations (not just status updates) which lead to their audience becoming brand evangelists.

 SEO & PPC

Duane Forrester of Bing  was the second keynote of the day and took the stage in cowboy hat and boots. He spoke about Lifetime Value (LTV) of a client which is often overlooked by marketers. “LTV defines the lifetime net profit or value a customer will generate your business in their lifetime.” He also stressed the need to pay attention to where your audience listens, i.e. if you want to reach teenagers, don’t go to Twitter because they see the platform as a news source and the news is boring to them.

Duane left us with a final quote we can sink our teeth into: “Quality, Trust, Popularity, Timelessness. Important to you because they’re important to the user. That’s it.

Our recap is only a snapshot of the presentations of the day, so if you’d like to absorb more tactics and knowledge we suggest following the presenters and checking out the Twitter hashtag: #DFWSEM. The State of Search Conference was a great success and we’d like to thank DFSEM for bringing industry thought leaders together for discussion and collaboration of not only search insights, but also social and content marketing.

We want to hear your thoughts!

If you attended the State of Search Conference, who were your favorite speakers, best insights? And if you didn’t attend, who are your go-to industry thought leaders?