EMU Search Marketing 2014: Humanize Your Search and Social

“People don’t buy cars from buildings. They buy from people. Use social media to humanize your brand.” —Mary Henige, Director of Social Media for General Motors.

That’s just one of the main themes I took away from Eastern Michigan University’s Search Marketing Workshop on November 7: the importance of humanizing both search and social campaigns.

The majority of the audience were marketing professionals, but there were also a good amount of students. It was mainly presented material, with each presenter holding a Q&A session after their presentation.

The workshop was divided into two tracks: search and social. The majority of my career thus far has been focused on search marketing and analytics, but now that I’m beginning to dive more into social platforms, I got the most out of the social track. I learned about some new tools for social reporting that I’m looking forward to putting into practice here at Hanson.

There was also a Student Poster Session on Digital Engagement that allowed several groups of marketing students to showcase a digital marketing strategy they had created for a local non-profit, which I particularly enjoyed attending. Google gave each of the groups a budget and allowed them to utilize Google AdWords as one of their advertising platforms. From the way these groups presented their marketing plan, execution of their plan, and the overall performance, I felt as if I was listening to experienced professionals, not students. The groups did an excellent job, and from what I heard, learned a tremendous amount about digital marketing that will benefit them in their future careers.

One of the most rewarding parts was being able to attend as Hanson’s own Chris Kujawski spoke on audience segmentation, where I learned more about using extremely advanced techniques in Google Analytics that allow us to analyze the most important data. Defining various custom segments gives us the opportunity to pair several different variables against each other to determine the best strategy specific to the client. It also gives us the ability to pair collected offline data with online data to see how the overall marketing plans work together.

I also took away a few more main themes from the conference overall:

  • Don’t limit yourself to using only predefined segments to analyze your data. Incorporate custom segments to really leverage all of the data available and use it to report actionable insights that add value.
  • Be a part of the conversation. Really listen to what is being said on social platforms about your brand and respond. It sounds simple, but by doing this you will wow people like you have never wow’d them before.
  • Test, test, test. Everything! Whether it’s deciding on what landing page you are sending a paid search ad to or deciding on what Facebook posts to promote, you should test several options and then re-test! Doing this will give you valuable, detailed data that will allow you to build the most strategic marketing plan. It will also improve your content development, ensuring that you are delivering relevant and engaging messages at the best time for your target audience.

In the social world, the use of the #EMUdigital hashtag really took off during this conference and was a fun way to connect with other professionals. This was the first Search Marketing conference that I’ve attended, so I jumped at the opportunity to share updates via live tweeting. I was pleasantly shocked with the level of engagement that my tweets received from other conference attendees and definitely recommend that professionals attending their next conference consider live tweeting it.