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I had a terrific time last night presenting to a small group of Social Media Marketers here in Chicago. We talked a little bit about some SEO basics. Thanks to @Leyla_a for putting together such a great shindig.

One of the points I made during the presentation is that there are a LOT of parallels between where Social Media is today and where SEO was about a decade ago – and that Social Media leaders could benefit a great deal by reaching across the aisle and talking with SEO leaders in the industry and the enterprise. In fact, many “issues” facing Social Media (things that generate a lot of hyperventilation from within the social media sphere) have already been addressed (not all of them successfully, I might add) as SEO was introduced into the enterprise. Issues such as:

  • Where does social reside within the enterprise? What department “owns” social?
  • The fuzziness that collides when liberal arts educated professionals (Communications, PR, Customer Service) collide with the IT professionals charged with tool implementation and metrics gathering.
  • The unchecked and rapid proliferation of gurus and ninjas.
  • The perception of a lack of professionalized standards within the industry.
  • How to communicate the value of social within the enterprise.
  • How to calculate ROI of social.
  • The rapid growth in the tools ecosystem within social – how to ensure you’re investing in a winner when the market is moving SO fast.
  • HR, hiring and management issues associated with role definition.
  • Budgeting issues associated with a new department – what is standard within industries and verticals.

These are issues being grappled with by Social Media thought leaders – because these leaders are personally and professionally invested in seeing the industry succeed and grow. To one degree or another, every one of these issues was dealt with by the SEO industry approximately 10 years ago.

There’s a strong connection between the nascent search industry and the nascent social industries – both experienced massive growth, rapid adoption within the enterprise and a huge influx of money. Also, like SEO, social is perceived as a bit of a dark art. When the executive suite looks at social, there’s a level of fuzziness between “how much do we have to spend” and “what will we get from our investment”.

My recommendation? Instead of bad-mouthing SEOs as a bunch of key-word stuffers and spammers, reach out and connect with an corporate SEO leader and make a connection. Explore where their experiences may actually benefit your organization. Ask how they dealt with some of these issues outlined above, or some other issues that you are faced with. I think you might be surprised by the insights some of these professionals can provide.

What are your thoughts? Do you see the parallels? What other issues is the Social Media industry facing that SEOs may have dealt with in the past? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sean McGinnis

Director, Digital Marketing at Sears Parts Direct
Sean McGinnis is Director, Digital Marketing at Sears Parts Direct. He is also a (digital strategist, blogger, consultant ) and public speaker. You can find Sean on