Effective keyword research is an important part of any online marketing campaign. Without being able to identify the keyword(s) our target market is searching for, we would simply have to guess at their intentions. Fortunately, keyword research tools are available to vastly improve our insight into the keywords we need to target.
The classic keyword research tools (such as KeywordDiscovery and Wordtracker) mine data from a sampling of Internet users through agreements with Internet Service Providers (ISPs), meta search engines, search toolbars, etc. However, they do not yet offer real-time search intelligence or insight into keyword use in social environments such as Facebook, Twitter, and bookmarking sites. And increasingly there are specific situations where keyword research in social media fulfills unique and specialized needs that the more standard keyword research tools are not designed to fulfill. Here are a few that come to mind:
Supercharging Your Articles — Check in on the latest hot discussion topics and pick one to weave throughout your next article. Picking a hot topic to concentrate on not only gives the article a better chance of getting attention from the social media, but also improves visibility among the professional mainstream media who are always looking for a timely story to print or source from for online or offline articles.
Adjusting Campaigns in Real Time — How are people discussing your brand? In some marketing campaigns, it is critical to have all of the latest information on how a brand is discussed before you begin, as well as in real time throughout the campaign. This is especially true in trendier markets, such as the youth market where slang, either new or old, may be used or suddenly introduced. With social media, you can review the conversations in which your brand was mentioned either live or shortly thereafter and, if necessary, modify/add keyword targets within paid and organic campaigns.
Describing a Product or Service — If you are writing copy for a web page describing your product, it is ideal to include keywords that trigger desire in your prospects. By scanning the social media, you can be as certain as realistically possible that you are basing your copy on the most recent social intelligence.
For example, let’s say you sell ceiling fans. By reviewing the conversations of people complaining about ceiling fans in social media, you may determine that although they love remote controlled fans, they are specifically excited about infrared controlled fans (versus those operating via radio frequency). Fortunately, the fan you sell is infrared, but you hadn’t realized that this particular component might be a major selling feature. As a result, you can now weave that keyword into your copy and perhaps even create a landing page designed around the search phrase “infrared ceiling fan.”
Free Personalized Information — Social media is an entrepreneur’s wet dream where in most cases they can virtually listen in on the most amazing personal discussions without anyone being the wiser. In no time flat, an entrepreneur can get a very good idea of the intimate needs and wants of their target market. Armed with this detailed and timely information, one can easily create a product/service ripe for sales — all the way from tailoring the product/service name to identifying the best words to use on the web page and/or product label.
Free Social Media Keyword Research Tools
Now that you have a few ideas of how social media keyword research can be beneficial to marketing, you should become aware of available tools available that enterprising people have built to mine social media’s plethora of dreamy, real-time, personalized data.
Here are five useful tools currently available for free, as well as the particular niche they fill:
1. tweetVOLUME: www.tweetvolume.com
Purpose: “Enter a few words or phrases and see how often they appear on Twitter,” says the slogan on the home page.
Application: This tool is very useful to see how often various spellings and keyword phrase variations are being used across all of Twitter’s history (from launch in March 2001).
Caveat: Take the results with a grain of salt, because the program does not allow you to see the list of conversations in which the keywords were found. Their presence to help in determining the keyword context would be useful.
2. Tweet Scan: www.TweetScan.com
Purpose: Real time searches of Twitter and other micro-blogging sites.
Application: Sign up to receive email detailing conversations where particular keywords are used. This is handy for monitoring campaign feedback, trends in slang usage with your target keyword(s), and brand adoption.
Caveat: It is not strictly real time, but it is one of the few options out there for close-to-real-time search. For example, I have seen it take 20-plus minutes for a tweet to show up. Also, note that Tweet Scan is a basic search engine. Twitter Search (next) has far more advanced search options.
3. Twitter Search (formally Summize): Search.Twitter.com
Purpose: Search Twitter’s database of tweets in real time and over its history.
Application: Go to the advanced search options for a multitude of incredibly handy search options. For example, you can search for all words, exact phrases, any words, hashtags (group discussions essentially), messages to or from people, tweets from particular locations or at certain distances from you, date-specific keyword use, posts with links, all the way to what attitude the searcher had when searching (positive or negative).
Caveat: This search is more real time than Tweet Scan, but it does not allow email notices. Since Twitter is not the most stable of websites, Tweet Scan can be more reliable for basic searches.
4. TwitterSpectrum: http://neoformix.com/Projects/TwitterSpectrum/TwitterSpectrum.html
Purpose: This tool provides a visualization of the words or phrases commonly associated with two opposing words. A simple example would be to search for “bad” and “good,” which would show a visual sampling of the most popular words associated with each word.
Application: Try to find keywords that associate with a particular product/service/brand. If you find any words that hadn’t crossed your path yet, then search them out using Twitter and see the context in which they are used. If they fit your needs, then you may want to test them in your campaigns.
5. Facebook Lexicon: http://www.facebook.com/lexicon/
Purpose: Facebook Lexicon counts the occurrences of words and phrases on users’ walls over time.
Application: This tool is similar to Google Trends, since it allows you to see when particular keywords or phrases are popular over periods of time. The big difference with Lexicon is that with it you can see trends for a popular social platform versus a popular search platform. Often the results differ considerably. I expect this is because what people are willing to search for and what they are willing to post on their walls (publicly) are two different things altogether.
Keyword Buzz Tools
Want to see what keywords are hot? These sources from popular social media sites list the tags by priority or in a cloud format: Delicious (Delicious.com/tag/), StumbleUpon (Stumbleupon.com/tag.php), and Technorati (Technorati.com/tag/). In each case, you can use the information gathered to create targeted articles, create viral tweets to get more subscribers, jump into online conversations (forums, article comments, etc.) about a hot topic, or get extra attention for your brand (often listed in your signature). As well, you can use the buzzwords to raise the clickthrough rates on related products/services you sell.
I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of the utility of social media for keyword research for today’s marketers. Social media is a mecca of keyword data that must not be ignored and luckily there are a significant number of tools available with many more on the way. If you are brand building or seeking to increase sales or buzz about your products/services, you need to follow this growth and take advantage of the opportunities available to remain as competitive as possible.