Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing a first-class search, social, email and online PR consultancy based in sunny Minneapolis. A conference legend, Lee speaks somewhere in America about digital marketing on a seemingly daily basis. He is widely recognized as a leader in the convergence of historically separate tactics like search, PR, and social media. He’s also a vocal advocate for social media strategy over tactics, and a hell of nice guy.
Selected this photo of Lee joined by Ford’s Scott Monty as a conduit for a shameless plug for the archives of the Twitter 20 interview series (Scott Monty was the first person I interviewed on Twitter, in October, 2008).
Check out this live Twinterview from April 8, 2009 as Lee delivers solid, actionable advice on search optimization, social media, and the perfect client.
- @leeodden: Digital marketing/search circa 2001 used to be one-way message to consumer. Now searchers expect to interact with what they find.
- Marketing has become a two way channel and companies are thinking more like content publishers.
2. @jaybaer: Given those changes, do you look for different skills now in prospective employees?
- @leeodden: Yes new employees need creative communication & problem solving skills, social & technical skills more than set expertise.
- Expertise in digital marketing is a moving target & our staff need to be flexible & able to learn quickly, adapt quickly.
3. @jaybaer: As you say, searchers want to interact with what they find, but many clients still want a magic SEO wand. Difficult?
- @leeodden: Magic wands are for Harry Potter SEO is pull marketing but content discovered is where engagement happens.
- SEO is part of a content strategy & works best holistically. Content optimization plus links should be a corporate process.
4. @jaybaer: You’ve spoken about digital asset optimization http://is.gd/rqXj Is video a must-do for most companies, or overblown?
- @leeodden: Video as part of a DAO strategy http://is.gd/rqXj can be very effective. What matters is customer/influencer reach.
- Video can be embedded, segmented/repurposed into text, images, podcast – all optimized for search. Many possibilities.
5. @jaybaer: Are you saying that an important criteria in video go/no-go is audience targeting? Who will see it and in what context?
- @leeodden: Yes on several levels. Is video often consumed, passed along by target audience? If not then maybe other formats are better.
6. @jaybaer: One of your services at TopRank is online PR. How does it differ from traditional public relations?
- @leeodden: Online PR differs from traditional PR in that the news publishing & consumption happens via the web vs print or both.
- Web PR focuses on web based networking & communication channels, centers of influence, direct & secondary distribution.
- Web PR involves search, social media and media/blogger relations. We optimize news for journalists vs consumers – Pull PR.
7. @jaybaer: I’ve written about which type of agency should “own” social. Ad, digital, or PR. http://is.gd/rr9o Your thoughts?
- @leeodden: Who should “own” social? http://is.gd/rr9o I think that can vary, but would tend to say public relations if they “get it”
8. @jaybaer: You Tweeted about that earlier today. What do PR agencies need to add/change to sufficiently “get” social media?
- @leeodden: PR agencies will “get” digital, including social media, by participating. Immerse, get involved, interact, not just promo.
- PR needs to add value to social engagement for companies or they’ll just do it themselves. Need to speak like a native.
9. @jaybaer: You’re doing a killer SM training on 4/22 http://is.gd/rrgk Emphasis? Where do people need help re: social media?
- @leeodden: Our next SocialMediaSmarts.com event is NYC 6/4-5 http://bit.ly/socmedsmart – Big opportunity is strategy before tactics.
- Many companies approach social media via 1 tactic w/o thinking of business benefit, measurement, audience, big picture.
10. @jaybaer: Yes! Strategy 1st! Is lack of strategy thinking what defines the breed of social media “Charlatans” you’ve mentioned?
- @leeodden: Promises people/companies make in their abilities, esp opportunists, should be kept or it’s like being dishonest.
- I’m biased towards a social media roadmap but it’s entirely reasonable for a co. to experiment before full socmed engagement.
11. @jaybaer: One of the + of search is measurability. Are you trying to apply same ROI rigor to social media & online PR? h/t @1tap
- @leeodden: Search metrics and social media metrics are not apples to apples, but accountability applies to both.
- Social media is a new model, so different goals, value measurement & outcomes. Social helps both SEO & PR results.
12. @jaybaer: Your blog is outstanding http://is.gd/kSom and is massively read. Many bloggers don’t think SEO. Tips for them?
- @leeodden: Thanks, our blog aims to be useful via contributions from@twistermc @coltsfan18 @dlarson15 & other TopRank Tweeple.
- For blog SEO tips, see http://tr.im/is81 and http://tr.im/is7U
13. @jaybaer: How do you feel about the controversy of Google “overranking” blogs compared to traditional news outlets?
- @leeodden: News is news right? In a Google world, the web decides most important sources by clicking & linking to best sources.
14. @jaybaer: There’s been talk lately about social networks killing email. I disagree. How about you? Curtains for the email biz?
- @leeodden: Socnets aren’t killing email any more than RSS killed email. Email is a big part of socnet communications & distribution.
15. @jaybaer: Does the ++ proliferation in content volume (blogs, podcasts, etc.) make it easier or harder to market online?
- @leeodden: Exponential growth of content online makes it seem harder to market, but not if you’re smart, always learning, testing.
- The great thing about marketing online is there are multiple ways to help companies reach goals. Smarts+Creativity wins.
16. @jaybaer: You’re a conference regular & an in-demand speaker. All part of the TopRank marketing plan, or you just love planes?
- @leeodden: LOL conferences are definitely part of the TopRank Marketing plan. Biz is booming due to blogging, social media, events.
17. @jaybaer: How do you feel about the Twitter back-channel at conferences? Useful augmentation, or distracting?
- @leeodden: The Twitter backchannel at events is both useful & distracting. I think the pos+ outweigh the cons by a lot.
18. @jaybaer: I know you work w/ DMA, PRSA & others. With so much free content, and tons of conferences, how can orgs stay relevant?
- @leeodden: Industry associations have a lot of work to do re: social web. Those that do the best job of creating value will persist.
19. @jaybaer: It’s great that biz is ++ for Top Rank. What’s a perfect client for U? How do U differ from huge guys like iCrossing?
- @leeodden: We love clients w/ clear goals, ambition to achieve great things & ability to execute on our advice. Tech, Financial, Health
- Safe to say we don’t have the overhead of a huge agency. We’re innovative, smart & client focused. We walk the talk too.
20. @jaybaer: You and I got involved in online about the same time (94?). You obviously dig it. What drew you, & what keeps you here?
- @leeodden: Last question of the Twinterview! Online marketing keeps me on my toes, but also enables a high level of effectiveness.
- Am fortunate to have an awesome team at TopRankMarketing.com that shares a passion for clients, learning & results.
Thanks to Lee for a fantastic interview. Who would you like to see on future editions of Twitter 20?