The Big 5 “TLAs” in Social Media. What are they and how should they be used to build advocacy?

The Big 5 “TLAs” in Social Media. What are they and how should they be used to build advocacy?

Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs for short!) sometimes appear to be just another level of confusing business jargon. In this blog we demystify the most useful TLAs in social media and show you how they all inter-connect. Find out how to get them working for you and watch your online engagement and advocacy grow.

The five most popular TLAs all have a key role to play in improving your online marketing. Each one can boost your online presence – but if you can get all five working in harmony, they form a powerful set of tools to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activity.
The five terms are:
SEO=Search Engine Optimisation
SEM=Search Engine Marketing
CMS=Content Management System
CRM=Customer Relationship Management
SMM= Social Media Monitoring

Outsourcing these activities can be costly. However it is possible to use open source/free applications for most of them. If you wish to get more involved in some, or all of these areas, then enlisting the help of an experienced consultant could save you a lot of money in the long run. Setting up free applications and getting experts to build knowledge and spread best practice internally represents a highly workable, low risk option.

Building expertise in these 5 areas enables you to:

  • combine push and pull marketing techniques
  • have a stronger social media presence
  • put the mechanisms in place to develop a more effective, more measurable social media strategy

Having a deeper understanding of how “The Big 5” inter-relate is a key challenge for integrated online marketing. Advocacy is often touted as the “holy grail” for social marketers. This blog outlines simple ideas that enable your social media marketing efforts to generate more engagement and advocacy.

How the Big five TLAs can improve your Social Media strategy:

1. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Google provides the most important SE algorithm to try and understand. Google accounts for around 85% of search with Yahoo (6%) Bing (4%) and Baidu (4%) comprising the second string of platforms (
Ideally an organisation should have internal resource whose main role is SEO so here we have a key connection: In order to conduct SEO properly one needs to have access to a CMS - in order to be able to update/change web content on a continuous basis.
And it’s not just a technical requirement. As frequently mentioned, “content is king” so updates need to be creative and well written. This work can of course be outsourced, but it is more cost effective to have at least one person responsible for SEO on the payroll.
To get started, you need to decide what terms you wish your company to be associated with so that when people search for these terms they will appear on page one of the search results.
Then you need to work on the content so that these words are present on your pages and the searches that relate to them. Content should be original and always written with the reader’s interest in mind. If you overly promote, search algorithms will detect it and lower the weight of term presence in favour of back-links, daily hits and time online.

2. SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
This is closely related to CMS. Being on the first page of search engines “organically” for key words is preferable, but you may need to supplement through the use of paid-for advertising. For example, by using Google Adword, you can appear on the first page for specific terms – especially if you are still developing content around these terms on your site. Adword spend is triggered each time someone clicks on your promoted text and can be capped to an agreed number of hits, so again it’s a low risk investment. Online search reflects a more direct intent to purchase than many other marketing approaches, which makes SEM a very appealing tool, currently underdeveloped by many companies.

3. CMS (Content Management System)
Some well known free CMS applications out there are Drupal, Joomla, Worldpress etc. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay a third party to make changes on your websites if you can do so yourself. Using a third party can be a complex process that involves spec sheets of changes, cost requests and approval. Not only is it much cheaper to shortcut this process and do it in-house, but you also gain the speed and agility to respond quickly to changes in the market. An in-house content management system puts you in control. The more frequently content is updated on websites and blogs, the more often search engines like Google will crawl them and look for new information to index. This means that your new content can be found sooner by people who are looking for key words that you “own”.

4. CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Popular CRM applications such as can be expensive. Again there are the free open source solutions like Sugar CRM which have most of the Salesforce functionality. However they do require a person who understands IT and ideally is a web developer. SMM and CRM then need to be linked to create a fully integrated Social CRM approach.

Social CRM connects your social media marketing activity to your customer relationship management system. In a CRM system, you can see the revenue (and sometimes profit) generated by customer and SMM allows you to go a stage further. For example if you know what your customers are called on twitter, facebook and other social media sites, then when you invest in campaigns involving these sites you can monitor if customers buy more of your products after having been exposed to your social media campaigns. Also every time someone visits your web properties e.g. main website, microsites, facebook fan pages and they fill in their name in a form to participate in an activity, a new prospect can be added in your CRM in an automated way if they are not already in your database.This provides a far more tangible form of ROI than simply measuring page hits, follows and likes.

5. SMM (Social Media Monitoring)
The likes of Google and Social Mention enable free social media monitoring but they often need to be augmented with a lot of manual work in order to extract the hidden gems of insight that are out there. There are also technology companies that aspire to move into the PR and market research space with automated and scalable business models but these can deliver hugely varying levels of sentiment accuracy. Some technology specialists don’t even know what accuracy means and how it is defined. Market research agencies often call this discipline “Web Listening” although DigitalMR prefers the term “Active Web Listening”. The project for us does not end in collecting the conversations online – we then analyse them, try to understand them and advise our clients on how to engage with their customers and influencers to drive ADVOCACY and sales.

Joining the dots

SMM gives you a greater understanding of who is saying what about your products and campaigns, and where they are saying it. It is the glue that binds all the other activities together. Used effectively it can provide compelling content that needs to be added to your site and highlights the key search terms that you need to stay on top of. It also provides great levels of information to enhance your customer relationship management– both for informing your social marketing strategy and measuring ROI.


In short: a company needs to have daily control of their web properties through a CMS. The main goal is to enhance content in order to drive SEO. Whatever SEO cannot achieve organically should be complemented by SEM. The SMM and CRM together will enable the measurement of ROI from all your marketing activity allowing you to adjust existing campaigns and make better investment decisions for future marketing activity. If you have any trouble getting started with the free applications a few consulting days can set you up for "social media marketing on a shoestring".

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