I found Rob Birgfeld's post because I have an alert set up for my name. Yes, I keep tabs on who talks about me, using keyword searches. Typically I'm looking for blog mentions of my stuff. Rob didn't mention me in his post, but one of the commentators on his post did.
Those alerts are a good illustration of how much of social media engagement is all about search, especially when it comes to social media monitoring and research. The starting point for finding conversations in social media using social media monitoring tools are keywords.
Understanding how people use language is important in social. Yet there is a difference between organic, PPC, and social search. Typically, marketers are looking for keywords that convert in organic and PPC search. Whereas, in social media you may look for both converting keywords and the topic language that influencers in a social media use to write about their industry. I’ve written about this topic before, I think back in 2005 when I worked at Backbone Media, and included a section in my book, Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging. In social search you may use another set of keywords, the keywords the influencers are currently using to discuss important topics within their community. Influencers are often at the leading edge of a community, and what they talk about may get out in front, which may in future be of interest to the wider community, but if you want to connect with and be found by influencers its important to conduct keyword research develop a content strategy that will result in influencers finding you.
Now, if your community is full of influencers who understand and write content based on their wider communities search patterns, they are trying to develop content that their wider community is going to find, you’ll find a tie up between SEO search and social search.