Search and Social Media: Insight and Inspiration

Live-ish from SMX Toronto it’s Search and Social Media: Insight and Inspiration


Alexa Clark, CheapEats (@alexaclark)

Alexa Clark
Alexa Clark Moderator


Jeff Quipp: The most inspiring thing for me with respect to Search & Social is how they’ll intersect. We already have a Google Beta of Social Search. Ultimately the search results become a lot more relevant when they take into account my social network.

Leona: I’m most inspired by the opportunity to incorporate search insights from your marketing into your other efforts.

Leona Hobbs
Leona Hobbs

Ilya: I’m going to cheat and have a few things.

  1. As a consumer, I like the deep personalization.
  2. The information is very interesting from an analytics POV.

Tamera: I agree with everybody else on the panel. I’d add the integration of online and offline. Especially with local. So for example a restaurant. Google is doing this with QR codes as an experiment right now.

Alexa: What’s happening in the mobile space is very exciting to me.

Q: How can Real Time search help?

Tamera: With RT search, as you see the conversations coming in, it’s really what the collective consciousness is talking about. This can help you craft your messages, engage in real time, and boost your presence across the network.

Tamera Kremer
Tamera Kremer

Q: What about reputation management?

Jeff: I think businesses will be held much more accountable for good behavior. And to keep satisfying clients and exceeding expectations. If you solve a problem in real time, I’ll argue that the client will be more loyal than he would have been had nothing happened. Because now the client knows that if he has a problem, you’ll take care of that. So from a consumer perspective this is good. From a business perspective it’s good too, gives you good chances to engage the client.

Leona: When you think of online monitoring and search, if you’re not identifying consumer issues … Google has a long memory. Until you deal with the problem, it’s out there.

Q: How do you handle a consumer effectively blackmailing a company to get what he wants from the company by threatening to leave bad reviews on social networking sites?

Leona: It’s case by case. I’d involve Legal and Customer Support. I think you need to go on the record. If private conversations can’t resolve this, then some sort of public statement can be sufficient. It can be hard though.

Tamera: When you look at it holistically, involving cross-functional teams, there’s a business benefit as well. It spreads throughout the organization, so you can get ahead of an emerging issue. Let’s say you’re a car manufacturer and there’s an accelerator problem [hypothetically of course] you need to spread this through your organization.

Jeff: Often if you use TripAdvisor you’ll see criticisms that make no sense. But the criticisms add legitimacy to the whole rating system.

Q: How do you find the moving pool of influencers that are talking about you?

Ilya: You collect all the data from all the social networks. Real Time web. You’re listening and reacting. At PostRank, we know that 60% of the content that’s generated gets no engagement. Everybody wants to find influencers. Nobody knows what that means. It’s still an open question.

Ilya Grigorik
Ilya Grigorik

Leona: When you look at a person’s influence, we have 12 discrete metrics we put into place to rank a participant. If you’re going to do digital influencer engagement, it’s expensive, it’s handcrafted. The opportunity is to take that great content and pay to place it. Don’t drive to sale, drive to engagement.

Ilya: In the long term who the influencers are is very dynamic. The problem with a list is that it’s outdated as soon as you write it. When we rank within our system, there are 10% that generate most of the engagement. But then there’s an enormous long tail. The conversion rate is much better for the long tail people than the big sites. You can find smaller niche influencers who have a conversion ratio of 60% or higher. You just have to find a few of them and you’re better off than going after the big guys.

Leona: Yes, do that. But the problem is that won’t give you the mass reach you need. To scale that, you need to scale it through pay.

Q: How do you incorporate all of this into an integrated marketing plan?

Tamera: Start with what are your objectives? With the Social web, you’re really looking at consideration. If my peers are blogging about this camera, then I’d pay attention to that. My friends’ opinions will mean more to me than some random blogger. Who are you trying to reach? What are your objectives? What are the best channels to reach them. Ultimately if you do it successfully you’ll end up on Google.

Q: We were talking about Social Objects before. How do you track people taking your content?

Leona: OK, so Social Object is the thing that people are having the conversation around. So it’s your video, or link, or photo. There are SEO values to having owned content on flickr, YouTube, delicious. All good for SEO. You want them to have the best quality content.

Ilya: The subject of SEO is very interesting in the concept of Social Web. We work with publishers, given the effort you put into creating this content, now what do you do with it? We see the same pattern everywhere. Big spike in the first hour. Driven by how the Social Web is designed. They’re biased towards time. That first hour gets you about 50% of your page views. Then SEO is for the long tail. Sustained traffic from Google.

Jeff: If it’s entertainment type content, yes. If it’s educational type content, then it will have a much longer tail.

Jeff Quipp
Jeff Quipp

Ilya: Yeah, we call that Evergreen Content.

Jeff: And that’s what you want. When people search, they’re usually looking for answers, not entertainment.

Tamera: I think that’s exactly right. Evergreen, educational, instructional, that’s your bread & butter.

Q: Do you think the integration of Search & Social is more tactical or strategic?

Jeff: Search isn’t a great tactic for creating awareness of something that nobody knows exists. You have to create awareness. After you’ve created that awareness, search becomes important. [To clarify (at least my view):  I think Jeff’s point is about whether or not there’s an awareness of the need and of the product space. So if you’re creating something that people aren’t searching for yet (like an iPad) then first you need to create awareness. But if you’re working in an existing market trying to satisfy needs that your potential market is already searching for, you can gain the awareness through search.]

Leona: It’s strategic and tactical. It’s integration across digital marketing. The people who do earned programs may never talk to the people who do search, and vice versa. You need a coordinated strategy. Then you need the tactical elements.

Tamera: I agree. I think it’s true as well that companies with Social still exist in Silos. [Kind of ironic. You’d think Social people would be, you, know, Social.] We need to break those down.

Jeff: Not just Social, all forms of advertising. All marketing efforts have to work together, and I don’t think that’s done in most cases.

Q: How can people be more agile?

Ilya: You have to build it into your culture. You need to understand your product and your audience and what you’re trying to do and how you’re going to measure it. You can get better metrics today. We had conversations. Positive sentiment, negative sentiment. Don’t just go after the big guy. Go after the small guys. Most of the small time bloggers aren’t doing it for the money, they’re doing it for the fun. So invite them to a bar and show off your product, that’s what they want.

Alexa: But don’t buy them off.

Q: How do you convince management?

Tamera: This is really the art of story telling. You need to build in some business metrics, such as reduced support calls. You can also show how this will help SEO rankings, and there’s plenty of data as to how that drives sales. It’s not about Viral Videos. People new to this keep saying things like “How do I get this to get 15 million views?” and I ask “Why do you want that? What are your goals?”

Q: Tamera, do you have a favorite story?

Tamera: I like Lost. [Laughter]

Q: Does that drive search or social?

Tamera: Mystery and engagement. Sorry. I still gravitate towards where a lot of this kicked off, which is the Dell and Jeff Jarvis example. Because it shows how negative experiences can affect SEO. Jeff Jarvis talked about his Dell Hell experiences, and it dominated Dell’s search results. It took time, but it resulted in Dell changing how it relates to customers.

Q: Other stories?

Jeff: I like United Breaks Guitars. [That’s a great video.] I like the Dell solution. In most cases, if I ask you about a supplier making a change, if I ask if they’re doing this for you or to you, it will reveal a lot about your relationship with that company. Social Media can help you here. Rogers has this person, and you feel, this person is working for me, then you feel Rogers is working for me.

Alexa: I like how they have Twitter accounts now like RogersMarie with the company name.

Leona: Best practice is to use CompanyNamePersonName as Twitter corporate / personal accounts. Such as RogersMarie for a Rogers employee.

Q: Can you talk more about Conversational Marketing?

Leona: There are 2 ways you can scale your Social Media effort: Time & Money. When you have an object that people engage with, put it on different places on your site, and pay to get it in front of your audience, on Facebook, on Digg.

Q: What tools are you guys using to monitor the conversation?

Jeff: Radian6. Google Alerts. We love setting up Google Alerts on our competitors. It allows us to open conversations with our competitors’ clients.

Leona: The most important thing of any Social Media engagement is listening.

Ilya: We use PostRank [laughter. That’s his company]

Tamera: Radian6. Our clients’ analytics programs. The standards tools insights and metrics. Like Facebook Insights.

Ilya: [Clarifying his last remark] PostRank doesn’t actually have a tool you can use for day-to-day monitoring. To follow up on Jeff’s points: Competitive intelligence is a huge opportunity. You can learn a lot about what’s working for them and what isn’t.

Q: How can I block people from looking at mine?

Ilya: You can’t. That’s the best part.

Q: Any free tools? Beyond Google Alerts which is fantastic.

Leona: Tamera mentioned the stuff that comes baked into the platforms. YouTube and FaceBook give you great stuff. There’s stuff for Twitter. Klout. SocialMention.

Leona: But be careful with the Sentiment Analysis in SocialMention. I don’t think computers can detect irony or sarcasm well yet. [I think she meant that. Would be ironic if she was joking.]

[Wow, it’s hot in here. Help!]

Alexa: Everybody on the panel is on Twitter, so feel free to ask them questions there. It’s OK, because I just decided it is.

Also see CT Moore’s coverage of this session.

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