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March 19, 2008

Social Search: Research Informing Search Strategies

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Oh heavens, it is freezing in here. My legs will surely fall off. Hopefully speakers Andrew Frank (Gartner Industry Advisory Service), Jonathan Ashton (Agency.com) and Rob Key (Converseon) will keep me distracted with their vast social search insights and I won’t notice the intense numbing.

Andrew Frank is up first.

Marketing in the Spotlight

Losing: Faith in the power of mass media communication forms, as well as the ability to control the terms of the marketing dialog.

Gaining: Unprecedented quantities of data, visibility in the public psyche and scalable direct consumer dialogs at marginal media costs.

Net: As it masters the data, marketing will adopt a more-strategic corporate role as customer’s proxy in consumer-facing organizations. New voices in product design, investment priorities and partnerships. There’s a new emphasis on transparency and responsiveness.

Are Brand Advertisers Ready to Take The Plunge?

All marketers are not the same. The categories that have driven search are mostly performance-focused. We see a lot of financial services, real estate, auto, etc. We haven’t seen a lot of consumer packaged goods because they are so invested in the idea of sight, sound and motion. Search is part of their marketing mix but it’s not as significant as their media buy. That’s important to understand.

How do we create sustainable brands in the new media ecosystem?

Tapping the voice of the customers

Media mix optimization: Tracking the contribution of each brand exposure. Behavior vs. attitude assessment and planning. Predictive and statistical models. Segmentation Challenges.

Targeting and influence modeling: Media vs. Performance Networks vs. WOM.
Automating the advertising-agency-media relationship to be more transparent and responsive.

The new media marketing organization often has too much data coming from too many diverse sources. They’re getting it from their campaign management software, from portals and publishers, media usage, buzz monitoring and performance.

The new marketing intelligence platforms will be supplied by research firms, advertising agencies, market research specialists, search titans, analytics folks, etc. It’s an opportunity for new companies to come in and go where the more traditional agencies can’t really go.

If we look at the landscape for social media metrics, it’s pretty fragmented. Nielsen is on top of the pack, but that doesn’t mean they have all the answers. Cymphony and Umbria are also strong players. Then there’s Buzzlogic, Factiva, Verisign, and others a little further down.

Simplify and Test with a Phased Integration Approach:

  • Portal Integration: Leverage intranet portal development for rapid service, testing and feedback
  • Reporting Integration: Develop data dictionaries and tagging schemes
  • Model Integration: Custom ETL (extract, transfer, load) and regression platforms.
  • Platform Integration: Process automation; cost and risk reduction.

Next: Jonathan Ashton is up to give us some tools and tips for extracting search engine optimization value.

Why care about social networks and 2.0 content?

As search engine optimization gets more competitive, you need to look broadly to find that competitive edge. Social content gives good linkage. It sees trends earlier and faster. Tagging is already influencing strategies. Certain types of search have moved off the search engines and into the social networks.

Can old optimizers learn new tricks?

27 Social Network Measurement Tools (27? Oh no!):

Six types for measuring social networks:

  • RSS: Really Simple Syndication. You can integrate yourself with these sources of information and have compacted versions sent to you on a regular basis. Yahoo Pipes is a good way to manage your feed inflow.
  • News Feeds: Set up Google News and Yahoo News feeds for your company name, trademarks products, etc. Set up the PR feeds as well. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t get picked up, but it’s published information that’s available to you. Look on sites like Reddit and Newsvine. If you’re allergic to RSS, you can get your Google Alerts emailed to you everyday.
  • Blogs: If you want to focus just on blog content, use sites like Google Blog Search and BlogMarks.net to get your feeds. On the flip side, make sure your blogs are indexed here. Technorati is a great resource, as well. They allow you to make scary charts to use when pitching to your boss. BlogPulse helps you to quantify bloggers. They have three great tools: Conversation Tracker, Blog Trends and Blogger Profiles. Tools like Co.mments let you track blog posts and their associated comments. Look for customers and competitors giving insight into your brand. TalkDigger.com allows you to track the backlinks for your posts. Helps you create relationships to the people linking to you. Icerocket is a tool you can install in your blog that will track backlinks, as well.
  • Tag Tracking: An interesting way to do keyword research. Its user generated optimization. Search bookmarks and your results are based on the tags. There’s Simply.com, Delicious, Keotag, and Ma.gnolia, to name a few.
  • Images: Flickr allows you to keep watching on the posting of images. YouTube adds another layer to the conversation.
  • Bigger tools: Andy Beal released TrackUr.com. It aggregates these myriad sources to get concise reports of the conversation around your topics. Copernic allows you to create your own feeds to tell you each time a competitor updates their site. Site Analytics (snapshot into the keywords driving traffic to competitors’ sites) and Search Analytics (looks at specific keywords to see which one are delivering stickiness) are two great tools from Compete.

Rob Key is next. Hopefully he doesn’t have a list of 27 tools.

Rob says they’re mining the conversations that people are having out there and they’re seeing interesting trends emerging.

[Rob talks insanely fast. I want to throw something at him. Or maybe just the screen. I have no interest in inflicting bodily harm on Rob. He’s just talking so crazy fast. I can’t understand him, let alone blog him.]

Community is at the heart of the Web experience, hence the rise of social media. There are dozens of these communities emerging. Brands haven’t been invited into these communities, it’s about individuals. Social media advertising is an oxymoron. It’s not about advertising at all.

As communities diversify, new cultures and languages emerge. Key drivers of culture and language speciation:

Isolation

  • Group membership
  • Time
  • Migration
  • Technology discover
  • Words die out and new words emerge. It’s the concept of neologism. Then there’s that text language that no one understands. More acronyms like kpc, fyeo, gal, etc. (A cookie for you if you know what those three mean.)

    The Basics: Listen to and participate in the social media ecosystems to learn about them.

    Principles of Effective Social Media Engagement:

    • Listen first
    • Participate after
    • Make friends with community elders
    • Understand and respect community mores
    • Lead with altruism; come bearing gifts
    • Discover a community need
    • Learn the linguistics
    • Value and cultivate the relationships
    • Leverage appropriately, and over time.

    Rob talks about Sony and how they created a fake blog and it blew up in their face. Don’t create fake blogs. Hire me! Huzzah!

    Best in class companies are 4.2 times more likely than laggards to improve their year over year customer retention rates.

    There are two kinds of content: Content above the waterline and content below the waterline. What is the conversation below the waterline? Buzz monitoring is conversation mining. You can scour the discussion areas to capture, understand, and report the products, issues, and opinions that consumers share between and among themselves. They can come up with ideas and concepts and companies can now listen in and engage. This includes newsgroups, blogs, podcasts, and social media sites.

    [Cries. Slow down!]

    Voices and Venues
    Influence: Who are the most frequent and visible voices in the brand? What are they talking about and what is their sentiment?

    Trending over time provides the greatest insights.

    What topics are emerging and which are becoming less popular? How are perceptions of new voices? What is your reputation within SERPs for your most popular terms? What is your visibility within the search engine results for the most important issues?

    Create topic associations. Identify new language.

    A communication strategy that enables companies to proactively and ethically engage in the proliferating consumer generated media universe to inform, educate, influence and engage.

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