What Google’s Real-Time Search Means for Brands

Google recently announced a new search engine ingredient: Real-time search. In addition to traditional search results — Web pages, photos, videos, maps, blog posts, articles, and news stories — Google’s universal search now streams real-time results from Twitter and from public pages on MySpace, Facebook, and other sources.

Google’s real-time search is poised to have a significant effect on brands in the social media space. In the past, it may have taken several minutes for content to be indexed by the search engine. There’s no waiting period any more — the instant an item is posted and linked, it’s searchable via Google.

Here’s a quick demo video:

(If you can’t see the video, you can view it here.)

How Google’s real-time search impacts brands:

  • Every customer experience is public — and magnified. Everyone has the potential to be influential more than ever before. It doesn’t matter whether someone has thousands of Twitter followers or just a handful — they have the ability to impact the conversations around them, in real life and online. If a customer has a negative brand experience, they may vent to their friends and followers. Brands that are highly engaged in the social space will reach out. The brands that are not as engaged may let those issues linger and/or not even be aware that a problem exists.

This should be a wake-up call for brands vis a vis reputation management, since customer complaints can quickly become public. The issues that are communicated by customers are now searchable, and negative brand experiences may appear on the first page of a Google search for your company. Companies with a commitment to social media engagement, a solid digital PR strategy, and great customer service will reap long-term benefits.

  • Social media presences for brands and companies are now in the spotlight. Many companies are educating consumers, building relationships with their audiences, and being brand advocates in the social space. They are engaged in the conversation about their brand. Many other brands, though, are not engaging, whether it’s because they feel it’s too risky or because they lack expertise.

Companies of every size need to create an active presence on the social Web — it doesn’t make any difference if your social media monitoring efforts tell you that there are 9 or 900,000 relevant conversations each month about your brand, products, or employees. The more content a brand creates, the more frequently that content will appear in Google’s real-time search results. Your “social brand” is now front and center, with the potential to drive top-line results for people who are searching for your product. Maybe it’s time to rethink letting an intern manage your Facebook Page and corporate Twitter account.

  • Content will emerge  quickly through your audience. Remember that great viral video you created several years ago that you couldn’t get anybody to watch? It can now be found more easily.

A big part of social media planning revolves around content: What will your brand say, and when? How do your brand’s objectives inform the content of your YouTube channel? How will you promote your new Facebook contest? As brands work to develop sustainable content plans, it’s important that they keep their audience in mind — brands are dependent on them.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) is now even more closely connected to social media. Up to now, SEO experts have been using social media like blog posts and YouTube content to drive organic search rankings, forge relationships, and generate backlinks. They’ve also been leveraging social bookmarking sites to drive traffic and links.

SEO will now play an even bigger role in real-time search. For example, hashtags will now appear in search results, and those tagged conversations can drive additional awareness and coverage of the tagged topic.

What other ways will Google’s real-time search impact brands? Please share your thoughts!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up

Here are some must-see posts about social marketing for your weekend reading pleasure:

234 social media marketing examples
Image by Pete Kim via Flickr

Do you make these Top 11 mistakes with your social media?
Social media can be seriously profitable for your business. “It’s the secret low cost marketing weapon used by the leading entrepreneurs. But, it can go horribly wrong if you make these mistakes…” explains today’s 30 Days of Social Media contributor, Meredith Collins. She identifies 11 mistakes that you don’t want to make.

Social media marketing: In search of an opt-out
Lines are being drawn between email and social media marketing, but not all elements have obvious correlations. Here’s why the unsubscribe doesn’t directly translate to social media.

Social Marketing Is Rooted In The Brand
Your brand is something that lives in the hearts and minds of people out there, and in that sense social marketing is the purest expression of branding.

Utilizing Social Media for Exposing Your Business Website
Social media is a wonderful way for business owners who already have great content on their websites to expand their reach further with marketing their products.

A quick check-up for your social media marketing plan
This little quiz (which you technically can’t fail as we have not devised a scoring system for it—yet) should help you identify the areas where your organization/team is strongest and weakest with respect to social marketing.

Introducing Google Social Search
Google Social Search plugs into your Twitter and FriendFeed accounts and sifts through content based on what people have been talking about. This seems like another function that’s moving you closer to Google Wave, with everything happening seamlessly in one window of information.

Google Social Search Introduces New Opportunities Within SEO
Google has launched a new experimental feature in Google Labs that searches your social circle in addition to your regular Google search results.

Is Social Media Marketing a New Requirement of SEO?
Here’s an interesting question worth a minute of pondering for any SEO practitioner: “[I]s it now a necessity for an SEO to have practical social media skills?”

Strategies: Which social networking site is best for your small business?
In the olden days – say five years ago – it was enough for a small business to market its services with advertising and public relations. But in the last few years, an avalanche of new opportunities has cascaded on the Internet in the form of social networking sites. These sites give entrepreneurs more opportunities to get the word out about their companies, but they’ve also made many of us feel overwhelmed, trying to keep up.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

5 Steps to Developing a Meaningful Social Media Strategy

Many businesses have yet to embrace social media. Why? For all its benefits — an inexpensive way to get the message out (and to more people),  improved branding and customer engagement, speed of feedback/results, etc. — it is very time-consuming. Unless you have a lot of hours to devote to it, or a designated employee, it can swallow you up without achieving any results.

Social Media Brand Engagement Curve
Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

Here are five steps to help you get going with a social media strategy:

1. Set Goals and Define Your Target Audience
You need a real understanding of what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach. The best strategy will come from clearly setting your goals. These might include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Managing your reputation
  • Improving your search rankings
  • Getting more relevant site visitors
  • Increasing sales

2. Listen to What People are Talking About
Find out who is saying what about your brand and where they are saying it. Here are some free tools that give visibility to conversations about your company or brand:

  • Google Alerts monitors millions of news sites and blogs. It’s easy to set up alerts for keywords that are important to your brand. You can choose to receive batched or streaming reports.
  • Alltop is an online news aggregator. It scans blogs, forums, and news sites  to  collect the headlines of the latest stories on a topic.
  • TweetDeck and Seesmic are desktop applications  that combine search with Facebook and Twitter monitoring. They are highly configurable, making it easy to track conversations and brand mentions.
  • BackType is a real-time, conversational search engine. It scans the Web to find out what  people are saying about topics and Web sites that interest you.
  • Monitter enables marketers to listen to the Twitter conversations taking place about their brand in real time. Enter the keywords you want to search, and all tweets with those keywords are at your fingertips.

3. Make Contact and Engage
You need to demonstrate your company’s commitment to developing online relationships. Go where your customers are — build a community on Twitter, create a Facebook page, comment on blogs, upload images to Flickr, create videos for YouTube — all to further the discussion and create positive WOM.

4. Use Offline Events to Support Your Online Community
Nothing beats face-to-face communication. You can build stronger relationships with your online community via trade shows and other offline events. Organize a Tweetup, offer a special session with your CEO, give exclusive access to new product launches, all to cement the bonds you’ve built with social media.

5. Measure Your Success
To begin measuring social media success, you need to answer some more questions:

  • Did we learn anything new about our customers?
  • Did our customers learn anything about us?
  • Were we able to engage our customers in new conversations?
  • Do our employees now have an effective way to monitor external feedback and reputation management?

Trendpedia is a blog search engine that enables tracking and graphing of topics and term comparison. It can help benchmark your company vs. your competitors by running the same search and parameters before and after the beginning of your engagement campaign.

Companies that embrace social media are reaping its rewards. By creating a dialogue with key stakeholders, they are able to get a better sense of how they are perceived by their target audiences, and their customers are empowered to talk with them, not at them. If implemented thoughtfully and correctly, this engagement can be instrumental in achieving your goals.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

9 Must-Read Posts About Social Media

Here are some great recent blog posts on navigating the world of social media:

The 4Cs Social Media Framework
Image by Gauravonomics via Flickr

Mapping Your Way Through Social Media
To enable any kind of social media strategy, you need a door opener. An entry point to help you reach the people and places you need to be. A social map can help you with this.

Tips from the Trenches: Using Social Media in Business
Although many businesses know how to use social media to connect with others and build relationships, plenty still struggle to see how social media will benefit them, especially business-to-business companies.

Use Social Media to spot issues before they hit the Contact Center
Firey laptop batteries, defective chips, tainted foods, toothpaste that stains teeth – these are just some real examples of issues that struck companies recently that might have been headed off at the pass by social media.

Is Social Media Marketing a New Requirement of SEO?
The goal of social media marketing is to communicate with a community of humans. Indirectly, the goal of SEO is the same. But with SEO the attention is focused at the search engines with the assumption that humans will be reached through the engines. So while the eventual goal is the same, the initial one is not and, as marketers know, that makes a difference when it comes to strategy and tactics.

Social Media Time Management: Resource Allocation
Organizations that are embarking on social media are going to be at different levels of maturity. That’s okay. What’s most important is that you recognize where on the spectrum you sit, so you can plan your efforts accordingly, and focus on how to get to the next level.

Integrating Social Media- A Middle Up Down Approach
In talking with Jess Krywosa yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t explained much about my take on how I get traction on social media projects in companies. The way we do it at New Marketing Labs more often than not is with what I call the middle-down, middle-up approach. Okay, that might take a few sentences to explain for some of you.

Leveraging SEO and Social Media for Maximum Results
Broadly approached as a great standalone marketing strategy, social media marketing is integrated more and more with search engine optimization (SEO).

Redefining social media
I sat on a panel at SUPERCOMM’s Digital Media Forum in Chicago on Friday called, “Redefining Social Media.” (Eric Forst of Visible Technologies and Edward Moran of Deloitte & Touche spoke with me, ably moderated by Patty Brown of The Content Strategy Group.) The name of the panel initially threw me, because it feels like anything old enough to be redefined seems a bit passé, which social media most decidedly is not. But I think there is a point to be made about social media and how it is maturing.

Is Your Office Youngster the Social-Media Whiz?
Business owners are trying to figure out what difference a tweet or Facebook post can make to their bottom lines. Younger employees frequently lead the way.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]