I am mightily impressed by a recent presentation from Paul Adams, a senior user experience researcher at Google. Entitled ‘The real life social network’, it examines how people connect, relate and communicate with each other, and what this means for experience designers online.
As someone who works agency-side I started thinking specifically about what the implications of Paul’s observations of human social behaviour are for brands, especially those taking part in the social web. Intriguingly, it suggests that social media is a customer retention, not a customer acquisition, game.
Since Google started including local entries in natural results for location-specific search queries, local search optimisation has been gaining more attention. And with Google allotting more spaces to its Map-packs, pushing the traditional results below the fold, getting listed in the local search space is becoming crucial.
I always thought location was the only factor deciding the ranking of the map listing; the better optimised the map is to the location keyword, the higher are its chances to rank on top. However, according to the latest edition of David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors, there are more points to take into consideration. The most positive ones are summarised below:-
A recent study in the US found that more than half of social network users are worried about their privacy.
In the main, privacy concerns seem to focus on the complexity of managing your public profile on Facebook and other services. However, with a growing awareness of broader privacy issues by mainstream web users is beginning to invite more attention to the ways brands respect and support their customers needs in this area.
Even activities as apparently benign as listening to social media conversations about your brand are being questioned by some in the media (see the recent Daily Mail story about web monitoring). Now MPs are portraying companies “trawling Facebook for negative comments” as being “something worthy of the secret police”, understandable in a totalitarian state but unacceptable in ours (perhaps we should ask how many UK Government departments are monitoring social media for mentions of their policy areas).
Whatever our opinions on these stories, its clear that brands need to bear in mind privacy issues in how they develop their online campaigns and especially those where user participation or individuals’ data is involved.
Here are some thoughts to bear in mind:
Summer is in full swing and down here in Brighton that means weekends on the beach, having a drink in the sun and going to the cinema to watch the big summer movies. Being a data geek ninja I couldn’t help but take a look at where cinema search was most popular and who out of the main players ruled that space. A big thanks to Amo Bassan Head of Design at iCrossing UK for creating these infographics.
(click for a larger image)
Above we looked at how the top six cinema chains rank for search in each location.
Writing good content for your site is not a new concept. Content is king after all. However with Googles recent shift in gear, (cranking up its indexing to Caffeine level) to cope with the sheer weight of content being produced online, there is an ever more compelling need to be sure the content you produce is quality and visible amongst the endless quagmire of mediocrity and spam.
Caffeine is “a robust foundation that makes it possible for us to build an even faster and comprehensive search engine that scales with the growth of information online”. What does this mean at this stage? Well exactly what it says on the tin: Caffeine is in it’s infancy but has been built with the future of ever increasing content creation in mind.
I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a therapist. My friends who come to me with problems (you know who you are) only fuel the fantasy. And now that I’m in a new role here at iCrossing UK as Content Strategist, I’m off to buy a chaise lounge and a posh-looking clipboard.
Just a couple of weeks into the job and I’ve seen it already: A client has lots of great content, but it’s not quite doing what they want it to, like engage readers, generate social activity, lead to registrations or subscriptions, etc. But just like in therapy, the first step toward recovery is acknowledging you have a problem in the first place.
Recently we performed some analysis for a high street retailer around what happened when you stopped bidding on your brand terms. Would the lost Paid Search visits be ‘soaked up’ in Natural Search (commonly referred to as the cannibalisation effect) or would they just be lost? We found the results quite interesting so we thought we’d share them.
In order to perform this analysis a two week benchmark period and a test period were set up. The periods were selected to be as similar as possible, both Monday – Sunday periods, however some seasonal variation was inevitable, therefore we analysed the traffic for non brand terms for the two periods to see if there was any change. The results showed a 5.1% uplift in the second period over the first, therefore a 5.1% uplift was added to the first period to normalise the results.
* * Updated / corrected with thank to @johnniemoore * *
One of the recurring themes for us at iCrossing and our clients over the past year or so has been the way that the social web is should be thought of as a business issue first and marketing issue second.
An article about libel on The Lawyer website called “Virtual veractity” reinforces the importance of thinking outside of the marketing box when it comes to social media. It outlines the libel case against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association and how in a number of important ways social media influenced the trial, from scrutiny and public discussion of the details by a significant online community of interest to the fact that “those following the case on the internet were able to demolish the central element of the British Chiropractic Association’s (BCA’s) case long before it was able to reach the courtroom.”
We have seen the social web begin to change the way that politicians campaign and make laws, how the fourth estate, the media operates, and recently, with this case and in the de facto destruction of super-injunctions we are seeing the influence of a connected citizenry having a direct influence on how our legal system works.
The latest news this week was that Nine Inch Nails will score David Fincher’s upcoming film,” The Social Network” – A movie about the founding of Facebook. As Trent Reznor (the man behind Nine Inch Nails) truly understands the value of Social Media and how to engage in it, he’s a perfect match.
A while ago he wrote a post in the official forum, which describes the three iCrossing Social Media principles (Understand, be useful, be live) pretty well:
“I found myself realizing that for me to have any concept of how to interact with the community and know what they might want / what they find appropriate, I need to immerse myself in that world and live it for a while.”
“What you’ve seen happen with the marketing and presentation of NIN over the last years is a direct result of living next to you, listening to you, consuming with you and interacting with you. Directly. There’s no handlers or PR people here, it’s me and my guys – that’s it.”
One of my duties as a social media analyst is to stay on top of the latest developments in the digital realm. Naturally I am especially interested in those developments that have an impact upon social media and directly influence my day to day work. This means following my favourite writers who cover technology, social media (specifically), as well as a wide array of subjects that aren’t contextually related but often touch upon the aforementioned topics.
One of my favourite sectors to glean up to the minute information from is the music industry. That may sound like a barren pit to mine as the music biz’s archaic approach to digital is well documented and in the main considered to be one of the key factors in the fall of that industry of recent years.
This conception holds weight, but only if you consider the music industry to be limited to a small pool of corporations. The music industry is fractured and should not be grouped into one single entity when it comes to digital.
Yes, there are the giant monolithic majors that on the face of it appear to be laggards when it comes to digital (although I’m sure behind the scenes it is not so clear cut), but then there are also independents and unsigned artists who consistently impress me with their rapid uptake and integration of the latest digital developments. I often see practical implications of the newest platforms and customisations of existing ones first in this sector. It has always been a great resource for me as an analyst and a superb observation point / testing ground for learning how users react to and engage with the latest developments.
I personally regularly test developments through music related content as it is a topic that recurrently stimulates participation (enabling a test with real people). These learnings give me the confidence to advise clients how it may play out for them with a degree of practical experience under my belt (for example Facebook Pages iterations and Twitter best practice).
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- Core Audience
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- Search Engine Land
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- Twitter Blog
- Wired Sussex
- WSJ Digits