Archive for the ‘Social Search’ Category

The Case of the Stolen Hashtag: Facebook and the Convergence of Social Networking Sites

<< by Michelle Doty on June 18th, 2013

good artists copy great artists steal The Case of the Stolen Hashtag: Facebook and the Convergence of Social Networking SitesAs you may have noticed, Facebook introduced clickable hashtags last week—a feature   that Twitter can be credited with popularizing, but one that has now become standard fare on nearly every social networking site, new and established—from Instagram to  Google+ – making Facebook quite late to the #party. Hashtags were originally used to help users find tweets concerning topics they were interested in, but they’ve moved on from that original purpose to become a cultural phenomenon, often used to convey irony. They’re still useful for grouping tweets, or discovering tweets from conferences or events, or following real-time news, but  they’ve arguably lost their original sheen. Even so, personally, I was happy to see the hashtag finally adopted by Facebook; my friends were already using them incessantly, why not make them clickable, searchable, and at least a little bit useful?

From the mouth of Facebook itself, “Hashtags are a first step in surfacing relevant and important public conversations.  Over time our goal is to build out additional functionality for marketers, including trending hashtags and new insights, so that you can better understand how hashtags fit into your overall Facebook advertising strategies and drive your business objectives.”

As with most of Facebook’s decisions these days, hashtags are yet another feature to make marketers happy, allowing for a potentially very effective way to target audiences in real-time, in addition to the already long list of targeting options available. While Facebook hasn’t announced any new ad features tied to hashtags just yet, you can be sure they will. If hashtags catch on, they have the potential to be that missing piece of the puzzle that Facebook has been waiting for to better understand its users. It has such a vast amount of information that users willingly divulge in their status updates, but even the most finely tuned algorithms (which Facebook’s Graph Search definitely does not seem to possess), can’t always discern what people are telling it. Think about all of the misspellings, the one or two word cryptic statuses that only those closest to the people sharing can understand, “Done.” If people began adding hashtags, along with Facebook’s emojis to express sentiment, Facebook would have a wealth of data that no other network possesses.

There’s a lot that remains to be seen before we can really start to assess the real value of this addition from both a user experience and marketing perspective. There’s a lot of potential, but it all depends on whether people choose to use these new features in ways that Facebook hopes—real-time news sharing for example—or, if instead, they decide to finally leave Facebook for other networks that haven’t become quite as commercialized, like myriad studies have shown teens are wont to do.

The problem with this feature-stealing, or copying—I’m not sure how to classify it exactly—is simply that the competing social networks are gradually becoming clones of one another.  With that said, this ‘borrowing’ of features across social networking sites is nothing new. Google+’s Plus One (+1) is the equivalent of a Facebook Like, Facebook’s ‘subscribe’ is the equivalent of a Twitter ‘follow,’ Google+’s new layout is strikingly similar to Pinterest, and Facebook’s Instagram is likely introducing videos on Thursday, blatantly borrowing from Vine… nothing new is actually all that new. With every change each site makes, it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate, and soon there may be little to tell them apart from one another other than their brand names—a Coke versus Pepsi dilemma.

soda wars coca cola pepsi The Case of the Stolen Hashtag: Facebook and the Convergence of Social Networking Sites

This isn’t actually a problem, it just means that marketers will have to become even more finely attuned to where their audience is actually participating online. Are they still using Facebook, or are they primarily on Instagram or Vine or Pinterest? There’s nothing truly new here, but the addition of the Facebook hashtag seemed like a great opportunity to drive home the fact that brands need to shy away from a Twitter-strategy or a Facebook-strategy and instead focus on the larger social media strategy, as it relates to the even larger marketing strategy—public relations, SEO, paid media, word-of-mouth, etc. Social media is just one part, and since these networks are changing daily to mirror one another, we all should be focused on the bigger picture, and stop chasing the one golden network.

Nonprofits Getting More Google Exposure Through the Knowledge Graph

<< by Sarah Lokitis on June 4th, 2013

Last week, Michelle shared some updates with Google+’s most used feature – Hangouts. This week I wanted to share how Google+ is tying itself into search results even more as it continues to grow and develop. Both this post and Michelle’s post show how Google has continued to combine Google+ with other Google products to allow users to get more relevant information faster.

If you aren’t already familiar with the Knowledge Graph, it is how Google attempts to “answer questions you never thought to ask” after you submit a search query. The Knowledge Graph appears in the upper right hand corner of the first page of search results and doesn’t yet appear for all queries. Google has an extensive program for nonprofits, which includes the Google Grants program and YouTube for Nonprofits, so it makes sense that they would want to continue to promote nonprofits to the best of their ability in organic search. On Google+, it was recently announced that the Knowledge Graph will further support searches for nonprofit organizations:

Screen shot 2013 06 02 at 7.51.56 PM Nonprofits Getting More Google Exposure Through the Knowledge Graph

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New and Improved Google Hangouts: One More Reason to Use Google+

<< by Michelle Doty on May 29th, 2013

First, as a member of the Social Team at an SEO/ online marketing agency, it would be fairly negligent of me not to champion Google’s oft-maligned social network for its genuine SEO importance—I mean, it’s owned by Google. For all of the talk surrounding the increasing value of social indicators for search, we’d be naïve to think that the search engine giant’s personal social network would be left out of the equation. At minimum, having an up-to-date, fully optimized, keyword-heavy, image-heavy, and active (posting a couple times each day) Google+ page will help your brand get a more detailed Knowledge Graph showing in search. And if you’re still not quite convinced, be sure to take a look at our Google+ Business Benefits infographic to learn about even more benefits to your business.

With the preaching out of the way, the main purpose of this post was to introduce the new Hangouts, and get you to simply try them out. Hangouts replaces Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Google+ Hangouts’ classic video chats, providing the integrated messaging platform that Google had been missing.  There are so many features that make me think this could actually be the catalyst that changes the average individual’s perception of Google+ and leads them to start taking it seriously as a social network—we’ll just have to see if Google can push all of its Gmail/ Android users to get on board…

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Case Study: What’s that Red Equal Sign? How to Create an Effective Social Media Campaign

<< by Michelle Doty on April 1st, 2013

I’m keeping today’s post fairly short, but I wanted to address every social media marketer’s least favorite question: “how can we make this go HRC red equal sign Case Study: What’s that Red Equal Sign? How to Create an Effective Social Media Campaign
viral?” I know, it’s a recurring theme across every internet marketing blog in existence, but I promise, my post is a bit different…

Yes, I will echo the oft-repeated sentiment of many, because it’s important: you can’t, and we can’t, make anything go viral. With that out of the way, social media marketers can, however, provide you with the tools and the know-how to produce engaging, interesting content that resonates with your audience, and has the potential to be shared widely… but, just to reiterate,  we cannot make anything go viral.

So with that, I wanted to share a case study of a recent social campaign that encompasses each of the best practices we share with clients—especially our nonprofits, who often lack the marketing dollars of the for-profits they compete with for online real-estate—to help inform their social media marketing efforts.

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Google Analytics (Re)Introduces: Data Hub and Trackbacks

<< by Sarah Lokitis on March 28th, 2013

Google Analytics Trackbacks1 Google Analytics (Re)Introduces: Data Hub and TrackbacksGoogle Analytics Social Reporting continues to grow and provide insights into how social media is tying into your company’s goals. Last summer, I wrote about the recently introduced Social Visitors FlowSocial Sources and Activity Stream, and Social Plugins Reports. On Tuesday, Google Analytics announced that they redesigned some of the social reports to make it easier to see the activity happening around your content. The two new reports that were introduced are: Trackbacks and Data Hub Activity. Both of which were already previously available.

These reports already existed, so what’s the big deal? Google developed these two new stand-alone reports to provide greater ease in digesting this data. The data is clearer and now, you can drill down through this data separately.

read more Google Analytics (Re)Introduces: Data Hub and Trackbacks


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