Proms, popularity contests, and Friday night football. These are some of the elements that helped define our identities at a special place called high school. The glory days for some and a time best forgotten for others, it is here that we learned valuable lessons about who we are and our place in society.
Last September, Google introduced its Instant Search application. By providing "instant" results, users would save about 2-5 seconds per search, with a global user estimate of about 11 hours saved per second.
Word of mouth has and always will beat any other form of advertising, especially in today's ambiguous climate. According to Eating the Big Fish by Adam Morgan, as people’s faith in authority continues to deteriorate, they are turning more and more to family, friends, and strangers for the latest and greatest innovations. From product reviews on Amazon, TripAdvisor, Net Promoter, to the random person you make small talk with in passing, people are putting more equity in their fellow man than the powers that be. And you can make this work for you.
SEO is an obscure field to most people. It sounds strange, technical, and gimmicky. And with good reason. The history of SEO is filled with stories of technical loopholes and acrobatics that could make the worst websites on the planet rank for extremely irrelevant searches.
Thankfully, as search engines have evolved, SEO has been forced to mature and move out of its technical silo. Google and crew have become much better at deciphering what people actually care about, and, consequently, ranking well now means getting people to care about your business -- at least relative to your competition. The era of narrow-minded SEO is drawing to an end.
Does this mean that there's nothing technical about SEO? Not at all. There are still best practices that need to be implemented to ensure that search engines can even read your site at all, and, once they do, that they interpret it in the ideal way.
What it does mean is that SEO has shifted. Things like brand, design, customer service, and all of your promotional efforts are having an affect on your search engine rankings. If you don't care about integrating SEO into these efforts, don't waste your money on SEO.
Marketing doesn't just live in the marketing department. Successful businesses recognize that anything that impacts customer experiences and perceptions is a part of what drives the bottom line. Likewise, search can't just live in the IT or SEO department. It has to be given a seat at the larger table, where SEO professionals and agencies can advise on how to leverage everything a company is doing in a way that benefits the SEO effort and is consistent with the brand.
If your SEO team is uninterested in the larger picture, content with trying to stay one technical gimmick ahead of the search engines, then you should look for someone new to lead the way.
Facebook is a prize channel for marketers to start long form conversations with their consumers. Many companies, however, still haven’t got the hang of breaking the ice. In lieu of spamming newsfeeds and developing tech heavy applications, a few marketers have realized that great campaigns can come from putting a clever twist on the everyday habits of users.
To promote opening a new store in Malmo, Sweden, Ikea created a Facebook page for the general manager and uploaded pictures from the showroom. Users could tag items and win them. Simple and cheap, word of mouth about the promotion spread across Facebook, inspiring users to embed links in their profile, become brand ambassadors, and prompted Facebook to revise its policy on picture tagging to prevent such a big event from happening again.
Another buzz worthy idea was using memes to raise awareness by the Breast Cancer Association. Women randomly posted colors for their status message one day, and proclaimed “I like it in the kitchen,” weeks later, perplexing men with witty wordplay about their bras and purses respectively. Though the magic of each meme only lived for a day, and did not lead users to a destination after the “a-ha” moment, it did serve to generate strong awareness.
To engage the women of Slovenia, Activia developed a campaign to turn users into brand amabassadors. Over a six week period they organized contests that ranged from posting drawings of the product, video pantomimes, and even creating a cocktail to win a hiking trip to Indonesia. Users encouraged friends to vote for them using likes, which helped spread news of the contest, which spread to forums, blogs and newsfeeds, which eventually led to other media.
The trick to starting conversations on Facebook or any medium is to focus on the user experience. Technology and coupons are fine, but it still needs to be easy for users to become involved, and interesting enough for further engagement, and it doesn’t hurt if it makes them say “Hey, look at this!” by embedding a link. A strong focus on your audience's habits will unleash a wealth of opportunities to break the ice and start a buzz around your brand.