In part 1 I provided an introduction to social search and explained why it has been introduced. In part 2, I explain what it means for your digital marketing efforts.
To put it in simple terms, social search cements the need for companies to reach out to their target audience by increasing their use of, and therefore visibility across, social networking platforms. By being better ‘connected’ to your prospects and customers through a social network you stand a better chance of appearing in a user’s social search results. Creating and maintaining a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a decent blog for your company is of paramount importance. If these platforms are being utilised correctly then there is already a good chance that you are part of your audience’s social circle and therefore, in time, could feature in their social search results.
Another way of making your brand more discoverable in social search results is to create a Google profile. We recommend you create a Google profile not only for yourself, but also for your company and encourage your employees to each create one which works in part to improve brand awareness for the business. By actively encouraging your employees to create profiles and adopt social media tools, such as Twitter, you are extending the reach of your brand. (As a side note, the use of such tools should be backed up with a robust set of guidelines and policies to ensure consistency in messaging, etc.)
Going back to your Google profile, once it is created you will need to do the following:
- Add links to content you want to share, such as your blog or YouTube channel
- Publish additional web content and make sure it’s all linked to your Google profile
- Add your connections
You can see our profile here. It’s a work in progress but you get the idea!
(It is worth noting that when you add new links to your profile it may take a couple of weeks for your social search results to take new contacts and content into account.)
There is speculation that social search results from our social circle will start to be given a boost in the ‘normal’ search results for certain queries. This assumption is based on the logic that brands we follow on Twitter or are fans of on Facebook will be more relevant to us than brands not deemed to be part of our social circle.
In the last couple of weeks, Google have introduced Buzz, a new way of sharing information, such as photos, with your network of contacts (as determined by your Gmail account). For an introduction to Buzz, take a look at this video. It’s early days for Buzz so the implications on search engine results are still not entirely clear. However, what is obvious is that because your Gmail contacts are the first people listed in your “social circle” Google is very likely to draw content from them to populate social search results. And another move by Google into the world of social media reinforces how search and social media are increasingly converging making a holistic search strategy integral to the success of your business.
So, in summary it is important that you are making attempts to increase your followers on Twitter, subscribers to your blog and fans on Facebook to be in with a chance of appearing in the social search results being displayed to your target audience. Even though this extra effort will involve more internal resource, those that manage it are likely to reap the rewards not just in terms of search engine rankings but also extended reach, website traffic and ultimately, sales.
Hopefully this introductory guide to social search has cleared up any confusion you may have had and also helps turn your thoughts towards actions you need to take in order to ensure your brand makes the most of it.
Next time I’ll be looking at real time search. Until then…