Google Press Conference Event One “You Won’t Want to Miss.”

Google press release to launch on Wednesday

Google is on the brink of announcing one of its biggest advancements in recent years. Trouble is, no one seems to know just what that advancement is.  Speculation has centered around Google’s search algorithm, with some suggesting that the way we search may be changed forever. However, Google has kept its cards very close to its, no doubt, diamond-encrusted chest and has so far been able to keep its big news under wraps.

Search engine optimization, as an entity, is forever evolving. Those smart, athletic, and physically attractive folks who work in the SEO industry recognize that any news from Google is worth paying attention to–after all, Google is essentially their office, employer, and god.  And this news, Google claims, is big.

However, it’s more likely that the announcement - which as been touted by Google as “an event you won’t want to miss”- will be a disappointment and more of a technical tweak than process overhaul. Still, there is enough of a buzz around those involved in the world of search engine optimization to suggest that the news will be worthy of note.  Whether it will have an effect on the structure of internet marketing companies is another question.

Time to speculate then, I think you’ll agree.

Google's new "doodle" a clue on press release details?

Google's new "doodle" a clue on press release details?

Well, there are a few clues as to what Google’s big announcement might be.  First is their latest “doodle” that was released today and features an array of different colored balloons that fly across the screen when you tease them with your cursor.  Some have theorized that this is to with the transmission of the first ever TV tube picture, which occurred on September 7–in 1927.  Another clue might center on the location of the press release–San Francisco’s art museum.  Art, balloons…What does it all mean?

We’ll find out tomorrow, and so will you by keeping track of our live blog.

Analytics, Blog, Paid Search, SEO, Social Media, The Lighter Side of eVisibility, The Weekly Insider, Uncategorized, eVisibility News No Comments

Lebron James’ Toothbrush & Cavities: A Consumer Engagement Story

lebron_selleck_waterfall

Lebron James goes on TV to announce who will be the next in line for the opportunity to give him millions of dollars, and clearly we are all supposed to learn something from the process. Whether
it be how news-makers are controlling the news media (is that in and of itself new?) or how the King James phenomena is fully wielding the power of social media, something much larger than sports is occurring with the buzz leading up to and following “The Decision.” Part of what makes James’ recent strategy astounding are its similarities to recent and highly successful campaigns from Colgate and Mountain Dew. Oral care, heavily sugared carbonated beverages, and championship-less, non-clutch basketball players all can use the same tools to expand their business. The key to it all: Consumer Engagement.

The concept of consumer engagement is by no means new to the marketing world, but has
clearly taken on a life of its own via the web, and not without controversy. Engagement in simplest terms is the process of changing customers from passive, indifferent consumers of your product to active participators. It is in many ways a very ambiguous concept in terms of execution, but with incredible impact once executed. Adding clouds to clarity are the odd adages that follow it. For example, Gannet Media’s recent tweet “There is no shortcut to engagement, there is only engagement.” For the business owner that is about as helpful as Yoda’s “Do or do not. There is no try.” Luckily, considering the launch of Colgate Whisp, Mountain Dew White Out, and “The Decision” as case studies we can arrive at more substantive concepts.

Engagement is Achieved Through Multi-Tiered Approaches.

All three campaigns employed the big three: social media, video, and contests. Colgate Whisp’s
campaign outsourced viral video via CollegeHumor, used a Facebook game widget, and a photo
submission/rating contest with location based filtering. Mountain Dew White Out’s campaign was literally a campaign using voting on outsourced campaign commercials, a Twitter follower contest, and solicitation of label designs all towards the ends of having consumers decide which new flavor of Mountain Dew would be mass produced. LeBron James had a well timed launch of his Twitter account that generated 300,000 followers faster than any other account, a re-launched website, and a Facebook page with 2.5 million followers soliciting questions that may be answered during ESPN’s “The Decision” primetime special. What brings all of these multi-tiered approaches together is very simple in concept– a seamless narrative that integrates each platform and asks users to participate.

Engagement is Achieved By Allowing Consumers to be Part of Creative.

The risk, and therefore courage, behind a commitment to engagement comes from the fact that engagement cannot occur unless a company is willing to open its doors a bit. For Colgate this meant looking to often crude and vulgar content generators to create their viral videos, as well as to potential customers to create the “face” of their brand. Mountain Dew probably opened their doors the most by having their consumer-base literally choose what product they wanted and how they wanted it to look. For James his openness comes from his willingness to answer personal questions via his Facebook page. In the end it is about achieving harmony between your personal business goals and the goals of your customers. Participation for the consumer quickly turns into an individual investment into the brand. This investment turns into long term loyalty and a higher likelihood that the consumer will develop into an advocate of the brand.

What About My Business?

All three brands mentioned here operate with a marketing budget significantly higher than most businesses. That said the concepts employed can be achieved for businesses of any size and for a very wide range of budgets. Outside of implementation time there is nothing inherently expensive about each campaign. And of course, like all things digital, its nothing you have to do all by yourself.

Advertising, Business X-Factors, Media, Social Media 1 Comment

iPhone vs EVO Video Creator: Fired for Excessive Awesomeness

ipad vs evo video

Employer: So why exactly did you leave your last company?
Applicant: Oh, I did something online that was just way too awesome.

With a net job loss of 125,000 for the month of June, the first net loss in 2010, how many people will get to go into their next interview and respond this way. Apparently one will be able to very soon. Brian Maupin, creator of the hilarious iPhone vs. HTC EVO videos, has apparently been placed on leave from his job at Best Buy because he made something online that was just too awesome for the soul-less, big box giant to handle. So while Best Buy’s HR department uses this time to put together their case for flat-out firing Maupin lets consider how far Best Buy is missing the ball on this one.

Outside of the well noted fact that nobody would have ever associated these videos with Best Buy until after going thug on Maupin, is that this is a perfect example of Best Buy not understanding social media. In social media trying to be in too much control often ends up working against you. As the wonderful Joe Hall recently posted, being too retentive regarding social media will inevitably lead to nasty “accidents.” In the end the negative publicity generated by Maupin’s suspension will far outweigh any impact the videos would have created on their own. Social media is about rolling with the punches and using any publicity to your benefit. Consider the fact that the video’s buzz from both the initial release and the firing controversy has essentially clogged video rendering site Xtranormal’s servers for the past 48 hours all because of a 7 second plug at the end of it. A positive parody video of Maupin’s original would have surely had a fantastic effect for Best Buy.

Before we go weeping over Maupin’s fate lets be honest and realize that this guy is going to be just fine. YouTube certainly has been the downfall of its fair share of employees, but avoiding getting axed for your behavior online seems like it would be a no-brainer. For the most part though, Maupin followed all of the rules. For every Dominos prank video there is also a Scotty Iseri, who was able to leverage his firing into a better job. And the web has positioned Maupin to follow suit. The real loser here is undeniably Best Buy. Maupin’s position at Best Buy will probably be quickly filled. But, in a nation where 8.5 million jobs have been lost in the past two years, the last thing we need are wrongful terminations from one of our largest employers. Best Buy’s actions are short-sighted and ultimately in no one’s best interest.

Social Media No Comments

Google Me This, Google Me That: Facebook vs Google, Should I bring a Bat?

It’s not Pacquiao vs Mayweather, but its the still the fight everyone is begging to see.

google facebook fight

For being the most dominant web heavyweight over the past ten years, few companies have as many resounding failures as Google.  With every success the company’s experimentation friendly environment (many engineers are given one day out of the work week to dedicate to individual development projects) has created have come equally brutal misfires.  This is the very reason behind the cautious skepticism regarding the explosive rumors that Google is once again making a push into social media..  But this time, allegedly, they mean it.  Rather than simply developing a social media side project a la Orkut of Buzz, word is that “Google Me” (a name that will surely change once Google actually acknowledges the project) is receiving engineering priority.

The hype for this struggle writes itself: One a grizzled veteran with title belts but its fair share of defeats.  The other a much hyped star coming off a improbable string of victories, and lately showing signs of weakness. But now that Google is apparently getting serious about this street fight with Facebook where will they draw the battle lines, and what can those outside of social media learn about positioning themselves on the web?  Will any holds be barred?

The immediate obstacle, one Google must be painfully aware of, is that people don’t just move social networks for quips and giggles.  Facebook is for your personal life.  LinkedIn for your professional.  Twitter is for trends and networking.  MySpace is for, in theory, Music and Movies.  Where exactly is Google expecting to fit in?  If we look at the decline of social media platforms past the reason for each exodus were pretty obvious.  Friendster: didn’t allow for the voyeurism/creeping anonymity people needed to really invest their time on other people’s profiles.  When users know who is viewing their page, shame leads to users that are less likely to explore others.  MySpace: users were given too much freedom regarding the layout of their pages leading to rampant lacks of continuity, site instability, and a generally seedy experience.  The MySpace experience quickly turned into the equivalent of clubbing in Tijuana during Spring Break. Although Facebook has a history of making seemingly unpopular updates to their policies and UI they seem to have in retrospect gone on a long streak of making all the right calls.  They have done this by both staying nimble to users needs while also knowing when to listen to their users needs.

If Facebook has a weakness right now it is obviously user privacy.  Nasty letters from the ACLU don’t usually make it on to most people’s refrigerators.  That said, privacy is probably the issue that Google is least trusted to deliver.  The issue of mobility between networks though is another area that Google could exploit. As Wired’s Ryan Singel suggested an approach that would allow users to “weave” their social network activity and data through open standards may be their gateway.  Think of HootSuite on steroids, lots of steroids.  The approach makes a lot of sense; rather than trying to approach from their weakness, they’d in theory approach from their strengths: integration.

One of the keys to Facebook’s early success was its use of previously existing, very strong networks as part of its launch.  By using universities they were able to immediately grab a very large body of computer using, young, upwardly mobile members.  Google will not have that advantage.  What they will have though is a large body of user information and a general web population who are familiar with what social media is.  For Google they have the tools to know where the networks exist, but will have to pool them together in a manner that feels as organic as possible.

The web has been absolutely abuzz with recommendations for Google Me.  Some have called for a near exact replication of Facebook. Others have warned against throwing all of Google’s others tools into the interface (Wave, Docs, etc…).  What may be the most difficult, yet also most important, operative goal is to just keep it simple.  Google’s recent projects have become so complex that they are difficult to even describe what they offer.  Its about time that Google got in touch with its inner start-up, to that simplicity that makes projects attractive to VCs.  If Google Me’s launch comes with a flurry of long winded and vague explanation videos it will surely fail. If it can be described clearly and succinctly in 30 seconds or less, it may just be a success.

Facebook Editorial, Google Editorial, Social Media No Comments

The Full Power of Social Media Marketing

Social Arrow

With Hitwise releasing a report that social media in the UK now receives more traffic than search, and SWX Advanced’s session on “Ultimate Social Media-Tools,” generated a significant level of dialog regarding shifts in SEO and social media.   Although Hitwise’s reporting methods have generated some levels of controversy (the classification of YouTube as a social media outlet) their recent analysis does bring strong data to the long standing discourse regarding browsing behavior.  For many this shift has been regarded as a “when” rather than a “if.”  As such it is no surprise that we have recently encountered two interesting start-ups, still very much in the beta version, attempting to capitalize on the commercial implications of social media becoming the dominant portal for users on the web.

One of TechCrunch Disrupt’s Battlefield finalists, CompassLabs aims to provide that ever illusive element of social media: buyer intent.  CompassLabs’ algorithms crawl Tweets and Discussion Boards to find strings which signify that a user is looking to make a purchase.  Users who make posts with a high probability of purchasing intent then receive targeted ads directly from participating vendors.  While the success of the company will ultimately rely on the willingness of social media outlets to share user data (CompassLabs’ future with Twitter is in question, and the Golden Calf- Facebook- is still illusive) the concept alone is enough to generate some excitement.

Perhaps the greatest advantage search campaigns hold over social media are the ability to easily quantify effectiveness through analytics.  At SWIX Advanced on Tony Adams of MySpace (!) discussed SWIX, a comprehensive social media analytics tool.  SWIX collects data via pods from 20 social media outlets and provides clear metrics in one location.  With an impressive array of tools and one stop, multi-outlet analytics, companies like SWIX appear to be the next step in fully wielding the marketing potentials for social media.  Going forward it will be interesting to see who else will want to jump into this pot.  Currently SWIX offers their services at monthly rates; but with Bing now offering social media search one has to wonder if one of the web giants will offer a free service that will blow SWIX out of the water.
Business X-Factors, SEO, Social Media No Comments

The People to Avoid Following on Twitter

A few months ago, I attended a release party for a new Craigslist competitor.  Of course, anytime someone claims to be the ‘new’ anything (usually it’s Facebook) I immediately raise a red flag or two.  Pageantry and gagging jargon were bountiful; several clichés were thrown, tossed about so flippantly that the English language was reduced to nothing more than the replay from a voice recorder hidden in David Ogilvy’s codpiece.

The crowd was comprised of local tech bloggers, journalists, connoisseurs, and wannabes; the vast majority of whom ended up becoming a critical force in driving the presentation.  The site performed poorly in a live demo; the presenters were ill prepared to discuss the future of their business, and worse, the snacks weren’t brought around the crowd at a brisk enough pace.

The presenter and CEO of the site unraveled and began to disclose much more than his release detail.  It was his core marketing understanding and belief.  At least 4 straight questions were answered by a resounding “Because we think that Seth Godin would do the same.”

At the fourth such response, one of my cohorts leaned over to me and said: “This company is running face first into a brick wall with both hands behind its back.”

For starters, if your business model is to hang on every word of a single Marketing Philosopher - no matter how talented or successful he or she may be - you are doomed.   The body of knowledge in marketing, and particularly internet marketing, is simply too broad in discipline and knowledge for a single person, no matter their amount of appearances as a talking head, or published books, to be a sole provider of theory.

Marketing and the Internet is bigger than the brain power of one person.

If you use Twitter as your source of Marketing study then I strongly recommend you expand your followership to 100 or more people of various disciplines (SEO, Print, TV, PPC, etc.), with varied follower counts, levels of notoriety, and published works.

The power of group-sourced intelligence on Twitter will act as a balance board for your personal development.  Your followed list should not look like an Ode to Gode; rather, it should resemble a technicolor Lego boogie board.

Below is a list of people noobs should avoid as a sole marketing resource.  Though all brilliant in their own right, they are mere micro chasms of the entire scope of the worlds digital marketing brain trust and will give you an awkward slant on life if read out of context (140 characters  at a time).  Building your business around persona twitter timelines would be like trying to jump the Grand Canyon with a rocket strapped to your back.

cb
1.@Chrisbrogan

bs2.@briansolis

danny_sq_bigger3.@dannysullivan

rand-profile-2009_bigger4.@randfish

sethg5.@thisissethsblog

lisa-b6.@lisabarone

jhuba7.@jackiehuba

dz8.@danzarella

ak9.@avinashkaushik

cliqology10.@cliqology

Business X-Factors, Media, Social Media 10 Comments

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