14 February


Google+ Search results and SEO implications

Search king Google this month launched ‘Search Plus Your World’ where people logged in to their Google account and searching the internet see relevant content from their contacts on its social network Google+ as well as the wider web. Seen by many as a move to compete with Facebook and Twitter, the launch means that when someone searches ‘Garden Furniture’, they no longer just see sponsored links and natural search results determined by SEO, but any posts made by their friends on Google+ about the same topic. This increases the importance of brands considering a presence across Google+ if only to be amongst those top search results to then drive people out to official sites.

Learn more at: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8643-google-adds-social-content-from-google-into-search-results

Facebook Timeline

Most regular Facebook users will now be familiar with Facebook Timeline, a stylish upgrade to how individual profiles appear. As it starts rolling out across Facebook accounts, one brand and another developer are already playing with the new feature.

Business card printers Moo have partnered with the platform to allow people to order business cards based on their Facebook Timeline Covers. http://mashable.com/2012/01/05/facebook-moo-business-cards/

Meanwhile, marketing agency Definition 6 has partnered with the platform to turn people’s timelines into sentimental personal movies spanning a user’s lifetime on the social network. http://www.timelinemoviemaker.com

Facebook Actions

Towards the end of 2011 Facebook made a series of announcements including the now rolled out Facebook Timelines design for user profiles. A more interesting one for brands perhaps, was that of Facebook Actions, now starting to build in prominence. The platform now allows for developers to dabble in verbs, whereby someone using Spotify through Facebook needn’t type a status update manually informing their friends, because a ‘Mark’s listening to Madonna’ note is automatically published.

Learn about some of the initial partnering apps using Facebook Actions: http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/18/facebook-actions-rollout/

Advertising Within Facebook

New research by TBG suggests that a discount of up to 45% on cost-per-click Facebook advertising is being offered by Facebook when adverts point to another Facebook destination rather than an external site, an interesting revelation for brands running media campaigns on the platform to promote standalone websites away from it.

See a closer glimpse at the research at http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/8699-50-off-facebook-ads-if-you-keep-users-on-site

Curators of Sweden

Some of the most interesting digital campaigns have come out of the travel industry, be it an airline’s random acts of kindness or a tourism board’s job of a lifetime offer. Curators Of Sweden is the latest creative use of social media, granting one resident of Sweden authorship of the country’s @Sweden account each week. A campaign of variety and collaboration, we think it’s a great way to tell the country’s many different stories.


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posted by DanF at 14:52   _comments (0)
24 January

2012: The year the gloves came off and social media got ugly…

Around the start of any new year it’s customary for agencies to dig out their marketing tarot cards and come up with a few predictions on what they think will be big news over the next 12 months.

Well, if you’ll allow us to return to the topic one last time you’ll see there’s one trend that’s already showing signs of being the true dominant force in digital this year – a trend that’s far bigger than any single platform or flashy new website.

In 2012, the dominant theme will be conflict.

Three’s A Crowd…

It’s an ironic turn for an industry based around sharing and being “social”. Up until this point, Facebook, Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Google+ have all existed alongside each other in relative peace, occasionally poking their head up above the parapet to acknowledge the presence of another new arrival, but rarely anything more than that. However, recent posturing from all three major players would suggest that things are about to change.

The past five-to-ten years can be looked upon as a sort of ‘honeymoon period’, one in which social prospectors enjoyed unfettered growth without needing to really step on the toes of their competitors (the demise of MySpace notwithstanding). Now it seems as if the social landscape is approaching critical mass – a point at which the number of users willing to actively engage with social media reaches a plateau – and suddenly where there was once open-minded collectivism and mutual appreciation there is now increasing hostility, aggression and isolationism.

Take the recent (and unusually public) spat between Google and Twitter, for example. Google recently made headlines with the announcement of its ‘Search, Plus Your World’ initiative: a set of changes to its search algorithm that places added emphasis on Google+ pages within search results, effectively ‘favouritising’ them above content taken from the wider internet.

The revelation caused a tsunami of raised eyebrows among social media commentators and everyday internet users alike. Facebook engineers invented a tool to counteract some of the changes, but it was Twitter who came out as the most vocal critics, openly denouncing Search Plus in a letter to several major media outlets. This then prompted Google to issue a rather flippant rebuttal (via Google+, of course!), leaving professional relations between the two companies frosty at best.

Knives Out

In Google’s eyes, the shift to Search Plus is simply a move to keep them competitive, especially given Facebook’s increasingly cosy relationship with Microsoft’s Bing search engine. However, what Google appear to have failed to grasp is that this desire to compete is the very crux of their problem.

In the days before Google+, Google was largely an impartial observer in the great battle for social media supremacy – and rightly so. Now that they’ve waded into the ring brandishing their own platform, the delicate equilibrium has been unbalanced and defences are being raised on all fronts. Google might think this is game on, but in actual fact it will not end well for anyone, least of all them.

And here’s why: people place a huge amount of faith and trust in their search engine, relying on it to deliver the results they want without fuss. By taking the decision to actively reward their own pages above others, Google are undermining the very trust that is the lifeblood of their business – and once that trust is gone, it’s going to be very hard to win back.

Google hope that the move to Search Plus will force more brands to expand their presence on Google+, but it’s a dangerous gamble to make. While they dig their heels in and prepare for a long fight, there is absolutely no reason why a rival such as Bing couldn’t swoop in and take over the role of impartial search provider.

And it’s not like Google have much choice; after the unmitigated failure of both Buzz and Wave, there is a huge amount of professional credibility (not to mention money) riding on the success of Google+, and there is no way they are about to accept defeat lying down.

Ready To Rumble

So, it’s Google and Google+ in one corner, Facebook and Bing in the other, with Twitter flitting around the edges trying avoid catching a stray when the blows really start raining down. But where does that leave everyone else?

In the short term it looks like we’re all going to have to pay a bit of extra attention to Google+, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the uptake of new pages rise dramatically among brands and users alike. The real question is just how long that uneasy state of affairs can last.

Brands can easily replicate action across two platforms simultaneously, but asking users to maintain an active presence across both Facebook and Google+ seems like a step too far, and there will likely be only one clear winner when the dust settles.

Who that winner is, we shall have to wait and see.

Ding ding, round one…

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posted by Alex at 12:25   _comments (1)
29 June

Introducing a Few New Thoughts on Sharing: Google+

You remember the first time you swapped your old Nokia for a smartphone, well… this is nothing like that. This is, if you will excuse the obvious analogy, more like switching from iOS to Android. Which is better? It’s possible that WWIII is going to be started by someone saying “iPhone sucks” and cities will crumble to the chant of “Android rulez” so I might skip over that.

You would have to think after Buzz and Wave bombed this is probably Google’s last try at entering the social space, it’s getting a little embarrassing it feels a little like watching a friend strike out with every girl at a party. But you know what they say… the third/fourth/fifth time’s a charm! And from what I’ve seen this time they may just have done it right…

Ask yourself a question… when was the last time that Facebook had a major update that felt like you, the user, were the driving force. It’s been a long time. This is a fact that has, obviously, been keenly observed by Google: “We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests”

So, onward to the features:

The main feature of Google+ is Circles. Based around the idea that people do not want to share everything with everyone and the word ‘friend’ does not mean one thing, it encompasses lifelong friends, university friends and people you barely know so why would you treat them all in the same way.

What is really refreshing about Circles is that you don’t have to be a Google+ member to take part, if someone adds you to a circle you can still interact via e-mail. There’s not a ‘Like’-gate on everything.

With Sparks, Google delivers a feed of content to you based on your interests. Allowing you to read/watch blogs, sites and videos from across the internet and share it with your circles.

I’m unsure how useful the Hangout feature is but it’s certainly very cool and at least based on a real life concept of meeting up with a group of friends unplanned and simply hanging out. “By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face”

With Google+, mobile hasn’t come as an afterthought, it’s built into the core aspects of the project with features specifically designed for mobile;
Location: With Google+ you can add your location to every post, but only if you want to.
Instant upload: While taking photos on your phone they will automatically be stored in the cloud, so they are always available and ready to share. Again this will only be done with your permission.
Huddle: Huddle is a group messaging service connecting you to your entire circle immediately.

And here’s some initial thoughts from our team:

“This is a pretty exciting development but will surly move towards its full capacity when the Android OS is full optimised to support it. The massive growth in Android phones will give Google a fantastic platform to promote this ‘social network’ as well as the huge audience who already live online through the multitude of Google products.” – Welton

“In all, I think the more Google services one uses the better this will work. Your searches, bookmarks, contacts and people you regularly email/text/chat will more than likely play a huge role.” – Adam

“Initial reports are really interesting and it sounds like Google have put an immense amount of effort into a wide range of areas.

I’m excited by the prospect of it being far easier or quicker to share particular things with different sets of people as opposed to discovering something and then having to log in to Facebook, find a friend and post to their wall or inbox. It sounds like it might be easier to interact with different types of contacts rather than having to get bogged down in Facebook’s limited profile and privacy settings to maintain your social boundaries online.” – Tony

So your next question is… where do I sign up? right? Well slight problem like all of Google’s ventures you’ll need to sign up and wait for an invite, in the mean time you should hit up any friends who have any connection to Google whatsoever to try to get an advanced invite (oh and send one my way while you’re at it!).

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posted by Rob at 10:29   _comments (0)
2 July

Full Disclosure?

Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo, YouTube.com, MySpace, etc.”

Fancy a job with the City of Bozeman (pop. 27,509)? Well get ready to divulge your whole social footprint to your future employer. The above line is taken from their application form, with a space to fill in the URLs of all your online profile locations.

Is this something that we’re going to be seeing more of further down the line? We’ve seen people getting sacked for Facebook transgressions, but surely this is a step too far? I’m all for helping employers to see the many facets of your skillset and interests via what you share with them on your CV, but that should be a decision made by the candidate, not the employer. It’s called a personal life for a reason, and the idea that you could be denied a job due to something you wrote in a forum in 1999* is absurd.

However, remember the golden rule of social networks – if you’re not happy with someone, one day, finding something you’ve done or said, then don’t put it out there.

* I’m just glad that my forum posts from that era were all done under an alias …

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posted by admin at 11:07   _comments (0)