Search + social media, the evolving landscape

Screen shot 2009-12-10 at 11.31.30 AM.pngYou have undoubtedly heard about Google and Bing announcing partnerships with Twitter/Facebook/et. al. to include real time social media results into their search indexes. However, even if you did hear about it, I think few people have seen what it looks like in Google's environment, so I recorded this short video for the search term "Copenhagen". Have a look. (Bing takes a slightly different, segmented approach.)

Key Takeaways:


  • These results are pulled into the first page of Google, there are substantial reputation issues to consider
  • These updates are not listed like other webpages/fan pages/primary Twitter accounts, they are in a separate area on the page (fairly contained...for now)
  • The searcher will see what is hot at that point in time
  • It seems like this would be very susceptible to fraud and Tweet bombing, would love to get your opinion on that

What does this mean for you and your brand(s)? How are you preparing/sharing and engaging around this? One of the keys to social media gaining the traction it has is its uncanny way of tapping into the power of search and this is taking that to the next level.

Let me know what you think.

[UPDATE 12/11]: It seems that Yahoo has also added in-line Tweets to search results. This model pulls in three recent (not sure the exact algorithm here) Tweets to the bottom of the result page. Screenshot below.

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Ball bearings, social media and you

iStock_000004515838XSmall.jpgAbout three years ago I spoke at an event in a town to the south of Cleveland. The audience was a more traditional marketing audience and they were very receptive to what I had to say...except for one guy at the side of the room. If you give presentations, you know this guy. He nodded a little, but shot an occasional contrarian scowl.

If there is room to become a social media leader in the ball bearing industry, there is room to become a leader in your industry.

After I was done I saw him hanging out toward the back of the room and as I wrapped up my obligatory mingling, I approached him. After introducing myself I asked if he had any questions that he wanted to address with me.

He started, "Matt, I know what you're saying, but this doesn't work for every company. People don't care about some of these products."

I had to wonder what the heck this guy did to have such a low image of his company. I probed a little further, "I think it does apply to every company to an extent and you need to be listening to know when the timing is right. What is your industry?"

Sheepishly the guy said, "We make ball bearings."

I do love a challenge. I mentioned that his company could take a leadership position with customers and in search engines by adopting social platforms now versus waiting to play catch up. He agreed to watch, but I am doubtful that he actually took my advice.

Tonight, I took a quick stroll through the social web. Here is what I found surrounding the ball bearing industry.

How bearings are made:

Bearing service center tour:

Advances in ball bearings using ceramic:

Photos of ball bearings on Flickr:

  

Wikipedia has a good overview of the industry.

Chinese ball bearing company uses a blog to post information about their products

Other companies syndicate their news via RSS to be listed among related blogs.

Bearing manufacturers have Facebook groups as well. On Facebook there are poeple who love ball bearings and people who hate bad ball bearings.

Ball bearing companies are on Twitter too as are fans of ball bearings and the media that covers the space and professional groups as well. There is actually a lot of conversation on Twitter about bearings.

So, what the heck does this mean for you? Ask yourself, who owns my space in the social sphere online? Do a search inside the top social networks. Who is already forming relationships with my customers/potential customers/influencers? What is the best entry point for my company? How can I get involved NOW in order to not lose more ground?

If there is room to become a social media leader in the ball bearing industry, there is room to become a leader in your industry.

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Inside//Out: Cuil

cuil_logo.pngThe launch of Cuil (pronounced like "cool") hit the RSS readers and tech news with a bang recently. Despite the horrible name that nobody knows how to pronounce (you would think they didn't want any word-of-mouth traffic) and the lack of obvious "beta" status, the new search engine on the block does have some redeeming qualities.

Most importantly, Cuil does not collect user data to refine results instead looking at the context of the result set. Cuil's topical categories and filtering options are handy and the fact that it is not weighted by a mysterious algorithm (like Google's Pagerank) give it a different set of results. Time will tell if it is better overall. Take a peak at the following video overview.


[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

Here are a few stats that look at the huge uptick and subsequent recoil in attention to the service.

Take this graph from Bill Tancer's blog that looks at Cuil's fading marketshare of visits after a strong lift in the upfront.

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Bill's data is backed up by this Compete.com look at daily traffic attention.

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Differentiators:


  • Does not collect personal data for search result optimization
  • Uses context of the results to refine set
  • Different layout including handy sub-categories and topic sorting

So what do you think?


  • Is there room for change in search?
  • Do you switch search engines or stick with one? (Take the T//M reader poll in the right column!)
  • Is there innovation happening in search?

Let me hear your thoughts.


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Inside//Out: Mahalo

mahalo_logo.pngAs the sheer amount of information explodes on the web, there is opportunity for new companies to capitalize on the filtering and organization of data. Mahalo is just such a venture. Started by Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc. and Netscape fame, Mahalo is a people filtered/built search engine.

This has interesting implications for marketers. Where traditionally SEO and SEM practives have mattered, they're made irrelevant on Mahalo. Mahalo's guides choose the best content from the web no matter if they're Google rank is high or not. The guides create search engine result pages (SERPs) which act as landing pages for each search term. The SERPs are flexible and can adapt to their subject.

[Note I had some lag on this video (my fault), but the audio is perfectly clear so enjoy.]

[Feed readers please click through to the post for the video]

While Mahalo is not the first people filtered search engine (Yahoo did this first), the SERPs are new, however, and they may well be the first to create this feature (although it looks a lot like About.com result pages to me). Nevertheless, with Calacanis behind the project pushing it forward and getting press, it may well take off. Some people want guides to filter their information for them and this is a great service for those people.

Personally I would love to see hooks into networks like del.icio.us or Digg to pull in related items since those are people filtered as well. I'd expect to see more and more engines like this that are powered by people in the future. It surely makes people doing SEO/SEM to look at the quality of their content vs. quality of their optimization.

[Update] Jason Calacanis found this video and links to it from a post here. I've also received emails from other members of their team. Kudos to them for being very actively engaged in the conversation.


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Google, Yahoo testing next generation search

Within the past two days I have come across new, early beta versions of both Google and Yahoo's next gen search. Yahoo's alpha and Google's SearchMash are serving as test beds for new features. The two are notably similar in interface and content (who copied who I wonder?) and show a clear direction from both firms moving toward a more integrated search experience. The content is pulled in through AJAX-like technology so the user doesn't need to surf to view related content.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of each engine:

Google SearchMash home page
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Yahoo alpha home page
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Google SearchMash results page
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Yahoo alpha results page
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Google SearchMash integrated content
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Yahoo alpha integrated content
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Similarities: Besides the interface, the results formatting and the type of information included in the related content are similar. Both have videos (Note: Yahoo even pulls in Google's YouTube content), Wikipedia entries and images (Flickr on the Yahoo side).

Divergences: Google singles out blogs (even though they're included in the main results) and Yahoo pulls in News and Answers information. I would look for Google and Yahoo to add in all of their properties over time (groups, shopping, etc.).

What does this mean for marketers? It means that more content is going to be presented to the user with higher importance. For example, right now most marketers probably don't pay attention to the images that may be tagged to their company name. With this new search, consumers will be able to quickly see image information (like your CEO dancing at the Christmas Party) on the main landing page. On the flip side, images can be powerful marketing vehicles and special attention should be paid to making sure they are tagged appropriately.

The same can be said for video. Video search is just starting to get traction, but the marketing potential (both up-side and down-side) is tremendous. Users will be one click away from information that now takes them 2-3 extra clicks. This will put a higher weight on that content. We need to prepare now for this change as I'm pretty sure this is not too far off.

Go to both of these sites and use them. Get acquainted with the format. Then think to yourself, what can I do today to make sure all of my content is search-ready tomorrow?


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