Some of the Red Clay crew attended an interesting event put on by AiMA and SEMPO that was centered on how social media and social media marketing are meshing into what is being called “Social Search”. We learned about “The Social Impact on Search” and how we as marketers can influence consumers to interact with brands through current and new socially powered outlets and techniques. The panel of speakers consisted of Mike Ching, the Principal Program Manager and Social Development Engineer at Bing, Walton Norris an Account Manager and +1 Evangelist at Google, and Bert DuMars, the VP of E-Business and Interactive Marketing at Newell Rubbermaid. The topic, company rivals on panel, and crazy lightning storm made for an interesting night.

Bert DuMar started off the night by talking about how recommendations are huge for brands and e-commerce. Companies fight for shelf space in stores and DuMar pointed out that product pages on your website are “shelf space,” and it is important to utilize this cyber shelf space to its maximum potential. People tend to trust what their peers have to say, rather than what a company has to say about their own product. Allowing reviews to be posted on your website can add tremendous value to your website and brand(s) and can be used in many beneficial ways for both you and your consumers.

For Example:

  1. Consumers will spend more time on your site and may feel more inclined to purchase after reading reviews.
  2. Companies can use the reviews to help prove to retailers that they have a good product that people want (buying them more or better shelf space),
  3. Or they can be used to prove to head management or manufacture/designers that a product needs to be changed based on what consumers are saying.
  4. A good review can be used in marketing campaigns and shared on social media outlets as well, in fact there are many times that reviews are more than just reviews, they are actual stories. DuMar gave the example of a review that someone posted about how a car seat saved their entire family’s lives because it kept the roof of the car from caving in during an auto – accident.

Walton Norris enlightened us on the new Google +1 that was released last week.  Google +1 is a “socially inspired endorsement gesture,” and is available on Google search results, Google search ads, and third party ads. Norris made the point that emails, threads and traditional sharing/recommending methods get lost over time (or just aren’t readily available when people actually need them), but with Google’s +1 recommendations are instantly available when searchers need them. The kicker is that you that you have to be logged into your Google account and you will only be able to see what YOUR Google contacts recommend. Norris did say that +1 rankings are going to play a role in websites’ search rankings, how big of a role only time will tell. He also said that +1 rankings will inadvertently affect paid ads; while it will not affect an ads quality score it will entice people to click your ad thus increasing your click through rate.

The last speaker of the night was Mike Ching. As some may already know, Bing and Facebook teamed up last year to bring a more social side to search. They have created a partnership that they hope will enhance users’ experience and results by adding a Facebook module into Bing’s search results. This partnership is huge for Bing seeing how Facebook has over 500 million active users with the average user having at least 130 friends, and more than 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month (stats from Facebook.com).

Ching gave three major reasons why Bing believes adding social to their search is a no brainer:

1. Social enables a compelling differentiated experience

2. Decisions are best made with help from friends

3. Personalized results are more immune to spam

He went on to say that this social component to their search engine is going to help people discover trusted sites, because they can see what their friends on Facebook are saying or “liking” about the things they are searching. Now, people may actually check out a site that they usually wouldn’t pay any attention to because they see that a lot of their friends like it. However, if you are one of those people that are friends with everyone under the sun then you may not find your search results to be as helpful.

red clay interactive - Bing

Long story short, social media marketing is a part of our lives whether we like it or not. Now more than ever it is time to jump on the train so that you are not left behind. While traditional search marketing tactics are not dead, social search tactics are on the fast path and gaining momentum. Ignoring social media and social search is not going to do you and your brand any good, so strap on your wings and become a social butterfly.

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