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February 2, 2010
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Social Media Blueprint
Making the Most of Social Search
If social media was not on your company's marketing radar three months ago, recent developments in search have most likely changed that. Social media is now intertwined with search like never before, providing a uniquely tangible business case to marketers deliberating on the benefits of social-marketing efforts.

This special report is designed to help you keep up with those changes and learn how others are successfully adapting to cutting-edge technology.

Please feel free to pass this Blueprint around. It's a companion to SmartBrief on Social Media, where more than 45,000 people get help daily with their social-media strategies.
  • The future of social search with AOL's Simon Heseltine

    Simon Heseltine is the senior marketing manager at AOL. He is responsible for all SEO efforts across AOL's FanHouse (sports) and News properties. Here's an abridged version of his conversation with SmartBrief's Rob Birgfeld on the effects social search is having on SEO efforts.

    How would you define social search? How does it differ from algorithmic search? What are the benefits of human qualities in search engine input?

    The basic difference is that with social search, you're using humans and human behavior, through tagging, re-tweeting, voting, etc., to assist with the order of the search results. As for whether pure algorithmic search is better than socially adjusted search, look at what Google's been doing for a while now: For a video to be ranked, they look at views, comments and rankings (among other factors). That is socially adjusted search.

    What has happened over the last six months that changes the search equation? What should businesses do to keep pace?

    In December, you started to see real-time news streams and Twitter streams for breaking news stories showing up in the search results. In my opinion, they can be a bit distracting, but if they're improving click-through rates, they're going to stay, and if they're not, the search engine will move them out for the next big idea to be trialed.

    Where is search going, in your opinion? Given these developments, is search becoming more important to businesses?

    I had the pleasure of moderating the "Future of Search" panel at SES Chicago, and what I got from that panel is that there's a lot of opportunity in mobile, especially with all of the functionality that's available in today's smartphones (I just upgraded to a Droid last week, and I'm quite frankly amazed at what can now be done, and the possibilities). I think there's also going to be a lot more integration of social factors within search, so if your business isn't looking beyond the "10 blue links," you should, because your customers are.

    Read the full interview on SmartBlog on Social Media.

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Discover how search can put you in control with more measurable results, targeted reach, and more constant visibility than traditional marketing. Start making decisions based on the facts and learn how to increase conversions with consistent returns at Search Engine Strategies New York.
  • Now that search engines are including real-time results from Twitter, Facebook, etc., are you paying more attention to what you are sharing/saying?
    Not at all.  37.97%
    Definitely.  29.11%
    Does it even matter?  16.88%
    Taking a little more time.  16.03%
  • Has the integration of social media into traditional search changed your online-marketing strategy in the past six months?
    Yes.  44.22%
    Still trying to figure out what the changes mean.  27.21%
    No.  24.49%
    What's social search?  4.08%
 Go beyond Search at Search Engine Strategies New York.
Learn the newest trends, strategic action plans, and technology that industry leaders are employing today. Our experts will trace the natural evolution of search exploring topics such as: digital asset optimization, mobile application development, transition from search to discovery and more. Register Today & SAVE 20%

Best Practices 
  • What real-time search means for businesses
    Many businesses are unsure of how they should approach the nexus between real-time search and social media -- such as when Twitter updates appear in Google search results. This dynamic allows businesses to make their pitch to a broader audience, writes Michael Brito, but also requires them to constantly monitor the exchanges that result from such networking. (1/28) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Next steps with real-time results
    Live search is going to change the way online marketers do business, says George Bounacos, chief operating officer of Silver Beacon Marketing and a pioneer in monetizing online efforts. Marketers now use ranking tools to gauge their success, but will quickly need to find new ways to measure less easily quantifiable social metrics. "Marketers must rethink how to describe successful organic efforts," Bounacos says. "We have to find a better way to show success." SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media (12/21) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Hot topics are marketing opportunities
    Real-time search opens up a broad vista of opportunities for businesses and marketers, writes Sage Lewis. The key is to build a strong social presence, then find creative ways to link your brand or your product to the hot topics of the moment, Lewis argues. "Looking over today's hot topics, it's easy to see a direct business perspective for virtually every one of these discussions," he adds. "You could receive a considerable amount of traffic if you have some way of contributing to a hot topic of the moment." ClickZ (1/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Is social search diluting your brand?
    Social search makes it easier than ever for customers to find your brand on sites such as Facebook and Twitter -- but it also increases the chance that they'll wind up on those platforms instead of on your company's main Web page, writes Rob Birgfeld. That's fine if you keep your social outposts spic and span, Birgfeld writes, but it can be a big problem if they're neglected or unpolished. "Don't do it if you're not going to do it right," writes Birgfeld. "Make sure your social presence serves a purpose legitimate enough to steal eyeballs away from your central hub." SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media (1/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Looking Ahead 
  • How to make the most of "friendsourcing"
    Search engines are turning their attention to "friendsourcing" -- the idea that information from our social networks can be used to provide better search results, writes Eric Swayne. That means that social chatter about your brand carries more weight than ever, so monitoring and managing the buzz is a vital part of building a positive online presence. "Friendsourcing will give us a better Internet experience," Swayne writes. "The catch for marketers, then, is to get as good at playing to the right crowd as we are at gaming the right algorithm." Advertising Age (tiered subscription model) (1/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Twitter's new mantra: Location, location, location
    Twitter is pushing back the boundaries of social search with its new location-aware search tools and services, writes Laurie Sullivan. The company's geo-indexing gadgets could ultimately lead to Twitter's becoming a kind of "open Yellow Pages," Sullivan argues, since it's now uniquely placed to connect local businesses and consumers. "Twitter could become the clearinghouse for business data simply by having the ability to process, update and distribute the information in a way that anyone can use," Sullivan writes. MediaPost Communications (1/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How tweets climb Google's rankings
    The key to Google's new real-time search technology is that it ranks Twitter users by reputation, says Amit Singhal, who led the system's development. The more followers someone has, the more weight Google's system accords to the people they themselves follow, Singhal says. "You earn reputation, and then you give reputation," he explains. "One user following another in social media is ... a form of recommendation." MIT Technology Review (1/2010) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Looking beyond Google for live search
    Search giants such as Google and Bing grabbed headlines with their forays into live search -- but some of the most innovative social-search tools come from smaller, more specialized companies. Real-time search sites such as Collecta and Leapfish index updates from a range of social networks, offering an up-to-the-moment window into hot trends and the latest buzz. CIO (1/2010) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
Consumers exposed to a brand's influenced social media and paid search are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand's products."
--"The Influenced: Social Media, Search and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption," by GroupM Search and comScore, as quoted on
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 Andy Sernovitz, Editor at Large
Andy Sernovitz is author of "Word of Mouth Marketing" and the word of mouth marketing blog/newsletter "Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That." Andy is CEO of GasPedal, a company that teaches word of mouth and hosts the Word of Mouth Marketing Supergenius conference.

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