Yes, we talk a great deal about search engines, and how to get found online. What we don't do as much is discuss how to make use of social networking sites to search for discovery.
Social networking sites represent a gold mine of content related insights and perspectives. After all, think how much effort we put into creating blog articles and sharing links to valuable content on LinkedIn and Twitter...
Instead of thinking of them only as places for pushing and sharing information, consider them also places for pulling and discovering ideas - or intercepting them! - to react to and incorporate in deeper thinking about your business.
I share with you 8 social networking sites worth exploring via search for discovery... many of which don't require an account for searching!
1. Google Search - I can't imagine searching without Google which has also morphed into a social network. You'll notice search results highlighted based on social connections. Be aware when you search that you can change your geographic location and also log out [assuming you have a gmail account] for a less social experience. [I don't spend as much time with Bing, but I have noticed traffic coming from it to my site. Would you include it in this list?]
2. Twitter Search - a wonderful resource for filtering through the firehose of information called Twitter. Note the Advanced Search parameters and the Search Operators. If you have an account, you are able to save your search as a feed. For someone still trying to figure out whether Twitter is about more that what a person had for breakfast, this is a powerful way to find out the truth!
3. LinkedIn Signal Search - requires that you log into your LinkedIn account. Once there, you can search the status updates of your network and beyond across many parameters. For example, for specific mentions of terms, by company, location, industry, even time, and more.
4. YouTube Search - otherwise known as the #2 search engine and a treasure trove of amazing content. No account required to search. A gmail account means that you can subscribe to channels or videos you consider remarkable.
5. Pinterest Search - the new visual discovery darling! Pinterest is worth exploring, particularly if you are in a visual medium [think fashion, home related, crafts,...]. As more get involved pinning, the range of boards is expanding to include less obviously visual topics [e.g., marketing]. No account required.
6. Quora Search - requires being logged in [you can do so via Twitter or Facebook] to search. Quora is all about questions and responses to questions.
7. Facebook Friend Search - my least favorite search tool. This link allows you to search for friends, without a Facebook account. For a somewhat better search experience, log into your Facebook account. Just realize that Facebook is literal in its search algorithm [and inconsistent in my opinion particularly for finding companies].
8. Houzz.com - another treasure trove of visual ideas focused on the home and interiors.
What do you think? Which other social networking sites would you add to this list? What has been the most surprising discovery you've made while searching via these sites?
You may enjoy this previous post titled Search Tips To Find and Get Found Online.
An interesting aspect of 'get found online' is redefining industry concepts. In this case, it's an opportunity to redefine beauty.
If you remember from Social Media for Consumer Awareness: Natural Beauty Summit America, I'll be participating on May 14th and 15th in the Natural Beauty Summit America 2012. It's a forum for professionals in the beauty industry who are particularly passionate about the natural care beauty segment which includes natural and organic cosmetics. The event takes place at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City.
[My presentation is titled “The role of Social Media and Natural Buzz. Why online conversations matter?" and is part of a session on Day 1 titled "Living with and optimizing Social Media".]
In anticipation of the event, I was invited to respond to two questions on the Beyond Beauty Blog
. My responses - which highlight that to get found online offers significant benefits - are captured in a blog article titled The role of social media and natural buzz
- What is the impact of social networks for a brand?
- What about the influence of blogs and the vital role of “community managers” ?
About the impact of social networks for a brand, I highlight that "... consumers educate themselves online and trust perspectives from social circles rather than what brands tell them. Consequently, it’s vital for brands to pay attention to social networks – that’s where their customers are."
Furthermore, "... social networks offer an opportunity for brands to listen intensely to customers. They can also interact with, obtain perspective and feedback from them – including suggestions on how to improve and what to do differently.
...Social networks require that brands be honest, authentic, and human – a characteristic often difficult for brands – and to listen carefully. It means that the people behind the brand need to identify themselves and be willing to engage as people.
What’s magical about the process is that a brand can become part of the changing definition of what beauty means."
About the influence of blogs and the vital role of 'community managers"
Here I get the opportunity to highlight blogs and how 'get found online' offers brands significant benefits. "Blogs are the equivalent of a printing press... blogs become meaningful if brands and the people behind them are willing to be human and speak in terms that customers recognize and identify with.... That deeper content can be shared on social networks that are important to their consumers, creating a means for drawing visitors back to the brand’s website for a different level of interaction.
...A community manager lends a human presence to the brand... [and] monitors brand and category relevant conversations; ... to listen and interact with fans, friends, followers, and readers and to respond to observations and questions. An effective community manager will transform a network into a true community of individuals who share a passion for what the brand makes possible and contribute to its success. Without that commitment and engagement, a brand risks losing touch with its consumer base and eventually becoming obsolete."
I invite you to read the entire interview on the Beyond Beauty Blog. While you are there, do read I love web, an interview with Dominique Lahaix, my co-presenter and founder and CEO of eCairn.
Has your business category change? Have you been part of its redefinition? How has getting found online affected your awareness and perception of those changes?
Yes, serendipity because I've been meaning to share with you these 10 tips for getting started with a blog for a while. I finally put my editorial foot down and - lo and behold - discovered that Todd would lead discussion on the very same topic during #KBTribechat.
Inspired by the exchange, I share with you here my 10 tips for starting a blog:
1. Before you start blogging, step back and think in big picture terms about the blog you’re about to launch. You’re about to start an exciting journey that requires that you write and publish articles [content] regularly, consistently and over the long haul. The more time you spend preparing and planning, the easier it will be to maintain your focus and commitment long term. At the same time, don’t agonize for years since you are embarking on a journey of constant experimentation and exploration. [Todd suggested starting a blog for business with 30 blog posts ready to go.]
2. Realize that you are starting from scratch with no one but yourself [and maybe your mom] subscribed and reading your blog from day one. You will be building your audience one subscriber at a time.
3. Get yourself a notebook and maybe even a really fun pen. This is where you will capture ideas for your blog. It’s also a low tech and private version of your blog.
4. What is your blog topic? Pick a subject you are passionate about for your blog. Make it broad enough so you don’t run out of things to say, but narrow enough that readers will want to subscribe and come back for more. If you think of your blog as a publication, the subject you decide to write about is what makes your publication unique.
5. Figure out why you want to blog. It is personal? Is it for business? What’s your vision? What about your audience? Who might be interested? What matters to them? How can you offer them value?
6. How often are you willing to publish? A good rule of thumb is twice per week. You’ll see faster results from search engines if you publish frequently, but it’s also easier to burn out.
7. Become familiar with other blogs. What do you like? What don’t you like about them? Learn about the mechanics of blogging. There are different blogging platforms; you’ll need a subscription mechanism; what about photos? How will you get the word out?
8. Be sure to create a list of blogs you admire that are relevant to your blog topic. Can you include them or refer to them in your blog content?
9. Identify buckets or categories of content that you can write about regularly. Plan ahead so you have articles already written that you can publish per a content calendar.
10. What are the keywords that are relevant to your topic? Search engines like keywords!
If you are considering starting a blog for business and looking for ideas, you might enjoy exploring the Social Flooring Index blog reviews, which I do three to four times per month.
What would you add to this list of tips?
Although I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to get found online, I also love knowing about - and using - search tips to find valuable information.
[If you feel as I do, you may enjoy a previous post titled Google For Search & Discovery: TalkFloor Social Media Marketing Series. Note that some tools have changed...]
In the spirit of sharing [and reminding myself of] search tips, here are several you may find useful as you use Google for search.
- When you enter terms in a search window, keep it simple and focused. Describe what you are looking for with as few words as possible.
- If you start with too broad a term [e.g., 'books'], modify it with descriptive words to narrow down your results [e.g., books by Jane Austen].
- I am in love with search operators. Are you?
- Use quotes around your search terms to indicate that you are looking for exact terms. [e.g., try “mosaic tile” and compare the results to typing those words without quotes]
- To search within a website try [search term] site: company.com
Powerful characters to use in search include:
- To exclude terms use “-” as in “-job”
- To find synonyms use “~” as in "~garlic"
- To find exactly a term use “+” as in "+garlic"
- Don't forget wildcards! Try * [fill in blank]
- OR is used to search for any terms
- AND is used to find all terms
Google has created two pages that are worth exploring. The information is similar from one page to the other. Check both out to determine which format you prefer. And then, go explore! Imagine being able to track your packages, calculate anything, get flight schedules or sunrise and sunset time...
If you'd like more perspective on best practices for search, read through 'the basics' in Google Inside Search. Or, simply jump into 'Advanced Tricks'!
Which are your favorite search tips? How do you find the information that you seek?
I've submitted my Twitter and Facebook for Business Facebook article to Floor Covering Weekly. Thanks to many powerful contributions, I believe my story about the value and importance of social media and Twitter and Facebook specifically will win the day!
In the meantime, I want to thank those who responded to my Twitter and Facebook For Business Face-Off: Help Requested! plea and recap highlights.
First, who helped me with their Facebook and Twitter marketing stories?
- Larry Callahan, Callahan's Carpet One - replied via email with "Facebook and Twitter are helping me grow my business, but not because of consumers finding me via these social media sites. Rather, I am looking for things to tweet or post which has forced me to take a new look at me, my business, and how I am different than my competition. Through this process I continue to evolve and get better at what I do. Like John Wooden said – “learn as if you will live forever…” "
Facebook and Twitter for Marketing are about Relationships!
Here's the low down.
Whether for leveraging relationships, making connections, engaging with potential customers, networking, providing answers about buying, maintaining, decorating with rugs and using Twitter and Facebook to solve problems, or reinventing oneself, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are about relationships!
A wise man I met recently referred to the importance of being where your customers are and being interested in what they are interested in. If your potential customers are likely to be on Facebook and even Twitter, why not be there -- especially if the tools are available despite tight marketing budgets.
Thank you for being part of my response.
How intensely do you pursue business innovation? Are you relentless about it? Do you find opportunities for innovation in extreme places?
The article below, titled "Extreme Foreignness, Innovation & Execution", was my contribution to the 2010 edition of Age of Conversation, a collaborative book series which brought together bloggers from around the world who each contributed one chapter. [See Age of Conversation 3: It's Time To Get Busy! for more perspective.] It focuses on innovation in business and the benefits that come from embracing the intensity and 'foreignness' of the experience through conversation.
My nephew, Sean B. Sullivan, inspired the article. At the time, he was living in Tokyo, surrounded by foreignness, learning intensely.
Have you had a similar situation?
Extreme Foreignness, Innovation & Execution
By C.B. Whittemore
Opportunities for innovation surround us. Yet, we don’t always recognize them. Why not? I believe because we shut ourselves off from them. Some of it has to do with so much doom and gloom that we’ve squashed our intellectual curiosity; some, with not having figured out how to manage the information chaos both personally and corporately; and some, with not being sure how to explore, experiment and exchange ideas. How to stop shutting out innovation?
Imagine that you are American and have been sent on assignment toTokyo. You may admire Japanese culture, but you can neither speak the language nor read Kanji. What then?
Will you opt to seek out others just like you, perhaps through the American Consulate? Will you limit interactions to fellow Ex-Pats, live within an American compound, send your children to American school and do your best to purchase only American-like foods?
Or, will you open yourself to full foreign immersion: walk the streets, listen for patterns, observe body language, go to local Yakitori BBQ joints and ride the subway? Take Japanese language classes and find bilingual sherpas with whom to bridge the cultural and language barriers and engage in conversation to make sense of the differences? Pretty soon, you reach a point where you are able to participate fully in the experience and are already considering new integrated approaches.
I equate innovation with the experience of extreme foreignness. Not that you have to go all the way toTokyo. Rather, by opening yourself up to conversation and the variety of perspectives that conversation uncovers, you open the door to innovation – to hearing about customer frustrations and suggestions for improvement. That’s what Fiskars has done with its brand ambassadors, the Fiskateers, who provide feedback on products and obtain insights from retailers and consumers.
Conversation can also help ensure better execution. Take Wiggly Wigglers and its crowdsourced catalog. What better way to engage customers and community by executing as a result of conversation-based innovation!
The best part of these types of conversation based innovations is that they lead to continuous improvement; to small successes that build one on the other and that enable you to rapidly become fluent in what one was a total foreign language and culture.
Are you ready for a dose of extreme foreignness?
By the way, the foreign theme also appears in Getting Started With Social Media Marketing...
Coming up on May 14th and 15th at the Sheraton Hotel in New York City is Natural Beauty Summit America 2012, a forum for professionals in the beauty industry passionate about the natural care beauty segment which includes natural and organic cosmetics.
I'm excited because I've been invited to present on social media for consumer awareness. My presentation is titled “The role of Social Media and Natural Buzz. Why online conversations matter?" and is part of a session on Day 1 titled "Living with and optimizing Social Media".
Furthermore, one of my co-presenters is Dominique Lahaix, founder and CEO of eCairn, a powerful social media marketing listening and engagement platform, which I use and love. Dominique has done considerable research exploring influence, communities and tribes and will share insights about the beauty business.
In addition to our session, Natural Beauty Summit America 2012 will address:
- The Natural & Sustainable Beauty Market in the U.S
- Consumer Insights on Natural Personal Care
- The latest issues in Beauty Regulation: European Model vs USA
- Current and Future Natural Technologies
- Entering the Era of Responsibility
- Winning with Sustainable Beauty
Given the importance of trust, authenticity, word-of-mouth and community endorsement for brands in the natural beauty industry, I expect to learn a great deal from this experience.
Because I am speaking, I am able to share with you a 10% Speaker’s Discount if you'd like to attend NBSA. Simply enter code WHInbsa when you register. [Note: every 4th attendee from the same company is invited free of charge.]
To register, click on this NBSA Online Registration Form.
To learn more about the NBSA program itself, click on this link for the agenda.
I look forward to seeing you there!
Having explored with you 22 Content Marketing Priorities for 2012, I'm ready now to move onto future gazing with 150+ Content Marketing and Social Media Predictions for 2012 from Content Marketing Institute.
This year's predictions are captured in a Slideshare presentation which - to me - makes the sharing of ideas about social media, content marketing and how they affect business more fluid and immediate.
Here is my prediction:
The role of content in building, strengthening and promoting a brand and business will only become more critical in 2012.
That means that brand marketers must champion robust content creation throughout their organizations with particular and genuine attention to providing value to prospects and customers as they progress through the buying cycle.
The more content creation gets embraced throughout an organization, the greater the opportunity for that content to connect with and engage specific audiences. The days of insincere marketing gobbledygook are numbered as customers become savvier, thanks to search and social, and unwilling to compromise if they can’t trust the content they read.
Brand marketers will need to pay special attention to understanding which distribution channels have the most meaning for customers and prospects. New networks and radical changes within existing ones [combined with continued economic and time pressures] mean that audiences will increasingly fine tune where they spend time and what content they willingly consume.
Since there's nothing better than blending a bit of data with futuristic predictions, I also share with you 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends [Research Report].
What's your take? What do you see when you gaze into the future of content marketing and social media marketing? What role do you see it playing in your business? How does content allow you to tell your story and how does social help you share that story?
Image Credit: LawandBorder.com