Google has to get past one main sticking point if they hope to stop sucking at social media. They need to think about user experience before trying to figure out how social signals can best improve search.
If the main motivation for creating a social platform is to improve organic ranking algorithms through social signals, it’s destined to fail.
It’s as if Google is so desperate to get into the social media game that they’re choking from performance anxiety.
From one failure to another, they just can’t seem to get it right: Google Wave, Google Answers, Orkut, Knol, Google Buzz, Dodgeball, and many of their other platforms have failed to make the grade.
Google’s latest foray into the social milieu is Google +1. It’s similar to Facebook’s ‘Like’, and votes for websites are intended to improve the quality of Google’s search results. Social votes are popular, but who wants to share a search result before they ever click on the link to begin with?
After striking out in so many areas—including search—Google should be concentrating on giving their users a great social experience. They need this now more than ever.
If Google could develop just one social media platform that pleases its users first, with less focus on retrieving user data, raking in more Adwords revenue, or search integration, they’d be halfway there.
With all the money Google has poured into dead-end social strategies and misguided acquisitions, you’d think they could afford a loss-leader.
I often come across sexually provocative advertising that makes me chuckle. Some of it is subtle, some is downright raunchy, and if I’m lucky enough to spot it, (almost) cleverly subliminal.
Subliminal advertising: Great for a laugh
Subliminal advertising can get pretty creative since it has to be below the threshhold of concious perception to be effective. You know, the flash of an image on a single frame at 25 frames per second, or the suggestive figure in the ice cube of a dry gin ad.
When I notice an ad with a dirty little secret, I find myself wondering how many others have recognized it, and how many consumers have or will be persuaded to act as a result—unaware of a spell being cast.
I consider subliminal advertising to be in the blackhat category of “sexy” marketing. Blackhat marketing usually refers to deceptive search engine optimization tactics, but from here on in, let’s pretend it also applies to fooling the subconcious search engine in our minds. Something along those lines anyway.
Subliminal advertising doesn’t irritate me at all. In think it can be pretty funny and interestingly clever at times. On the other hand, if I’m aware of a company using it in their marketing efforts, I’d be inclined to wonder what their product lacks, in that this is part of their marketing strategy.
Overtly sexy advertising gets our direct attention
On the other side of the coin, the use of suggestive imagery in mainstream advertising is often far from invisible, let alone subtle.
Crate labels from as early as the 1930s were designed to appeal to a predominantly male target audience with sexy brands such as “Plenty Grand” and “Buxom Melons”, both of which I have originals of, framed and hanging on my livingroom wall (Yes, I’m a fan).
Television and magazine ads run by Godaddy and American apparel are a couple of examples of racy ad campaigns that have generated viral attention in recent years, and, in some cases even public outrage.
Still, I consider this type of marketing pretty “whitehat” (or at least as whitehat as traditional marketing gets, but that’s a whole another issue). There’s no wholesome pretense here, the message is pretty clear: “We are now distracting you with sexy images; imprint our brand into your psyche. Thank you for paying attention”.
Not manipulative or covert, your just typical,
sleazy, sexy, raunchy, push marketing.
The weird, grey areas: Ultra-manipulative anti-social sex appeal
Almost 100 years have gone by since the first suggestive crate-labels for “Buxom Pears” and “Indiana Belle” appeared on boxes of fruit in the US. By now, the sheeple are all be getting pretty desensitized to campaigns built on the “sex sells” advertising model,
because along with other forms of shout-marketing, it’s just getting lost in the noise.
Diesel’s Be Stupid campaign
It seems the next logical step for Diesel’s advertising division was to combine sex-appeal with risky and antisocial behavior. How irreverent and rebellious. Rarr.
The My6Sense video
Here’s another bit of marketing that creeped me out recently. The level of manipulation in the video is a bit much.
An attractive, busty, woman stands before us in a relatively tight t-shirt, describing in the first person, the “Digital Intuition” of my6sense‘s iPhone Application.
Here’s a transcription of the video with some of the more poignant lines in bold:
Hi! I’m your digital intuition.
- I’m insightful.
- I’m flexible.
- I’m NOT demanding.
So you don’t ever have to say anything for me to get to know you–even when your interests change.
I bring content from your RSS and social streams. The results are so tailored and specific to your needs that you’ll never again have to sit through hundreds of messages to find the insights that matter to you. And because I know that your moods and interests are diverse, I present you with your assorted streams in various ways.
- From all of the RSS streams and social networks that you’re subscribed to in your top messages list.
- From collections of streams in topic folders that find the you.
- …and even from a specific stream.
Remember, you don’t have to give me any feedback or give me any preferences at all. I’m your digital intuition! Just read the messages that interest you, and skip over the ones that don’t! Share them in social networks. Email them to your friends. And so on. It’s completely effortless on your part. All you need to do is: act naturally. [Playfully, almost giggling] Now, it may take some time to figure you out, but once I do, I might even bring you stuff you never dreamed would be interesting—but is!
Here’s my interpretation of the video.
Hi, I’m the woman of your dreams.
- I know what’s what.
- I’m “flexible”. (uh huh)
- I’m not demanding.
I’ll always know what you want, and when you want it. This is all about you, so don’t worry about having to pay attention to my never-ending blabbering in order to get to the good stuff.
I know you have all sorts of fetishes, and I have no problem accomodating your every need.
Don’t worry about feeling like you have to hold any conversation with me or even tell me how you like it.
I find this type of marketing much more unnerving than the typically provocative ad. The line is so blurred as to where the overt sexual overtones end and the manipulation begins that the advertiser could coyly infer that I’m imagining things. Am I? Am I just projecting my own desires onto a lil ol’ innocent product vid? Or, am I supposed to believe that if it seems manipulative, it’s just part of some cute, sexy marketing satire?
At least gratuitously sexual advertising is straightforward; the manipulation is much less aggressive. Watching the my6sense video left me feeling creeped out and manipulated almost to the point of feeling violated. Well maybe not that creeped out, but more than any social media application advertisement ought to.
The application itself does look interesting; it addresses segmentation and filtering of contacts over social media networks.
At this point, you might have realized that as annoyed as I say I am with this type of marketing, it is directly responsible for the attention I’m giving the product, and I’m now spreading their idea virus to you. In reality, I discovered this product by looking on Quora for discussion on similar apps and My6sense’s Marketing VP has been spreading the word there. As hungry as I am for these types of applications right now, this ad almost pushed me away.
Here’s the vid:
According to pcmag.com’s John C. Dvorak, SEO is killing the internet.
Is this guy for real?
Or is John pcmag.com’s answer to Andy Rooney: (Whiny voice:) “Have you ever noticed how SEO is killing the Internet?”.
We all know that controversy is a great way to attract readership, but come on, didn’t you already squeeze all the ranty goodness out of SEO in February?
I’m think I’m embarrassed for John Dvorak more than I am disturbed by his ignorance.
Using John’s logic, and after reading his poorly written and badly researched article in pcmag.com, we could surmise that ‘blogging is killing the Internet’, but that would obviously be a ridiculous assumption. The medium isn’t what kills – it’s the careless misinformation transmitted through the medium. That’s the death of a thousand cuts.
The SEO Industry is saturated with snake oil SEO salesmen that are desperately trying to jump on the industry’s bandwagon for one very good reason; there is real value in real SEO – value to site owners, and value to the Internet as a whole. Professional search engine optimization involves a holistic approach to search visibility that encompasses Web usability, accessibility, and Web standards to support compelling content – not unethical trickery.
Are there countless blackhat search engine optimization methods being used to push sites up in the rankings? You betcha. Is the Internet saturated with spammy sites that push Viagra, Acai berry, Shamwows, and instant riches at every turn? I think we know the answer to that one. Does this imply that all reputed SEO firms reach into a bag of spam and cloaking to get their clients on the first page of the search engine results pages? Negative on that Houston.
Most of the time, blackhat SEO is used on throwaway domains, designed for fast money, and then ditched in favor of the next project. This has little to do with SEO formulated for long-term web presence. Is mechanical engineering crap as well because there are so many rip-off mechanics?
Don’t bite the tag that feeds you
Looking at the source code of the page that this ridiculous post is on (as well as other areas of the site), it’s evident that pcmag.com has attempted to implement measures that ensure some level of search visibility themselves. Does John C. Dvorak object to pcmag.com’s efforts of getting his oh-so-important opinion properly indexed on the Internet?
In February 2009 on pcmag.com Dvorak wrote another uninformed SEO rant: SEO Fiascoes: The Trouble with Search Engine Optimization. What he was struggling to explain (unsuccessfully) was that the keyword meta tag is useless because of its history of keyword spam targeting:
“…Tags, stored as such, are the modern equivalent of the metatags once used on crude HTML pages. They don’t work and are a stupid exercise in futility…since the search engines all stopped looking at metatags—and that was the end of that until tags reappeared, for some reason…”
The fact that John refers to the keyword meta tag as “metatags” is another dead giveaway (of many) that he couldn’t possibly have spent less time researching for this sloppy example of journalism at it’s worst. It’s almost comforting to read a couple of his other views on:
- Open sourced software:
…I’m not sure where this is all headed, but it’s kind of like the Open Source movement. It relies on a large and vague group of mavens…
- Semantic Web:
…this one promoted by the “social media is everything” crowd in alliance with the “semantic Web is the future” dingbats…
Here’s a revealing quote:
…I’ve complained about it before but it’s too late to do anything about it except moan more…
Know thyself, John.
Many SEOs have coding (opposed to marketing) backgrounds, and enjoy hours on end of alone-time in front of the computer. The stereotypical B movie computer nerd, glued to the monitor in mom’s basement and surrounded by Coke cans isn’t typically known for his social skills.
Not that B movie stereotypes dominate our industry, but I think you see what I’m getting at.
The ass-kissing, social climbing, or mutual m*sturbating nature of “link building” can be a real turn off to someone attracted to the more technical aspects of search. But the harsh reality is that building an online business is in many ways similar to running a brick and mortar operation; you need to develop professional relationships beyond your clientele if you want to succeed with your online ventures.
With some social skills (or at least interaction), your chances of discovering mutually beneficial opportunities and partnerships increase exponentially.
I’ll admit that I’d like to see Google put less value on incoming links. If unethical schemes for exaggerating a site’s worth were reserved to on-site tactics, some of us wouldn’t feel so bitter about the indexing advantages acquired by those willing to chance paying for links.
With all cards closer to – if not on – the table, quality content and site architecture would take on even greater importance in establishing a visible web presence.
But I digress.
For the time being, the right types of links matter – a lot. So let’s accept it. For now.
Visualize your Web site as a shop that you opened on the edge of town. If enough reliable tenants were to vouch for you, the landlord would probably trust you enough to rent you a choice spot, closer to the center of town.
With some connections and networking, chances are you’ll find a more visible section of online real estate from which to run your business; especially if you continue to nourish your inner geek’s appetite for the more technical SEO skillsets.
Technorati Claim ID: 33T642PQRMHS
If there’s any question in your mind whether social media is merely a passing trend or a major consideration in any internet marketing campaign, wonder no longer.
Last month, more than 200 major advertising and market research executive representatives attended the sold out Industry Leader Forum – “Transforming Research. Are You Listening” – held by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). The ARF, a leading Research Transformation initiative, will
enable members to stay ahead of the curve in a fast-changing, consumer-driven world.
The event, which took place in New York on Oct 29, focused primarily on methods of tracking the ubiquitous online discussions of brands, companies, products and services that numerous social media web sites and platforms host. Bob Barocci, President and CEO of The ARF, shed some light on several of the newer terms being used by advertising researchers, such as ‘listening pipes’, ‘storytelling’, ‘inspiration’, ‘content masters’ (referring to millennials), ‘consumer backyard’ and ‘brand backyard’.
Case histories of “listening” in action were presented by General Mills, MTV, Sony Electronics, and Unilever. Obama pollster Joel Benenson, revealed how public perceptions were gathered in the president-elect’s leading-edge electoral campaign.
The Arf’s Research Transformation Council are:
- Joel Benenson – Founding Partner & President, Benenson Strategy Group – Co-Founder, iModerate, & pollster for Barack Obama
- Jonathan Carson – President, International, Nielsen Online
- Kim Dedeker – VP, External Capability Leadership-Global Consumer & Market Knowledge, Procter & Gamble
- Jeff Flemings – SVP, Renaissance Planning, VivaKi
- Gayle Fuguitt – VP, Consumer Insights, General Mills
- Stephen Kim – Senior Director, Microsoft Branded Experiences and Entertainment, Microsoft Advertising
- Michael Perman – Senior Director, Levi Strauss
- Eric Salama – Chairman and CEO, Kantar
- Patti Wakeling – Senior Manager, Media Insights, Unilever
Pete Blackshaw, the Executive Vice President of the Digital Strategic Services group at Nielsen Online gave a presentation on the “Six Signals of Listening to the Unprompted Voice of the Consumer.“. Pete is a recognized expert in interactive marketing, word of mouth, and consumer understanding, and originally coined the term consumer-generated media (CGM). See Pete’s summary of the highlights from October’s event in his video below.
The ARF’s next Forum will be a one day workshop from 8:00AM to 6:00PM on January 27, 2009 at Bently Reserve, San Francisco. Confirmed speakers include:
- Kim Dedeker (Proctor & Gamble)
- Joel Benenson (Benenson Strategy Group)
- Michael Perman (Levi Strauss)
- Pete Blackshaw (Nielsen Online)
Very exciting stuff!
Yesterday, Google launched SearchWiki, the biggest news in Web 2.0 since sliced Wikipedia. Once logged into your google account, SearchWiki allows you move search results up or out of Google’s index, for your own personalized results on return visits to the Goog. As well as allowing users to edit, reorder, and remove search results to their liking, SearchWiki allows public commenting on search results, letting others know their opinions on individual web sites [Insert scary music here]. Google’s reasoning here is to make it easier for you to find the results that best suit our needs, with these custom indexed results stored in your Google Account.
Well, for those of us with hearts already 100% dedicated to Google, we’ll now have to find other parts of ourselves to dedicate to our beloved search behemoth.
Of course, these pseudo-bookmarked, tailored search results fit nicely into our relatively recent, present day social-media-heavy virtual existence. In the same vein as Del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, Digg, Sphinn, Reddit, Technorati, and countless others, Google now allows us to share our thoughts amongst each other – on the good, bad, and the ugly of all the sites in the Interverse. But wait. Google tells us that
The changes you make only affect your own searches. Well, we’ll see how long until Google revises that statement, because
once if those changes did affect public indexing, we might never have to leave Google for online bookmarking or social-networking communities at all. The comments you leave however, will be public.
I don’t know how I’d feel if Google did incorporate the voting system into their results. Actually, I think I do. Personally, I prefer to surf recommendation engines such as StumbleUpon, or other social networking sites such as Digg when I feel like browsing social media. The way I see it, the thing that sets the internet apart from all other forms of media is that the “hits” don’t necessarily prevail in search engines; instead, the Long Tail of media, including the “misses”, have as much of a chance of producing results in the SERPs – as long as the results are relevant. Granted, “relevant” results – while being based on indexing algorithms – do rely on some forms of indirect user input. One site linking to another, for example, counts as a vote in the eyes of Google’s Pagerank algorithm. I just don’t know if I’m ready to welcome the fact wholeheartedly that ‘what mainstream internet deems to be the best results’ could affect my Google experience in such a direct way. In any case, for now at least, the changes we make only affect our own searches.
So Google, you still do it for me, but…
As Googey-baby states:
SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the ‘See all notes for this SearchWiki’ link.
I don’t remember ever seeing an online
grafitti feedback system that wasn’t chalk full of gorilla marketing. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out.
By now it’s widely known that Barrack Obama’s superior internet marketing campaign surpassed McCain’s online strategy by fostering an efficient online community early on. Both of the campaigns took advantage of online behavioral targeting, using cookies set on visitors browsers to track what types of sites they visited, and displaying targeted ads to them on subsequent visits. BarackObama.com’s much higher traffic was complemented by social media platforms such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Wikis to Organize Volunteers, as well as reaching to various demographics with text messaging for younger voters, and succinct emails to older ones.
Obama’s web team not only raised incredible sums in $30 and $50 increments, but also maximized their fund raising efforts by running multivariate conversion tests to optimize donations and minimize bounce rates.
Obama’s Donations page utilized free Google Website Optimizer to test the most successful of a variation of t-shirt gifts on donations of $30 or more – and on the site’s home page, displayed variations of campaign images, in order to measure bounce rates.
It seems Political Campaign Internet marketing change is here to stay!
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