SMX Social Media: The Intersection of Social Media and Search

Posted in Seminars, Social Media

smxGreetings from SMX Social Media New York 2007. Excitement at being in the company of so many famous bloggers, social media gurus, journalists, and SEO Rock stars is rippling through this room on the scent of morning coffee.

Lise Broer, Wikipedia Administrator is sitting to my right next to Neil Patel. Kim Krause Berg and Matt McGee to my left, Barry Schwartz, Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan Rebecca Kelley, and Tamar Weinberg are about 2 feet away exchanging hugs and stopping by to shake hands with our media group in the front row. aimClear was extended press credentials for this show which is a wonderful honor.

Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land moderated this first session and kicked things off by evangelizing that “Social media has been this fun new space that has just been exploding” and “there’s a lot if intersection between social media and search.” It’s clear the leave-behinds from this conference will be techniques to succeed in social media marketing communities and with influencers, Ideas for viral content which and help you earn links, and social communities which can help your business, and how to attain a massive competitive advantage over your anti-social peers.

The Rand Fishkin Hour
Anyone who has ever seen Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-founder, SEOmoz, present understands what a treat is to have him speak for a full hour on social media marketing. He clearly has a deep passion for social media marketing and presented a data-packed overview of the basics: how social media has come to exist, how to use it, and many of the big sites that are players.

What is Social Media Marketing For?
The simple goals of online marketing as a whole are the same as they ever were: conversion, sales, page views and ad exposure. More complex endeavors include creating positive brand association and business development/networking like LinkedIn. Social media can help with all of these things. Interacting with participatory communities on the web can help connect you with millions of people by creating and promoting viral content.

19% of INC 500 firms blog and 27% engage in social networking. According to Business Week Magazine, usage of social media is up a staggering 668%. Ironically few users are actually creating content: .35% on Youtube, .2% on Flickr, and 4.59% on Wikipedia. This spells opportunity for savvy early adopters because, while huge swatches of folks consume social media, relatively few create user generated content.

Blogosphere engagement is dizzying and growing at an astounding rate. By the end of 2006 in the United States 19.4 % of 35-44 year olds, 30% 18-34 year olds read blogs. The United States still trails other countries. In Japan 74% read blogs, China 39%, USA 27% (overall), France 22% South Korea 43%, and UK 23%.

Finding Blog Posts
According to Emarketer in March 2007 67.3% of users find blog posts from Links on other blogs, 22.9% from recommendations, 19.6% from search engines, 5.6% from blog search engines , and 8.9% from other sources. Readers choose blogs based quality of writing, topical focus, author reputation, and visual design.

Online Video Consumption
People watch videos online in huge numbers. US online video viewers in 2006, as a percentage of Internet users, was 62.8% in, 2007 72% and in, 2011 86.6%. The topical breakout is news 37%, comedy 31%, and education 22% with adult only comprising 6% of viewership. 75% of users learn about content from receiving video links from friends with about an even split between men and women. Not surprisingly 18-29 year olds are the biggest consumers of online video with serious penetration in both the 30-49 and 50-64 year old age groups. Most importantly US adult internet users who are “word of mouth influencers” was 23.7% in2006, 26% in 2007 and will likely reach 34% in 2011. Clearly corporations need to be in online video.

It’s all About the Links.
SMM engagement not only benefits branding and “mindshare goals” but also bolsters search engine marketing objectives by helping to generate crucial high quality inbound links. “The rising tide of a single link to a website lifts all ships on the domain.” Not only does the individual page gain rankings, the entire site benefits.

Because search engines have evolved to measure popularity by links “we spam the hell out of them.” Links are the method by which search engines detect trust, quality, and intent. Rand stressed that crappy links don’t matter. Links = votes only if the link was created to reflect a true editorial recommendations of one page by another. This has now ended the effectiveness of many classic link building tactics. Dead and dying are link farms, reciprocal link schemes, directory link building, guest books, and forums. Blog comment spam is losing effectiveness. Paid link networks are “at risk.”

This means the value of links from “trusted authoritative domains” has become premium and that’s what social media is all about. Educational, government, institutional, and major media websites have ever increasing value for links. Broad and niche topical authority sites, like national geographic, popular blogs and high quality social media sites are desirable targets.

Social Site Categories
Social News aggregation portals provide users the ability to submit content and influence visibility (digg, reddit, propeller, Sphinn, Meneame, techme, newsvine). Users can link together, share content and messages, use comment features, view events, engage in Q&A, make public announcements and run external applications.

User generated content websites where anyone can create and submit highly visible content are very powerful. YouTUbe, Wikipedia, Flickr, Yahoo answers (which has more than 3.5 million users in over 12 months), and Yelp are mainstream examples.

Popular Blogs are read daily by at least a couple of thousand readers are important. Comments and content are accessible, they allow additional participation, and bloggers can be reached directly. TechCrunch, BoinBoing, Gizmodo, Huffington Post LifeHacker, Gawker, MightGOds are great examples.

Social Bookmarking sites’ content can be tagged categorized and saved. Popular content becomes more visible. StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us, (Yahoo owned), Ma.gnolia (very visible in the SERPs), and Yahoo myWeb are popular examples.

Niche and topical participatory sites` Slashdot, Fork (a humor community), truemors, NowPublic, ppcoming.org (Yahoo owned) have ever increasing prominence and popularity.

Mainstream media portals like GoogleNews are large and well known brands and enable participation. The New York Times recently added user comments to the website’s homepage. The San Francisco Chronicle is a DO follow place to comment and drop links.. CNN and Wired watches content on Reddit as a result of shared ownership.

This session was a terrific setup to the rest of this conference. Look for additional coverage @ Search Engine Land, and SEORoundTable, and Search Engine Journal.

[NOTE: This is one of a series of posts Marty is blogging live from SMX Social Media New York. They are packed with information and taken on-the-fly and include short comments and quick notes instead of more thorough descriptions. Watch for follow-on posts that expand on these ideas.]