Social Search - The Next Step

Mar 19, 2008 - 6:54 pm 3 by

Moderated by Kevin Heisler the Executive Editor of Search Engine Watch.

First speaker will be Simon Heseltine from Serengeti. He is wearing a quite awful tie with zebras on it. (Just kidding Simon). What is social search? It is search with human involvement. It can be delivered using an Algo + humans or just humans. The whole concept is wisdom of the crowds/masses. Others have called this folksonomy.

Common search topic for use to examine these will be the local “Eliot Sptitzer.” He shows the varied results at Anoo, Sproose, ChaCha, Malhalo and briefly describes each of these. Also shows: irazoo, which is run by Everyday they give away gift certificate to a lucky searcher. He shows LinkedIn Q&A search. yoname is a name-based search engine. Then he shows social media site searches: mixx, Digg, StumbleUpon. He says that StumbleUpon is a favorite of his as well asd the other panelists. he likes it because they also show who talked about a person, so you can then follow that trail. he then shows Facebook and that “Eliot Spitzer has no friends.”

Social search aggregators: twing, zudos, friendfeed. Social web browser: Flock, which is mozilla based and similar to Firefox.

What are some of the issues in social search? many sites are slow due to lack of expensive hardware. Sourcing of data challenges. Low volume of active users – if humans are not using them then all you have is a crappy search engine. They need the humans to succeed. Being found amongst the chatter is an issue as well. A group with an agenda to hijack a results page can still do so fairly easily due to lack of a lot of users. This leads to potential reputation management issues.

Getting into reputation management: there are a lot of possible problem sources: disgruntled ex-employees; etc. The first thing to do is look at what is being said, how it is said, and where it is said. If someone is saying something bad about you on a blog that is only read by the guy’s mother and two dogs, probably not an issue. However if she writes for another blog, there may be problems. Damage mitigation should be SERP based. Legal threats: “even if it works it never works.” This may cause more issues that it resolves.

How do you respond to issues in this world of social search? You have to get involved in the community, and not be overly defensive. If what is said is true, then maybe you should go there and say “OK you are right, and this is what we are going to do to fix it.” This may lead to positive response, and in fact it often does. If you put out great content, that will hopefully drown out the other stuff. Remember that social media sites constantly appear and disappear: each requires a unique profile and individual management.

Steve Marder of Eurekster will speak next. He will speak about Distributed Social Search. He calls his company a “Social Search Pioneer.” he shows a slide titled “trends in social media/social search - then.” It shows Web 1.0 feeding to media 1.0. In the “now,” the bubbles are blended and media 2.0 and search 2.0 are connected. He describes social media as being about many-to-many, collaboration, “wisdom of the crowds.”

Why should you care? Because your brand is being mentioned. What can you leverage? Power of community and collaboration. Leverage your expertise and passion but also leverage the passion that people in your community have. He describes that this is what Eureskter does, which combines a Wikipedia platform with a social community. They built a widget called the “Social Search Widget.” He then talks about the video “buzz clouds” that they created for people to share video. He walks through an actual example of a Swicki, which he left an “subliminal” message under the example with a strong call to action to build your own and get started. He essentially spends 3 minutes walking through his specific product’s details. Make that 8 now…

Finally, some challenges and opportunities ahead: the need for a trusted relationship with you search platform, or an expert source/guide. How to effectively apply the social graph to search? How to create/surface additional high quality content (user generated)? His conclusions: social search from an SEO perspective is that it is all about content. It is hard to game the system. Next generation search is comprised of quality of content plus human interaction/rating.

Next speaker is Marty Weintraub of AimClear. He will be doing a very unique presentation. 48 slides in 15 minutes. I will try to get as much as possible. Potential customers are congregating…wherever they go we are here to sell them things. Now that social media has shown up, we can measure chatter. He says that social pay per click is the 800 pound gorilla that will take over. Google wants money, mainstream social media sites need money too…PPC helps both.

“Buzz pocket mining” is the new keyword research tool. Congregation point for millions. Tools are available in most to measure the chatter patterns. he will look at Facebook (FB) to see how it is measured there. He feels that FB is the millennial harbinger of what PPC will be in the future. He walks though the way you can find out info about advertising at FB through the small link in the bottom navigation. You can ask the system to choose the audience, then you create the ad, and lastly set your budget.

Don’t “piss off Facebook.” They are jagged…the traffic goes in waves. There are interesting patterns, and it can drive a tremendous amount of traffic in paid search. His studies show: Leads convert to sales +11%, 80% reduction in cost of leads. 14-18% on-page conversion boost from AdWords. Landing page segmentation increased conversion rates by +8%.

Conclusion: The “Tao of keyword research/buzz pocket mining.” Use free tools to measure buzz. Stay abreast of Facebook, open social, and other emerging social PPC platforms. Recognize the inevitable future is here. Look around, everything is personalized.

Last up is Eric Qualman, and he only has two slides. (laughs). he wants to go over the some of the top things heard recently about social networks. First thing: “social communities are just for kids, and it’s just a fad”. typically agencies will just ignore it, or will say they are developing a strategy for it. He would not recommend creating a community for all your clients to congregate in, for competitors to find them all together.

He then shows the results for a search for “John Deere” at Facebook and it has many non-official John Deere groups, all using the logo. One of the funnier ones is a misspelled group called “Country Girl’s Who Aint Afriad to Dip n Drive a *John Deere*” This group has 595 members! (Eric gave no details as to how many different family trees are represented).

Eric talks about how CBS is actually driving sports fans to for the NCAA basketball tournament. It takes guts to do this.

Why is everyone ramped up about social networks? Takes an example of needing a new car since you now have two kids. You have to go to a bunch of sites to find out about options, etc. In the future, you can type in a search at Facebook and search “SUV” and FB will then provide information about the people in your list of friends that somehow are related to an SUV, such as if they purchased within last year, etc. This will save lots of research time.

You have to pay attention to what is out there and react. The fourth thing that should be really hot in the short term are the Facebook applications. Right now the craze is games, but he feels that the functional applications will continue to grow in value. They looked at the status updates section, and they will be creating a way (called Beacon I believe) for the system to automatically update where you are…”Suzie is at the Louvre…Suzie at the Eifel Tower…etc.”

He advises if you create a Facebook page, don’t use “John Deere” as the first word in your title but instead a more commonly searched keyword like “lawnmower.” What are the applications that people really want right now? The top things are ways to be able to brag, or ways to seem smarter than other people by winnign trivia or other knowledge-based games.

This is live blogging coverage of SES New York 2208, so some typos or grammatical errors exist. Panelists or other attendees are encouraged to comment below to share any inaccuracies, and to help fill out the rest of the story.


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