Despite last night’s 5-hour open bar, everyone’s back at the BlueGlass tent bright and early for Session 1 of Day 2, which is all about the combination of search and social.
We’re starting today with Simon Heseltine, who will be going through industry stats, what’s been going on with the Huffington Post and how SEO and social media work together.
He’s showing graphs about how people are using social media primarily to increase brand awareness and increase traffic. Also, the large businesses didn’t see as much of an impact with social media compared to small-medium businesses.
He said 23% of social media messages include links to content and 27 million pieces of content are shared every day.
Now for the Huffington Post, which uses a lot of social sharing icons and badges to encourage web visitors.
An example of a badge is a community moderator badge, which is given to people when they’ve flagged about 20 posts that were removed. Once they have the badge, their flags carry 5x more weight than others.
The Huffington Post has more than a million followers on Twitter and engages with its users. For a while, they were just tweeting out different articles, but now they’re interacting with others. They also have accounts for more specific parts of The Huffington Post, like HuffPost Weird News.
The Gauge launched about a week and a half ago. It’s their new social experiment. (http://thegauge.huffingtonpost.co.uk/)They do a search on Twitter, looking for the terms “agree” or “disagree” about an article, and they compile the opinions on the website. If you share the page on your Facebook wall, people can vote right on the post. It’s all about engaging with users.
They wanted to compare their social traffic with their SEO traffic and found a fairly good correlation, but not necessarily any causation — this is because they’re posting news, information people are searching about anyway.
For their site Joystiq, a gaming site, there’s low correlation between social media and SEO. So you can’t necessarily say what the correlation is between the two in general based on this data.
So what do we know that social can do for SEO?
Platform for users to discover your content = links/more sharing = higher rankings.
Search results are showing opinions of peers through social media (for example, via Facebook or Google+), which brings other URLs into the search and makes it a more personal experience. Even a link that’s fourth on the page can get clicks for this reason.
Even if you don’t have ranking on a term, because you have social media recognition, you can get organic clicks.
He mentioned that Google News is now part of the social division within Google, and there’s already a lot of integration with Google+.
Social media is going to drive organic traffic through the search engines, whether through personalization, algorithmically or through real-time search widgets.
Social media needs to be integrated with your SEO strategy.
Favorite out-of-context quote from Simon: “I did a search for NFL Picks. As you can tell from the accent, I have no idea what that means.”
Next up is Ben Cook, who’s going to talk about how you can get social and use that to get people to do what you want via SEO. And apparently his PowerPoint is full of sweet Lego pictures.
He drew inspiration for this presentation from Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. “It changed the way that I view almost every piece of marketing,” Ben said.
Reciprocation is key. Social contracts are binding and can be initiated unilaterally. You can retweet something without knowing the person or Like something a stranger posted.
In social media, if you’re not sincere or honest, it’s going to become obvious quickly. Don’t share something and then ask for a favor. Take sincere actions.
Also, social media interactions are independent of sentiment. It doesn’t matter what people think about each other — it exists outside of these opinions and people will share content regardless.
Other social media principles are commitment and consistency. People have a desire to line up their past actions with what they believe and justify it in their minds. We don’t like to admit we’re wrong. It’s tough for somebody to say hey, I was wrong; it’s much easier for us to talk ourselves into remaining consistent with our previous stance.
So if you ask for a favor, make it something small — a Like or a retweet. Once you’ve got the support, it’s going to be easy for them to keep their future actions in line with their previous commitments to support your content. Start small and keep your requests consistent.
Another social media principle is social proof. Put a social profile up, but direct people to where you’re actually interacting.
“I’m a fan of doing very clear call to actions with my social media,” Ben said. He prefers only a couple of social media buttons to narrow the target. People like social proof; they like to know that they’re following the crowd.
People as a whole follow the crowd, so make your call to action very clear, let them know what you want them to do, and they’ll probably do it.
Another major principle is about “liking”: tweeting, stumbling Liking, +1ing.
If somebody likes you, they’ll be more likely to engage, so you can leverage your relationships. Even though earlier he said social media isn’t associated with sentiment, if the sentiment is there, you can take advantage of it. If you can get a few popular influencers to share your content, you’re more likely to get their followers to tweet your content.
Also, people don’t necessarily care if you’re getting paid for your opinion if they like it, so incorporate affiliates. Keep referrals in mind, as well. Request them from people who like or repost your content.
Authority is a currency — lend or borrow as needed. Convey responsibility and authority onto the person you’re asking something of.
Take advantage of the concept of scarcity. Offer exclusive content to different social communities. Create deadlines and limits to promote more urgency. People don’t like missing out. Also use reverse psychology; a really easy tactic is to act like you don’t want to give up whatever you’re giving up.
Favorite out-of-context quote from Ben: “Apparently a Lego man died, and it’s a tragedy.”
Don’t forget to follow our conference via #bgtpa. Get ready for our next session: Turn Web Analytics Data into Conversion Driven Gold.