In the series about Integration today we look at how Social, Search and Branding influence one another. The post is written by one of the industries young talents Sam Noble, who specializes in exactly this combination.
Before the Internet really began to boom, when we wanted to make a purchase it would involve taking a trip down to our local shopping centre to look around the shops before deciding on what to buy. We relied heavily on the shop assistant to talk to us about the product we wanted to purchase and other than word of mouth recommendation from friends; the shop assistant was ultimately the one who would convince us to buy it.
This process was exactly the same when it came to deciding on signing up to a service, buying a new car, getting car insurance and even something as critical like buying a house!
Now the Internet is at an all-time high and with the introduction of social media over the past 10 years, it is becoming more apparent than ever that all businesses big and small need to be paying attention.
Gone are the days when all we have to rely on is the shop assistant or sales person….. We now have search engines and social media to help us make decisions on all purchases no matter how expensive or cheap.
If we fast forward another 10 years, I believe that all individuals between the age of 20 and 40 will be looking around the web for opinions and reviews of the product or service they wish to buy before making that final purchase. Children of today are brought up surrounded by social media and are automatically sharing their opinions to their friends and peers through various networks. It has become second nature to them and this will become more apparent as the years move on.
The Buying Process
So, what impact do I think social is going to have on search? Easy one for me, I think the impact will be huge and here is why….
Earlier in this post I explained what we would have traditionally done when making a purchase and it looks something like this:
In 10 years’ time, I think it will look something like the below flow chart. This is where social becomes very important in our day-to-day lives. Having access to reviews, feedback and information about products or services from third parties or friends enhances the probability of whether you choose to buy.
How many times have you decided that you want to make a purchase and then gone away to research the company before you buy from them? My guess is that most of the time, if you are not familiar with the brand, this is the first action you take before making that purchase. The last thing that a brand would want is to have negative things said about them that appear on page one of the search results and in this post, I am going to show you some of the things you can do to help combat this.
There are so many big brands that are getting this wrong and this surprises me. Here are just a few brands that have extremely negative press on page one which could be stopped if they wanted to do something about it.
If you search for RyanAir, the first thing that stands out in the results is the fact that they have nearly one thousand reviews, all of which appear negative, illustrated by the one star rating .
This is a story that most people in the search industry will be familiar with. If you search for their brand name you will see the story on page one with the little ‘dirty little secrets’.
On page one of the results for Coca Cola you will see a notice that people are trying to boycott the brand which is also enticing other people to join in. This isn’t the kind of thing you want on page one of the SERPs for your brand name.
So, what can we do to help move these negative mentions down the search results for the brands that we are working for? We can use social!
Claiming Social Profiles
Firstly, it is imperative that all brands claim their company name on all social platforms, even those that may seem small and unrelated to the industry you are operating in. There are over 500 social platforms available on the web today and this number is likely to grow as social media becomes even more prominent. This may seem like a very mundane task and that is where a service like KnowEm comes in. With $599 and just five minutes of your time you can input all the data for the brand and within a couple of weeks, KnowEm will have registered all the profiles that are available for your brand name on your behalf.
Increase Profile Authority
Secondly, you need to start building the authority of each of these profiles by directing links to each one. Look at it as a massive project for multiple sites and use various methods of link building to drive links to each profile. There is no need to get too creative with your link building for this, from the learning’s we have had from the page one domination projects we have worked on using simple methods such as articles, press releases, directories, social bookmarking and hubs all work very well.
Social & Search in Action
An example of a large brand that has taken a similar process as this is Oreo. If you search for their brand name you will see that page one is dominated with positive mentions of their brand. This is a small visual representation of the strategy that Oreo took and they have used social platforms to help push negative brand mentions down the search results.
So to finish up this post, I just want to reiterate the importance of claiming the social profiles for your brand before a competitor or disgruntled customer does it for you. Combining social and search together will reinforce a positive brand message when your potential customers are searching for you online.
Samantha Noble is the Digital Marketing Director at Koozai, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Southampton and London. She is one of the young potentials in the industry. At Koozai they focus not just on search, but also very much on branding matters. Sam is also a speaker on matters like branding.