What does a consumer see when they type your brand into a search engine?

And where else are people searching for your brand?

As the net becomes more attuned to social conversations, the line between social and search is becoming increasingly blurred. Conversations on social media platforms are informing search engine enquiries. Content generated on the social web is appearing on search engine results page. And that’s before we’ve even considered the mechanics of personalised search or what happens when a users’ social graph is pulled into the search engine algorithm, as highlighted in the recent changes to Google’s social search function.

There’s little doubt that search is getting social– but what are the implications for brands?

There are three main components of social search in 2011: the technical algorithm; influence and recommendations; and what is actually being said.

social media and search diagram

Key Phrases and Links (the technical algorithm):

Owning the first page of the search results is no longer a given for brands. Increasingly, blog posts, forum comments and even Twitter mentions are being pulled into the search results and changing what users see when they search online.

So, monitor online conversation to identify potential risks and stem any online negativity before it reaches the search engines.

  • Analyse social mentions to understand consumer language and ensure that your keyword strategy is effective.
  • Distribute well search optimised (and tagged) content across a range of social media platforms and ensure that keyword strategies inform all communications.

Triggers and currency (recommendations and influence):

The ease with which opinions are published and shared on the social web has meant that the content online is increasingly subjective. Personal opinion is as valued as product information; and, similarly, the sharing, commenting on and liking of brand related content is providing a new kind of social advocacy.

  • Ensure your brand can be shared and discussed by providing content that can be easily distributed across the social platforms your audience visits.
  • Leverage the power of peer influence by making reviews and recommendations shareable; and, where possible, containing them within owned media.

Real Time (conversation):

The inclusion of real time mentions in search engine results means that enquiries now provoke a wider range of brand related mentions, including customer services, advertising strategies, CSR campaigns and recruitment. These can all impact on people’s perception of a brand and the purchase decisions they consequently make.

  • Ongoing monitoring will identify risks and support reputation management of your brand.
  • Real time can have long term impacts: build strong customer relations and embed social media across business functions to help keep this legacy positive.
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