Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Digital Strategy and the 2009 New York City Mayoral Race: What Can We Learn?

Just a few months before my article on integrating search and social media was published in DM News (related post: 5 Ways To Integrate Paid Search and Social Media), Mike Bloomberg was campaigning to extend term limits for New York City elected officials.

Well, now that the 2009 New York City Mayoral race between Mayor Mike Bloomberg and City Comptroller Bill Thompson is in full swing, I'm glad to see that some of the ideas I wrote about in early 2009 have made their way into both campaigns' digital strategies.

You can find my analysis of both candidates' search and social media strategies in a short slideshow here.

Let me know what you think.


Update 10/25: Thompson is stepping up his integrated social media strategy with a new tool that let’s his Facebook friends show their support with an overlay on their profile pic. You can see a screenshot of the tool here: https://twitpic.com/mxlpr
Thompson is promoting this tool on Twitter.

Note: I am not affiliated with either campaign in any way.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Social Media Drives Searcher Intent. Now What?

Last week, Comscore and GroupM tried to steal my search ranking ;) when they released a study that shows the impact that social media has on search behavior, specifically brand term search volume and paid search click through rates.

It's a valuable study that will surely help drive brand investments within the social media space, and you can find it, along with additional analysis here.

Overall, the study confirms much of what we mostly already knew (or in many cases, took for granted): social media influences consumer intent and search behavior. Of course, most types of media influence consumer intent and search behavior.

The study provides some interesting data points:
- Consumers exposed to a brand’s influenced social media and paid search are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand’s products

- There was a 50% CTR increase in paid search when consumers were exposed to both influenced social media and paid search

- In organic search, consumers searching on brand product terms who have been exposed
to a brand’s social marketing campaign are 2.4 times more likely to click on organic links leading to the advertiser’s site than the average user seeing a brand’s paid search ad alone

These data points beg further analysis to understand the implications on how we think about the financial impact of social media on paid search campaign performance (e.g. if social media drives more searches on brand terms, what is the impact on a brand's overall paid search campaign cost per click? Since brand terms tend to be very inexpensive, analysis could show that social media reduces paid search costs, improving ROI, but that's another post).

At this point however, it's clear that the study will likely be widely used by both in-house and agency social media strategists to help attract organizational resources and financial support for their efforts.

Building a coalition of support can take some time, but based on the synergies the ComScore/GroupM study indicate, social media strategists would be wise to connect their ROI models with those of paid search campaigns (leveraging both the ComScore/GroupM study as well as brand-specific media analytics), so that ecommerce directors and brand managers can see the holistic impact of their social media investments.

But the study does not provide much in the way of clues on how to proceed from there. When many brands are still trying to figure out social media, still trying to figure out where to invest while minimizing risk, how can brands show quick wins and then build momentum?

In addition to starting a formal listening campaign to generate insights and learnings, I believe the answer is in finding ways to begin demonstrating clear ROI. This can be especially important for those social media groups that are currently a group of one, and looking to grow.

So my question for you is: where can social media strategists most quickly show direct ROI impact with minimal effort?

Please post your thoughts in the comment section below. Or if you have the Google Toolbar with Sidewiki, feel free to leave your comments on this page's Sidewiki panel.

And you can find me on Twitter @iano1000
Ian Orekondy

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Five Google Sidewiki Examples in the Pharma, Retail, Insurance, and Electronics Categories

Google's launch of Sidewiki is a significant event for digital marketers, because Sidewiki potentially allows anyone to publicly comment on any site or page that is not SSL encrypted, and those comments will appear alongside a brand's own website. You could think about it as a comments section on every site, whether you want them or not. This has everyone trying to figure out the implications on SEO strategy and perhaps more importantly on how a company can control its online assets.

There is a lot yet to be learned and bugs to be worked out, and consumer pentration is certainly still low, but Sidewiki comments are now a reality, and there is much we can learn already.

Here are five examples of Google Sidewiki comments on brand sites in the retail, pharma, electronics, and auto insurance categories. These examples offer an early glimpse into how both brands and customers could use Sidewiki:

Auto Insurance Sidewiki Example - Nationwide Insurance
Nationwide Insurance has "claimed" their Sidewiki, which allows them to own the top listing within the Sidewiki on their page. They've used it to highlight Nationwide's service offerings and costs savings.

Google Sidewiki Example

Interestingly, Google has not formally "claimed" their Sidewiki comments, but their VP of Search Marissa Mayer, has still managed to get the top listing; though the content of her comment is mostly superfluous information about Google's holiday-inspired logos. (Maybe this is Google's way of promoting an image of good-natured benevolence in the face of the wide-spread fear associated with Sidewiki.)

Consumer Electronics Sidewiki Example: Apple

The top-comment on Apple's Sidewiki is from a student who offers a fairly basic company/site description. What's interesting here is that the second-ranked comment is less than flattering to the company and is actually voted as not useful by more people than voted it as being useful, raising questions around the algorithm that Google is using to determine the quality of comments.

Pharma Sidewiki Example - Viagra

Viagra's first comment was posted by John Mack of Pharma Marketing blog, where he wrote "Viagra is bogus". Since then, however, additional comments have been posted and voted higher in the comments listing than his original comment. John has since countered back with another post, again not flattering, criticizing Pfizer's use of branded reminder ads on Candadian TV; and this is now the top-ranked comment. Viagra has yet to claim it's Sidewiki.

(Note : the above screenshot shows the second page of Viagra's Sidewiki comments.)

Online Retailer Sidewiki Example - Amazon

Amazon's Sidewiki offers an interesting peak into how Sidewiki comments can be used for good: the top-ranked comment is actually a tip from a user informing visitors that wishlists and shopping list information can be found by clicking on "personalized recommendations", which isn't very intuitive.

This will be a hot topic for sure in the coming weeks and months as brands, especially those in the heavily-regulated pharmaceutical industry, grapple with how Google Sidewiki impacts their control over their brands online assets.

For more interesting discussions on the impact of Google Sidewiki, check out these blog posts and discussion threads:

Google Webmaster Central Discussion on Sidewiki

Danny Sullivan's: Google Sidewiki Allows Anyone To Comment About Any Site