Google started to integrate a new enhancement to search results this week that effectively rewards companies that have been cultivating brand advocates, and places the laggards of integrated social media programs two giant steps further behind.
Your search results will now be enhanced with recommendations and suggestions from your social friends and social contacts. “When you’re signed into your Google account and you do a search, you’ll start seeing results of people you’re connected to on Blogger, Twitter, Flickr and other publicly available sites,” according to the Google promotional video. The names of the people who shared the content online and the site they published it on will appear below the content. You’re just a click away from getting more information on exactly what your contacts thought about products, places, and companies – actually about everything.
“So if you’re thinking about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro,” poses an example from the Google blog, “and your colleague Matt has written a blog post about his own experience, then we’ll bump up that post with a note and a picture.”
From a marketing viewpoint, if you haven’t started getting your “social on” with an integrated marketing plan, you might consider it. Like NOW. Having a blog and a presence on social networks and especially taking time to seed, grow, and reward people for speaking well of your brand will buy you points that you can take to the bank: Endorsement from friends directly to your prospects. This inbound marketing drives them to you because of your social presence.
From an analytics and marketing attribution point of view, you may have some problems telling these users from natural search. However, if you use campaign codes from Facebook, YouTube and your blogs, you will be able to determine attribution of many social media channels. Ideally, you need a marketing analyst and social media people who understand your business and the business of word-of-mouth.
While many users will prefer the public endorsement, Google’s blog says that they will allow users to retain a level of privacy and anonymity and still get the features of the new search. “… We’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account. (After all, you may not want everyone to know you’re @SpongeBobSuperFan on Twitter.)” Yeah, good point.
Allow me to simplify the concept of social media, or more accurately, democratized media where everyone has a voice capable of spanning the globe: it is word of mouth at warp-speed. You can either have a voice in the Global conversation (or do it well by delivering relevant content) or put it off. You can reward people who are already showing you “the love,” or you can allow your competition to take those people from you. These updates now make that easier for them to find out what makes your customer base tick with the use of social customer relationship management (or SocCRM) and other analytics and mining tools.
“Relevance isn’t just about pages—it’s also about relationships.” So are word of mouth sales.