Social amplication, curated style

An entirely new job description is emerging in the social/content space – ‘ Social Curator’. This new job is emerging out of a natural evolutionary process of sharing and collecting. Think Pintrest as one of the destinations.

A social curator would ‘curate’ external content, although not necessarily one’s own (spoon content from other sites, blogs, etc ). Think of these newly created posts or pages as a destination which would begin and perhaps end with a short intro and/or ending from the curator, mixed in with links to valuable external content.

This customer centric content could potentially be ideal for brand engagement and retention. Although with clever UX, acquisition could be folded into the mix. Socially curated content goals should be very clear from the beginning. The recipe and servings may be different for B2B and B2C.

For SEO diehards, the very principle of sending links to external sites would initially appear like assisted suicide, however the social amplification effects which would likely occur via social sharing may win the SEO contingent.

There are several important considerations before proceeding down this path. Some of these could be:

a. Content destination/s
b. Content logistics and calendaring
c. FTE support
d. Compliance considerations
e. Clear and well defined goals for the business
f. Measurement of ROI or ROO
g. Web analytics

Have fun curating.

Microformats fast becoming a must for Digital Marketing

Digital Marketers have begun to leverage the use of microformats. The microformats standard over RDF is becoming the preferred way for integrated digital marketers to work with their IT departments to unlock the secrets of microformats and harness its benefits.

What are Microformats?

Microformats (μF) convey metadata to search engines in a format which can be crawled, parsed, indexed and semantically stored. This web based approach to semantic markup utilizing HTML/XHTML tags makes it very easy for search engines to categorize and cross reference the data, providing users a richer search experience.

Which formats are being used currently by ecommerce organizations?

The most widely used tag is the hReview tag. These are being used by vendors like Bazaar Voice and Power Reviews. UGC (User Generated Content) which is in the center of the content rave is being augmented by the hReview tag to present the’reviews data’ to search engines. Submissions of product feeds to data is then cross referenced by Google who then applies Rich Snippets to the Product link in the SERPs

How should I implement the hReviews tag?

The reviews data (aggregate as well as individual reviews data) is being widely used in an I-Frame, although my preferred method would be to integrate an API from the UGC vendor to populate the reviews data on the product page itself, which would in turn provide the target page the entire SERP juice. Of course, a canonical tag would be in order as well to avoid a duplicate content penalty.

What I am really excited about is the hMedia tag and the hProduct tag. These tags are not yet individually accepted by Google but their inclusion may be near.

How should I prepare to market Videos in the digital space?

The hMedia tag would benefit video indexing and referencing in the broad based search results. Since Google had opened up its UI in its search engine results page by opening up the left navigation to include Videos, Blogs etc, marketers have an opportunity to begin testing the hMedia tag in a sandbox environment. They should begin to plan how this metadata would programmatically populate their Media Asset Management platform for Videos. You Tube is not the only game in town. The Broadcasting community should be especially prepared to implement this integration as soon as the acceptance of the hMedia tag is announced.

The individual hProduct tag inclusion presents digital marketers yet another opportunity to harvest organic search results as part of their marketing mix. As with the hMedia tag seamless implementation of this tag in the front end HTML would be an early key to success. Bringing stakeholders from IT, Digital Marketing and Taxonomy early in the planning process would be advantageous.

What should organizations learn from microformats?

Organizations who are first to implement microformats would emerge as short term leaders in their respective industries with a near term opportunity to lead. These infrastructure improvements would easily offset some of the Paid and display spend; search engines of course would want you to believe otherwise.

What is the future of microformats?

Microformats are in an early stage of semantic communication through this markup. The search engines love the concept of cross referencing this data to provide users with a richer search experience with semantic links in the form of video, social media, blogs etc. The evidence is in the new Google UI for SERPs and a few days ago with Google News. Mashups of hProduct, hMedia, hReviews and various other combinations would likely follow.

What does the Caffeine Update mean for Marketers?

The Caffeine update was brought upon by the inability of real time search in Google. Twitter and Facebook were extensively used in Iran during a political crisis last year; a number of news sites were banned. Search engine results could not keep pace with real time developments.

As a result, Google now leases an API feed from Twitter as well as a Member Profile feed from Facebook to update its index, to provide real time search results. Sites and new content is now being crawled at a faster rate. To accomplish the rapid processing of information Google also upgraded their data center infrastructure.

What does the Caffeine Update mean for Marketers?

1. New pages and new content finds itself in the Google search results faster

2. Duplicate content is being penalized by not appearing in the Google index

a. Unique copy will have an increased opportunity resulting in a link in Google SERPS

b. If contractual agreements allow, copy received from vendors could be massaged

c. Canonical tagging is increasingly crucial for site content

d. Absolute links for content will help in seeding the content when picked up by other sites

3. Site speed is now part of the Google algorithm. (Google wants a good user experience for users)

a. Site speed will assist in an elevated ranking for sites

4. Social Media can be leveraged by digital marketers in real time

a) Twitter and Facebook’s real time search results appearance in Google can now be integrated in marketing campaigns (other than brand marketing)

Massive Google update being rolled out

Google has removed the sandbox for developers and word is, that the caffeine update will initially roll out to one single datacenter and then populate the other datacenters “after the holidays”.

Anyway, my expectation is that the 2 major updates to make the most impact shall be ‘real time news events‘ and ‘twitter updates’. The ‘News‘ and ‘Information‘ categories are going to be very prominent after this next update. Twitter updates will definitely be indexed fast, to show up in Google Search results.

Google’s vulnerability was evident when they could not display real time links during the ‘Iran voting crisis’ earlier this summer. As soon as Bing announced their agreement with Twitter, Google rapidly followed. It appears they are licensing their data feed instead of connecting via the regular public API. Where does Facebook stand in all this?

Additionally, there may be fewer search results displayed – I believe someone may have noticed, most searchers do not go past the first five search results, let alone the first page.