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Google +1 Button: A Little Item with Huge Influence

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Google announced a tiny button of +1 several weeks ago, even though we have not seen it formally launched at this point. Google has released the official introduction and said this function is around the corner.

At the first glance, people will view this function as a copycat action of Google mimicking Facebook’s “like” button. However, thanks to Google’s complete platform covering every aspect of users’ experiences, this +1 button will come into sights in many occasions: every SRP, every sponsored search, and most excitingly, every normal webpage where a page owner can use embedded coding to introduce this function. Every single user who hit the button means many of their friends seeing them liking the object, and users must log in to see and use this function. As a powerful tools of “light” recommendations showing up almost everywhere, this +1 button bring following huge changes in SEO execution:

1. Will this affect the ranking in the SRP?

SEO has been focused on how to elevate the ranking in SRP, and then attract more “hits.” However, it is still unclear that how the introduction of +1 button will influence rankings of webpages based on how many “+1” they gather. Moreover, it is also possible that Google will set up a designated area for “recommended by friends” links. These idea will alter the ecosystem of current search because it engage the social networking elements and enhance the persuasiveness of rankings.

2. Who will be your “friends” seeing what you hit +1?

Unlike Facebook, we do not fo through official process to identify our “friends” in Google’s system. However, this function involves the social networks of users so it raise a question about what it takes to define a “friend” for Google. According to its experience from Google Buzz, it may identify “friends” based on the frequency that we contact with certain people. But the privacy issues that had bothered Facebook may also influence Google’s decision on how they utilize data from other function for new products.

3.The traffic in every webpage now can influence the hit rate of search result.

In the past, the traffic within a website will not necessarily affect its ranking in the SRP. However, “+1” button embedded in a website now can serve as a linkage between website traffic and Google’s SRP because when users hit the “+1” button in a website, their friends will see it on related SRP. In this way, the click-through-rate will increase when one website gather adequate “+1” and then it SRP ranking will be altered accordingly.

Mentioned above are the possible influences that this little button will bring, and more effects will take place when both SEO marketers and Google keeps optimizing search efficiency and deeper influence that a SRP can make.

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The Phones Outsmarting Us

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

While Apple and Google are in trouble with the privacy issue when they track where and when people use their mobile phones, the scientists near us at MIT are digging out insightful facts of human behavior from their cellphone usage data. After knowing how wide and deep of our behavior can be captured with the cellphones we are using, I began to wonder whether we just invented something that is much smarter than ourselves.

According to the article from Wall Street Journal, Dr. Alex Pentland at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has tracked 60 families via sensors and software on their smartphones—recording their movements, relationships, moods, health, calling habits and spending. In this wealth of intimate detail, he projected the behavioral patterns of millions of people ranging from how they interact at home, how they work and play.

The research will improve many social perspectives ranging from public health, urban planning to marketing. For marketers, the most valuable piece of these finding is that we can identify “influencers” who are most likely to make others change their minds with the data, and further leverage them to trigger a brand switch or behavior changes. Some cellphone companies are already using these techniques to predict—based on a customer’s social circle of friends—which people are most likely to defect to other carriers.

As a highly personalized device, smartphones present unique behavioral patterns of the user. The well-designed device  logs calling data, messaging activity, search requests and online activities. Many smartphones also come equipped with sensors to record movements, sense its proximity to other people with phones, detect light levels, and take pictures or video. It usually also has a compass, a gyroscope and an accelerometer to sense rotation and direction. Therefore, it raise more concerns about user privacy as well, especially when more and more marketers realize its power and start calling to its help for more in-depth understanding of customers.

Dr. Pentland and other scientists employing smartphone data stated that they will only utilize these gathered data for public welfare and academic researches. However, the popularity of location-based applications on mobile devices will continue reinforcing marketers’ desires to gain insights from cellular data, thus related research aiming for business growth will definitely come into sights and raise privacy issues again.

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Yahoo Bus Stop Derby Turned Waiting into Gaming

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

If social marketing is about engaging people into something they would love to spend time with, Yahoo! just had a great shot in San Francisco, installing 72-inch interactive screens at  20 bus stops in the 20 communities and inviting the citizens in each neighborhood to fight against others for the opportunity to have the special event featuring the famous rock band OK-GO.

This event took place from November 24, 2010 to January 28, 2011 and there were four types of addictive games that every player can play on the screens. The player could choose to play alone or challenge other players in real-time and they were all playing for their neighborhood. This event also had a designated website (http://www.busstopderby.com/) and tweeter to engage players with the competition among communities.

This out-of-home event was phenomenal and brought countless buzzs among San Fran people. As a learner of interactive marketing at this point, I think this event’s success can be accounted to several key elements for a successful interactive marketing campaign that Yahoo! mastered.

First, this event is not about the brand, Yahoo!, but about the users themselves. While they were playing, the players surely knew that this screen and the games were distributed by Yahoo!. However, they still chose to participate because this equipment really made waiting for bus more interesting. Unlike other promotional events trying really hard to sell the brands or products, this event successfully made players love to play with the interactive screens even though they knew the games were provided by Yahoo!!, making players’ involvement more in-depth.

Secondly, players played the games not only for the prize, but also for the fun of the games themselves. The prize itself was really big only in the fans’ minds; however, this event had appealed to all the citizens aged over 18 because it was “just fun.” In the old-fashioned promotional events with prizes, what is attractive is usually the prize only and this method is actually treating consumers as greedy people who just want something extra. On the other hand, the set-up of this event: fighting against other neighborhoods was really including all the citizens in the same neighborhood together into one team and made the game more engaging because it added more incentives to players.

Last but not least, every single player or passenger can be a moving medium of this promotion. Social media work in the condition where the news is really worthy to be passed and this event definitely was one of the top news stories during the end of November 2010 to January 2011. Affiliation with the community, the contribution that every player made to the neighborhood, and the fun they just enjoyed while waiting for the bus can be one of the numerous reasons making the players want to share this event via social media, word-of-mouth, and other personal communication channels, making this event more absorbed in the players’ lives and more popular among the people in the communities.

At the end of this event, the neighborhood North Beach won over other communities and they did have OK-GO perform in the special event held for the neighborhood. However, I think all of the players in these 20 communities had fun with the bus stops already.

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