Introducing Facebook Graph Search
Introducing Facebook Graph Search

Facebook recently launched Graph Search, a facility that will allow users to find places based on their friends activity on the social network.

Graph Search aims to deliver a very different type of search from what Google offers. The objective for Facebook is to give users recommendations based on what your friends like and talk about.

For example, if you search on Facebook for a Curry House in London, the results you would get will be based on your friends Likes and Check-ins to Indian Restaurants in London. And if by any chance your friends haven’t been to a curry house in London, then Facebook will give you web results from Bing, with whom it has partnered.

The partnership means that we are going to have to spend more SEO time on Bing.

Writing for SearchEngineWatch.com Ben Straley (@bstraley) says that the, ‘simple rule of thumb is that the more content that gets shared, liked, or commented on through Facebook, the greater the chances of discovery of that content through Graph Search.’

How is Facebook going to offer me the best results to my search queries?

Facebook is currently the biggest social network in the world with over 1 billion active accounts. More than half use Facebook on a mobile device.

Every users journey through the network is recorded, giving it a wealth of data that it uses for advertising revenue.

According to Europe v. Facebook founder and law student Max Schrems data that the social network collects includes:

  • Your friends and family
  • The IP address used from every location you’ve used to log into Facebook
  • Dates and name changes
  • Your messages and comments
  • Every event you’ve been invited to
  • Check-in to places
  • The Pages and comments that you ‘Liked’
  • Camera metadata including date/time and GPS

How will Graph Search affect the reputation of my business?

Graph Search for Journalists
Graph Search for Journalists

Facebook Pages can be set up by anyone. If you are not on Facebook then there is chance that a supporter or detractor has already set up a Page. And if they haven’t, Facebook’s deal with Wikipedia enables it to deliver Wikipedia entries on companies or brands that do not yet have a presence on the network.

Remember, an unofficial Page can attract as many people, even more than an official Page.

Certain media outlets will look at content on Pages, official or otherwise, to see if they can find case studies during a crisis.

Journalists are really going to like Graph Search. In a note on the Facebook + Journalists page Journalist Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik says, ‘because graph search is in early stages of development, the first version focuses on four main areas: people, photos, places, and interests.’

Before adding, ‘the new search enables journalists to do richer searches when trying to find experts for stories. For example, say you’re doing a story on a specific company, and you’re looking to interview someone who works at the company’s New York office, you could do this by searching for, “People who work at ACME Inc. in New York,” to find potential employees to reach out to.

You could even make the search more specific to find people who work at the company with specific titles, for example. This could make it easier to find potential sources and experts to reach out to for stories you’re working on.’

What can I do to manage my reputation on Facebook?

First, and above all, offer a good service. Nothing works like recognising your customers. If they like you, then encourage them to share their praise, because if they don’t they’ll be equally happy to share their dislike.

In PR, the saying goes that good news is repeated 3 times, while bad news 11.

Social media though does amplify bad news. People like to share and shame. Not being on Facebook just means that you are outside the room while people talk about you.

If you already have a Page, then Facebook has shared a few tips about SEO to help you when Graph Search goes live. These include:

  • The name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.
  • If you have a location or a local place Page, update your address to make sure you can appear as a result when someone is searching for a specific location.
  • Focus on attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving your fans a reason to interact with your content on an ongoing basis.

Remember, your presence, activity and authority on social media are signals that help your SEO. Make sure that you own it and can influence the perception.

Does Graph Search mean that Facebook Likes finally have a value?

Hypothetically yes. A Like is one of the key signals that Facebook will use when they filter data to answer your question. But, there is a difference between Liking a Page but never commenting, and commenting and never Liking a Page.

In any case, the Likes from people in your network are the ones that are going to count. Likes from fake Facebook users should be considered a waste of money.

Google Author Rank - Own Your Content
Google Author Rank – Own Your Content and Share Your Expertise

Last year Google quietly began to support ‘authorship markup’, which the search engine giant described as ‘a way to connect authors with their content on the web’.  Initially, the authorship markup was seen as exclusively benefiting journalists and bloggers.  Google stated in it’s blog post that, ‘if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page.’  But, what about the content that PR professionals write? What about the press releases, features, briefing documents, blog posts of industry influencers?

Public relations professionals are responsible for developing and writing content that pitches a story to specific communities and audiences. More often than not, this collateral is nameless and as such acts as background for respected writers in the public domain.

So, What Is Google Authorship Markup and Google Author Rank?

Google Authorship Markup is very simple.  It is a basic coding procedure that allow authors to connect to their content online.  The purpose is to help people find and ‘read content written by credible and knowledgeable individuals.’

Meanwhile, SEOmoz state that AuthorRank is how Google will assign authority based on a number of key criteria:

  • Average PageRank of an author’s content
  • Reciprocal connections between high AuthorRank authors
  • The level of on-site engagement – comment’s, responses, etc
  • Third-party authority indicators – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, presence on Wikipedia
  • A Google +1‘s of author’s content
  • Number of people in your Google Circles and proportion that score a high AuthorRank

When you put it all together you start to see the importance that AuthorRank delivers individuals with real world expertise – thought leaders.

Writing plenty of posts is no longer a way of getting up Google’s rankings.  What you willneed is the support of a network of influencers to see and read your posts and give them a ‘+1’ endorsement.

How is Google Author Rank relevant to my brand or company?

Google Authorship Markup and AuthorRank are going to transform the way in which niche thought leaders and experts are found online.  If it is your job to help build the reputation and authority of individual industry, political or academic individuals then you are going to need to know about how Google is changing the search game.

Reputations are built on authority.  Those with increased authority command a higher share of voice in the communities that they are members of.

You have to remember that online there are many voices fighting for the attention of individuals that in a quick second make a decision based on the authority and credibility of those that they read.

Companies, organisations and individuals compete every day to stand out from the crowd.  They do this by sharing knowledge, expertise and solutions.

Look within your own organisation and you will see individuals with specific insight.  It doesn’t have to be expertise at a global level, it could just be at a local level and within a niche sector.  Audiences are everywhere and it is by understanding how to best deliver your experts that you will meet the needs of your employer and audience.

Owning that authority online today is as important as owning it in offline media. This requires specific strategies that position spokespeople as leaders in their individual areas of authority.

Ok, so how do I help build authority online?

Firstly, continue to write good content.  In fact, great content that demonstrates expertise and gets people to share it within their own circles and communities.

Asses the material that you currently write, such as press releases and features.  Traditionally they are seen as ‘announcements’ written for the media.  Move away from a stale style of writing towards an engaging style for your audience that better resounds with the community you are working to position your expert in.

Remember to attribute copy to experts within your business that you are trying to position as thought-leaders.  It’s what newsrooms do, which is why you should.

Consider using brand ambassadors who have a presence online to guess blog.

As a PR, don’t let SEO’s, IT staff and web teams promote your content online.  Learn their skills and keep remembering the strategy and bigger picture.  Coding and SEO are a must-have skills for 21st Century PRs.

Oh, and you are going to need a new social network.  There is no if’s or but’s, you need to link your content to a authored Google+ account.  While Google remains the number one search engine, Google+ is going to become the must participate network for everybody who has expertise and wants to be seen online.

Google is changing business and communications.  Authorship markup and AuthorRank is a huge opportunity for PR.

Will all this make a difference to search rankings?

SearchEngineLand.com confirms that ‘there’s a hidden benefit to having authorship status.’  This being that if you click on a ‘authored story’ in Google search results, go to said site, read the story for, say, two minutes and then return to the search results, you will see a ‘more by the author’ area with 3 extra stories.

So how do I get a verified author status?

Simple, click on this link and follow Google’s simple instructions to get your author profile.

If you need to know more get in touch by email and we can talk strategies and solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter is going to ‘change forever.’ That is according to Pankaj Gupta (LinkedIn), who leads the platform’s Personalization and Recommender Systems group. While he said that the changes would be seen today he shared little information on the changes to Twitter’s search offering, which have been derided by users.

 

As a channel, Twitter’s strength lies in the data that it gathers from people worldwide, ranging from influential political leaders and journalists to the general public. Yet, while it’s deep integration with Apple’s iOS enabled it to grow as a platform it is yet to fully structure it’s database into a diary that allows people to register themselves by not just name, job and location, but subjects of interest.

Only during the last fortnight I have shown clients how to find individuals on Twitter that haven’t declared that they work for specific organisations. Anonymity is good, but authority is only built on the reputations that you have offline. Perhaps this might be a reason why Twitter has separated itself from LinkedIn. With the changes due to be announced soon, what changes would you want to see from Twitter?

UPDATE: Twitter have just announced on their blog the introduction of ‘search autocomplete’ and and ‘People you follow’ search results to twitter.com. In a post by Twitter Software Engineer Frost Li (LinkedIn), Twitter unveiled how after entering the search users will find ‘the the most relevant Tweets, articles, accounts, images and videos for your query.’

 

The move takes the platform in the right direction, enabling users to find content and conversations in real-time.  Auto complete will be available outside the US shortly.

Find out more in their blog post here.

“Be human, all this is still experimental” is how Media140 founder Ande Gregson summarised everybody’s expectations of Twitter and social media at the end of the Media140 Brands conference in London this week. And he is right.

A lot has been said about social media and how it is the saviour of all things marketing and communications. Yet, it is the saviour of nothing, or at least the saviour of nothing yet. What social media is though is a great concept that helps brands come alive. It gives brands the humanity that so many have lacked.

Robin Grant, managing Director of London agency We Are Social, captured this feeling perfectly when he said, “social media is making peoples experiences with brands transparent”. It gives consumers power, the power to choose. It is making brands work for their money and loyalty. In fact, as Grant pointed out, “social media is helping define a brand”. If a consumer has a bad experience with a brand at the drop of a tweet they can share this with their own community, who in sympathy might re-tweet it to their own followers.

This shift in power is starting to have an effect on business. Nuria Garrido, British Airways Digital Marketing Innovations Manager, commented “social media is good for companies that are born on the web. For us [at BA] it is complex to work to the same objectives. A lot of people do not understand internally the power of social media. The PR department, they are coming around. We do have them onside”. And that’s the issue. Internally, within many companies, social media is seen as something you do, you add on, just because it is still seen as the latest cool thing.

Getting social media understood and integrated into a business is a slow process. You have to have your facts, your case studies and your metrics to hand to get senior executives on board. And all this is available.

Some people might only accept social media if it can be used as an income generating tool. Others will see social media as a tool that allows their companies and brands to develop and enhance relationships. It is seen as a tool with which you can have a dialogue with consumers and thanks to this enhance the brand. Think about is, if you use it for the latter and a customer’s expectations haven’t been met then you are better positioned to react and by doing so, in the future, to promote other offerings.

Mel Exon from BBH Labs summed it up by saying that, “there is a move from short term campaigns to longer term conversational initiatives”. Relationships take time to be built and social media is a platform that will help brands with this. But there has to be buy-in from the top, from traditional marketers.

Twitter is human, it is a snap-shot of conversations that we are all having about brands that we have or want. To give you an example, we turned up at RIBA to blog and tweet from the event only to discover that while the wifi was working the net wasn’t. So we had to do as much as we could through our iPhone, not ideal but we managed. Anyway, we decided to share our complaint with @btcare – BT’s twitter account. It took them some time but just after lunch they subscribed to our feed and started posting updates on the problem. One of the best updates came at 14.29, and said, “We’re investigating this issue and will update you in two hours #media140”. Then at 17.09 another update, “I can confirm that all is up and running. If there is anything else let me know”. Of course by the time I got this the conference had finished. But, credit where it is due, they contacted me and gave me an update. All this after letting them know that their service in London W1 amounted to a ‘FAIL’. So, if you have a complaint they will listen. Shame it came too late, but at least it showed that they are real-time.

There are a lot of dos and don’ts in social media. The main point for me being, as Daljit Dhurji from Diffusion PR said, “rules go out of the window. Most marketing directors are clever, when agencies are going in and be prescriptive you are not doing it right”.

What we need is common sense. We need to remember what we as people and consumers want. What we react to. And that is attention. We want to feel unique, special. George Nimeh from Iris summed it perfectly, “You listen first. And then you engage with them [the consumer]”.

Social media is a tool that goes across the company. It isn’t just for advertising, marketing, PR or customer care, it is for the company, the brand. It is a door for consumers into the brand, and that is the fear that directors have to deal with. How do you engage with customers who can now go public and share their opinions with their own network?

Social media is making consumers critics that brands must influence for their favour. That is the best way to put it, and business better wake up to this new world.

And to all those who say that it is a tool for the intelligentsia, think again. The number of people on Twitter, YouTube and other sites is rising. People who’ve in the past complained privately are learning to do so publicly. Not just that, but they are sharing their positive and negative experiences with their own networks.

Social media is about the now, it is real-time and as PRs that is what we should be ready for. Promoting and protecting brands now, today.

Media140 is doing a great job of championing social media, of making sense of social media for companies, of demystifying it so that companies can better communicate with people.  If you haven’t been to an event yet then look them up.