Last week, myself and Matt were priveledged enough to get tickets to SASCon, Manchester’s first conference dedicated to all things SEO and social media. It was fantastic to finally have a gathering of some of the industry’s leading thinkers on our doorstep as previous (and much more expensive) conferences would have seen us travelling all the way to London.
Whereas most attendees sensibly brought along their laptops, I was busy ‘live blogging’ all day on my little pad of paper. Mind you, the wifi access from my ‘notepad’ was about as good as it was from most people’s laptops, as is always going to be the case at these sort of events where everyone is desparately trying to get a wifi connection!
I’m hoping to translate the notes I made from the panels I attended into coherent blog posts – kicking off with the morning panel on Search and Social Media. Panellists for this talk were top linkbaiter Lyndon Antcliff, Joost de Valk, Massimo Burgio from Global Search Interactive, Andrew Barke from Google and finally ICrossing’s Philip Buxton and participants in the crowd asking the questions.
N.B – This is a minuted summary of the 30 min debate – if I misrepresent anyone’s opinion then be sure to let me know in the comments or drop me a message on Twitter.
Q: Where does Search and Social Media fit?
LA: Social media and Search marketing are independant but need to fit together. The problem is that people don’t understand there needs to be an objective established before either can be integrated into the marketing plan. Social media is also good for keyword research as you can set up a listening post around your niche, helping you to find terms that you wouldn’t find in any other way.
JDV: Agrees with Lyndon. The problem with some companies is that when they publish content on their own site they are restricted by various branding guidelines, whereas there are less of these restrictions when publishing on other domains.
AB: Social media is becoming more and more important, however in terms of client spend it is still a small part of the media mix. Clients need to establish what they are aiming to get out of social media and treat it more as a one-one conversation. Refers to CharlieIsSoCoolLike and the fact that he actively encourages people to send him emails, emphasising that one-one type interaction.
JDV: Asks what we actually call social media? The term ‘paid search’ is going bust as facebook can be seen as a form of paid search. Disagrees that social media is a small part of the media mix.
LA: Social media is hard to define when you are concentrating on the user and the objective. It is especially hard to get right on one platform, especially since there are so many distinct platforms and systems available. Suggests finding a specialist who lives and breathes one particular platform once you have chosen one that is appropriate.
Q: Is real time search the future?
JDV: It’s rubbish – spoils search results. Doesn’t see the point as results are unfiltered.
LA: Real time search is easy to game.
AB: Everthing is a ranking issue – google is trying to feed relevant and up to date information. This is where social search profiles come into it more as they are results from people you trust.
JDV: Social search is better as it gives proper results and it is a feature which has to be enabled. Relys on your friends publishing stuff online – this creates a social graph which works quite well.
MB: Likes social search as it is more of an ‘attitude’ of ‘people helping people find stuff’ and is a philosophy of sharing. Twitter is the 2nd most important channel in which to invest.
JDV: Disagrees – where does that leave Facebook and Youtube if Twitter is the 2nd most important? Facebook is 20 times bigger. In Holland Twitter is very small and even the biggest politicians there only have 25,000 followers. In Holland 55-60% of people have an account on Hives, which is far more than have a Facebook account. Each country is different with it’s use of social media.
LA: It’s important to determine where your audience is so you can pick which platform is best for your client’s objective. There are no ‘normal people’ on Twitter as it’s full of promoters, Facebook is where people hang out, Digg is where abnormal people hang out.
Q: What do you think about Facebook’s new ‘like’ button?
JDV: Facebook is the scariest thing I’ve seen in years as it has serious privacy issues. This could be particularly problematic in countries like Germany where they even tried to stop Google Analytics since the data was in another country. With regards to privacy issues, you can tell what your friednds like and what they have bought without even logging that in. Translate that to a real life experience; what if you walked into a shop and the people who worked there instantly knew all about you. That’s what’s scary.
PB: Argues that this could be a good thing from a user experience point of view.
JDV: Disagrees – have you opted in to give them that data? Facebook is extremely aggressive about how it gets that data. The battle is no longer between Microsoft and Europe, it’s between Facebook and Europe.
Q: Is social media something we should just get over?
LA: Yes, however the increase in use is exponential and the risk is that people will become ‘frozen with choice’ and end up limiting themselves in some way e.g by just using Facebook.
Q: Why use Blippy and what’s the point of it?
*panel and majority of crowd appear to have not heard of Blippy*
LA: There are so many services available it’s hard to keep up.
JDV: Major brands should sign up, smallerer companies and brands shouldn’t bother.
Q: How much does Social media help Search (and vice versa)?
LA: Submitting web content to all platforms doesn’t help with ranking as all links are nofollow.
MB: Even though the links are nofollow the content that is submitted is still indexed.
LA: Agrees however this is only beneficial in the context of reputation management.
JDV: If you make a youtube channel then it is much easier to push content to the first page.
LA: Learn how to spam Youtube! *joke*
MB: Simply submit relevant content – it works. If it gives value then you will be renumerated.
Sadly this panel was cut short due to the keynote speaker running overtime, however it was good to see some healthy debate and important issues being discussed from speakers who weren’t afraid to air their contrasting views.