This is a transcript of an audio podcast.
Editor's Note: This is episode 3 of 4. If you are just jumping in, you might want to start with the transcript of episode 1.
Heather Lloyd Martin: Hello, everyone, and welcome to part three of this IBM Press Podcast Series featuring Bill Hunt and Mike Moran co-authors of Search Engine Marketing, Inc. Their book is now available in its second edition and reflects the vast number of changes in the search business over the last three years. I’m Heather Lloyd Martin President and CEO of SuccessWorks, a Search Copy Writing Consultancy and author of the book Successful Search Engine Copywriting. In this Podcast, I’ll talk to Mike and Bill about social media marketing because the second edition of their book features a new chapter just on that subject. We also have a special guest today, David Meerman Scott, author of the mega hit book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, who has written the foreword for Bill and Mike's new edition.
HLM: David, I know that you, Bill, and Mike are sought after public speakers; now did the three of you meet on the speaking circuit?
David Meerman Scott: Hey, Heather good to be here. No, we’ve actually never met in person; if I ran across either of them in the street I would walk right past them. I actually came across their work because I bought a copy of the first edition of the book, Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and it kind of became my Bible for understanding a lot of the important issues with search engine marketing, and in fact, I recommended to a lot of people who ask me, “So how do I get going in search engine marketing? You know, I’m okay; I understand little bit about search engine marketing, but I want to learn more. How do you suggest to do that?” So I recommended the book a lot. And then I included a reference to it in my book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, that came out in June of 2007. Then I did something else when my book came out: I linked (virtually as well as I put in the acknowledgments of the physical book) to 163 bloggers that in one way or another helped me, inspired me, blogs that I read on a regular basis, and Mike's blog was one of them. And so that's how we sort of got connected in that way. I guess I was a fan of their work before they even knew I was.
Mike Moran: Now that's the embarrassing part. David actually sent me a book; he sent me a copy of his book with a nice personal note in it that said, “Hey, I liked your work, I've mentioned your book on page so and so, take a look at my book.” I just threw it on a stack of books; I never saw the personal note in it because I get a lot of books like most of us do. And then months later I was digging out the stack and I saw the note, and I immediately started reading it and I really loved the book. I ended up writing something in my blog about David's book because I wanted my readers to know about what a great resource it is because it's the kind of thing that helps people understand how you take your background in public relations and marketing and apply it to things like blogs and other kinds of new media, and that's the subject that people ask me about all the time. I wanted to make sure that people knew about it, that my readers knew about it, and then I think David saw my post.
DMS: Yeah, your post appeared in my Google search, my Google alerts. You know one thing that I always tell everyone is they ought to have Google alerts set up for their name and company name and product names and what not. Of course I do that, and Mike's blog came up probably twice: once for my name and another time for the title of my book. I went over it, read it; it’s a great, well written post, very thoughtful, so I commented on it and that established a relationship, which was pretty cool. What I really love about these two books and this relationship that we have is that the books are so unbelievably complimentary. That's why when the gang invited me to write the foreword for the second edition, it was a no brainer because I use the book myself, and it's totally complimentary with the ideas that I talk about in The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and I am honored to be a part of, in a small way, a part of the new addition.
HLM: So, Bill, how did you meet David?
Bill Hunt: Well, I got an e-mail from Mike. So obviously these guys had their dialogue going. David basically had a problem with his blog; the “WebInkNow” site was not showing up. And of course it’s sort of ridiculous to believe, I guess now, that if you search for the name of your company or the name of your blog, that it should come up, and it was not coming up. Basically his note to Mike was: do you have any ideas why; you guys are sort of the search experts. Then Mike sent it to me, we took a look at it, we started asking the question, “Well, yeah, that’s odd; it should come up with your name.” At the same time, he’d been using sort of a hosting that had a lot of other people on it. So we thought maybe it was banned because of the bad neighborhood and started tracking it back. Basically it was a DNS entry that was troubled. Again, it’s just using a very methodical checklist of why isn't this here. Then in tracking that back, we found the problem was basically where the domain was registered, and we did the quick fix to it. In the next couple of days he was back in business ranking where he should be, not only by his name, but by many of the key, social media, PR for the web type phrases that the book is so rich for. It was again practicing what we preach: reach out to experts and then mechanically or methodically walking through a problem solution.
DMS: Yeah, that was a really wacky problem; that was something that I just had no clue what was going on. I had been writing this blog since 2005, and it always ranked incredibly high for a number of the things that I write about: certainly my name, certainly the name of the blog, which is “WebInkNow,” the title of my book; I mean it should be coming up at the very top of the rankings for obvious things like that. But I was also ranked very highly for phrases on my news release, press release, things like that, and it just wasn’t showing up at all. I mean it just disappeared, and it was a very convoluted thing that I could never have figured out that it had to do with the place that was hosting my domain, the software I was using, and some esoteric things that would have made my brain hurt, and I never could have been able to figured out on my own. So thanks for that, Bill.
BH: You’re welcome; it was a great test. We had one of our engineers, Ken Shultz, that we put on it and he went in and basically cracked the code. Again, that’s what we recommend to everyone; don't automatically jump to conclusions; there are logical and reasonable ways. A great thing we have now is we have the Google webmaster tools where you if you set your account up properly, you can go in and actually see some of these problems there as to why you might be un-crawled. I think it's a perfect point that you should be there for certain things and when you are not it gives you cause to go out and really try to dissect why you are not there.
HLM: That’s actually a great way to segue into something else. Now, David, you’re not the expert in search marketing that Mike and Bill are, but how would you explain to the folks for success in social media requires a little bit of smart sense in search marketing?
DMS: What I always talk about is how incredibly amazing it is that the web allows anybody the opportunity to publish content directly. It's so different than the ways that we had to market in the past; we either had to buy advertising or beg the media to cover us, and now the web allows us to publish our own information directly — all kinds of different types of information loosely categorized I suppose as social media. A lot of people are out there pushing stuff out ,but you’re right, the idea of just having a little bit of an understanding of search engine marketing makes total sense.
Just to give you an example that I like talking about because it is so illustrative is I wrote an e-book at the beginning of 2008 called, The New Rules of Viral Marketing; it's just a PDF document, it's totally free, it's hosted on my website, which is www.davidmeermanscott.com. I did a couple of things to make sure that it was search engine friendly, and these are ideas that came out of the Search Engine Marketing, Inc. book; things like the URL itself contains the most important search phrase that I wanted to optimize for, which is the phrase “viral marketing.” So the URL is www.davidnewmanscott.com/viral_marketing.pdf — simple as could be — I named the e-book, The New Rules of Viral Marketing, to get that phrase in there and little stuff like that. Before I pushed that e-book out at the beginning of 2008, my stuff, my blog and my site were ranked down in the 200 range for that phrase “viral marketing.” I was really looking at this kind of as an experiment to see how high I could end up going in the search engine results as a result of doing that. I’m looking at it right now (I got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) looks like I’m the 7th ranking for the phrase “viral marketing” out of 4,990,000 hits. If I hadn't done those little things right, that I had learned from the Search Engine Marketing, Inc. book, who knows where I would’ve been, but it certainly wouldn’t be on the first page.
HLM: Exactly, and you learned that those little things can really make a big huge difference in your search marketing campaign.
DMS: Absolutely, so my thing is all about making sure that people create really great content and then the little things to make sure that it's also search engine friendly; it’s just an amazing combination.
HLM:Exactly, exactly, good point. So, Bill, a lot of marketers are experimenting with the audio and video these days. Are there a few tips that would give them more attention from Google and other search engines?
BH: Absolutely. I think that if you take (to piggyback on what David was saying) writing content that users want, understanding how they might query for that, video and audio are just an extension. So what would people be searching for and how would you tag that? I think that I heard some number that was like 70,000 hours of media being uploaded to the web pretty much every day; it just becomes this big unfindable mess, and so everything that we’ve talked about in this series around words and tagging things becomes important.
So with the videos, stay away from a cutesy title and have what is this about. If you’re reviewing a model of a phone — that's an interesting thing we are seeing bloggers do now. They’re doing video reviews of products and those are actually trumping many brand sites for that very product; they’ve done it because the headline of the description of the video is “review of XYZ product.” Then if they take the time to do the metadata tagging before they lock down the code to their video, then that gets embedded. The engines are doing a great job of looking for that because they’re desperately trying to understand what this is about. So while many people still sort of go in the favorites in YouTube or Google video, many others are encountering this. I think the best example if you want to see people doing this right, I think the movie studios have nailed this; they’re doing a really good job of tagging their videos for the movies.
Audio is the same thing. With Podcasts, it's very interesting; (most of the engines definitely iTunes have feeds for your Podcast) tagging them: what is this about; again staying away from cutesy and just making sure to write a good descriptive paragraph. Make sure it has the right tag, and above and beyond, make sure it’s exactly being submitted. You could have a great video on your website, but if you haven’t tagged it, and if it's not being submitted to the engines, you’re never going to be found.
The same thing with images. If you put a great photo of something: what is it that you should tag and name it because of image search. This all ties back into why search and social media are such the Recess peanut butter cup of marketing because as Mike described, it's about links. So all this stuff we're generating now in social media ends up in the big sort of relevancy database called Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Now with blended search it's all there; we’re finding big tags, delicious tags, or those pages actually ranking higher, in many cases, than the brand page because they’re deep in relevancy.
HLM:Excellent. Those are all really, really good points and good tips for people learning how they can tag things so they’re actually done in the engine. Now, Mike, I know that you’ve joined Converseon, which focuses on social media marketing and search marketing, so when you talk to clients what piece in the puzzle do you think they are most often missing?
MM: I think that marketers are starting to catch on to social media. We call it viral marketing, as David was saying, and they understand it because it's really a higher impact and updated form of word of mouth marketing.
DMS: Yeah, I would call that word of mouse. To distinguish, word of mouth is literally people talking and word of mouse are people communicating online.
MM: I think that's a good distinction, David. I think that David's book and other people have started to get marketers and public relations people to really understand how important social media is; that it's a way to communicate ideas that often — because it's customers passing on information to other customers — it's more credible than the kind of information that people get filtered through the press and certainly more than what comes out on a manufacturer’s website or press release. But I think the people that when I talk on missing the boat on social media the most are market researchers. Market researchers are kind of stuck in their old world of surveys and focus groups, and they have to make sure that everything that they do has some kind of patina of being statistically significant, or they have to explain why it's directional rather than something you can make a decision on, and all those things are really important.
The problem I have is that there are a lot of ways of getting information about a customer besides the traditional market research. And what market researchers need to understand is how they can begin to make friends with people like the web metrics analysts who have loads of information about what customers are doing on the website, or how they can make friends with the people who are looking at social media such as PR people who try and understand what people are saying about their brand.
There are lots of ways to statistically measure what kinds of things are doing. One of the things that I am doing at Converseon is helping customers to understand how they can quantify what the conversation is that's going on about their brand, how they can use those kind of metrics to see how they’re doing in the market. I think market research needs to be part of the conversation as much as marketers and public relations people do, and I think that they’re the kind of people that are missing the boat on the lot of this stuff, and I think that they’re not really paying attention to what kind of information is out there. Actually, David, you touch on some of these things in your new book, Tuned In, where you're trying to talk about how companies can becomes listeners of what the environment is around them and what the customers are saying. Does that make sense to you?
DMS: Oh, oh, absolutely. I’ve noticed that market researchers are probably one of the laggards of understanding the tools of social media. By the way, another category is investor relations professionals for another group. But the web and social media sites are like a 24-hour market research tool and so few people use it. Just an example of something I think is incredible, and so few organizations are even aware of it; this idea that you can do this. People are talking on Twitter all the time (Twitter is micro-blogging service ) kind of like instant messaging that you can broadcast to people who are your friends that subscribe to your feed. And Twitter has a search engine, Twitter Search; you just go in there and type in the name of your company, your CEO’s name, your product name, whatever it is, or the competition and instantly you find out who’s talking about you, even what they’re saying. You can measure that; how many people are talking, what are they saying, is it positive, is it negative, and with literally ten seconds of work, you can have more information than a million dollar market research study.
MM: David, I’ve used Twitter a lot, and one of the things that happened to me a couple of months ago was that I was complaining on Twitter about a piece of software that I used that just was not working, and I couldn't figure out how to make it work. What happened is I actually got contacted on Twitter by a customer service person from the software company and they ended up helping me fix the problem. I ended up writing a blog entry about what a surprise that was and what a great experience that was. And this is a piece of software that I didn’t even buy; it's something that’s free and they went ahead and did all that. To me, that was a perfect example of what you’re talking about.
DMS: That's terrific. Companies that are just focused on the old ways of learning about what their products and services are, how they’re received in the market place, telephone based surveys, or something, and they’re just totally missing the boat in terms of these ideas now. Not that Twitter search is going to replace all forms of research, I don’t think that's true, but certainly it's an amazing thing that we can use.
Here ‘s another thing I do, Mike; every once in a while, I go into Twitter search and I search on the title of my book and when somebody has mentioned it (you know what happens a couple of times a week maybe) I start to follow that person and I get e-mails back; it freaks people out. They say, “Hey, you know, I’m reading David Merman Scott's New Rules of Marketing and PR.” Then I’ll find it; I’ll click on “follow” and like, “Holy cow the author’s following me.” Now guess what I just did? I turned somebody into an even more big fan of mine, and they’re going to remember that. They’re probably going to tell a friend or two, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe Twitter so cool. I mean the author is now following me and I didn’t even reach out to him, he found me.”So this is just a really new world in terms of these kinds of things.
HLM: That's true; it's an incredible new world that's going on out there, and so it's very, very fun. Bill, with your company, Global Strategies International, you spent many years as an independent search consultancy before becoming part of the giant Ogilvy agency last year. What do you see your clients struggle with most when it comes to social media?
BH: I think understanding really what it is. That's my biggest sort of amazement is that they all want to do it; they’ll get 500 people in a room like it was for search in the early days and then nobody really knows what to do. Even the simple example as David described about Twitter, we’ll tell a company, “Hey, you should have /company or /product.” We’ve done this for IBM for their Lotus Sphere Conference, and it's amazing how many people immediately start following that. And when you explain that to some of these companies they’re like, “Isn’t Twitter something my kids do; how’s that going to benefit me; how am I going to move product; how am I going to go do any of this? And immediately they look to these as sort of mass media and say, “Well, how many people are using it? Oh, only 19 people signed up to follow me on Twitter; well that was a waste of time.” So it's changing the old way of thinking.
As we talked about it in one of the previous Podcasts, this idea of Digital Assest Optimization; that's been both the biggest sort of opportunity as well as challenge for us as we’ve integrated into Ogilvy. Ogilvy creates the entire range of digital assets from TV all the way down to press releases, so trying to reach out to all those teams to get them the integrated optimization best practices, to make sure the pass along effect; making the key thing with social media is making sure that your assets are transportable that they can move from person to person. The other side of the equation is once they latch into this is trying to rein them in. You know they immediately try to make it a marketing vehicle and just start hammering people, and that's the wrong thing. I think you need to listen and monitor. I think David's given some great examples: everything from Google alerts to just doing queries, to who are the people you’re talking to, and then how do we influence them properly. I think that that's been for me one of the greatest opportunities because now we have this very, very wide pool that we can play in from a digital perspective.
I think that the more and more companies (and again, you asked earlier about a comparison with small and large) I think a lot of the little guys are getting it. It's amazing. My daughter introduced me to this kid who’s a DJ who has a 300 or 400 person following now in twitter — all because my daughter mentioned he should do that. And record companies haven’t necessarily started to use Twitter yet. I think that's the opportunity, and I think we need to stop looking for the next big idea, and we need to start adopting more of this guerilla warfare which I think smaller companies are more likely to do. Again, the key with social media is it's connecting on a contextual level, as Mike said, it becomes that food that people want to connect to, that people want to be linked to, a blog, an article, and anything because they share a context. I think that that's we have done is we have taken everybody that 98% of America that watched “I Love Lucy” down into the micro subset of people that will tell you about a particular episode of “I Love Lucy,” and they’ll do that willingly through these things like Twitter and through creating groups within other social networking sites. So I think that that's the challenge yet the opportunity, and in integrating search and then making sure all that stuff is findable and transportable, it makes, for me personally, a very, very exciting opportunity; then looking at how this is really all going to mesh out as we get further down the road.
MM: I think that's a good point, Bill. I think one of the reasons that we decided to add a social media chapter to the second edition of our book was that we saw that even though social media and search marketing can be distinguished from each other, we thought that people to get a real full understanding of search marketing needed to understand what kind of social media changes are going on because those are the conversations that are actually sparking new searches. The kind of content whether it’s video, audio, Twitter, whatever it is, that kind of content is the kind of thing that search engines are beginning to now use to bring up even in main stream searchers. So we thought that both because it sparks search and because that kind of information is being found by a search, that in order to really have a complete understanding of where search marking is going, we really needed to add that chapter.
HLM: Those are really good points here. David, what do you think is the most important thing that internet marketers need to know about social media marketing or maybe the one thing they should know about that they don’t.
DMS: Nobody gives a crap about your product. Truly, and I probably should have said that a little more delicately. But the thing is that so many marketers have been steeped in the tradition of marketing as advertising and advertising as talking about your products and getting people to buy them, but with social media it's different. You don't go into the social media site and start hyping your product; you’ll get laughed out of town or you get ignored more likely. But if you engage as a human being and have relationships with people, help people in some ways, solve people’s problems in some way, and, yes, you can talk about your products in the context perhaps of answering people's problems using social media, but ultimately no one cares about your products. What they care about are themselves because people are selfish, and people care about answers to their problems. So it's really counter- intuitive for most marketers to grasp, and that's the biggest problem I see when people jump into social media who haven’t really experimented with it before; they immediately go into advertising mode and try to hype the products.
HLM: Those are some excellent points; that ends our Podcast today. Thank you, Mike and Bill, and especially to David Merman Scott our special guest for a great discussion. That's all the time we have for part three of this IBM Press Podcast Series, but I hope you come back later to hear part four of our conversation with Bill Hunt and Mike Moran where we talk about another new chapter in the second edition of Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and this one is about website search. So if you don't have the kind of search facility you want on your website, you’ll want to give it a listen. Thank you so much.