Bas, http://twitter.com/basvandenbeld is a quiet hero of mine. He has built www.stateofsearch.com into a fantastic and reputable resource for our industry. He does not present all that often – so it was great to hear him keynote at the UK Search Awards conference today, where MajesticSEO and Receptional was also speaking as a category winner.
Here are my notes on his excellent presentation.
Several years ago, Google started to let you upload your own background to the Google homepage. Bas says this change was hugely significant – because every change Google made since that point has been about making things more personal.
Google is less than 14 years old but is changing consistently. They change over 500 “things” a year. Bas knows – because he has to write about all of them. So now the holy grail is all about social media. It’s new and you can learn it in 30 days! (He showed a book cover). It’s new yes?
Well no. Social media has been around forever. Jesus had 12 followers (One un-followed him!) yet his message reached millions. Never underestimate how few people it takes to change the world.
Bas then observed from his kids that when one of his children gets something – the others want the same thing. That’s just how it works. He then talked about the Joneses (the film… not me) and showed how important this impact could be for marketing. In the Joneses – the actors are “actors in life” using goods marketers want to sell “in real life” just so other people get jealous and buy the product. Bas admitted that if he was caught up in that marketing spin, he would have fallen for it and bought the product. We are all suckers in the need to feel liked, it would appear.
Of course – there is a mix of several necessary elements here – relevance, trust and reputation. Marketers often do something wrong… much like the Dutch (He’s Dutch… his joke). A Dutch guy goes into a ski shop. He wanted carved skis – but he asked in Dutched. The Austrian didn’t understand… so the Dutchman shouted louder… then louder. That is what marketers do wrong. Don’t do that. Try to figure out what your target audience wants. When he asks that question in training sessions “who is your target market” he hears “clients” and “potential clients”. But there is another audience – the preacher – the people that will be advocates for your client.
Ther is a village in Austria where they built a Facebook page. But every time a person liked the page, he named them in a video and put their picture up in the village. Well that was the plan… but they underestimated how powerful personal branding could be. They started with 10 names… but now have as many likes as London and Paris. The Mayor is still reading out names.
So how does all this relate to Google Social. After all – they tried before with Buzz, Orkut etc. But before, blending social results into search results was one way – but Google knows how to connect data. So that’s the strategy… very small steps towards connecting data. The announcement is still on the Google blog dated12/4/2009 and data is only recently getting into results.
So now – if Danny Sullivan’s face appears in results…. Well where have we seen that before? Oh yes.. with Jesus. (Bas says Danny isn’t Jesus… the analogy might be a bit excessive there). The change from personalized by default – even when not logged in – is a huge change for society.
· Bas noted Eric Schmitt said “we know where you are, we know what you like”. He says Eric was SO right. They know:
· Your Identity: Because you volunteer it in every social network (not just Google’s)
· Your friends: Through your social connections
· What you do: through your habits or your profiles
· Your connections: They know Bass is connected to State of Search, even if he did not volunteer it.
· Where you are physically. Through your IP, your phone, your online status.
So some of this they ask you, and other bots they “just figure out”. He gave an example where Bas – while logged in a State of Search – was asked by Google if he was infact Bas Van Debelt. Or his father (on a Tiscali email account) is invited to connect with Bas just as soon as he signs up to Google – because previous connections have already made the association.
So Google are connecting the dots. It’s scary yes?
Now Google plus is connected to everything else. Google+ is not designed to be a Facebook killer in Bas’s opinion. With the average user only spending three minutes a month on it, that is not the current plan – but over time, everyone will be moved over to Google+. Google+ is all about the circles. It is all about the data and connected the dots about WHO you trust. If Google knows who you trust, they can deliver more personalized results. They can deliver results that you are more likely to click on.
So how does this work for marketers? Well… people with authority now have value. They can “sell” their reputation, potentially, because when they talk about something, they will have a louder voice than you. The trust is everything. Bas typed in the conference we are at into Google and saw a Google+ conversation he was having yesterday with @Koozai_sam in his results about the conference. Clearly in that event – Google has connected a huge number of dots on the fly to give Bas trusted data entirely unique to him.
So is Google social going to work? Bas says absolutely. It already has.