Who would be the world experts in Blog Marketing? I am not sure there are any yet, but on Thursday evenings, a small band of academics gather at Harvard Law school in Boston, to talk about a social revolution on the net... Blogging. I took up the offer to join them for a high brow round table. What a fascinating group of people!
You would expect a group of teenagers and twenty something's with no representation from anyone over that age, but I found an even balance, with several people in their fifties.
With about a dozen of us at the table, Amanda (Previously Director of Research at iProspect) chaired the meeting and the first really interesting discussion revolved around how Edelman, a large PR company represented through a consultant in the meeting, were looking at how large companies can manage their brand message on Blogs in a safe and responsible manner. Some large Internet companies, including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all found a sort of imperfect way to embrace Blogging, but it is interesting to hear that others are looking at how this emerging medium is influencing people and groups. This area of research dovetails our own look at how one might leverage advertising networks on Blogs and the very real problems faced in trying to scale a Blog advertising campaign into a big enough campaign to warrant management by an Internet Marketing company like Receptional without losing control or targeting of the message. The idea of Chevrolet letting bloggers create adverts that play to 4X4s' weaknesses is just one of many faux pas to come from corporations in the months to come.
The infusion of search marketing experts and Blogging experts in the same room prompted an excellent question from David Weinberger, author of "The Cluetrain Manifesto". He asked why he should give search optimizers any credibility whatsoever, given the premise that the search marketer was out to subvert the publics' perception by manipulating search results. I hope the argument was well made that this was an old (Or at least only one) perception of search marketing. The thrust of search optimization today is:
- To create an environment that enables Google to understand and Index the site content then...
- To find a match between a good user experience when a user arrives from search, and the relevancy of the search phrase that brought them to the site then...
- To use traditional and new marketing principals to create awareness of the page content from third parties in the hope that this "rubs off" positively on the site's reputation.
At no point in this process is the objective to "be number one" for a given phrase. There may be a desire to deserve number one, but the risks associated with striving directly for this goal are generally too extreme for a rational long term business model. David accepted and embraced this as a responsible strategy, but I confess that the other point of view in search was not well represented in the room. That is to say that many in search DO strive directly for the top spot on a given phrase. They generally get there for a few months, then the domain becomes toast in the eyes of Google, but the search marketer has made his money and moves on to the next website.
The challenge, then, is for Google and the engines to work with those embracing socially responsible strategies without helping those using get rich quick techniques. Tough challenge, but one that Google seems to be trying to tackle at several levels, with the most interesting being in their Google site maps arena, where they are starting to share information directly with SEO specialist and web masters, but the price the web master pays is a lack of anonymity.
The full session was recorded in a pod cast and I suspect you will eventually be able to get to it from law.harvard.edu.
If you are a large organization looking to leverage you marketing through some interaction with the "blogosphere", you might like to talk to Receptional about Blog marketing strategies. Contact us on line and let us know more.