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10 Steps for Optimizing the Brand for

Social Search
By Brian Solis, blogger at BrianSolis.com and principal of FutureWorks, Author of the new book
Engage!, Co-Author, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now Is Gone

Facebook recently overtook Yahoo as the second most visited site in the United
States. And in doing so, Facebook along with other social networks set the stage
for a confluence of social and search that fundamentally changes who we, as a
society, discover and share information, and in turn, where our attention is
directed and driven.

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Source: Mashable

Make no mistake, attention is shifting away from traditional destination sites and
instead, it is fixated on personalized attention dashboards that funnel social
feeds, the activity and focus of social graphs into one clickable view. It is, for all
intents and purposes, changing how we discover and share information. In fact,
Nielsen observed that 20% of social consumers today, use social networks as their
primary navigation hubs, relying on contacts and trending themes to point them
in the right direction.

For media properties and brands, optimization combined with targeted and
enterprising social networking now plays an instrumental role in capturing the
attention and essentially defining the action of our customers, peers, and the
trust agents and authorities who influence them.

Referral traffic is quickly migrating away from traditional search to social


networks, and in some cases, at alarming rates.

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Gigya reviewed data from Compete from November 2009 and observed that
some of the top media properties were already realizing a dominant effect in
traffic from social networks. For example, USAToday receives upwards of 35% of
its referral traffic from social networks and just over 6% from Google. People
Magazine receives 23% of its referrals from social networks and 11% from Google.
And, CNN earns 11% of its referral traffic from social versus 9% from Google.

Referrals from social networks will only continue to soar over time as we're
introduced to new information where our attention is focused and when our
attention aperture is open to clicking through to new, socially-influenced content.

If the socialization of search and commerce is driven by any one behavior, it is


that of sharing. If it wasn't worthy of conventional appreciation and recognition
before, the share economy is now certainly worthy of contemplation and analysis.
In the share economy, currency is defined by likes, links, retweets, updates,
comments, shares on Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, MySpace, et al. And, its
impact only grows as Social Media becomes pervasive. This is why providing the

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necessary means for individuals to not only discover your content, but also
readily share it across the social web is paramount to the survival of brands in the
era of social search and also social media.

In a recent article, TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld reviewed the state of social
sharing based on data provided by Gigya, which powers sharing widgets on more
than 5,000 content sites, including ABC.com, NBA.com, PGA.com, Answers.com
and Reuters. In the study, it was revealed that almost one million items were
shared over the Gigya network within 30 days. Facebook ranked at the top of
social sharing, but Twitter wasn't far behind.

Distribution of shared items


Facebook: 44%
Twitter: 29%
Yahoo: 18%
MySpace: 9%

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis


But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Facebook alone counts over 5 billion pieces
of content shared within its network each and every week.

According to AddThis, a sharing network installed on more than 600,000


Websites, Facebook also ranked on top, but email ranked second, with print, yes
print, and Twitter placing in third and fourth respectively.

Top 10 Services, Overall


Facebook: 33%
Email: 13%
Print: 9%
Twitter: 9%
Favorites: 8%
Google: 6%
MySpace: 6%
Digg: 3%
Live: 3%
Delicious: 3%

At 400 million global users strong, and rapidly growing, Facebook is a mandatory
content and engagement play for any brand and media property.

In February 2010, Nielsen reported that Facebook users are averaging seven
hours per month, up 10%, sharing and connecting within their social graph. If we
used Compete's numbers, Facebook would rank #2, just behind Google.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis


Social Architecture is How We Connect and
Define Experiences
Gigya recently published a white paper that documents the shift to and the
resulting importance of social search and its dependence on crowd participation.

As a result of its research Gigya recognized that online businesses must optimize
in order to earn referral traffic from social networks.

With the advent of social feeds—a live stream of friends’ activity shared on social
networks like Facebook and Twitter— consumers can more easily rely on trusted
personal relationships to determine what’s worthwhile to read, watch, play and
buy online.

Information is already socializing.

The difference between our present and our future is defined by the roads and
bridges we build between relevance and prevalence.

Publishing content is no longer enough. Wiring search systems to deliver


consumers who hunt for information in social networking to our existing static
Web sites is outmoded. And, earning friends and followers is only as effective as

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our ability to return value to their feeds and online and ultimately, real world
experiences. We are confusing our elementary steps towards digital and social
significance with the illusion of progress.

It is now our responsibility to create and connect meaningful content directly


within the places where our audiences communicate with each other and also
interact with the social objects that compel them to share and react. In parallel,
we must optimize that content to improve findability and also integrate the tools
and services that simplify the process for sharing within the networks where
people engage today and tomorrow. By creating a connected social experience,
we activate our content and community and empower a new genre of branded
information catalysts.

Everything begins with enhancing and optimizing connections and experiences


for the social web. The key is to incite participation and sharing...on our site as
well as across the most active social networks that are material to our business
strategy.

10 Steps for Optimizing the Brand for Social Search

1. Modernize and socialize your site to complement the experience visitors expect
in 2010

2. Optimize the site and all social objects for traditional, social, and real-time
search

3. Create meaningful and personable social profiles where consumers are active
today (pay attention to where they will be tomorrow as well)

4. Establish an editorial calendar to produce and distribute relevant content for


each and every network with cadence

5. Add social connectivity to the home site to facilitate maximum engagement


(Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Google, Yahoo) - eradicate proprietary
login systems

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6. Integrate social sharing functionality at the source of engagement - keep them
on the page

7. Enable the social syndication of that content within one step

8. Manually introduce content and social objects to stakeholders and social


beacons

9. Create paths that define and engender the experience you desire with
destinations and calls to action integrated to close the loop

10. Monitor the activity and find ways to improve the experience and also sharing

Bonus: Give them a voice to make sharing more personal and contextual

The Future of Search and Business is Social


Indeed, the future of search is social. Better said, the future of information
discovery and dissemination is social, now powered by the very people who were
once fed information as dictated by mainstream media and brands.

The rapid evolution of search fuses traditional search algorithms and destinations
with new formulas and services defining social graphs, social networks, semantic
and real-time. As social becomes the axis for which all search is predicated,
advanced SEO/SMO and a maturing human algorithm reinforced by the stature
of one's social capital will ultimately contribute to the hierarchy, placement, and
findability of the content and social objects we share online.

Google and Bing are already implementing sweeping changes in their algorithms
and reported results to include activity from the social and real-time Web. It's
also the reason why Google rushed Google Buzz into the spotlight. Information
and activity are now influenced by the greater collective of social contacts with
whom we forge relationships and relations in each and every network where we
engage.

How does this information change your Web strategy for the year?

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis


Update: Don't forget about email...

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

Please consider reading my brand new book, Engage!

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Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:

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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis


Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing,
communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New
Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune
500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. BrianSolis.com is ranked
among the top of world's leading business and marketing online resources.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

In 2009, Brian Solis, along with Deirdre Breakenridge, released, Putting the Public back
in Public Relations.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook
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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis