We live in amazing times: instant gratification, unlimited information, and increasing transparency are the norm. Despite this, the phenomenon of online social networks (e.g. Friendster to MySpace to Facebook to SnapChat) has always been a push medium. The information contributed is always what the author supplies unlike traditional media outlets that are based on demand. (i.e. People want to read about sports and book reviews, hence these are in the New York Times.)
In social media if you have something to say, anything to say, you can publish it. This shows up in people’s feeds and if it is compelling and timely enough they will consume it.
In the travel industry, however, you need a pull medium. You need to know the best place to go for sushi in Barcelona, the best tours in Petra, or the best hotel on the Gaspe Peninsula. Most importantly, you need to know, now! The bus is pulling out of the terminal, the taxi is driving away, or your friends are leaving you behind. You
could post your request on social media and maybe a friend, follower, or fellow pinner might get back to you in real time, but that’s most likely not going to happen (especially with the new Facebook feed algorithm, which does not display in real time). Where can you get this information? The most overlooked social network ever created will get you a result all the time: Google. Most people do not group Google into social networking, even though they’ve somewhat successfully integrated Google Plus into search through their “authorship” module. The great thing, though, about Google is that you will always get a result, even if the author is not your “friend”rather an unabashed third party perspective. After all, any result is better than no result.
As an online marketer how can you utilize this to your advantage? Consumers implicitly turn to Google when they are looking for smaller mundane or timely answers rather than ask their peers. We have learned about human behavior from social media in that people do not want to bother someone else for what could be construed as a selfish purpose (note the term selfish, the ALS bucket challenge was for altruistic purposes).
Google has some type of curative power to show you what results it thinks you want to see algorithmically. Termed sometimes as the Google Black Box, it analyzes titles, keywords, hyperlinks and images to determine what results are the most relevant and an entire industry, SEO or search engine optimization, has sprung up around this. So what tips can you pass on to visiting bloggers about the “Google rules?”
Play by the rules–if it’s a sponsored post Google wants you to put ‘nofollow’ tags in the links back to the sponsor. This ensures that the algorithm does not provide additional weight to these posts since they were paid. The Federal Trade Commission also wants you to disclose the sponsorship in the text of the article (our sponsored content platform, Cooperatize, automatically complies with all of the laws and customs in the United States). The last thing you want to do is be erased off the Internet map by Google for breaking the rules.
Be specific –People are becoming better “Googlers” everyday and understand that if they add more keywords to their search query they will get more specific or “long tail”articles. On Google, you are competing against big, well-linked to sites like the New York Times, Travel & Leisure, or the Wall Street Journal. But if you are the best sushi restaurant in Barcelona, have your writer talk about that specific topic. People are more likely to find you by Googling “best sushi in Barcelona” than “restaurants in Spain.”
Targeting and first impressions are important! The Internet is one of the few “mass marketing”tools that you can use to specifically “target” an audience. How do you attract Spring Breakers, families, and experiential travelers to Xcaret in Cancun? How do you create specificity when there is none? By connecting with the right writers that only talk about that experience. Everyone wants the “best place for 20-somethings, the best place for retirees, etc.”By targeting 20-somethings and retirees as your writers they will automatically provide an authentic voice to your story.
Search Engine Optimization is a long intricate and complex industry that is best left to professionals. But by utilizing influential writers, creating specific and targeted stories, you will be able to bubble up to the top of the search funnel and be able to provide that answer quickly when it is so desperately needed.
Illustration by: Anshul Mathur
Originally published at www.trosmith.com on October 15, 2014.