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When our internet-connected gadgets and home appliances all learn to talk to each other, Google wants to be at the center of the conversation. This imagined future is still a few years away, but Google is already preparing with its $3.2 billion acquisition of high-tech thermostat and smoke-detector maker Nest Labs. The surprise deal announced earlier this week will provide Google with more tools to build a valuable hub for homes. It’s a world of network-tethered toasters and tea kettles, or a so-called ” Internet of Things,” that is destined to reshape society, experts say, in the same way that smartphones have done in the seven years since Apple unveiled the iPhone.
The research firm Gartner expects more than 26 billion objects to be connected to the internet by 2020, a figure that doesn’t include personal computers, smartphones or tablets. That would be a nearly 30-fold increase from roughly 900 million internet-connected things in 2009.
Google established itself as an instrumental player in smartphones with the 2008 release of Android, a free operating system that runs on more mobile devices than any other piece of software. Now, the company is gearing up for the advent of the smart home with the help of Nest Labs, a 300-employee company started in Palo Alto, Calif. less than four years ago. Tony Fadell, Nest’s founder, is an Apple veteran who helped design the iPod and the iPhone. As influential as smartphones have become, their role in understanding people’s habits and preferences could be eclipsed once everything in the home has a computer chip and is connected to the internet.
“Google bought Nest in order to learn about this world where even more information is going to be accessible by computers,” said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett.
Nest Labs quickly won over gadget lovers with its 2011 release of an Internet-connected thermostat that learns to cool and heat homes to suit the needs of the inhabitants. Late last year, the company followed up with a smoke and carbon-monoxide detector equipped with voice technology and the ability to communicate with the company’s thermostat. Nest hasn’t said how many of its devices have been sold, though analysts believe they are in just a small fraction of homes. The products have only been available in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Google hasn’t disclosed its specific plans for Nest, but analysts anticipate an entire line of internet-connected home products will be coming to countries around the world. Some of those Nest devices could be melded with existing Google services in an effort to make people’s lives easier. Such a move also would provide Google with the means to gather more insight that could be used to sell the digital advertising that generates most of the company’s revenue.
In a blog post about the Google acquisition, Nest Labs co-founder Matt Rogers promised that customers’ personal information will only be used for “providing and improving Nest’s products and services. We’ve always taken privacy seriously and this will not change.”
But that pledge won’t preclude Google from incorporating its services with Nest’s products, said Gartner analyst Angela McIntyre. For instance, Google already makes a digital assistant called “Google Now” that strives to learn what its users like and where they tend to go so it can provide helpful information without prompting. McIntyre believes Nest’s products will teach Google Now to become more helpful so it can increasingly take over more of the mundane tasks in people’s lives. “They need to gather as much information as they can to understand the context in how we live our lives,” McIntyre said.
Google also could plug its digital mapping software into Nest products so it could learn the layout of a home, said Brian Proffitt, a technology analyst who is also a management instructor at the University of Notre Dame. That knowledge could then be deployed to delegate such household chores as vacuuming to a robot that would be able to rely on the interior maps to navigate its way through an entire home without human help, Proffitt said.
A Google division run by Android creator Andy Rubin is working on various ideas for robots, though the Mountain View, California, company hasn’t shared many details about its goals. Google’s expansion into robotics is also being bolstered by a spate of acquisitions that included the recent purchase of Boston Dynamics, a US military contractor that has already built a variety of contraptions that can be programmed to run at rapid speeds, leap high into the air and climb rocky terrains. Even as it explores various technological frontiers, Google still makes most of its money from advertising tied to search requests. Acquiring and developing products with internet connections and environmental sensors can only help Google get an even better grasp on people’s interests.
Source : timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/internet/Why-Google-acquired-Nest/articleshow/28875849.cms
Nest Labs is a connected device company responsible for the Nest learning thermostat and the Protect smoke detector. Google has just announced its acquisition of Nest Labs for a whopping 3.2 billion dollars. Nest, founded by iPod creator Tony Fadell, creates connected devices for the home, such as the Nest learning thermostat – a thermostat that learns your heating and cooling habits and uses them to save you money, and the Protect smoke detector – a smoke detector that can tell you exactly where and how a fire is breaking out in your house.
Nest will continue to operate independently following the accquistion, co-founder and CEO Tony Fadell told the Verge. He says that co-founder Matt Rogers will make the move to Google, while he will stay and manage Nest. He also confirms that Nest will continue to support Apple and iOS products going forward.
Google Ventures had already invested tens of millions of dollars in Nest, so the company has been on Mountain View’s radar for some time now. It says the acquisition should be finalized over the next couple of months. It’s unclear what Google plans to do with Nest, but with the emergence of products such as Google Glass, I’m sure it will be able to find a use for Nest’s devices and technology.
“We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!” said Google CEO Larry Page in an official statement. I’ve never really heard of Nest until now, but if Google seems to think that it’s worth $3.2 billion, it may be a company to keep a close eye on.
Source : escapistmagazine.com/news/view/131286-Google-Buys-Nest-Labs-For-3-2-Billion#AfPEkrgHsW68XPgI.99
Is having an active Google+ profile and linking it to the content you post online, an identity-verification process known as Google Authorship, worth the effort? “Yes,” say some search engine optimization (SEO) experts. Among SEO trends anticipated for 2014, it will be “absolutely critical” to invest in your Google+ presence, says Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of content marketing/social media marketing firm AudienceBloom. DeMers cites Moz’s 2013 SEO ranking factors study, which suggests Google+ is playing an “increasingly significant” role in search engine rankings. “Establishing Google Authorship of your content and tying it to your Google+ account,” DeMers says, should be “an immediate area of focus.” “Yes,” says Google CEO Eric Schmidt. In his 2013 book, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, Schmidt writes about the importance of being a verified, trusted author in the eyes of Google’s search engine: “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results.” Schmidt writes. Here”s the kicker: “The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
“Not so much,” counters Shari Thurow, founder and SEO director of Omni Marketing Interactive and author of When Search Meets Web Usability. “I wish someone would put a gag on Eric Schmidt and shut him up,” she joked during a session at September’s SES 2013 San Francisco conference. Thurow says Google+ and Google Authorship aren’t necessary to achieve high Google search result rankings and increase click-through rates to your content from search results. She also says Google Authorship tends to elevate people who are better at self-promotion over true subject matter experts, which is who Google Authorship is supposed to showcase. So what’s the fuss about? Here’s what you need to know about Google+, Google Authorship, Google Author Rank – which isn’t the same thing – and SEO.
The Back Story on Google Authorship and Google Author Rank
Google introduced its Facebook competitor, Google+, in 2011. The same year, it came out with Google Authorship. Link your Google+ profile to your content via Google Authorship, the idea goes, and you help Google verify your identity – and build your brand as a subject matter expert. Google Authorship adds a thumbnail of your Google+ profile picture to the search result “rich snippet” for your content, such as a bylined blog post:
A rich snippet provides more detail or context than a standard snippet. (Google’s Webmaster Tools offers more explanation about rich snippets.) In theory at least, the presence of a person’s photo in a rich snippet can encourage searchers to click through to the content, thereby helping it gain more exposure. In short, Google Authorship tells Google who wrote which articles, says Eric Enge, CEO of digital and content marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting. The biggest known, current benefit to Google Authorship, he adds, is having your picture show up in your content’s search results. Then there’s Google Author Rank. It’s a term the SEO industry uses, but Google does not. As Enge explains, the thinking goes that Google Authorship is now, or in the future will be, a valued search engine algorithm signal, not unlike PageRank, that can impact search result rankings. (Google uses hundreds of algorithm signals that determine how a piece of content should be ranked based on a search query.) If Author Rank exists, or will exist, down the road, then linking your Google+ profile to your content could help elevate that content in search result rankings. “But to date, there is no evidence Google has truly begun to use Author Rank, and Google also publicly denies [it’s] using it,” Enge notes. In other words, Google Authorship is simply the linking of your Google+ profile to the content you publish online. Google Author Rank is a possible algorithm signal that may impact the search engine ranking of content verified via Google Authorship.
Tips: What 3 Big Google Updates Mean for Your SEO Strategy
It stands to reason that Google+, a Google product, offers some benefits to its users in terms of search engine rankings. “Google+ is the social network Google has direct access to,” Enge says. As a result, Google+ posts tend to get indexed in real-time by Google search engine crawlers. By comparison, Enge explains, Google doesn’t have full API access to Facebook and Twitter. “Google will use Google+ data first as it begins to use social signals more to determine search engine rankings, and it’ll use Google+ to help verify author identity.”
The Arguments Against Google+ and Google Authorship
Google Authorship “is a form of validation,” Thurow says, but “that’s all it’s good for.” Otherwise, she says she doesn’t see the benefit. As an example, Thurow cites a test with a healthcare client with a nationally known website that attracts 10 million unique visitors monthly. Thurow’s client was an early Google+ adopter and had linked the Google+ profiles of doctors contributing to the site to their content via Google Authorship. “We measured everything to a ‘T,’ and we found there was no difference in click through rates” as a result of Google Authorship, Thurow says. In terms of driving click through rates, the presence of a relevant keyword in search result snippets was far more important than author thumbnail photos, she adds.
Tips: 8 Things You Need to Know About SEO Now
Aside from not delivering more traffic to your content, Google+ and Google Authorship seems to be saying that, “in order to rank in Googles search engine, you have to do what we say. You have to use Google+ and link your profile to your articles,” Thurow says. “But most experts have more important things to do, like being experts in their fields,” she continues. “So in order for Google Authorship to succeed in its mission, genuine experts have to participate. And guess who doesnt care about Google+ and Google Authorship?” Instead, Google Authorship tends to showcase people who aren’t true subject matter experts – but are expert at building their own online profiles.
With Google Authorship, There Are No Guarantees
Of course, there’s no harm in being active on Google+ and linking your content to your profile. For some people, Thurow says, being active on Google+ and establishing Google Authorship might make sense. Examples include entertainment industry professionals and those whose clients are big Google+ users. If you’re truly an expert in your field and you publish good, useful, original content, your articles will most likely rank well on their own, Thurow adds – without Google+ and Google Authorship.
How-to: Deal With Panda, Penguin and Other Google Algorithm Changes
On the other hand, just because you have a Google+ profile and link it to your content, Enge says, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed better rankings – or even that your Google+ profile photo will accompany your search results. That’s because many people are using Google Authorship to promote spammy or useless content in search results. Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s Webspam team, recently announced that Google is working to keep authors who publish low-quality content from receiving the “rich snippet” treatment in search results. Cutts estimated this would affect about 15 percent of Google+ profiles authenticated with Google Authorship.
When in Doubt, Stick to SEO Basics
SEO tactics such as using Google Authorship come and go. The best long-term strategy, Thurow says, is staying focused on the four SEO basic building blocks: Keywords and labels for content, navigation, and documentation should be easy for both humans and search engines to understand. Site architecture, design and accessibility should make sense to people and computers. Your site should receive validation from objective third parties, such as links and social shares from other sites. Take into account searcher behavior when developing your site and its content. Know the most common searcher behaviors and create content and a labeling system that allows searchers to easily complete their goals. These building blocks haven’t changed since the early days of the Web, Thurow says. She recommends that marketers and online publishers always “look at the big picture” instead of getting distracted by such things as thumbnail profile pictures in search result snippets.
Source : cio.com.au/article/535311/does_google_authorship_matter_seo_/
Hotel Web Design | “6 Social Media Marketing Strategies To Drastically Improve Your Efforts in 2014”
Did you know social media is the number one daily activity among Americans, topping time spent on email and Google? According to Fast Company, 93% of marketers use social media to promote their business. Social media is BIG and only getting bigger. If you are not marketing on it, you are likely missing a large chunk of your target consumers. As a product of the Mark Zuckerberg generation, it is easy to understand why people are so obsessed with social media; for marketers, the potential to grow their business via these networks is endless. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ – these are some of the prime networks every company, big or small, young or established, needs to have an active presence on. It is now inexcusable for any business that wants to thrive to not be tweeting! And now we are being exposed to more and more social advertisements. As I complete my morning ritual of sipping coffee and scrolling through my Instagram feed, I now notice sponsored ads appearing in between filtered pictures of scenery and food. It is impossible to visit one’s Facebook news feed without popping into a few compelling ads along the way. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve fallen victim to several of these ads, and been captured and clicked through to their site, sometimes even converting – shameful, I know. But before diving into paid ads it is important to build out your social channels with rockstar content, quality customer service, and eye-catching visuals. Once you optimize your social channels for success, you will not only gain loyal brand promoters, but you will begin capturing leads and converting visitors into customers. For those of you who have let your social channels develop cobwebs and cockroaches over the past year, here are six social media strategies to take control of your social channels and give them a much needed facelift in the New Year.
Social Media Marketing Strategy #1: Create A Game Plan & Stick To It
If you have no execution strategy, your content is likely going to fall through the cracks. Set a limit on how many tweets you have to publish per day. This number can be adjusted as needed, but having a number you have to hit, even something as small as four tweets per day, gives you a benchmark and a goal at the very least. TIP: Investigate how often your competitors are posting and conduct industry research to see the ideal amount of content to publish per day on each channel. You want to be active, but not overly active. Compile all content in an easy-to-read editorial calendar. Google Excel Docs is a good place to start. Set up a weekly, shareable publishing calendar, then separate by social channel, and provide columns for co-workers within your content team to provide their feedback before posting. Plan ahead, but continue making additions as necessary, for example if a great PR hit is published cover this in a timely manner even it was not on your original posting schedule.
Social Media Marketing Strategy #2: Treat Each Channel As An Individual Entity
Each social channel needs to be treated as a separate entity. There can be content that is spread across all channels – for example if your business was recently acquired by a global company, this is likely news you want to share across the board, but you should adjust your strategy depending on the audience for that channel. For example, LinkedIn tends to have a more business-focused audience looking for in-depth, educational content, compared to Instagram, which is likely to have an audience looking for engaging visual content. Pay attention to your follower demographic on each channel to publish content that appeals to them.
Social Media Marketing Strategy #3: Go Above & Beyond In Customer Service
If a visitor tweets at your handle or posts on your Facebook page and never receives a response, trust is lost. Due to your lack of communication, the dissatisfied potential lead is now turning to your competitors to seek answers to their questions. On the other hand, when you deliver a thoughtful response in a timely manner that visitor is flattered and intrigued by your brand. It’s humanizing to take the time respond to a personal inquiry, and it builds your authority. Alexa, a friend of mine who formerly resided in NYC, commented on a picture on Instagram posted by her favorite city dive bar. The social media manager quickly responded by offering her a free T-shirt for the positive feedback. A few weeks, when later Alexa drove six hours from Boston to collect her free shirt (and visit a few friends), the bartender realized, “Wow! Social media does work!” She has in turn become a free promoter for the bar, and encourages her large network that still resides in New York to check out her former go-to spot – essentially free PR for this small, neighborhood bar. And this is one minuscule example – if you haven’t heard the Morton’s Steakhouse story about delivering a joking tweeter a free steak at the airport, I suggest you use this as a prime example of BOMB customer service that led to a ridiculous amount of free press. Negative feedback needs to be addressed as well, preferably with patience and respect. But think of your social channels as an opportunity to display how awesome you treat your customers. Take these four steps to boost the happiness of your Twitterbirds:
Assign a first responder to post and monitor each channel your brand has a profile on.Create a troubleshooting library of common bugs or complaints that arise, and how to handle these issues. This will ensure the issue is addressed properly and in a timely manner. (NOTE: If the issue needs further investigation or requires confidential information, have the user email support, send a private message, or call your help line.)Be creative – use giveaways, personality, and a sense of humor to engage followers and convert them into free brand promoters.DO NOT IGNORE any comment posted to your account on social, whether stellar or critical. No need to create brand detractors!
Social Media Marketing Strategy #4: Embrace Mishaps
We are humans, so mistakes are unavoidable. This is especially true when it comes to the fast-paced world of social media. Rather than flat out ignoring these hiccups, embrace them. I am not saying that when a comma is missed in a tweet you should announce this small grammar error, but DO NOT delete the tweet. It has already been published, and followers are more likely to notice if you are continuously re-posting. For larger mistakes, like a product error or multiple overcharges to customer credit cards, you’ll want to proactively respond in an apologetic, actionable manner, and send out content from your social accounts apologizing and addressing how the error is being handled so customers are aware. But what happens if a BIG, truly embarrassing mistake is made? Personally, I love how Pamela Vaughan, a HubSpot employee, handled her baby bump mishap. Pamela accidently posted a picture of her growing pregnant belly to HubSpot’s company Twitter account, which has close to 350,000 followers. Instead of crawling into a hole of embarrassment, Pamela embraced her faux-pas and created this awesome blog post. The post has received a lot of love, with several shares and comments mostly showing respect for HubSpot’s human element – a key that makes them one of the most loved marketing companies out there.
Social Media Marketing Strategy #5: Track & Talk!
Tracking is often perceived as tedious and time-consuming. It can be, but it only needs to take a few hours each month. Set aside time to review metrics that are important to your business on a monthly basis (preferably the first day of the month). Here are some stats to focus on: number of posts, follower growth, clicks to your site/products, pageviews, post likes or shares, impressions, etc. Look at each channel separately, and compare to your largest competitors to get a sense on how you’re matching up (or how you’re CRUSHING them!). If you’re crunched for time and analytics is not your thing, invest in software to help track data. A lot can be tracked using free tools like bit.ly, Google Analytics, and Hootsuite. Diving in to see which content received the most clicks, shares, etc. will show you what to repurpose in the future. Look for common themes in your analysis, for example if advice posts with numbers in the title perform wonderfully on Facebook then up these on that platform. Share your results and set monthly strategy meetings with your different marketing forces within your company to plan for the future. Working collaboratively and taking a step back to brainstorm and reevaluate your strategy can drastically improve your social efforts. Also leverage other departments within your business. Various teams like client services and sales might have stellar ideas for social since they are the people who communicate with prospects and customers on a daily basis.
Social Media Marketing Strategy #6: Stay Active On Google+
Many of you may be raising an eyebrow, but Google+, often viewed as the Facebook wannabe, is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s only becoming more and more important for businesses to actively engage and grow their circles on this platform. When you search on Google you will notice that Google+ is everywhere. If your business is actively posting on Google+, you will receive essentially free ad space when users search for you on Google.Notice when I do a search for Salesforce not only does their Google+ follower number display, but there’s a call-to-action to follow their brand, as well as recent posts on their Google+ page, on the right side of the SERP. According to a Moz.com survey, leading marketers believe the number of Google +1’s plays the second largest part in determining search engine rankings. This isn’t proven to be true, but clearly marketers are seeing that Google+ is affecting the visibility of their content on Google. Google+ is also integrated with YouTube, so users are unable to comment on the platform without being opted into Google+. Essentially Google is making having a Google+ account pretty much essential. What will you do to improve your social media marketing efforts in 2014?
Source From : wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/01/09/social-media-marketing-strategies
Given the rise of meta-search and the continued growth of OTAs, a shared strategy could be the key to successful hotel distribution in 2014 – Hotel organisations are looking to strengthen their expertise and efficiency in the distribution space. Indeed, today the onus is on distribution executives to not only handle their brand websites better, but also to manage their association with third-party channels much more efficiently. There has been a call for a shared strategy whereby executives cohesively handle all the channels and bigger mandates as part of a unified approach. So the team will be jointly handling various aspects such as digital marketing, rate and inventory management, management of reviews as well as data management and analytics. EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta talks to Chetan Patel, VP, Strategic Marketing & E-Commerce, Onyx Hospitality Group about what to expect from hotel distribution in 2014.
EFT: What were the major developments in hotel distribution in 2013?
CP: I will say the arrival of TripAdvisor Hotel Availability Check (HAC), the overall resurgence of meta-search, continued growth of business from OTAs and the rise of bed banks were some of the major developments in 2013. Social media and mobile also made their presence felt in a way that allowed further investment in the area. 2013 also saw continued growth of Internet channels. OTAs exploited the gap hotels have in understanding and utilising online technologies and maintained growth at feverish rates. Some of the players were really smart while others struggled to keep their market share. Bed banks made their presence felt and now others want a piece of the action. Direct business also grew but it has not been cheap although improved targeting and other tools continue to help optimise online marketing efforts.
EFT: What major trends do you forecast for hotel distribution in 2014?
CP: I expect to see a lot of major trends in the coming year, including:
Further resurgence of meta-search.
For Google Hotel Finder to finally make an impact after a few false starts. OTAs to continue to dominate but many suppliers will figure out ways to wrestle back control with smart marketing, social media and personalisation. There will be more noise about mobile and social media. Many will scramble to reposition themselves in the mobile world especially for Asian customers. Bed banks will continue to edge out traditional wholesalers and more wholesalers will move to dynamic systems to compete. OTAs grown will start going flat in more markets and competition from suppliers, Google and others will see the emergence of more interesting tactics. Big data and better targeting will improve yields for many hotels but competition for online customers will be heated more than ever. Technology providers, meta-search players and others will continue to find opportunities to get suppliers away from intermediaries. EFT: What do you think distribution executives need to do to evolve? CP: Distribution executives need to keep abreast of the changing distribution landscape with a keen eye on which players play what roles. They also need to understand their funnel and find ways to get all involved in order to influence and convert customers each step of the way.
EFT: With social media use on the roles what tools can hotels use to evaluate the impact of this on pricing strategy?
CP: I believe it is premature to use social media to guide pricing. A lot will depend on a hotel’s business mix. If the customer base is largely social media types, then yes it plays a role. The correlation between the two is still not entirely convincing although the vendors of systems looking at this data would have us believe otherwise. Social media can be a factor but it is one of many and we need to understand the weightage of each to make the call.
EFT: How challenging is the booking funnel for executives? CP: Understanding the booking funnel is critical although most hotel entities do not understand it or pay little attention to it. Brand building and social media are at the top end of the funnel while reputation management, reviews sites, meta-search, and SEM are important to a varying degree as you go down the funnel. Even the presence of OTAs needs to be managed properly to play a role in the funnel. This helps hotels to market themselves on many fronts and generate demand. Relying solely on OTAs or playing only at the lower end of the funnel is very expensive and poor value. Much better ROIs can be obtained on advertising dollars and effort if you understand and utilise the funnel properly.
EFT: How can hotels maximise potential sales on all available channels in real-time?
CP: One should focus on having the right kind of channels first. Distribution costs must be paramount in the consideration of any channel. Having a clear cut idea of what channels you can do without will also help as the business may move to available channels if the demand is right. The rest boils down to analysis of what channel brings in what kind of business and what that contributes to the hotel’s revenue in overall spend. Focus and encourage higher paying customers, lower cost channels and ruthlessly eliminate the higher cost ones if possible. EFT: How does data flow performance owing to distribution technology enhance room package promotion planning and distribution on third-party channels?
CP: At this point interfaces are dealing mainly with rates and inventory. OTAs are not interested in selling add-ons. For just promotions, what is beneficial is that now you have real-time intelligence on what works and what doesn’t. This helps hotel revenue managers quickly adapt their strategies. If an upgrade promotion works very well in a certain channel, this can determine the entire strategy for a particular time period. Being able to test promotions and quickly change because you can see it work in real time definitely improves yields and sales.
Source : hospitalitynet.org/news/global/154000320/4063506.html
It was a busy year for the social media industry. In 2013, we saw the teen demographic leave Facebook for other networks that better capture their attention and don’t yet have the entire family engaged. Twitter added video to its repertoire by purchasing Vine, the mobile video app, on top of the announcement that it’s going public. In response, Instagram added video, and more recently launched sponsored images in users’ newsfeeds. Finally, as a fellow coworker pointed out, 2013 is arguably the year when GIFs hit it mainstream, bringing humor and creativity to social activity. With all of the changes, announcements, acquisitions; what can we expect next year in the digital world? Below are my three key trends to keep an eye on in the social media space for 2014.
1. Google+ Emerges as a Serious Player
The platform is still not taken as seriously as it should be, but 2014 will be a year of substantial growth for this underrated platform. Aside from the SEO benefits, Google+ offers a lot of functions that other networks don’t have, such as Communities, Hangouts and the ability to share specific content with targeted groups – not to mention its obvious connection to the world’s number one search engine. On both my personal account and the company pages I manage, I have witnessed an enormous increase in interaction on Google+. Engagement has risen, and with it, so has the ability to build circles as more people join the network. The speed at which you can gain followers on G+ still doesn’t compare to Twitter, but steady growth seen throughout the past year should only go up as people continue to incorporate Google+ in their daily dose of social.
2013 was also the year when G+ introduced us to Communities. These are very similar to the Groups feature that LinkedIn offers, but I have personally seen greater success participating within G+ communities than LinkedIn Groups. Before Communities began, it was hard to promote interaction on the platform, but engagement and follower growth has consistently increased since they were introduced.
+New features for Google+ Hangouts
Google rolled out a number of updates that will make the social network more user-friendly for 2014, including improved local sharing, a better way to share visual content and other new features to improve curation. If your business has not yet dived into the platform, the turn of the New Year is the perfect time!
2. The Evolution of SoLoMo & Rise of New Networks
This past fall, I was fortunate enough to attend Social Media Week in Chicago, where I learned about the current state of social media, and what the future holds. (Learn more about the conference here.) One session that stuck out was the Future Trends in Tech and Social Media, presented by Howard Tullman, General – Managing Partner for G2T3V. He introduced me to the idea of SoLoMo. A combination of the words social, location and mobile, SoLoMo explains where the digital world is heading and how to best share content with audiences in the future. Obviously, social is a key part of sharing and distributing content, but moving forward, location and mobility are going to be key to the formula. We always talk about how “Content is King,” but Tullman went further to say that context actually trumps content – an idea I agree with somewhat. The digital space is evolving rapidly, and to be successful, content must be proximate, relevant and in the right location. Mobile is becoming an increasingly important platform for marketers, with over 133 million registered smartphones in the U.S. This statement might be met with some pushback, but watch for Snapchat to be the breakthrough social platform of 2014. I’m not saying that it’s worth $3 billion, but it does offer many possibilities and it could be a source of untapped consumers for your company. Some brands have already seen this and are moving forward. The online food ordering company, GrubHub, has been extremely creative with Snapchat. The campaign has given the brand a personality on social, helped it to stand out and encouraged follower engagement. GrubHub uses Snapchat to drive people back to other social platforms, display discounts and revealed what goes on behind the scenes at the company. I have received holiday-themed snaps for Halloween and Thanksgiving, as well as general promotional snaps. These are all great examples of how GrubHub is using the channel to relate to consumers and produce relevant content. As a sports fan, I also recommend following the New Orleans Saints on SnapChat. The team offers an exclusive look into what goes on in the locker room, and it also sends fans messages from individual players.
3. Visual Content will be a MUST in your Content Strategy
As my coworker, @laurenekstrandk, mentioned earlier this month, image-based updates have 600 times higher engagement rates than posts that contain only text and video content is close behind. This gap is only going to get smaller moving into 2014. Whether it’s infographics, GIFs, still images or video, visual content is driving more interaction throughout social. This is not to say that text or other content types aren’t worth sharing, but visually appealing posts are likely to become the bread and butter of content strategies. Let’s be honest, plain text can be downright boring at times, hence why adding visual content to online strategies, posts or blogs is extremely important. This captures reader attention and keeps visitors engaged. Eighty-nine percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 watch online video content once a week and in 2014, this number will easily surpass the ninety-percent mark. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this demographic expands to a wider audience.
Not only will visual content be vital to successful strategies, but so will personalization. Businesses that go the extra step to tailor content will better resonate with consumers. I’ve been all about GrubHub’s social strategy, so I will stick with that and explain how personal content has turned me into an advocate. For fun, I sent GrubHub pictures on SnapChat just to see if it had generic responses or responded at all. On two separate occasions, GrubHub sent me personalized snaps in return. Once, I snapped a picture of my lunch not expecting anything back (being a business in the food industry, I thought it was necessary to keep it relevant). Within a few hours, I received the snap below of an employee dressed up as a Pizza, rubbing his stomach with the text that read “Oh ya.” As simple as this seems, it’s an example of outreach that could go a long way to make consumers brand advocates!
Social revolutions: Here this year, Revamped the next
The social space is constantly changing, and what might be a hot topic today could be old news tomorrow. These three trends are just some of many that will be important for marketers moving into the New Year. There will certainly be new topics, networks, apps and ideas in 2014 that marketers haven’t even thought of yet, and that is what makes this industry so exciting. I look forward to hearing what trends you are most looking forward to in 2014!
Source : brafton.com/blog/2013-social-media-marketing-trends
SEO experts and webmasters spend a lot of time worrying about Google algorithm changes. In 2013, the search engine giant tweaked the algorithm 15 times, and in 2012, it was updated 37 times. Worrying about algorithm updates may make sense for SEO experts and webmasters, but content creators don’t have time to keep up with that. Here are some major changes Google has made and how they apply to content:
Move to Secure Organic Searches
This means that you can no longer mine Google Analytics for keyword data, leaving website owners in the dark about what word searches were used to find or stumble upon their site. Remember when that “Not Provided” section first appeared? This percentage of search data has been growing since 2010, and on September 23, 2013, Google finally shut off all information. This is a blow to those still focused on keyword bombing and density rates; however, those who create quality, creative, and helpful content should see this as reaffirming. Google is giving those trying to game the system less firing power. Instead of focusing on keywords, pay attention to user actions on your site.
A Nonexistent Update to PageRank
PageRank is a ranking of how many links your site has pointing back to it. Links essentially work as votes, raising your credibility and showcasing your site as high-quality. The problem? Google hasn’t updated the PageRank meter since early 2013, and there isn’t a clear idea of when — or even if — it will be fixed. If you’re still focused on getting links from sites with a high PageRank, you can stop — immediately. While there might still be some value, the main idea is that Google doesn’t want to emphasize page ranking. Instead, you should be focused on driving traffic, converting visitors, and becoming an authority within your own niche.
The Hummingbird Conversation
One of the more recent updates to the Google algorithm is Hummingbird, which was released in September 2013. Google wants to understand conversations, concepts, and relationships. In voice searches, for example, you can ask, “Where is Miley Cyrus from?” After the answer is delivered, you can follow up with, “How old is she?”
Hummingbird is still evolving and doesn’t always work, but Google is putting serious effort into making search more conversational and less keyword-focused.
Google Authorship for Ranking
It’s still not very apparent how Google Authorship — or the still unconfirmed Author Rank — will affect searches. Experts predict that Google will use your author profile to determine your credibility, expertise, and authority on a subject in order to determine the quality (and therefore ranking) of your content. In his recent book, “The New Digital Age,” Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote, “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.” Google could also use your social profile to gauge how many shares an article has, your individual following, and the authority of the site you’re publishing on. If you’re consistently publishing quality content on authority sites that relate to your niche, Google may rank your article higher than articles not associated with an author.
Google Algorithm and Content Creators
- Ultimately, the key to Google’s algorithm changes lies in its guidelines for content creation:
- Content is key. Good content — clear, concise, informative — is better than bad content.
- Use plain English. Write for real people.
- Keep links to a reasonable number. Make your content readable.
- Really, it all goes back to one idea: Create quality content, and you won’t have to worry about it riding the Google update rollercoaster.
Source : forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2014/01/05/4-changes-google-is-making-and-how-they-affect-content-creation/