I have recently written about how an increasing amount of early funnel search activity is moving outside the main engines to social communities, most notably the big Facebook and Twitter, as well as niche sites, mobile apps, and a mini swell of new engines. As consumers get search-
savvy, they are straying from exclusivity with the main five domains (Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ask). I have also written about the changes this will bring to search marketing practices, but how much and what will change are the questions. Coming off of DMA 2010 I realize to fully comprehend that, I must first understand what the differences among mobile activity, social engagement and searching mean for us in the biz.
While attending the DMA, I listened to Rose Cameron, from Euro RSCG, give a very dynamic presentation on social media (complete with an "Avatar"-like tether cord because the DMA hadn't yet heard of a wireless mic) One thing that caught my attention was her sourcing of some research (which, mind you, I haven't seen), that studied the chemical effects that various activities have on our brain and thus our happiness and mood. The study says that social media engagement online triggers the same part of the brain as when we like food or have physical contact offline. Not rocket science, I know, but logical. What really got me thinking was when Cameron went on to connect that this means the trick to successful social media marketing is, at its simplest, to know what will make your target audience happy and want to share because, as she said "we are hard-wired to share."
This is where the part on "differences" comes in. Whether via a mobile device or within a social community, we search as a means to an end. So while social may be about stimulating brain impulses for people to feel happy, search is about instant gratification. Meaning it's about simplicity, relevance, accuracy, and speed-to-destination. Now I have always said that people use search for three fundamental and basic reasons; (1) to discover something new, (2) to immerse in that topic, and (3) to navigate. So if search is the means to what makes us "happy," then switching search activity between Google and a combination of Twitter, Facebook, and some specialty mobile apps, is purely about trusting the source and getting to what searchers want faster at each of these need states independently.
As search marketers, what we do well is balance price and volume by manipulating degrees of continuity and relevance based on the consumer's threshold to respond. This makes the fragmentation of searching and the differences between locations fairly complex -- because to do what we do, we need better insight into keyword usage, search patterns across the engines, social communities, apps, and mobile devices. Fellow Search Insider Rob Garner recently wrote about Google's issues with keyword tools in "SEM Session: Thumbs Down For Keyword Tools."
I would extend that to say this is largely an industry-wide problem. It's getting better with new products coming out, from AdGooroo and Hitwise to Compete and Sysomos, but the tools are all very separate and open for interpretation when trying to combine data sets.Also, while at the DMA, I spoke with the CEO of a new company called Blue Cava, with technology that can help address the aforementioned problems of delivering fast and relevant search marketing in this fragmented ecosystem. Blue Cava can map between devices sharing a network to begin to build very detailed profiles based on activity. This has awesome potential to help us understand why consumers are searching for what they are, and where they are, so we can better align our search efforts. It is critical to understand the differences in use -- because the fundamentals of search still apply, regardless of which need state or location someone chooses to search. The best SEM is still simple, relevant, and fast, no matter how different the locations and needs may be.