Part 1 of this two-part article series discussed social search optimization on Facebook and YouTube. On tap this week: Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
Since the beginning of Twitter, users have sent over 163 billion tweets.
This microblogging platform embodies traits of modern society. With a 140-character limit, each "tweet" forces users to quickly get to the point—a preference of many in this digital age of constant communication and instant feedback.
Twitter's real-time feed is available in some 20 languages, and—considering the more than 400 million monthly visits worldwide—that number will soon increase.
The search feature within Twitter provides sectioned results. Viewable results categories include tweets, people, videos, and images. From there, top (most popular) tweets, and network tweets can be viewed. As of last year, Twitter was serving an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day. It also recently introduced the concept of real-time human computation engine, which identifies the context behind search queries as soon as a search term begins trending.
Twitter search has great potential as a marketing tool because it allows users to search any keywords or hashtags mentioning any related product, service, person, event, or trend.
For example, a new Italian restaurant can search the term "pizza" and then tweet at anyone who has mentioned eating or craving pizza. This feature increases visibility and provides ample opportunity to connect with individual consumers and potential influencers.
Who Searches on Twitter?
Over half of Twitter users are women (53%), and the highest number of users reside in the US. In fact, the largest demographic of Twitter users are American women under the age of 25. Consider those stats when developing a Twitter strategy.
When brands target more niche audiences, background research is crucial—especially for identifying top influencers and those with a large following.
Crowdsourcing on Twitter gives brands the opportunity to pose questions to a mass group of users—beneficial in marketing campaigns designed to garner product or service feedback.
All tweets are indexed on Twitter search, providing insight into what people want and care about. To find real-time information and trending topics, users can search with hashtags or keywords.
Optimizing for Twitter Search
- Content planning: Twitter has become increasingly popular because of its simple layout and real-time display of information (news, trends, conversations, etc.) It is also used largely on-the-go—roughly half of users are on a mobile device. With live-tweeting of events and TV on the rise, users often use the social network as a resource to read others' opinions and reactions to topics of interest.
- Brand search optimization: Verification on Twitter is ideal for protecting a brand, but the general public cannot apply for it. It is reserved for "highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, advertising, business, and other key interest areas….individuals at high risk of impersonation." Therefore, for most people, external and internal linking is the best way to establish credibility on Twitter. Many companies include social icons that link directly to their social pages. Engaging with other users on Twitter is a social way to improve brand visibility—audiences interact by retweeting and responding, thereby increasing mentions. Using hashtags in tweets and conversations enables brands to share and track content, comments, and opinions.
- Content optimization: 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter by ensuring every aspect of their profile is optimized for people searching for them. Twitter handles, images, and bios should accurately convey reflect the brand image and message. The bio section should include basic information, links, and hashtags if desired. Although you can create custom hashtags, embedding trending hashtags can drastically improve tweet success. Tweet creativity is key here, because it often determines whether users will engage or follow. Within both brand profile descriptions and individual tweets, targeted and relevant keywords should be used as often as possible.
Twitter continues to improve the site for a more impressive experience:
- The recent announcement of its micro-video feature—Vine—is an excellent example of the advancing platform.
- The integration of other sites (Pinterest images took the place of Instagram) further expands its digital presence.
- The ability to filter search results on the site by location and linking also presents more potential for local businesses.
- The simplicity of the Twitter search engine—focusing mainly on keywords and hashtags—is ideal for a mobile experience, a trend that continues to pick up speed.
Pinterest is the fastest-growing social network in history: It was the first independent site to hit 10 million monthly unique visits in the US as quickly as it did, surpassing both Facebook and Twitter in their first two years.
A visit to the image-based social media site instantly explains why. From the seamless design (described as digital "window shopping") to the diverse range of photos, Pinterest has something for everyone. The categories range from animals and architecture to fitness and weddings—and everything in between.
According to a recent report from Shareaholic, "Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined." The basis behind the site is just that—repins (shares) make up over 80% of engagement on Pinterest.
The social network is all about compiling a digital scrapbook of everything users want to remember to make or buy—hence the impressive referrals and brand support.
The search feature on Pinterest is basic but incredibly beneficial. Indexing pin descriptions through keywords, Pinterest allows users to search by pins, boards, or pinners. Users can browse by category, but searches seeking images via the Pinterest search engine drive the majority of pins and repins.
Who Searches on Pinterest?
American users dominate time spent on Pinterest, averaging over 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site per week. The most popular age group on Pinterest is 25-34 year-olds, presenting an invaluable marketing opportunity, improved through user insight:
Some 80% of Pinterest users are women, and 50% of \ users have children. These demographics determine the audience landscape and how users will interact with the search feature. Although men are the minority, that is likely to change in the future. For instance, every Major League Baseball team now has an active presence on Pinterest.
Opportunities continue to expand on the social image site, with open registration, mobile apps, private boards, and Pinterest for Business the more recent additions.
The basic search feature is used by those looking for inspiration, products, tips, recipes, fashion, design, DIY, crafts, holiday ideas and much more.
Optimizing for Pinterest Search
- Content planning: Inserting brand services and products into trending topics is a well-known social media best practice. Among the top categories on Pinterest are Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, Home Décor, Hair & Beauty, and Fashion. If a company has anything to do with those types of services, Pinterest is a must. Of course, the possibilities are endless (at ZOG Digital, we love to keep up with digital trends).
- Brand search optimization: The initial Pinterest page verification steps involve filling out brand information, location, and related links. Adding a "Pinterest" button to the company website bolsters Pinterest page accessibility. Signing up as a business or converting your existing account is simple.
- Content optimization: For search, pin descriptions—alt tag for photos—are critical for optimization, influencing how the site indexes search results. Using the maximum character count of 500 allows each pin to be optimized with a variety of relevant and searchable keywords—including product price. Each optimized pin should complement the larger optimized board. Within the "edit board" option on the site, overall descriptions along with "choose a board" category tell Pinterest how to organize content. Each board should be clearly labeled, as it's a user option to search by board name (or pins or pinners). Image quality is also important—an optimized image is likely to drive more engagement. Search Engine Land says it best: "the better the quality of your photos, the more pins you'll get." And the more repins, the more often your content will show up in searches.
Pinterest possesses immense potential for marketers looking to increase visibility and sales. An optimized profile will ensure your brand will be on the cutting edge in discovering all that is possible on the site and maximizing its benefits.
The most obvious representation of the search and social media combination, Google+ is the social conception of the leading search engine: Google.
Google+ has 500 million users, more than 135 million of whom are active users. That number will grow in 2013, both because of the increasing popularity of the site and the automatic profile sign-up that results when you open any Google account, including Gmail.
Google+ offers many SEO benefits. For example, Google+ profiles show up in autocomplete in SERP, providing more visibility and a ranking advantage for those with a presence. It pays to have Google on your side when marketing your brand on Google+.
With a continuous rollout of updates, Google+ is changing perceptions of what a social network provides. Search Plus Your World—search results with your personal information in mind—further ties the social aspect in with advanced search capabilities. It allows searchers to view a hybrid of results, including both personal content and public Web matches in a single set of listings.
Search Engine Land reports that the drawback to Google's advancement is the lack of other social involvement. Sites that share posts and information only with certain, limited audiences (such as followers on Twitter) are not indexed, making it more simply "Search Plus Google Plus."
Who Searches on Google+?
Some 67% of users on Google+ are male; the average user is a 28-year-old male "techie." Professionals, journalists, and educators are prominent throughout the site as well. This is critical to remember when posting content on a business's Google+ page. As noted before, appealing to user demographics is crucial, so finding out what they will be looking for is key.
Along with the "techies" on Google+ are various niche audiences. One of the lesser-known demographics attracted to Google+ are photographers. They appreciate features such as easy uploading and sharing throughout their circles, enabling feedback. In response, Google+ has worked to cultivate the community; for instance, TechCrunch reports that G+ added pan and zoom functions to high-resolution images.
The main motivator behind searches conducted on Google+ is likely convenience. Social network users typically leave the networks they're on to search on Google, but Google+ users are already there, with the knowledge base of the top engine at their fingertips.
Optimizing for Google+ Search
- Content planning: The site allows longer, text-heavy posts and so encourages more educational, timely information, in turn increasing ranking. Considering the average G+ user, it makes sense that Google authorship and content is popular. A Marketing Land study determined that posts about technology garnered the most +1s on the site. Take that into account.
- Brand search optimization: Search capabilities on Google+ index people and keywords. To show up in search results, brands must ensure their page name, information, and links are all correct. Google+ must also verify these accounts. Author tags help, because Google+ profiles show up in search engine results—so authors, mentioned users, or employees can add to SEO efforts.
- Content optimization: Content on Google+ can only go so far if it isn't optimized. Therefore, a completed profile should include brand keywords and industry credentials. Linking is important in cross-promotion and should incorporate both website links and other social sites to increase visibility. Images also lead to heightened interest from users, and they should be included in at least three posts weekly. As noted earlier, a unique benefit of Google+ is the ability to enter much more text than on other sites. Although there is no official character limit set by the company, TechCrunch reports that G+ stops publishing at approximately 100,000 characters.
Google+ is ideal for promoting business knowledge and causes, as well as connecting with others in the industry. For maximum effectiveness within the social search tool, your Google+ profile should be optimized and the opportunity to include more information taken advantage of. Trending topics and current events are always important, and Google+ users are likely to be in-the-know about technology.
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We are just witnessing the beginning of all that is possible when search and social are combined. Early adopters of social media optimization across Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest stand to gain a significant competitive advantage and add more brand equity.
As social search capabilities continue to improve, the ability to connect with more consumer, increase engagement, loyalty, and sales will only increase.