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You Ask, I Answer: Optimizing for Social Search?

Andy asks, “How do we think about optimizing our social content based on how search results appear in social search?”

You Ask, I Answer: Optimizing for Social Search?

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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode, Andy asks, How do we think about optimizing our social content based on how search results appear in social search? So it’s a search, I assume, and things like LinkedIn and Facebook and stuff? This is a very interesting question, because those search engines don’t work the way you think they should.

Social media search engines all use the network graphs that are underlying search engines underlying the social networks, to return results that are based less on the query term, and more on who you’re connected to.

So no matter what service you use, Facebook, search, Instagram search, so on and so forth, you will notice that the search results, lean towards Okay, what did you like? Who are you connected to? And what are the things that you or your friends have published.

And then you’ll get more generic general results out of that, they tend not to be nearly as sophisticated as Google, for example.

So they’re still much more keyword based versus semantic, based like topics, and things like that.

So it is still more primitive search in the ASP aspect, but it is really driven by the network by your network.

So if you want to optimize for search results, you’re really talking about optimizing for people who are the people that are connected to your company, or to connect it to your profiles.

And how often do those people do searches for the topics you care about, on the social networks you’re operating on.

So some of the things to think about, if you have groups, for example, like a LinkedIn group, or Facebook group, which by the way, I don’t encourage, we’ll talk about that in a second.

But if you have groups that will show up in search results of Pete, when someone’s searching for, say, search engine optimization, or data analytics, or something, whatever your company wants to be known for, if people are connected to through those groups directly connected to you, there’s a better than even chance that your entity will show up in their search results.

Now, very quickly, on the topic of why I’m not a fan of having your company’s groups on those places, because you’re competing with the main newsfeed, so you’re completely competing with the friends and family of somebody on those services.

And you’re competing with advertisers, which is just an unpleasant challenge to try and tackle.

I would strongly suggest looking at a service like Slack, or discord, or mattermost, or something, where there’s a social network that is outside of these advertising driven social networks, because they are always going to prioritize their paying customers, which is not us, right, the marketers who are not paying money to them.

That said, if you want to have everything in your sort of one stop shopping, yeah, you can use it there.

But I know that that from our own testing, when we started our analytics for marketers group, we started on Facebook, and we started with 100 people.

And inside of a week, even with decent content.

And even with some engaged discussions inside of a week, our posts are being seen by 1% of the group.

And we’re like, This is dumb, we are competing with the rest of Facebook, we moved to slack.

And the performance has been substantially better than because slacks revenue model is not based on ads.

So always you’re building a community always build a community in a technology or platform that does not make its money from ads.

So in terms of optimizing social content for social search, again, focus on the people.

Are you connected to the right people? And then are they engaging with your content in general, right, so

Christopher Penn 4:16

that if they happen to search for something on a social network, your content will show up because that connection is relevant.

This is especially true on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has a multi objective optimization model, they actually did a whole podcast episode with their engineers on how LinkedIn itself functionally works.

And one of the things that they do have running is tokenization of all the content and all the the words and phrases in your profile and your first degree connections and your second degree connections.

So if you are on LinkedIn and you are active in discussions and you’re participating in leaving comments about say Data analytics, LinkedIn begins to associate that term with your profile, because it’s presumably in your profile, your company profile, it’s presumably in your employees profiles, it’s presumably in the comments that you’re leaving.

And therefore, once it becomes aware that you will have a specialization or focus on that term, then when the search term comes up, you get some discovery from that, but that is contingent upon you.

behaving in a very focused way on LinkedIn to take advantage of that algorithm.

The other thing that does work for discovery purposes, particularly on Instagram, LinkedIn, to a degree and Tiktok, is hashtags.

Hashtags are a discovery vehicle, when someone’s looking for something, they will use hashtags just to see what’s out there.

Again, especially on a service like Tiktok, hashtags are one of the primary discovery mechanisms.

And so if you’re not including them, in your social content, you’re missing those opportunities to be discovered.

When somebody does look at those hashtags, especially on Instagram and Tiktok.

When you type in a hashtag into the search bar, you will see how many people view content about that particular hashtag.

So if you have a hashtag, that’s like 78 letters long, you’ll see it has like zero views.

But you choose something like hashtag marketing, hashtag social media, you will see that there are millions of views of that particular topic.

So make sure that again, you’re using those for discovery purposes.

But those would be my recommendations for optimizing for Social Search.

One last thing I would suggest is ask your audience how often they search for your content or information about your products and services or the thought leadership, the republishing, ask them how often they search for the on social networks.

search and social are different behaviors, people behave differently in each place when they are searching on a search engine.

They have an intent to discover to learn when they’re on social media that is not as strong as an intent.

They’re usually looking to have conversations to connect with people.

Right? And so you can optimize for social search.

But generally speaking, it’s probably not going to reap as larger reward as larger return as it will on an actual search.

And so just bear that in mind as well.

Good question.

Thanks for asking.

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