With Google owning 72% of the US search market I often wonder who Google thinks of as its competitors. Whilst Bing's relaunch provided an improved search engine over MSN Live, I wonder whether it's actually proving better than Google. I still Google rather than Bing!

So if not a rival search engine, who might Google think of as competition? I believe the answer to that question is YOU. If you have a social graph then you threaten Google's dominance as the go-to source of information, as Nielsen research shows that consumers trust real friends and virtual strangers more than search engine algorithms. Despite efforts, Google has yet to crack social media as such, as evidenced by the recent announcement that Google is looking to hire a "Head of Social"

As customer research patterns evolve from simply "Googling" products or services to consulting their social graph for opinions on a product or service, prospective customers might themselves be the ones finding products rather than products finding them through traditional outbound marketing. "Being the brand" or "having the product" that a social graph is discussing virally will be paramount, as evidenced by Ford's effort to go viral with its Fiesta model.

What does this ultimately mean for marketers? Actively participating in social media is becoming increasingly important. Here are some helpful hints to help you positively situate your brand and product or service in social media:

  1. Put your ear to the ground. Track your brand and important business keywords in social media outlets to find out what people are saying about you and related services. Set up an RSS feed of your target terms to stay updated. Listen first, sell second.
  2. Invite dialog and customer feedback. This will afford you the great chance to interact with your customers and prospects.
  3. Think of social media as a cocktail party. Offer insightful information in your interactions and don't just go on about yourself.
  4. Be worth paying attention to! Your social media followers/friends are paying attention to what you have to say. How do you get more (thereby extending your social media reach)? Easy! Say something worth paying attention to
  5. Be a human. Social media is really all about human interaction after all. Increasingly, studies show that prospects want to form personal connections with companies so let your personality come across.
  6. Be dedicated to social media. Give ownership of your social media accounts to someone (or several people) at your business. That person(s) can monitor and participate in these conversations and find useful information to share on your social media profiles.

On a closing note, try to not to obsess about the ROI of social media. HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan, thinks that questioning the ROI of Social Media is akin to questioning the ROI of putting on your pants in the morning (you just have to do it) while the Social Media Revolution video makes the case that the ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in 5 years.

 

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 PR: wait...  I: wait...  L: wait...  LD: wait...  I: wait... wait...  C: wait...  SD: wait...

Originally published May 14, 2010 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Social Media Marketing