• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Knowing that consumers like personalization is helpful, but the greater challenge is getting them to give up their information. Many consumers are extremely wary of giving their information to companies.

    In a recent article on this site, we discussed the value of personalization for marketers in website and email marketing design. The article focused on research that show how much consumers like personalization and some of the ways it could be implemented. A new study from IBM investigates this topic further. The IBM study shows the value of personalization, and more importantly, how to get consumers to give marketers the data they need to make personalization work.

    The IBM study found that nearly half of US consumers want personalization in their online experience and many want it from in-store retailers as well. The study found that 48 percent of US consumers want on-demand, personalized promotions while shopping online, while 44 percent want the same in the store. The researchers felt that retailers hadn’t fully met the challenge of creating the experience consumers want. According to IBM, though 43 percent of those surveyed said they prefer to shop online, only 29 percent reported making their most recent purchase online.

    “With consumers switching seamlessly from online to the store it might appear that retailers have finally struck the right balance, but IBM’s study identifies a significant gap between what shoppers want from retailers and what they are getting today,” said Sarah Diamond, General Manager, IBM Global Business Services in a press release. “Retailers may not be doing enough to meet consumer expectations shaped by digital experiences outside of retail — from location-based services to preference-based apps. The good news is that this gap also indicates the potential of growth for retailers who can meet those consumer expectations.”

    Knowing that consumers like personalization is helpful, but the greater challenge is getting them to give up their information. Many consumers are extremely wary of giving their information to companies. Giving your email to the wrong entity can lead to large amounts of spam messages and security risks. Even before the internet, putting one’s name and address on a list could lead to piles of unwanted mail. Marketers must be willing to overcome these consumer fears in order to make personalization work. It may take some effort, but it will lead to more loyal customers.

    The study found that one way online and in-store retailers can get customers to give out data is to offer text messages with personalized offers. IBM reported that the majority(54%) of US consumers see potential benefits in sharing their mobile information to receive texts from retailers. Not only do they see the value, many (42%) are willing to give their phone numbers to retailers to get these benefits.

    Remember, there are laws regulating how business can use text messages. The retailer must have permission amongst other things. Read this article read about the most recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

    Marketers must also keep in mind that just because technology makes something possible, doesn’t mean that consumers will like it. Mobile devices have the potential to provide marketers with a lot of useful information that can be used for personalization, but doing that makes many customers concerned. The researchers at IBM noted that though 42 percent of US consumers see the potential benefits in sharing their locations with retailers via GPS only 28 percent are willing to do so.

    Consumers may not want to share their GPS location directly with retailers, it’s still possible to use location-based marketing. Most mobile apps and ad networks offer ad targeting based on location, marketers just wouldn’t be able to use them to provide personalized specials to a particular user’s device. All the same, being shown a generic ad for a retailer near their location is good enough for most people.

    Besides the information about personalization and data, the IBM study had other findings that are useful for marketers. For example, the study noted that 60 percent of shoppers said it’s important to be able to find out if an item is in stock before going to the store.

    Marketers can read the entire study from IBM on their website. And read this article for more information on how marketers can merge their online and in-store experience.

    Is the most valuable part of your content the discussion it generates? Can social comments add more authority and semantic search value than many marketers truly appreciate? These were among the questions on my mind when I sought advice from a handful of connections in GPlus (who just happen to also represent some of the top minds in Semantic Search).

    Is the most valuable part of your content the discussion it generates?

    Can social comments add more authority and semantic search value than many marketers truly appreciate? These were among the questions on my mind when I sought advice from a handful of connections in GPlus (who just happen to also represent some of the top minds in Semantic Search).

    As a result, below, you’ll see a transcript from one of the most insightful G+ conversations I've been a part of, complete with some revealing (and common sense) insights into what makes the comments you receive on your content so valuable… and what to watch out for if you want to keep comments from accidentally hurting your content.

    Participating in the discussion are: Ammon Johns, Stephan Hovnanian, David Amerland, Bruce Marko, David Kutcher, Teodroa Petkova, Aaron Bradley, Bill Slawski, Sergio Redondo and Frank Gainsford.

    First, a quick word about how we got to where we are. Comments by Frank Gainsford on another blog post inspired the idea for this thread, and then responses from Frank, Bill Slawski, Ammon Johns, Stephan Hovnanian, Teodora Petkova, Bruce Marko, David Kutcher, Sergio Redondo, and David Amerland all helped to flesh the idea out. I’m incredibly grateful to all of them.

    Without further delay, let's talk semantics. It all started when I posed these questions...

    Preliminary Questions, re: Semantic Social Value.

    1. What would consider to be the most significant semantic advantage to having a large number of comments on a social post?
    2. Do you see a correlation between this (from your answer above) and SERP results/trends you’re seeing lately?
    3. Can you imagine a system, in the near future, where marketers will attempt to game social engagement to improve their SERPs?
    4. Is the semantic nature of social commenting strong enough to affect search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets?
    5. In your opinion, do commenting tools such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre improve or lessen opportunities to build semantic value, trust or authority?
    6. a. What's the most important question I missed? b. May I add your question to the finished questionnaire?

    For the finished piece, I would like to arrive at 10 final questions with answers to share. The final 10 may not include my questions (in case I've missed the good ones). :-)

    Feel free to answer as thoroughly as you need to.

    To which, the following amazing conversation flowed...

    It starts out all polite and a bit light before ramping up into an open and thoughtful discussion between Semantic peers. Because of that, I've optied to share it without editing. Enjoy.

    stephan

    Randy Milanovic qualifier on #1, by large number of comments are you measuring by # of comments or length of discussion?

    Randy

    I'm assuming discussion and participants, however diced. Long discussion meaning many entries. Perhaps answers could include those particulars?

    David

    Agree with Stephan Hovnanian​ on #1, large number of "good job" is different than lengthy posts expanding the subject discussion. With #5, Google+ Commenting?

    Randy

    I had considered adding Gplus Commenting (a ringer!) However, in my own research before adding Disqus to my site I discovered Gplus commenting is limited to Google products.

    David

    I also get curious not just about the contents of the comments, but the author as well. If I can get a known subject matter authority engaging in the comments will that contribute semantic social value and/or affect SEO?

    Randy

    ^ I think you just hit the nail on the head David

    David

    Randy Milanovic​ there is a hack method to include g+ commenting to non-Google websites/platforms

    Randy

    Only for WP as far as I know. Call me chicken, but I'm wary of hacks. Brawwwk, brawk...

    David

    Randy Milanovic​ 3 lines of code: html container, javascript include, include element.

    Bill

    Q1 - Having a range of comments increases the likelihood that a sufficient range of answers addresses the topic of the social post, including (1) narrowing down its topic to meaningful segments, (2) broadening its range in a way that might capture as much of the whole of it as possible, (3) raising as many attributes that are related and meaningful as possible with repetitive answers showing which elements may be the most important or at least come across that way.

    At some point, having too many answers might act to provide too much information, and some of it misleading information.  I think of I. A. Richards experiment with Modern Practical criticism, which showed that there are a number of ways people commenting on something may respond to it, and some of those aren't how you might think they would respond, and might not necessarily be helpful.

    stephan

    How do we follow that up with anything meaningful? ^^^ :)

    Randy

    I saw a post earlier today (I think) from Barry Swartz talking about Panda 4 negatively impacting his site and Google telling him his comments were "possibly" the cause. The assumption was the comments outweighed the content and many were poor quality, tipping the quality factor into the yucky. Anyone else see that?

    Bill Slawski that's what I'm looking for. Real insights and knowledge. Thank you. Only 5 more to go. ;-)

    stephan

    1) collaborative ownership of the discussion, which could translate to both the topic and its contributors referencing it again in other areas of the web.

    2) I'm not tracking anything like that (not really my wheelhouse compared to others on this thread). 

    3) there are already cliques on social media which extend to comments, shares, and off social to blog posts. I don't see how gaming this is sustainable because eventually the extended network that benefits from these semantic signals gets encapsulated within the clique.

    4) I doubt it. If the competitive market is active on social, you'll have a higher threshold to make any impact if it's even possible at all. If the market is not active on social, the extended network that benefits from semantic signals isn't logged in so they never see it, even though you won't have to do as much work to get social comments to make the impact.

    5) I think they help actually because they help discovery which could lead to networks among users, which build trust and authority.

    6) how would you measure this in the first place? (To which I don't know the answer)

    Randy

    Clique as in small group?

    Aamon

    Q1. What would consider to be the most significant semantic advantage to having a large number of comments on a social post?

    A1. The most significant semantic advantage to a relevant set of comments in a comment thread is much as it always was - it adds extra words, alternate phrasing, and related topics to a page.  This was also true in 1995.

    Q2. Do you see a correlation between this (from your answer above) and SERP results/trends you’re seeing lately?

    A2. I have long seen a correlation between rankings on words repeated in comments.  In recent times I have been seeing more advantage to 'concept' type search (i.e. semantics) through adding more related but not necessarily "precisely on topic" comments.

    Q3. Can you imagine a system, in the near future, where marketers will attempt to game social engagement to improve their SERPs?

    A3. Actually, I've known people doing this for as far back as I can recall.  Of course, the 'social engagement' metric they were trying to gain was visits and links, but these are both 'engagement' signals even where comments are absent.  One could easily point to thousands of poorer SEO companies buying or faking 'likes' and other social signals for a decade or so.

    Back in the heyday of forums, people would create sock-puppet accounts and play a tag-team game, where one account would ask a question that naturally led to a link drop from the second as an on-topic reply.  This also happened on blog comments.

    And I knew of several bloggers that faked their own comments to make it seem as though there were an engaged audience in the hopes it would entice further engagement.  Gaming social engagement indeed, as far back as I can recall.

    Q4. Is the semantic nature of social commenting strong enough to affect search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets?

    A4.  Only, so far, in regard to the words used and added to the page, or in the links gained through any other page that is crawlable, be that on any social platform or blog, etc.

    Q5. In your opinion, do commenting tools such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre improve or lessen opportunities to build semantic value, trust or authority?

    A5.  In that comments themselves add value, they do indeed add value.  Trust and authority, not so much, as yet.  However, embedding G+ comments into a page may indeed have an added element of trust or authority, since these are a little more closely linked to verified accounts.

    6a. What's the most important question I missed? 6b. May I add your question to the finished questionnaire?

    A6.  Would you like a beer, Ammon? :o)

    Randy

    #craft perchance?

    Ammon Johns perhaps a post-Hummingbird angle?

    Aamon

    Only really in Q2, and addressed in the answer.

    In all, Hummingbird in terms of SEO is still more evolution than revolution, though it has made specific keywords less important.  Hummingbird has nothing to do with Social per se.

    Randy

    Am I to understand Hummingbird's jump to semantic was vapour Ammon Johns?

    Ammon

    No, not at all, although there were synonyms in search prior to Hummingbird.  Hummingbird is indeed about semantics.

    It just is not about Social.

    Whether others add the words in comments, or whether I write a page using all those words makes no difference to Hummingbird (but other parts of Google put more weight on content in the article than in the comments).

    sergio

    Reply Hope it helps:

    1. What would consider to be the most significant semantic advantage to having a large number of comments on a social post?

    A1. I think it's not a matter of quantity but quality of these comments when speaking about semantics. And now my question: when you say 'social post', do you refer to a post (aka. update) published on any social network or an 'engaged post'?

    2. Do you see a correlation between this (from your answer above) and SERP results/trends you’re seeing lately?

    A2. Good comments add value to posts. If these good comments use words semantically related to the content of the post, they are adding more semantic value. You can find a lot of sources on the Internet that prove the correlation between 'good engaged posts' and better rankings.

    3. Can you imagine a system, in the near future, where marketers will attempt to game social engagement to improve their SERPs?

    A3. Very probably, but it will need to be strict with the user behaviour (aka. marketers practices).

    4. Is the semantic nature of social commenting strong enough to affect search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets?

    A4. I think it might. When you find a niche where almost all of the best players share the same behaviour about their strategies, the answer from their users when interacting with their contents must be a turning point. If users comments in a wise way, adding semantic value to a post, this might be a strong signal to search engines.

    5. In your opinion, do commenting tools such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre improve or lessen opportunities to build semantic value, trust or authority?

    A5. I think these systems give the possibility to give credits and value to users who comments in a good way. They create a interconection between comments left in different pages from the same user, so this user could become a 'commenting authority'. If a post have a good amount of 'commenting users' (and here we are speaking about quality+quantity), this might rank better than similar posts with less 'commenting users'.

    6a. What's the most important question I missed? 6b. May I add your question to the finished questionnaire?

    A6. How can a user become and be recognized as a 'commenting authority'?

    And one recommendation for this quiz:  Tihomir Petrov

    Randy

    Thank you Sergio Redondo. A1: while any post (in social or blog) may be considered, I'm my mind was an update within a social platform.

    stephan

    Cliques, yes small groups, like the ones who share each other, link to each other, no matter what.

    And damn, I am out of my league here, thank you Ammon Johns​ Sergio Redondo​ Bill Slawski​ for these answers, I'm learning a lot on this thread :)

    sergio

    Thanks Randy Milanovic . And excuse me for this error: in A5, when I say 'commenting users' I mean 'commenting authorities'.

    Bill

    As Ammon noted:  A1. The most significant semantic advantage to a relevant set of comments in a comment thread is much as it always was - it adds extra words, alternate phrasing, and related topics to a page.  This was also true in 1995

    There are other signals that can be looked at as well by a search engine, when it comes to things like these, such as a term frequency*Inverse document frequency to understand how unique and how rare the words might be in a comment,  and some analysis of how related those words are to an overall theme.

    I wrote a post in 2011 about a patent published at WIPO titled "How Google Might Rank User Generated Web Content in Google + and Other Social Networks".  It looks at a number of additional signals as well to assess the values of comments, and to possibly even gauge a reputation score for an author.

    Q2 (2. Do you see a correlation between this (from your answer above) and SERP results/trends you’re seeing lately?)

    It really impossible to see inside the black box and tie one of many pieces to others. There are also a very wide range of algorithms potentially in use that may or may not be in use that could impact rankings for terms, phrases, themes.

    Q3 (3. Can you imagine a system, in the near future, where marketers will attempt to game social engagement to improve their SERPs?)

    It's hard not to imagine that happening, and it likely has been for over a decade.  Marketers are likely going to try to increase a "share of mind" about a product or service that they are being paid to promote regardless of whether or not it might have a direct impact upon search results.  That it in possibly could, is in many cases, an additional bonus.

    I've been trying to create pages that visitors not only use to sign up for services or goods from, but also are likely to refer friends to, link to, talk about socially with others both online and offline, and so on.  A marketer who isn't doing things like this, isn't marketing.

    Q4 (4. Is the semantic nature of social commenting strong enough to affect search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets?)

    I'm not quite sure I understand what question is being asked here.  What is "the semantic nature of social commenting?" Is the question referring to things such as Google connecting the accounts of people who have added each other to their circles, so that for one of those connected people, the other might see their posts or posts that they have shared or endorsed, through a connection that a search engine could recognize, such as a FOAF connection between the two? And that those posts/shares/endorsements might act to boost results as if they were personalized?

    Q5 (5. In your opinion, do commenting tools such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre improve or lessen opportunities to build semantic value, trust or authority?)

    I haven't personally used any of these on a site that I run, and can't claim to have any opinion on them. I'm not being paid to endorse them (and really don't want to be), and would much rather answer a question about Google+ comments or even more the simple default commenting system that WordPress offers and probably is used by a much wider audience than these third party tools.

    Teodora

    Randy Milanovic thanks one more time for this nice nice discussion. Here's my part. Now diving into other people's comments. :)

    1. What would consider to be the most significant semantic advantage to having a large number of comments on a social post?

    Relationships. Something more, mapped relationships. And let’s not forget to look at semantic search and technology holistically, they are not absolute, they serve a purpose. More comments mean more engagement, context and well reflected dynamics of things.

    2. Do you see a correlation between this (from your answer above) and SERP results/trends you’re seeing lately?

    Large number of comments per se might mean everything :) But yes, I see a correlation between reinforced relationships (i.e. strong social signals) and SERP.

    3. Can you imagine a system, in the near future, where marketers will attempt to game social engagement to improve their SERPs?

    Of course, many will try to game the system. But, gaming it they will have to transcend to the light side - because faking it the will make it. Gaming value and trust is a paradox. No need for that. A “first” place means nothing if the client is not satisfied.

    4. Is the semantic nature of social commenting strong enough to affect search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets?

    It is the the  tightly contested or competitive markets that social listening can do miracles :) And social listening means semantic search adequacy (if the results from the listening are well read and used)

    5. In your opinion, do commenting tools such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre improve or lessen opportunities to build semantic value, trust or authority?

    I believe they improve the opportunities to build semantic value by giving a space for people to express what’s on their mind, to participate in the communication, to be nods themselves (spreading the word and the relationships further)

    6a. What's the most important question I missed? 6b. May I add your question to the finished questionnaire?

    How social signals will affect the communication between things in the IoT :)

    Would semantic search make the numbers not count?

    Yes, you may. :)

    Bill

    6a. What's the most important question I missed? 6b. May I add your question to the finished questionnaire?) How would you define  A "Semantic Social Value" as related to comments"?  Does it need to boost ranking values, or can it do something even more positive such as being a source of authority to things such as knowledge bases or question-answering services? You can add this one to the finished questionnaire if you would like.

    david

    Semantic-ConnectionRandy Milanovic 1. What would consider to be the most significant semantic advantage to having a large number of comments on a social post? - From a semantic analysis point of view every comment (and commenter) is assessed through a four-attributes filter that looks a little like this. In addition the comments themselves, as already mentioned by everybody, add breadth and depth. There is the inherent risk of too much breadth derailing the post's value by weakening its overall domain attribution (i.e. making it weak) but that really comes down,again, to the assessment of the individual commenter and, ultimately, the building of relationships across the social web.

    2. Do you see a correlation between this (from your answer above) and SERP results/trends you’re seeing lately?  Yes, when the comments end up being even better than the original post. In that regard the post was key to eliciting the comments and everything is synthesized into a really valuable whole. If the comments are not relevant the value of the post is deprecated.

    3. Can you imagine a system, in the near future, where marketers will attempt to game social engagement to improve their SERPs? Marketers always look for shortcuts. It's the norm of all human economic behaviour. Semantic search is informed by an ever increasing array of signals none of which, on their own. work well (pretty much like in Real Life). This means that there are no real viable shortcuts. It requires as much effort to game the system as to do it all properly.

    4. Is the semantic nature of social commenting strong enough to affect search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets? All other things being equal strong social commenting can become a strong corroborative signal in terms of quality and value which can make the defining difference.

    5. In your opinion, do commenting tools such as Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre improve or lessen opportunities to build semantic value, trust or authority? Google actively mines the social web for identity signals which it uses in its entity graph. Comments in different systems can play a significant part in this, particularly as Google scales the process across the web. The question right now is how advanced (and therefore valuable to the end user) that system is. It's a long term strategy from a commenter point of view. From the perspective of a comment, relevant comments have the ability to increase the value of a post and significantly increase its semantic weight.

    6a. What's the most important question I missed? 6b. May I add your question to the finished questionnaire? 6a. In a semantic web where quality, a unique identity and real connection and relationships are key do any of our step-by-step here's how-to-do this suggestions really matter?

    6b. yes.

    Randy

    Bill Slawski Q4 clarification (I hope): It appears there're 2 camps when it comes to social engagement as a ranking factor - at least insofar as there's direct impact. Not to inject my own assumptions, but I can't fathom a world where comments, likes, plusses, favourites and the like could not impact a piece of contents 'value', even if it is to simply add bulk as Mike suggested earlier. In case I've worded the question improperly, in open to modify it with your help.

    Bill Slawski Q5 clarification: I suppose WP's commenting system should be included. I mentioned those as examples simply because they are gaining steam as alternatives to the standard Name, Email, Web, Comment, Submit, Moderate, Display model I've found limiting to engagement and ride with spambots. I didn't include Google's for 2 reasons, a) I feel it's a ringer, and b) it is not available outside of Google properties (except for the hack discussed earlier).

    Ladies and Gentlemen, would you all be interested in answering the other participants' questions? Essentially morph the 'what did I miss' question into a second bank if much better questions - possibly even a second post?

    David Amerland am I seeing that there's a sweet spot for comments... Enough to bolster the original piece, but not enough to overshadow it?

    david

    Randy Milanovic it really comes down to value. Write a post on semantic search and get Bill Slawski and Ammon Johns  to comment on it at length and, depending on the sentiment of what they say (which is now also mined) it's a strong signal that your post is of value and it has now become even more valuable so it's noteworthy. If you had a hundred profiles that usually share jokes and memes come by and say "great, wow, thank you" it would mean the opposite. So really, comments play a strong co-creational part in the original post and everything revolves around real connections and quality, which is a long way of saying "Yes" to what you just said. :)

    Ammon

    Sometimes in search, you'll see a highly ranked result on Yahoo Answers or similar. The original post was just a question, and doesn't in itself have the value. All of the value is in the comments and interaction.

    bruce

    For the first question I would say the more robust the comments the more authority is ascribed to the post, thus the more visible it becomes, especially in the context of who is commenting.

    Right now the ability of the semantic Internet to derivate meaning from value in comments is limited though constantly evolving. It can tell who is talking though and if you have a couple of experts discussing their wheelhouse in your thread then it either absolutely effects ranking and visibility or the semantic Internet arguably doesn't exist.

    For two I would say the trends I see from this are more related to social networks and effect the flow of information rather than specific search returns.

    Three is that we live now and for the foreseeable future in a system which is under near constant assault by people trying to game the system. People make a living trying to advise people on how best to game the system and thwarting them is often woven right into Googles updates like hummingbird and panda. The best one can do is try to understand the subjective definition of fair play within the system they operate in and do their level best to work as close to that line as possible.

    Four is yes but it is not fully effective yet. Again the system does not have the ability to derivate multiple levels of value from a conversation, yet in the future that is where it is going. In the not too distant future. For now the effect seems limited in it's ability to affect ranking, but that will change in the future.

    For five I would say all tools help, however trust and authority are developed over time, while a polished first impression may help expedite this process it can not be a substitute for it. You cannot fake the value or originiality of your words, and this is where semantic value is derived from. So I would say tools help and can improve opportunities, however it is important to remember they are only tools, what you say has to matter to begin with and it doesn't matter the font that irrelevant information uses.

    For my question I would pose what exactly does the semantic internet mean, and do you really think you know for sure, or are you simply sure you don't know? Not meaning you of course, but as a general question I would put to the public. My suspicion is the vast majority of people out there have no idea what it even means...:)

    Randy

    Thank you Teodora Petkova - appreciate the document link.

    If we could earn comments from all of the participants in this chat regularly... the sky'd be the limit David Amerland :-)

    Point taken Ammon Johns.

    Thank you Bruce Marko . Am I naive to hold out hope that regular people are truly trying to work within the system?

    bruce

    Randy Milanovic many are, and many are not, there is always hope my friend

    sergio

    Well, Randy Milanovic, you only have to see the comments right here to answer your post.

    aaron

    1.  This question has two nebulous concepts that makes me difficult to address it squarely, but I'll try after enumerating these challenges.  The first is a reference to "semantic advantage".  I'll read that as "something that has a relative clarity of meaning that can be gleaned by data consumers," but that's in the absence of any further information.  The second fuzzy adjectival construction is "social post."  As opposed to what?  A "non-social" post?  Some sort of document that's not a "post"?  That a document has comments attached to it makes it "social" IMO.

    Anyway, the most significant "semantic" advantage of a an artifact for which there's a large number of comments could be that the entity or entities under discussion could have more information provided about them (though not necessarily in a way that data consumers are able to digest that information meaningfully - i.e. "semantically").  "Could" because they could be a "large number of garbage comments" that added no value to the piece, semantic or otherwise.

    Probably the biggest "advantage" in this situation is that comment count itself, which a data consumer could provisionally say "this is a post of some importance, because of the engagement it appears to have."

    Finally - and this basically as a segue to my next answer - probably the biggest advantage from an optimization perspective is that a post with more comments is more likely to provide a match for more queries, by dint of the concepts or - far more likely - the strings a search engine is able to identify in those comments (thought I don't know if that's considered a "semantic" advantage or not).

    2.  Yes, I see a correlation between documents ranking in the SERPs and strings contained within (obviously spiderable) comments on a document, but this is nothing new.  If anything, there's fewer of such heavily-commented posts high in the results for long tail queries because the search engines are getting progressively better at returning relevant resources that don't precisely match strings in a long-tail query, to the detriment of those social posts.

    3.  Marketers try to game engagement all the time, and of course there's a cottage industry in fake engagement ("get 5,000 new followers for $5.00 ... guaranteed!").  Is this done to improve search rankings?  Sometimes, though of course the search engines vehemently deny there's a direct correlation between engagement and search ranking.

    4. What makes "social commenting" inherently "semantic"?  Dropping the adjectives I can respond that "the nature of commenting" is such that it can sometimes impact "search rankings in tightly contested or competitive markets" - depending on the query, the market, and the comments in question.  Other times, not at all.  In other words, there's nothing inherent to comments that give comment-laden posts the ability to outrank other types of documents.

    5.  It depends on the specific tool, how that tool is employed, and which data consumer's "semantic value, trust or authority" is potentially impacted.

    Within any given commenting network there's lots of trust and authority building going on, particularly when comments themselves can be voted on by readers.

    There's a lot of potential here for search engines, because you've got these disambiguated personal entities that can be linked to various topical realms.

    In reality, virtually all of this potential is unrealized.  I don't think the search engines make much of raw comment counts, it's difficult for them to track identities that are verified and disambiguated in somebody else's network (i.e. I think that chance that Google can tell the Aaron Bradley that wrote such-and-such an article on SEO Skeptic and the Aaron Bradley that left a comment on a Search Engine Land article is virtually nil).

    But most importantly the vast majority of Disqus, IntenseDebate, and LiveFyre comments aren't indexed by the search engines.  That this is a technological implementation issue doesn't make it any less pressing.  To choose one example out of tens of thousands, articles on Salon.com get scores, sometimes hundreds of comments.  Check out the Google cache:  zero out of a zillion comments indexed. Search engine value:  zero.

    6a.  I can't help it - it's a mulit-part question. :)  For what reasons do people likely comment on web documents when given the opportunity, and what do these motivations suggest about the uses a search engine might make of comments?  6b.  Of course! :)

    Randy

    Spectacular, aren't they Sergio Redondo

    Aaron Bradley (in fact, everyone here) thank you for your thought-provioking responses.

    To clarify #1: I was viewing the concept of a social post to be initially a post into a social platform (such as this one), with some revision to include blog articles.

    Somehow I missed Barbara Starr in the initial share.

    Editor's note: I've ended this blog post at this point, as Aaron's contribution pretty much wrapped up the first evening of chatter. Much more followed, but rather than post everything here, I thought I'd open up an opportunity for you to engage the Semantic Search leaders in this thread directly, either in the Disqus comments below, or in social media itself. In either case, I'm certain you'll join me in learning a bit more about semantic search, no matter if you're brand new to this semantic thing, or even an old pro. And, I'll be publishing the participants' 'missing' questions in the near future so watch for those.

    My biggest takeaway from this discussion?

    Everything's connected. Everything counts.

     

    In this blog post, I discuss ways that your brand can come out victorious during the big game in 2015. From organization and preparation tips, pre-game content recommendations, social media campaign tips, and rules of real-time engagement, there are tons of great tips included to help you win the advertising and marketing game this Super Bowl Sunday!

    So you couldn’t find it in your advertising budget to throw down the $4.5 million for a 30-second commercial in Super Bowl XLIX like these guys? We understand. But we’re also here to let you know that you can still come out on top through alternative advertising and marketing methods on social media during the big game.

    There are plenty of ways to ensure that your brand message will be heard through all the noise of the Super Bowl on social media, but you have to commit ahead of time. Think about it-there are 184 million viewers that could potentially come in contact with your brand. But you have to have a strong brand voice and a solid game-plan (pun intended) in place so that your content is sharable. Are you on board? Let’s engage.

    1. YOU MUST BE PREPARED AND ORGANIZED TO BE SUCCESSFUL

    When it comes to big events like the Super Bowl, a good rule of thumb is that 80 percent of potential content should already be created, approved, and placed into specific draft folders before the game starts. How is that possible? Sit down with your creative team and write out scenarios that are likely to happen during the game. Have content pre-approved for interceptions, touchdowns, questionable calls, etc. as well as content ready about key players (not only their football capabilities- think mannerisms, celebration dances, physical traits) so that when something happens your team is already prepared. It is also important to think of a few scenarios that could happen that DON’T have to do with football (just in case). This content should link back to your brand in a creative way so that not only is your brand being relevant, but it is at the same time being new and fun. When it comes to interacting during important live events, it is better to overestimate the content you may need than to be scrambling for content.

    Butterfinger did a great job of this in the 2014 Super Bowl by immediately posting pre-made content when the game started out with a safety. With 80 percent of content pre-planned and pre-approved, you are left with 20 percent of your content to be reactive and in the moment of when things are happening. This is when your creative team comes into play. They are able to focus on the more unexpected events and turn them into something your brand can capitalize on.

    2. Pre-Game Content Matters Too

    Long gone are the days of secrecy that brands used leading up to the Super Bowl. Instead, companies today are choosing to engage fans earlier on and create deeper story telling lines that they can share with users on social media in order to build more hype about their brand during the event. Let your following know that you will be participating in the “social” Super Bowl without explicitly saying so by releasing content before the big game. Engage your fans through polls on who you think will win on Facebook, hosting contests, and posting creative content that are appropriate for your target audience to “like”. The most important thing to remember about pre-game content is that it should give your audience something to look forward to- so entertain them!

    Victoria’s Secret Angels Play Football- Pre-Game Content

    3. Create a Social Media Campaign

    This is a given, but brands that come out on top during Super Bowls past have almost always had Social Media Campaigns in place. Theme and tone needs to stay consistent, and messaging should be clear. We aren’t going to go in depth into how to create a social media campaign, because you already know how to do that. However, this year there are two important concepts that you need to keep in mind while posting your content on Facebook.  

      • - Advertise on Facebook with their “Big Game” Segment- This year, Facebook is capitalizing on the Super Bowl by creating a “Big Game” targeting segment that allows brands to reach more people that are engaging in Super Bowl conversation. According to Marketing Land, Facebook stated that the segment will “include people beyond just football fans, including those liking, commenting and sharing content related to party planning, recipes, flatscreen TV purchases, conversations about TV commercials and other topics surrounding the game.” The article also stated that “The segment will be updated frequently ¬– growing and changing dynamically as more people become engaged with Super Bowl topics– in the remaining days before the game and throughout Super Bowl Sunday. This is something to keep in mind if you are planning on releasing “football themed” ads on the book. Find the segment through the Facebook interface in the “Behaviors” section under the “Seasonal and Events” category.
      • - Plan to BOOST- If you believe that one of your ads or posts are especially strong, and are getting a lot of engagement on them, plan to boost your post to keep the momentum going. Facebook- 1, Wallets- 0. Still worth it.

    4. Rules of Real Time Engagement

    Every brand wants its "Oreo Moment", but you aren’t going to achieve it unless your creative team brings its A-game to play on the real time engagement field. If you want to score big time, you’re going to have to have a social-command center. Have a real-time engagement strategy in place so that theme, tone, and voice are all consistent on your reactive posts. Also ask yourself “Who will share this post and why” for every post you put out. Here are some other tips when it comes to real-time engagement during the big game.  

      • - The most appropriate channel to flood with real-time updates is Twitter- don’t flood your other social channels with all of your updates.
    • -Tweet about the game itself, but always ask yourself how things can relate back to your brand and try to apply that as often as possible. Ask your fans to engage with simple things like “RT if both feet were in” tweets and other applicable requests during questionable calls. Always include hashtags.
    • -Get weird. The super bowl is a chance for you to be a little more edgy with the content that you are posting. Make sure to monitor competition’s tweets, and keep other brands in mind. Follow what is trending and JUMP IN ON THE CONVERSATION!

    5. Be Playful


    In good-hearted fun, call people and other brands out! If your brand can boast about something and relate it to the game, do it! If there is another JC Penny incident, call them out! Engage with competition! Be clever! Make people talk about your brand. Make people laugh.

     

    Other things to keep in mind:

    •Know your target audience…and from that predict what their behavior is going to be. Will they be watching the game with their family, or getting rowdy at the bar with their friends. From that prediction, give them more of what they want to see. Hint: it must be entertaining. Another hint: drunk people love dumb humor.
    • Dumb content doesn’t come out on top just because it is dumb. These ads had a lot of thought go into them.
    • If someone else has already done it, come up with something different.
    • Have fun with it.
    • Don’t forget to measure your efforts so that next year you can be more successful.

    Good Luck! 

    Social media is such a great place for businesses, and you know that maximizing your profile by loading photographs, filling out your bio, and staying active are important.

    Social media is such a great place for businesses, and you know that maximizing your profile by loading photographs, filling out your bio, and staying active are important.

    However, what you might not know are some of social media’s (best-kept) secrets that can seriously help boost your social media profile and get more engagement. Let’s head into three social channels’ hidden lairs of secrets to find things that you can begin using right now.

    Facebook’s Laboratory of Secrets!

    You might think you know all that Facebook has to offer, but do you really? Let’s take a look at three awesome, hidden features you should be using on Facebook! I found these excellent tips from HubSpot’s blog about hidden social media features.

    1. You Can Save Links on Facebook to View Later. This is a great way to keep a log of resources that you want to use in your blogs or share on social media. It is really handy for those of us who see something interesting but don’t have the time to look at it. How does this maximize your profile? It gives you the chance to store several excellent resources that you can share in the future without forgetting what you saw. Neat, isn’t it?

    2. Manage Sections on Your Business Page. When you have people come to your Facebook page, you will want them to see specific things first. However, you probably think they will always have to see your “about” section first, which isn’t quite what you want. A great way to maximize your profile is to manage your sections and put them in the order you want people to see! Want clients to see photos first? Then you can easily move that section to the top!

    3. Do You Want to Poll Your Followers Easily? Updating your business page with status updates and photos can be great for engagement, but sometimes you just want to send out a simple, little poll. You may have found a number of free programs, but you don’t like how they look or aren’t sure you want to send your followers to those sites. Fret no more! You can actually ask your poll questions when you go to craft a status update on your business page. Now you can get even more client engagement on Facebook.

    Pull the Book to Reveal Twitter’s Secret Door!

    When you look at Twitter, you see a lovely bookshelf filled with useful and viable information, but is that all there is? Pull that book, no, not that one, the other one, yes! Now you get to learn about three wonderful Twitter feature secrets you can use for your profile.

    4. “Favorite” a Tweet to Save for Later. You’ve seen the feature to “favorite” tweets, and while it seems like Twitter’s way to copy Facebook’s “like,” it actually serves a different purpose. Sure, you can favorite something you like, but you can also favorite things you’d like to save for later. You may see an interesting article, but don’t have time to read it before sharing. Just favorite the tweet and come back when you have the chance! You can also use favorites as a way to curate information, allowing followers to peek at your favorite resources.

    5. Have a Trend You Like? Then Follow it! You know that hashtags and trends are important on Twitter, which means you will want to follow a few. You don’t have to keep searching for the hashtag and trend every time you log on though. Twitter has an excellent feature that allows you to follow certain keywords or hashtags when you use their free desktop app, “Tweetdeck.” This is useful because it helps keep you “in-the-know” on trends without making you constantly search Twitter for your favorites.

    6. Create a Custom Timeline with Tweetdeck. Honestly, Tweetdeck is a perfect tool and feature that a lot of people should be using. Another way it can help maximize your profile is that you can create a custom timeline that can be embedded on your website, and show people what you want them to see. How handy is that? Try it out on your blog or website!

    Solve the Riddle and You Might Just Find What LinkedIn is Hiding!

    Don’t worry; you don’t actually have to solve a riddle to uncover these awesome hidden features. All you have to do is read the next three items! Let’s take a look at some stellar LinkedIn features you should be using.

    7. Do Target Research with “Advanced People Search.” You can do some quick, easy target research by simply using the “advanced people search” on LinkedIn. Don’t let the name fool you; you don’t need to search for a specific person. You can also search for keywords or different titles. The advanced portion lets you tweak the search further, giving you better, more tailored results.

    8. Create a Company Page and Review Analytics. You might have a professional LinkedIn page for yourself, but do you have a company page? If you don’t, it’s time to create one and start using it to review analytics. This will help you know what you should be posting, and can also help you connect your business with other industry leaders. Look at all that networking you could be doing but are missing out on!

    9. Joining Groups is Perfect for Visibility! This seems like a no-brainer, but you might not realize just how powerful a LinkedIn group can be. You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, so take this opportunity to connect with people who have similar interests to help boost your profile and create connections. This will be great because you will not only meet people that you can work well with. You will also meet people who will be more than willing to share items from your site and any blogs you post to LinkedIn. Get active on your profile and create new, professional relationships!

    Look at All That Treasure!

    Just by using these great hidden gems, you can easily start boosting your profile and making it something your clients will enjoy. A great thing about these features is that you can go ahead and start using them right now. Go on, head on over to the social channels and start playing around to get some seriously awesome results.

    Did you know that we remember 80% of what we see, yet only 20% of what we read? The power of visual content is hard to ignore. And that's why an infographic is such a valuable piece of content.

    Did you know that we remember 80% of what we see, yet only 20% of what we read? The power of visual content is hard to ignore. And that's why an infographic is such a valuable piece of content. Not only is it one of most engaging ways to tell your story, but businesses who market with infographics actually gain on average 12% more traffic than those who don't. So what makes a good infographic? Well, you're about to find out...

    1. A Targeted Audience

    As with any piece of content, if you want your infographic to be a success then you need to create one for your target audience. When coming up with the concept, do your research and find out what your audience likes, so that you can create an infographic that they will just have to share because it's so on-point with their thoughts. Think about it like this. Your target audience has a problem (otherwise you wouldn’t exist) and your job is to solve that problem. When coming up with concepts, your goal should be to show your audience that you are their solution, using the creativity of an infographic. If you don't have one, make sure you create a buyer persona so you know exactly who you are creating your infographic for.

    Exclusive Bonus: Download an awesome template to help you create your own buyer persona today!

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    2. A Compelling Theme

    If you check out the largest online community for infographics -Visual.ly – then you'll see that each one comes with a different theme. Your theme is essentially your story and it needs to correlate with your brand, as your infographic will become another footprint in your content marketing journey. If you check out this example below from Home Food Safety, you can see that they've really nailed their theme. The aim is to teach people the importance of cooking safety to help avoid food poisoning. Their theme is set within the various focus areas of the kitchen, and it really matches their brand too!

    Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 15.08.57

    You can check out the full infographic here.

    3. Actionable Data

    Next step should be to find the right data for your infographic, and this should be a heavy focus throughout. Don't just create one because you think it looks cool. For people to want to share it, it needs to feature stats that will back up your case. The key here is to find stats that will help prove to your audience that your product or service is the solution that they need in their life. As you can see from this snippet of one of our infographics below. As a video company, we're looking to attract marketers who are interested in creating an explainer video, so we've used stats to show how powerful video can be.

    Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 15.02.01

    You can check out the full infographic here.

    4. Awesome Graphics

    This is an obvious point to make, but your infographic has to look good! The graphics you use within it will help guide the viewer through the story, and if you haven’t put much effort into it then you'll never see any shares. If you don't have an in-house design team then think about outsourcing your infographic, because this is too important not to get right. Some of our top tips from our infographic designers include:

    • Keep your graphics simple
    • Tell your story in sections so it flows
    • Don't use too many colors
    • Make it readable
    • Match up your visuals with data
    • Stay true to your brand
    • Don't be too repetitive

    This infographic below is a great example of simple graphics split into sections to effectively tell the story...

    Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 16.02.37

    You can check out the full infographic here.

    5. Powerful Copy

    Yep that's right, it's not all about how it looks. The copy on your infographic is just as important! We're not saying make it copy-heavy but If you want to share it on social then you need to come up with powerful headlines to really convey the message. Your headline needs to be strong so that people will be compelled to share it. Keep it simple, concise and relevant to the theme. Quite like blog posts, a great way to grab attention and invite people to check out your infographic is to create a 'how-to' headline or one that asks a question. Here's an example of one that we created with the headline: How much do average apps make?

    Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 16.26.38

    You can check out the full infographic here.

    What's Next?

    So once you've put together your infographic with all of the above points in mind, the next step is to start outreaching. Sure you can promote it on your social, but if you really want to make it go viral then you need to put the effort in. There are plenty of bloggers and influencers out there who will be looking for an infographic just like yours, so start putting a strategy in place to contact them and see if they will feature it on their site.

    Exclusive Bonus: Download a two page checklist to guide you through the steps required to increase your content marketing reach!

    Do you Like Content Marketing as Much as We Do?

    It's true, we love content. But what we don't love is the same old stats that we have to use within our content. We are looking for fellow content marketers to let us know what the future holds for content markting. How do you use content? Which brands are getting it right? How successful is your content? Enter our survey today and tell us all about it! We'll even share the results with you so you can use it in your own content.