Frank Dale: That’s right with Google. What Google is typically looking at is what’s going on on things like Google+. They’re also looking at things like Twitter data. They’ve had access to that stream for a long time. They’re looking at who is sharing certain things, who responds to particular content, and who links to it. The master of search engine optimization is a man named Rand Fishkin who’s just an outstanding human being. He’ll tell you any time you talk to him is that one of the things Google really wants to is understand who’s an authoritative person on certain topics. It’s already been done with websites by taking a look at who links to whom and taking a set of seeded lists of websites. Like, getting a link from CNN.com is a lot more credible than getting a link from the town newspaper. Google’s starting to apply that to human beings. Where does a person write?
Google will look at things like there’s an attribute called REL=Author. They can start building a profile for an author online in the various arenas where he or she creates content. Then Google can start to see where that person is publishing. If I’m publishing in the Wall Street Journal, and I’m also publishing in Forbes, and I happen to write about entrepreneurship, I’m going to be deemed more credible. I’m probably going to do better in searches when I write things for my own site.
SM: Yes. That’s one of the reasons we have such a high credibility. I wrote a column for Forbes for three years. Now, what is the tie-in between Twitter and Google+, in the same vein that we are able to pass our Twitter channels through Facebook and LinkedIn, can we do that with Google+.
FD: Good question. To make sure I understand, are we talking about Google mining Twitter data, or are we talking about cross-posting?
SM: Twitter, through things like Twitter feed and so on, lets you send your status updates through Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to tie in your Twitter account so that your Twitter status updates become your LinkedIn status updates, and the same with Facebook. Does Google+ or Google Circles allow you do that?
FD: I’m not certain. That changes fairly frequently. At one point, you could do that. Google’s gone back and forth. In fact, one of the challenges we’ve run into with Google+ with our own platform is that once upon a time, Google+ didn’t have an API available for you to automatically syndicate things to the way that you can with Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. I believe that has changed or is in the process of changing. Until it does, it makes things a little challenging. I heard that one of the reasons Google did that was because the company didn’t want people to just spam all four networks. Google wanted unique interactions on all four networks, but Google+ has also had an adoption problem.
SM: Of course, it’s having an adoption problem. It’s not humanly possible for people to create new content for every network. Unless it allows cross-leveraging of the good content that is being generated across networks, Google’s going to lose out.
FD: That’s exactly right. The key, though is if you’re going post across networks, understand the norms for the network. I know a lot of people, for instance, who for one reason or another, don’t like it when they see hash tags in posts on Facebook. On Twitter and LinkedIn, that’s not really a big deal, even though the hash tag is applicable only to Twitter. You need to be careful with that. Make sure your posts serve the audience.
SM: I think people in our audience are tolerant of that because it’s a technology entrepreneurship audience and they’re tolerant about hash tags. I just noticed one thing that Facebook has done that is a nice little improvement on how the company handled these contents indication. When Twitter flows through Facebook, in the past, the hot link would not become a preview. If you manually post a link on your Facebook page or profile, it gives you a little preview. Before, you wouldn’t get a preview for an automated Twitter post, but now you do, which I think will vastly increase the click-through rates.
FD: I would agree. You know, at Google – it just came to mind and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it – for small businesses, I recommend this Google tool that’s very helpful for doing what you’re talking about. It has a freemium pricing model; there’s a free tier. It’s a tool called Buffer. Where it’s really great is where it allows you to post across channels – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – and also track clicks across them. Now, it’s not super sophisticated in the tracking at this point. It’s just click-throughs and what happened on Twitter. Are you getting re-tweets, click-throughs? It’s the same business with Facebook and LinkedIn, but you can also optimize it for certain times. So, even if you’re audience is not necessarily geographically bound, it’s a great way to take a chunk of what you’re doing and pre-schedule, 50, 60, 70, or 80 posts if you need to. If you’re a busy entrepreneur, it’s really helpful.
SM: Well, how does that differ from HootSuite? HootSuite has the same capability. It has some level of tracking. It also has the scheduling capability. That’s what we use.
FD: It’s great tool. The user interface with Buffer is a little simpler. So, if you’re not technically sophisticated, Buffer’s a little easier to use. There are also other options. Are you familiar with If This, Then That? It’s another technology that allows you to create a rule-set of reactions that operates when certain conditions are met. So, if this event occurs, then please do that. It could be, if someone responds to my posts, then automatically think she’s re-tweeting it, for example. It’s a pretty simple interface to use. It’s also a freemium model.
SM: I see. You have been very precise about what kinds of technologies or tools you recommend for each of the actions or activities we discussed. I think our audience will find that very valuable. People are trying to learn these digital tools. What are the best tools in digital marketing? There’s so much crap out there that to find the ones that are worth focusing on and investing in, in terms of process is very helpful for our audience.
FD: I’m glad to hear it.
SM: All right, Frank, thank you for taking the time.
FD: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.