Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to moderate a social media panel at the Infopresse conference on social networking. Sitting on my panel was Guillaume Bouchard from NVI, a Montreal-based SEO/SMO firm. He explained to the crowd of more than 280 people how, by using social media tools, he manages to generate brand awareness and increase the online street cred of Canpages, a Canadian directory company competing against Yellow Pages Group in Canada.
It starts with the creation of original and quirky content in the Canpages blog. His team then seeds that content in the various social news sites like Digg and Reddit. Working with a large network of friends and contacts, he’s able to catch the eye of online influencers who might (or might not) promote that piece of original content.
His best success so far with Canpages has been this blog post about “Weird Canadian Restaurants”. It was submitted to Digg and generated 676 diggs and 101 comments. It was promoted to the first page of the site and generated good traffic (he did not disclose how much) for the Canpages blog. It was also favorited by people in StumbleUpon, another social tool that has the reputation of driving a lot of traffic. The post was well enough crafted to be picked up by Dan Mitchell from the New York Times, which generated some more traffic to the Canpages blog.
What it means: a great use (and a great understanding) of social media tools and sites to build a new directory brand and make it more exciting for “cool kids”. This is also a great strategy to build new incoming links to your domain, thereby increasing your page rank in Google. You’ve got to wonder though if there are long-lasting positive effects from both a brand equity and online directory site usage but I don’t think it hurts given the runner-up position they occupy in the market.
Bob Heyman covers five social search sites in MediaPost’s Search Insider (sign-up required).
“The premise (of social search) is that the next big thing is to harness the power of communities to generate more relevant search recommendations.”
1) Yoono “describes itself as “instant people-rated Web,” meaning, that when you surf, Yoono displays a list of Web pages that others have classified as “favorites.” It works with a toolbar or plug-in. See more in TechCrunch.
2) Gravee “is a social search application that differs from others in that it is trying to change the economics of search by sharing advertising revenue with content owners, with a rev-share business model. The site shares up to 70% of all ad revenues with the natural listings that appear on the same page when an ad occurs, as well as with the referring Web site.” here is TechCrunch’s take on it.
3) Jookster “is a community-driven social search tool that works primarily through the browser toolbar. Jookster collects photos, video and bookmarks from sites like YouTube, Flickr and del.icio.us into one place that can be searched, saved and shared with friends. ” Mashable covered their relaunch a month ago.
4) StumbleUpon “employs user ratings to form collaborative opinions on Web site quality with the goal of helping you “stumble upon” great sites. When you “stumble,” you only see pages that friends and like-minded “Stumblers” have commented on. ” Many people love StumbleUpon (they have over 1M users), see the description here.
5) Otavo “describes itself as not just a search engine, but a community of users and staff members who participate in your quest to find answers quicker. As an Otavo user, you can ask any question or seek a quest of your choice.” TechCrunch covered them a while back.
What it means: Not sure what to think of “social search” yet. I think it might work for a very specialized topic or as a recommendation tool but I’m not sure you can be become a truly successful generalist search engine using a community (unless you count Yahoo Answers in this category). of these 5, I had heard of Otavo (because they’re based in Ontario, Canada) and StumbleUpon. The later is generating a lot of good buzz and is already a great source of traffic for many sites. I wonder if social search is more a feature than it is a destination… It could be a great add-on to any shopping or directory sites (which is a little bit what Aggregate Knowledge does).