boloThis past week I attended BOLO 2009 down in Phoenix, AZ. It’s a 3 day conference put on by the fine folks at Sitewire and Agencyside that centers around Social Media, Analytics, and helping clients grow into and participate in the social media landscape. Not only was the content killer (great keynotes from Bryan Eisenberg, Guy Kawasaki and Jim Lecinski) but I got the chance to share ideas with folks that are doing some amazing work in educating brands about the social sphere (looking at you Jack Smith, Kim Koehly, Scott Kaufman – among others).

With all that being said, I wanted to share some notes that I took from the first keynote presentation of the conference with Jim Lecinski. He provided us with a great baseline for where both search and social are going, and how brands will need to adapt to compete whether they’re a large multi-national, or a smaller more localized business.

On Search:

Multiple Keyword searches are growing, while single keyword searches are declining. This means that the Long Tail is getting LONGER as more people are searching for more specific terms. It is not as important to be the top result for ‘Dog Grooming’ but rather ‘Dog Grooming’ with a location or a service modifier.

YouTube has surpassed Yahoo! as the number 2 search engine behind Google. It is also number 2 in search for B2B related to products and services (and you thought it was  just for recording dancing babies).

Execution and Best Practices:

There are 4 main pillars of success for online marketing
1 – Relevance is king. Show display ads that are relevant to the page the user is on. If they are searching for the answer to a question, a SOLUTION based ad on a site will be much more effective than a branded ad. For example – an ad for the Verizon Chocolate isn’t relevant to a user looking for college admissions info, even though they are they fit the target age demo. Instead the tutorial page should have ads for admissions consultants or web resources that will further engage the user.

2 – Be Fast. It’s much more important to be FIRST than to be FAST. Example: When Google launched iGoogle widgets, Betty Crocker was first to put a recipe of the day widget up. It was plain, not engaging, and graphically not interesting. 6 months later, a competitor put up a much flashier widget with a better interface. The result? To date, there are almost 10x the amount of users for the Betty Crocker ad than the competitor.

Carl Lewis was fast. But now there are many runners that have broken the :10 in the 100m. Don’t get me wrong, that’s really fast.  But to win….you need to be Usain Bolt fast.

3. Use Data to React, Plan and Create Strategy. This involves using A/B testing for headlines,landing pages, and ads to test conversion rates and discover if the user is actually the same demo that the client believes they are marketing to.

4. Create Experiences and Opportunities. Users are wary of messages being pushed out. Leverage the power and interest of users to spread messages, engage with the brand, and interact. One way to get there is transparency. Share behind the scenes data, even if it means less secrecy. For example, Best Buy has been testing out TV spots and scripts via YouTube before they decide which ones to run on the air and have a really robust video presence. Users react via views and comments which serves as a multi-variant testing ground. Most popular ideas are used in the actual TV spots and ads based on the feedback users give.

Remember, marketers and agencies were for the past 40 years in the interruption and distraction business. Having a 30 ft roll of toilet paper was a distraction. Now were are in the business of building experiences and communities, INSTEAD of interruptions.

External Links and Resources:

The YouTube Fast Forward Channel
Google Insights for search data and trends.

And that keynote was just the tip of the iceberg. I’m hoping to share more info on the blog soon, but hopefully this will give you all a little insight and shift your thinking about marketing in the digital space.