When you do a branded search these days, particularly for a well-known company, you often find various social sites* ranking for their name. But there are times when you know a brand is trying to go huge on social media pages, but for some reason those profiles and pages just aren't showing up in the search results.
I decided to take a look at eight companies/people that have either been recommended by Mashable for being great at social media or ones I've noticed in my own experience.
These are, in order of Best Use of Social Sites to Dominate Page One to Least Effective Use of etc., etc.:
Links are to Google search results.
The first five used social sites to dominate their first page results, and the remaining three, though well-known, well-loved or even praised for excellence in their use of social media, had fewer social sites in their results.
*In this context, I'm saying "social sites" to indicate sites that rely upon users submitting or editing content of the site. So while Wikipedia isn't a social network because it isn't trying to get people to engage in conversations, it does rely on people regularly submitting, editing and discussing content. And it may go without saying, but social networks count as social sites.
My research techniques and data
I looked at the first page of results (page one, if you will) and counted how many of the pages being returned were from social sites. I compared that with the number of official pages being returned (that is, pages the company has direct control over) and the number of pages being returned from other people's sites - ones that were neither social in nature nor owned by the company.
The companies that had the largest numbers of social sites appearing in the search results got most of my attention. I dug around their strongest pages (determined by the number of total links and linking domains as reported by Open Site Explorer) a bit to see if they linked to their social media profiles. I also dug around the social media profiles of the companies to see if there were any consistencies.
One thing that was consistent was the crap-load of followers they had. The following tips should get you a crap-load more followers, too.
So, to my five tips:
1. Link to your profiles from your home page
Perez Hilton has links to his Facebook and Twitter profiles scattered throughout his website, so his social media profiles get a big boost from his strong website.
The interesting thing about this approach is that while he doesn’t have as many of the sites he controls in the results (the way Coca-cola or Red Bull do), he avoids having the other people’s news stories about him showing up by having loads of social sites popping up. And by optimising the first four pages of his site.
2. Do something unique that gets attention to your profiles
The main reason to do this is because it will get you a large number of followers (some of whom will put you in their lists or favourite your page), which boosts your standing on the social media sites. If you do something awesome enough to attract a large number of followers or a lot of attention quickly, you will probably also be written about in blogs.
Red Bull, for example, have an entire community set up around the ideology of their company.
So they have videos of extreme sports, they sponsor loads of events and they promote all of these on their social media profiles. They also promote their social media profiles through their events and suchlike. They are the absolute pinnacle of social and traditional marketing techniques incorporating seamlessly.
3. Have a Wikipedia page
This one's included mostly because all the companies had one. It’s something you may not be able to have a whole lot of control over, as they frown on people or companies editing their own pages – mostly because when it happens, it’s overly self-promotional and often needs citations.
On the plus side, it does aim to be neutral, so at the very least, it’s not negative content. And because it's a site that will get high click-through rates, has been around for a long time and is an authoritative site, it will rank well easily.
4. Being known for doing one thing awesomely is better than not being known.
Blendtec’s Will It Blend? videos dominate its search results.
This could make them look like a one-trick pony, but it doesn't. Instead, it gives them a pretty interesting personality, which shows through immediately, and it looks a lot more fun than a company that just has product pages optimised.
Just remember: searchers may not be interested in your product pages. But everyone is interested in wasting a bit of time with a kick-ass video.
Moreover, they don’t have to optimise loads of different pages to make sure their products rank well. They let the authority of Wikipedia and YouTube push their brand messages up to the top of the search results for them.
5. Go ahead and create a social site.
Starbucks’ My Starbucks Idea site allows people to submit ideas to the site, which then get voted on by other site users. If it gets enough votes, Starbucks will incorporate it into their business structure, menu or wherever it’s supposed to be incorporated.
This allows Starbucks to keep innovating in a way that keeps their core community happy, and it also encourages people to engage with the company and feel that they are contributing to it. There’s pretty much no better way to turn a customer into a brand ambassador.
Bonus: If you don’t want to try hard at social media, just make a lot of microsites that are optimised for your brand name.
That’s what Pringles did. Although their sites are outnumbered by other sites (due to their having a similar name to other companies like, say, Pringle of Scotland), they make up some ground with microsites that are clearly meant to target branded searches - King Kong Jump (a game) and Pringles Oversharers (a site promoting a Facebook marketing app).
So this is just a cursory glance into what it takes to get social sites to dominate page one of branded searches, but there are some pretty consistent actions across the board. Let me know of anything I'm missing out!