This week, we explore a new breed of microsite, a case study on guest blogging, the popularity of Facebook versus Google, how to reduce distractions at work (or anytime), the future of print media, and of course, Google Instant.
Web Design & Content Marketing
Microsites have come a long way over the past few years. Transforming from flash-based, design-heavy sites with no SEO merit to a new breed of content-driven microsites with strong potential for marketers.
In this article, Scott Brinker takes a serious look at this new kind of microsite, and how they feed consumers’ somewhat paradoxical need for quality content and instant gratification. Basically, web users “don’t want to dig through a lot of raw material to find the gems that are relevant to them. One big page of content, such as a long blog post or product page, isn’t as helpful as a collection of organized subtopics that lets the user quickly dial in on what is most important to them,” and this is exactly what today’s microsites are designed to do.
For more on the benefits of “the new breed of microsite,” and advice on developing one that speaks to your audience and drives conversions, see Scott’s full article.
Content Marketing & PR
Though every PR professional knows that the key to good media relations is building relationships, too often this is superseded by a boss or client demand for reach. As a result, quality is replaced with quantity. Arguably, personal connection is even more important in blogger outreach, as many bloggers simply do what they do out of passion, without a paycheck, and aren’t used to dealing with PR “flacks."
So, when Jackson set out on a mission to invite guest bloggers to contribute to the FAIT ICI blog, he held true to the importance of relationships, and only reached out to bloggers that he regularly reads, has built relationships with over time and were appropriate for the site. Five guest bloggers agreed to author an article for the site, which would be posted on consecutive days for one work week. The results of this highly targeted approach:
- Regular blog traffic increased by 300%
- Landed traditional media coverage
- Social media sharing increased 30%
- Gained new readership from first-time visitors that came in through guest-blogger posts
Key takeaway: The social web offers opportunities to get to know media contacts and bloggers, understand their interests, and build mutually beneficial relationships. Focusing on quality and relevance over quantity is a sea change for many PR professionals, but an important step in the right direction.
Search & Social
As reported by Greg Sterling, comScore from August showed that for the first time, web users spent more time on Facebook (41.1 billion minutes) than on Google properties (39.8 billion minutes). Note: Google properties consist of Google Search, YouTube, Google News, Google Maps and Gmail, to name a few.
It’s not too surprising that Facebook demands more time from people than Google, as the site “offers something they cannot get from Google… a unified offering that people find compelling, while Google has a collection of sites that people find very useful.”
Augie posits that Google’s anticipated social network, Google me, may be the thing that brings all of its experiences together, in “a single, cohesive place to engage, share, play, communicate and learn.”
Until then, however, the key takeaway is to think about how consumers interact with different online places — i.e. shorter, often information-seeking bursts on Google properties versus longer, immersive experiences on Facebook — and how you can best approach them in these different contexts.
In a business (and often personal) world where we are constantly exposing ourselves to distractions, sometimes a reminder on how to close off is necessary, and this is a great one by David Lavenda.
After first pointing out the absurdity of “'disraction blockers,’ or, technology to solve last week's technology mess,” David offers some simple ways to stay focused, including: tips for setting daily priorities, dividing your day into blocks and finding a place for creative work. For details on these and his other four suggestions, see David’s complete post.
On a related note, in this John Cleese video presentation, the Monty Python funny man also explores blocking distractions, or creating a “tortoise enclosure,” which he considers to be essential to creative thinking.
The Future of Media
Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell reported that Arthur Sulzberg, Jr., publisher and chairman for The New York Times, said at the International Newsroom Summit that he fully expects his iconic paper to cease printing a traditional, physical newspaper, timeframe TBD.
According to the article, between 2008 and 2009 newspaper ad revenue fell 27.2%. Pair this with Mashable’s recent finding that only 21.7% of its readers get news from a newspaper and, as Jodie said, “the traditional newspaper might be in trouble, but news as a commodity isn’t going anywhere.”
The story of print versus digital isn’t a new one, as last week it was reported that the Oxford Dictionary may not print its next edition, opting instead for an online version.
Adding even more to the interplay of old versus new media, the AP announced that it will begin crediting bloggers as news sources. Though this may seem like a small detail, considering that more and more journalists are turning to blogs and social media to find stories and sources, this is a major turnaround for the AP, which in the past has struggled to adapt to the new face of reporting in the 21st century.
If you’re tired of hearing about Google Instant, stop reading now. But of course we couldn’t end this post without a look at the week’s big news for search.
We got a sneak peek of this feature a few weeks ago thanks to TechCrunch (and included in that Friday’s post on disruptive innovation), but on Wednesday, Google officially introduced its search-results-as-you-type feature, Google Instant. A key benefit, according to Google, is that Instant will “save the average searcher two to five seconds per search.”
Ironically enough, however, Google’s own Marissa Mayer told TechCrunch in a video interview that she actually spends more time on searches, because the instant results help her learn, and as a result, redefine her searches as she types. The video also dives into how Google Instant will affect AdWords impressions, and her thoughts on how it will impact SEO, so it’s worth a watch.
Early response was chock full of people screaming that SEO is the latest thing to have died; however, the general consensus now seems to build off of Marissa’s point about “digging in” to searches, and suggest that Instant actually makes optimization —especially long-tail — even more important. See Matt Cutts' thoughts, implications for search marketers and implications for brands.
To learn more about Google Instant, how it works and how you can work with it, see Search Engine Land’s Complete User’s Guide to Google Instant, or just jump into Google and start searching to give it a run for yourself.
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