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Picks of the Week: March 26 - April 1, 2011

Today, we look at last week's top stories for PR and marketing professionals. Read on for details about: Google +1 and its implications in social search, pay-per-click advertising and privacy; an argument for (and against) Twitter; the battle between near-field communications (NFC) and quick-response (QR) codes; the problem with RFPs; and big announcements from Amazon and Salesforce.

Search Marketing + Social Media

Google +1s: The Right Recommendations Right When You Want Them

Google announced a new feature, +1 (“plus one”), which allows users to vote for, or rate, search results within Google. The feature applies to both organic and paid search results, and is referred to by Danny Sullivan as “Google’s Answer to the Facebook Like Button.” See the screenshot below for an example of what +1 looks like in search results.

Google +1

From a privacy standpoint, it’s important to note the following:

  • You must have a Google profile to use +1.
  • Everything you +1 shows up in your Google profile.
  • Google will use your Google connections to power the social aspect of +1 for now, but is has further-reaching plans. Like social search, we use many signals to identify the most useful recommendations, including things like the people you are already connected to through Google (your chat buddies and contacts, for example). Soon we may also incorporate other signals, such as your connections on sites like Twitter, to ensure your recommendations are as relevant as possible.”

Marketing takeaway: +1 is yet another attempt from Google to personalize search results, and improve their validity for searchers. The message is clear: only content that is strategic, optimized and valuable to your target audiences will provide the staying power you need to outrank competitors in search results.

For a solid overview of +1 and its implications in SEO, PPC, social search and privacy, see TechCrunch’s With +1, Google Search Goes Truly Social — As Do Google Ads.

Social Media Strategy

Is Twitter for Everybody?

Mark Schaefer argues that although “there is probably some business use or benefit you could discover for everyone and every organization,” Twitter isn't for everyone. Particularly, it’s not good for those who are unwilling or unable to invest the time in it, whether due to a lack of resources or interest, or a resistance to new marketing ideas. 

To showcase the business benefits of Twitter to those who are on the fence about it, Schaefer offers examples of organizations that have used Twitter to generate new leads and business, increase brand awareness, network with industry thought leaders and have fun in the process.

The bottom line: Twitter may not be for everybody, but its benefits are proven for professionals and organizations of all kinds. Its success relies on one’s willingness to develop a solid strategy, and give Twitter — a platform in which value increases over time — a true test.  

Marketing Technology

Google Kills Off Those Little Square Codes You Scan With Your Phone

Matt Rosoff looks into Google’s stance on QR (quick response) codes and increasing support for NFC (near-field communication) technology. 

This week, Google became a principal member of the NFC Forum; it also officially dropped its support for QR codes on Google Places windows signage, in favor of NFC chips.

What it means: Instead of pointing your phone at some weird looking image, scanning it, and waiting, you'll simply be able to hold your phone up near a sign with an NFC chip and get exactly the same results.”

Based on recent moves — including partnerships with Citigroup, Verifone, and MasterCard to make sure that NFC payment systems will be supported on future Android phones — Rosoff predicts that QR codes are on their way out

Marketing takeaway: The marketing world has been touting QR codes as the wave of the future for some time now. However, with Google seemingly ditching the technology, others are likely to follow suit. This is a trend to keep an eye on.

Public Relations

Die RFP, Die, Die, Die!

Todd Defren brings to light the challenges faced by both agencies and prospective clients when creating and responding to RFPs (request for proposals). According to Defren, the RFP process is a "deeply flawed process of engagement" that requires agencies to invest significant resources, and also requires a heavy time engagement from the company seeking a firm.

He urges corporate marketers to rethink the RFP process, and start asking the right questions to find an agency that’s truly a fit for their needs.

Defren, who developed the social media news release in 2002, is on a quest to create a better, more streamlined way of sharing agency credentials with those who would like to hire us,” and invites all parties involved with RFPs to share their thoughts on the subject. His plan is to develop a modern RFP template for those seeking agency support.

Read the full post, and comment to weigh in on the future of the PR agency RFP.

Marketing News

In case you haven’t heard:

Amazon Unveiled a Cloud-Based Music Service, Cloud Drive, through which users can purchase music and videos, store the files in the cloud, and then access them from any device. Pair this with the news from Eminem’s lawsuit, which found that digital music sales qualify as licenses, and we’re in a whole new ballgame for digital content of all kinds.

Salesforce Acquired Radian6, and will incorporate the social media monitoring services’ features into its CRM (customer relationship management) products. This is a huge move into the social CRM space, and makes the two marketing products — arguably the leaders in their fields — even more valuable.

What were your top stories of the week? Comments are open for your opinions.

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