Does Google’s 2013 Zeitgeist Provide Marketers Any Useful Information?

As in my last post I mentioned that Google released their 2013 Zeitgeist. A zeitgeist show the ideas and beliefs of a certain time, which is exactly what Google has done with this video and the data behind it.

According to the top charts of searches in 2013 by Google, Kohl’s was the number one searched Apparel Brand/Retailer; tomato mozzarella appetizer was the most searched Appetizer; Blue Moon followed by Bud Light was the most searched beer; and Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy was the most searched celebrity pregnancy.  All of these results are interesting from a marketers perspective.  It shows insight into what potential consumers are interested in, what they are searching for over the year, and conclusions for some brands/companies can be gathered to tweak their approaches.  The search results can be broken down into specific top charts such as “Lifestyle,” “Shopping & Fashion,” and “Sports.”  For a marketer in these different industries, it is worth looking at what brands and ideas came in as the top searched for the year.

This data can be helpful in other ways as well.  I love the travel  industry and actually dabble in travel writing, so looking at the the results under Google’s “Travel & Leisure” chart I can see some of the hot topics and destinations that I could potentially pitch to write about.

google travel leisure charts

Google also gives the ability to look at search trends according to cities around the globe, by the day throughout 2013.

Here is an example of the top searches in Washington, DC on June 6th, 2013.

google washington dc 06.06.2013

From this snippet you can tell that the weather was of concern.  Fragers is actually a mainstay hardware store in Capitol Hill that caught fire in early June.  June 6th was actually the first NBA Finals Game between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.

This data is really interesting both from a human perspective to understand what our peers are interested in and from a business perspective to further understand potential consumers.

Did you search for any of the top searches in 2013?  Can you think of a way to use this data for businesses?


What Makes Videos Go Viral? Will Google’s 2013 Zeitgeist Go Viral?

On December 17th Google released this year’s Zeitgeist, which is a video summary of ‘what the world searched for in 2013.’

Side note, according to Google dictionary, a zeitgeist is “the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.”

I originally saw the video Google released as an ad while watching shows on Hulu and videos on YouTube.  It was one of those ads that instead of clicking “skip ad” I was drawn in and wanted to finish watching.

After watching the video in its entirety twice as an ad, I hopped on my iPad, pulled the video up on YouTube, and went to my Twitter and LinkedIn to post about it.   To me I had the feeling to help make this video go viral by sharing it, so what makes a video go viral?

According to Jeff Bullas, a thought leader in the world of marketing, the formal on how to make a video go viral has not been discovered yet, but we are getting closer.  Brent Coker, a marketing professor at the University of Melbourne “has come up with an algorithm as to why people will share some videos and ignore others.”  This algorithm, which Coker is called the “Branded Viral Movie Predictor” (BVMP), says that four key elements videos must have to go viral are: congruency, emotive strength, network involvement, and “paired meme synergy.”

1. “Congruency” means that “the themes of a video must be congruent with people’s pre-existing knowledge of the brand it is advertising.”

2 . “Emotive Strength” basically means the video has the ability to create strong emotions.

3. “Network Involvement” means that the video “must be relevant to a large network of people.

4. According to Coker, for a video to go viral they must have the right combination of concepts, aka the “Paired Meme Synergy” approach.  These are the concepts he used for the BVMP algorithm:


In my opinion Google’s 2013 Zeitgeist has congruency, as it matches the Google brand; emotive strength through sentiment, some humor, and happiness; network involvement as this video can relate to an extremely broad audience; and “paired meme synergy” with cutsie wootsie, anticipation, and nostalgic bubblegum.

The video was posted on Google’s YouTube channel five days ago and has nearly 9 million views, which is an indication that this video does have the potential to go viral.

Had you seen this video?  As an ad, on YouTube, or via social media?  Do you think this video has the qualities to go viral?

SEO: Why You Should Optimize for Organic Search Engine Results

In a discussion this week, my professor asked me what tactics I thought would help websites rank higher in organic searches.  I have done some SEO (& SEM) in the past, but SEO always seems to be a little bit of a different beast.  I did a little research and found some great and “easier” to comprehend tips on ways to “do” SEO and increase organic search engine ranking.

Photo via:
Photo via:

First things first though, if you are an all-star at Social Media, you might ask “why do I need to focus on SEO and optimizing my website?”  According to Moz, a SEO consulting company, “although social media and other types of traffic can generate visits to your site, search engines are the primary method of navigation for most Internet users.”  By building an effective online marketing strategy around what “your target market is looking for you can more effectively reach and keep those users.”

Knowing that most site visitors are coming through search results, next step is having an idea of how organic searches populate:

Organic search results are generated by search engines crawling websites, finding pages, deciphering the page’s code, and recalling them later when a search is made.  Basically search engines are answer machines. The rankings of results are based on relevance and importance (aka. popularity), which is where SEO comes in.  To boost a site’s SEO and organic search engine ranking, Google and Bing recommend the following:

  • Create pages and content for users.
  • “Make a site with clear hierarch and text links.”
  • “Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.”
  • “Use keywords to create descriptive, human friendly URLS.”  Avoid redirects.
  • “Make sure content is not buried inside rich media” (aka. flash).
  • “Produce fresh content regularly.”
  • “Don’t put text that you want indexed inside images.”

These are just quick tips that will help even a novice SEOer get started with optimizing their site.  If you are looking for additional information Moz, the SEO consulting company previously mentioned, has a great “Beginners Guide to SEO” that was published in March 2012 and once you have “mastered” that Moz released a new guide in May 2013 called “How to Rank: 25 Step Master SEO Blueprint” that discusses keyword research, content, architecture, on-page optimization, and link building.

Good luck!  Just like Social Media, SEO can be tedious work, but in the end every little bit helps.

Do you have any great SEO tips?  Have you seen SEO site optimization help your own or company’s website?

Amazon Stepping Up The Ante With Drones

Although the news about Amazon’s drone delivery does not exactly pertain to social media, but it certainly is emerging.  On a 60 Minutes interview on December 1st by Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, Charlie Rose was greatly surprised by what Bezos showed Rose as Amazon’s latest project.  They are aiming to roll out “delivery-by-drone, called Amazon “Prime Air”… in as soon as 4-5 years.”  Prime Air drones “will pick up packages in small yellow buckets at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and whiz through the air to deliver items to individual customers 30 minutes after they hit the “buy” button online at”

Drone demo begins just before the 11 min mark.

I did not originally see the 60 minutes interview, but was told about this phenomenon in passing.  My first question was if these drones would have a fly zone… and Bezos said it does require more safety testing and FAA approvals, but these “delivery vehicles” can pick up anything under 5 lbs, which is 86% of the items that Amazon delivers.  It could be a 10 mile radius from fulfillment centers, and this could certain cover a majority of an urban area.

amazon-prime-drone-delivery_74008_600x450Image via

Doing further research I was surprised to find that according to Dr. Jerry LeMieux, president of Unmanned Vehicle University and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, pointed out that other countries are already using drone like delivery services such as Domino’s delivering pizzas by drone in the U.K. and Zookal, a textbook rental start up, delivering school books using unmanned aerial vehicles in Australia.  Even some engineers at Yelp unveiled their Burrito Bomber in June.  With the idea of having a drone deliver burritos to folks who order through a mobile app.  So maybe Jeff Bezos is not that far off his rocker…

What do you think of seeing drones with packages in the air?  Do you think if Amazon, FedEx, UPS, etc. all did it that it would become a nuisance?

Is Social Media Worth Investing In?

Today I was asked what the biggest challenge I have had with social media, it was not a particular tweet or Facebook post, but was being able to show those who are not ‘sold on social’ why and how it is important.  Today we thankfully have more analytics around social media, but there is still a lot of social that is hard to put a number on and tie it to the bottom line.

In an article by Tara Hunt, a digital strategist, she says that she is “continually bowled over when [she hears] people complain about how their social media marketing doesn’t work.”  She believes that companies think that by paying for marketing it’s just magically works, yet she points that that “some Super Bowl ads go unnoticed – and that audience is one of the biggest captive audiences in the universe!”  Marketing and social media are still worth the risk as “it’s better to be finable than not…and good marketing means that you will be more finable AND have more credibility (if the branding is done right) when people do find you.”

So why should you put energy into social media, other than wanting to be there when someone looks?

For certain channels, such as YouTube the analytics can show you exactly how your consumers are interacting with the videos you post.  The views will show you what consumers find interesting.  The drop-off time shows you when people get bored or the video is too long.  Facebook and Twitter analytics show you which pieces of content that people are actually interested in by liking, re-posting/re-tweeting, or commenting about.

Large companies spend large amounts of money on focus groups and have anthropologist study groups to find out what makes them tick, but with social media your customers’ opinions, wants, needs, desires are all right there in blog comments, forum topics, Tweets, status updates, photos…  According to a post by Jeff Bullas, there are “more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.”  If you could gather and harness the pieces that are shared about your company, think about all the information you would know that could drive marketing and even business decisions.

Today’s social world allows companies to have two-way interaction with its customers.  Look at the post from last week about the impressive customer service that Delta Airlines is able to provide via @DeltaAssist.  Before this channel if you had a complaint or question you dialed a 1-800 number and waiting to elevator music until someone finally picked up and hopefully was able to help you in a timely manner.  Now companies can converse in real time with their customers, whether that is helping them with a question or just telling a customer thank you for visiting.  These virtual relationships that are forged make for loyal consumers who keep your brand at the top of their feeds (and mind) which ultimately translates into sales and increasing the bottom line.

So what do you think?  Is social worth investing in for businesses?  How would you explain a social effort to a CFO?

Twitter for Customer Service?

Last week the topic of discussion was how advertisers might use Twitter and basically how Twitter might save live-TV (NBC & CBS are excited!).  This week we will look at another avenue on which Twitter can be used for businesses.

Value of Using Twitter for Customer Service    

Anamitra Banerji, manager of commercial products at Twitter, says that Twitter can be used to “talk directly to customers in a way [companies] were only able to do in person before” and that this has caused “the emotional distance between businesses and their customers [to shorten] quite a bit.” Talking directly to its customers is exactly what Delta Airlines is doing with their dedicated customer service Twitter handle: @DeltaAssist.

@DeltaAssist is an account that Delta Airlines set up to listen to their customers 24/7 and answer their customers’ questions (whereas @Delta is used to inspire travel).  Delta was the first airline to use Twitter for customer support and “it’s this kind of customer service that earned Delta Airlines top honors in the Best Use of Twitter category in PR Daily’s Digital PR & Social Media Awards.”

@DeltaAssist is staffed with 14 team members that are former call center agents. This team helps customers with flight statuses, gate numbers, and basically “anything a call center employee can do, except book a new ticket.”  Even outside of coordinating missed flights, the team “noticed that customers used Twitter for complaints about airport facilities or service…in response, the airline developed its “Twitter Watch” program, working with station managers and airport personnel to deal with real-time customer experience issues.”  They also “add a personal touch” by signing “their tweets with their initial and their first names are listed on the airline’s Twitter profile.”

Social Media Challenges for Airlines

The challenges for any airline is combating negative customer experiences.  Customers today are going to Twitter to complain about anything and everything.  In September of this year Hasad Syed, a business man from Chicago tweeted “Don’t fly with @British_Airways. They can’t keep track of your luggage.”  In the sea of 140-character complaints this is not abnormal, but he not only tweeted this but then spent a $1,000 to promote the tweet (being the first ‘regular’ person versus business to do this).  This tweet was seen by tens of thousands on Twitter and even more as the story was told on mainstream media.  This was a major PR disaster for British Airways.  This is an example that Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite, pointed out and said that with the increase usage of social media to ‘file complaints’ companies “must have ample social media resources to ensure that they’re able to respond to unhappy customers quickly and effectively.”

A few year’s ago United Airlines has also felt major heat from social media when baggage handlers on a United flight destroyed Dave Carroll’s Taylor guitar.  United refused to reimburse Carroll for the damages and that led to Carroll writing a ‘United Breaks Guitar’ song which has had 13 million views on YouTube.  Chris Ayres, a writer for The Times Online in the United Kingdom, estimated that the bad PR cost United $180 million.

What are Competitors Doing on Twitter?

Outside of @DeltaAssist, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) is the leader in the customer service/airline arena.  @KLM offers 24/7 support to their customers on social media and is well known for their customer service and extremely swift responses.  On their Twitter page they even update their response time every 5 minutes!

KLM twitter

On @USAirways’ Twitter page they notify customers that they are “not able to provide a proper response on Twitter” and direct them to go to their feedback website.

us airways twitter

@SouthwestAir also notes on their Twitter page that they “will not address specific Customer Service issues” on Twitter.

@AmericanAir points Twitter page visitors to a link for a direct reply, as does @VirginAmerica.

@DeltaAssist Results

This attentive strategy is paying off for Delta Airlines.  The team behind @DeltaAssist helps create brand evangelist.  According to PR Daily, in 2011 @DeltaAssist had “158,000 mentions on Twitter, 115,000 outbound tweets and direct messages, [and] 28,000 additional customers.”  According to Delta’s submission to the Stevie Awards, year over year @DeltaAssist’s “Twitter followers have increased 75% and volume has grown 41%.”

@DeltaAssist has also made an impact internally as they are able to identify customer-facing issues and report “large scale events in real-time to policy decision maker, on several occasions, this team has affected change to policy to better serve all customers.”

Takeaways & Learned Best Practices 

Other companies with a customer service component can learn from Delta’s Twitter model by:

  • Designating one Twitter handle for customer service.
  • Realizing that the response rate matters.
  • Having enough staff to meet demand.
  • Enabling the customer service team to meet the customer’s needs.
  • Being understanding of consumers’ situations.