How and Why I Play "Social Media Game"Great SEO / social media marketing discussion Happening on Mark Traphagen's Google plus page. Go To Mark's Google Plus Page The discussion came from a great post by Mark: Is Social Media Influence A Zero Sum Game Before I share comment, let me respectively disagree with my brilliant friend.
Mark suggests, in his post Your Google Plus Network Is More Powerful Than You know, trimming our Google Plus network to send the right "authority" signals is a good idea. Authority is an "elitist" concept inside Google's algorithm, Mark argues to respect Google's demands and trim your following to only those who promote said authority.
This is NOT how I play the social media game at this time.
Since I am NOT Chris Brogan or Seth Godin social media shapes my behavior and understanding more than I shape it. The closest thing I can get to the kind of influence and Klout enjoyed by those several rungs up the social media influence ladder is to use large distributions, lots of signals, and see, curate and create content around emergent patterns.
The "more signals are better" law of large numbers applies to the aspirational scaling author or website than those who own the high ground. Mark may be correct. The fastest way to climb the ladder may be to adopt the more "elite" strategies of those already there.
In my 13 year Internet marketing career emulation has never worked as well as disruption and a healthy and respectful contrarian approach. Think of Geoffrey Moore's chasm. Moore explains in his book Crossing the Chasm that the early adopter feedback loops are a siren's song.
Any use of the early adopter's song to attempt to sell the "early majority" is doomed to failure. This means, at some point, Mark's shift to a more elite approach to social media will be needed since to continue to follow the crowd makes you one of it.
The tricky part is knowing when you are there, when your content and brand is an "early majority" brand in need of the kind of tweaks Mark mentions in his first post: Your Google Network Is More Powerful Than You Know.
Here is my comment on the thread of social as echo chamber, an endless loop.
Agree with Phil Buckley, once Google moves to an infinite and constantly evolving SERPs social signals break the previous regime so effectively none of the Kings men can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I understand why non-SEOs may think of social media marketing as an echo chamber, but any pro knows Google is using social signals to "trust but verify" their need for relevance.
Why does Google need relevance so desperately?
The trade Google made with the devil by moving to an infinite ad set, the Google float, is the need for machine learning capable of profitably tightening the float. If we don't consistently and constantly produce more relevant content Google's machine learning, Panda, works harder and so costs more.
If, through a series of rewards and punishments, Google can get US to do the work toward a more meaningful and relevant web they they kill two birds with a single stone: social good is served since the web becomes less untidy and Google's profits soar.
In the end, this is how Google makes money now by "profitably tightening the float". Since Google's primary instrument, the thing inside Panda's genius, is a mathematical power distribution used to identify outliers, identify and punish outliers, Google must use social signals to "trust but verify" their assignment of authority status.
This desire to safely assign "authority" is behind Rel = Author and Google Author rank too. Google tries to play many moves ahead. I think they were caught napping a tad by social and were able to pivot their infinite inventory of ads to incorporate social signals instead of being drowned by User Generated Content (UGC) and social marketing.
Now that Google is out of the water and dry they are thinking ahead to semantic web. Semantic web, the ability to take Navneet Panda's machine learning algorithm toward understanding idiom, context and real human meaning is a dreamland of efficiency and profit for Google.
As the recent POOR showing of computers in the crossword puzzle contest, the computer came in #134 in the contest, proves we are a long way from semantic web. That doesn't mean Google isn't rearranging the board already. Social signals, far from being an echo chamber, will be the real key to understanding semantic web since a "wisdom of crowds" analysis is the closest thing any computational system may ever get to "understanding" us.
Like Kurzweil and Asimov I believe when computers are sufficiently good at such computational analysis the distinction between humans and machines will be thin and meaningless. We will be more machine-like and they will be more human, so Kurzweil's singularity is near and riding on the very meaningful backs of a million white social media marketing horses.
Echo chamber? Not so much as it turns out, only the dawning of a new, a new, ..... a new everything.
Mark's Great Comment
This comment was too good to be hidden. Great comments clarify everything and that is what this one from Mark does. Makes his and my work more clear and understandable:
Thanks for your pushback on my post here, Martin. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend" the Bible say, and while in no means consider your disagreements "wounds," they are both faithful and friendly, and therefore helpful.
The next time I write a post like this I now have you and several other names I should submit it to first! If I'd had this kind of pushback beforehand, I would have written differently and certainly have been more nuanced in the one now-controversial section about culling your followers.
You linked to my second post ("Is Social Media a Zero Sum Game?") but in this post you don't reference any of the clarifications I made there. To wit, my advice in the first post about being intentional about whom you follow was not intended to be either absolute or exclusive.
I did not mean you could not follow people who are "merely" interesting or challenging or entertaining but who don't fit your topical patterns. What I should have said more clearly in my first post was that that is how your strategic following should be done, that following that is for the intentional purpose of building authority (more about that word below). The rest of your following....follow your heart, your muse, whatever. I was not meaning to set up a rigid rule.
I also feel like you politicized my use of "authority": "Authority is an elitist concept inside Google's algorithm.: That word "elitist" is a charged word, and it anthropomorphizes the algorithm. Authority in search is not democratic, republican, or autocratic. It simply is. It is that which causes one entity to gain more visibility than another. As an SEO you should understand that, and much of what you do (and certainly what our mutual friend Phil does, whose work you advocate and recommend) is to help web sites gain that authority so they can become visible to those who seek what they offer. How is that "elitist"?
In social media, authority = trust. The only real authority you have is that which others give you as you gain their trust. And you and I both know that knowledgable, helpful content is a major key to gaining that trust. Enabling that content to be found by those in need, and then engaging with them humanly as they approach you, is how the currency of trust flows to authority. And authority becomes influence.
Do you reject the desire to be an influencer in your portrayal of yourself as a "rebel"? If so, I think you are fooling yourself. You are an influencer, whether you like the title or not. I've seen you spread good influence every time we've done an Internent Marketing Free Consulting Saturday together. And every time I've seen it, I've wished with all my heart that your influence could go way beyond the 20 people in the room.
My first post was not a philosophical or sociological treatise, and I feel like it is being judged as one. It is a practical explanation and guide of how personal authority and influence are "cast upon the waters" by Google's brilliant integration of Google+into its search product. I hope it helps those who seek to do that for good. Does it call for deeper reflection? Indeed, and that was what my second post was for.