Thursday, April 3, 2008

Have YOU been Googled?

(Excerpt from my thesis: Thinking Beyond Web 2.0: Leveraging the Dynamics of Generation-Y to Build Business)

"Have you been Googled?

Odds are ....YES! Either it was by an employer, an old friend or that inquisitive neighbor.

Here are 5 Simple Rules for Companies or People in our Web 2.0 Era:

First: People Google One Another. Accept it.
We live in an era, where if your company does not have a website or you do not have a social networking profile …you are either living in the stone ages or are too old school.

Human beings are inquisitive and constantly desiring to know information about each other. The more interesting and stimulating content that is online via a traditional website, web 2.0 site or blog …the better.

...This leads me to my second point...

Second : Control The Content
If you have pictures of yourself doing a keg stand at a frat party or getting down with Cheech and Chong …this may not be the best content to have tagged or posted to your Facebook or Myspace profile.

Rule Of Thumb: If you question it, other people do as well.

Similarly, if your company recently had a corporate meltdown or your CEO went carousing on a Caribbean Cruise and pictures where leaked online ….you are going to have a serious issue.

The way to control the content is to fix the problem, before it happens. If you have constant, fresh and acceptable content posted online, you will have less of a problem if one occurs. Especially, since this content will be indexed by Google, placed in the search results and help balance out the attention in the event of a PR mishap.

Third: People are Lazy

(If you have read this much so far, you are not lazy)

...But normally, people are only going to read the first page of Google search results. Yes, people want to know information about each other, but just enough to skim the surface and not really touch the iceberg. People want to understand you, but they don’t want to dissect you.

Therefore the content that appears on the fifth, tenth or fiftieth page of a Google search result, will probably not be viewed. So don’t worry about it. If the content is important (like your company website) then do your best to increase its search result ranking.

Rule Of Thumb: Add links and metadata to the information that you are posting. This will help with search engine optimization.

Fourth: Understand “The Halo Effect”
Ever wonder why people good looking people always appear on television or the movies? Well, The Halo Effect refers to the way that people tend to attribute positive traits to attractive people (Eagly, Ashmore, Makihihani & Longo, 1991). For example, Tila Tequila uses her attractive and youthful qualities to appeal to a large fan base. Additionally, other social networking celebrities, including Forbidden a.k.a Christine Dolce has accumulated over a million friends on Myspace in part to her “halo” or attractive appearance. Forbidden has then parlayed her “halo” into successful business ventures, including a clothing line. Keith Ruby, Forbidden’s manager, “pegs her fashion brand at ‘mid-six figures’ on the way to seven” (Neff, 2006).

Fifth: Understand the Value of The Interview Illusion Theory
If you told me that you had climbed Mt. Everest or went on an African safari, I would say that’s interesting. ...However if you showed me pictures of yourself at these places, I would say that’s AMAZING. I would feel that I had a better understanding of you, simply because of the content that you shared.

In the same way that people post content on Web 2.0 sites, people “think” they have an understanding of their “e-friends.” However the reality is that people only have the illusion.

The Interview Illusion Theory adds to the dynamics of Web 2.0. According to Kunda & Nisbett, original theorists of the theory, after seeing a brief interview of a person, people feel that they know the person (1986). For example, after a person spends time on another person’s Facebook, Myspace, or Linkedin, profile, they feel that they know the person through the pictures they view and other information that is posted on the profile page.

Traditionally, companies place advertisements in magazines, periodicals and televisions shows to connect with consumers. Individuals were forced to view this information when it was presented and available to them. Now consumers have the option to fast forward commercials and view content through social networking profiles at their own convenience and discretion. Consumers have the illusion of learning about a company or individual, which increases the company’s value, assuming the information posted in a Web 2.0 medium is positively reflective of the brand.

Constant 24/7 access allows people to learn about a brand and then become an advocate, informing more people and helping to create exponential growth (assuming they like the brand).

Conclusion for the Day:
Yes, Web 2.0 sites are a wonderful way to share pictures, stories and insights, but it’s also important for us as consumers, companies and individuals to understand the nuisances involved in them."

-Excerpt from Sean P. Tiner, USC Master's in Communication Management Candidate, December '08

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