Hummingbird’s Semantic Search—We’re All Trekkies Now

Last week, Google unveiled their brand new algorithm called Hummingbird. Hummingbird’s most distinct feature is the inclusion of a natural language search query.

trekkie hand hummingbird semantics

The shift towards natural language queries shouldn’t come as such a shock to us. We have been moving towards a semantic web since the idea of smart robots and the Star Trek computer (Disney’s SmartHouse, anyone?). Think about it. Siri and Google Glass aren’t that far away from sounding and working like the computer from Star Trek. Minus the pointy ears and bad polyester-spandex-blend catsuits, we’re interacting with our computers more and more like our fellow Trekkies.

To some digital marketers, Hummingbird may not appear to be anymore different than Google’s previous algorithms (Penguin and Panda). But it is. Google hasn’t launched a completely new algorithm since 2001, so you know this is something special.

So what does a “natural language” search query mean?

It means that the algorithm recognizes more human, fluid language. When we use voice-based search, we don’t spit out two or three keywords, instead we are more likely ask our phones a question or say a complete statement, a lot like how we talk to friends. For example, we are more likely to ask a technology like Siri, “What are some restaurants in Ann Arbor?” instead of “restaurants in Ann Arbor.” So, as you can see, the searches become more contextual than keyword based.

So what does this mean for digital marketing?

For one, our SEO team is going to have their work cut out for them. Keyword search could be a thing of the past. Experts in SEO will have to start looking at search engine optimization in a more linguistic approach. For example, they will have to consider linguistic question markers (who, what, where, when, why) and prepositional phrases. Distinguishing whether your audience is looking for a “restaurant near Ann Arbor” or “in Ann Arbor” will differentiate your search results.

Now, I’m not saying you need to trash your current strategy. If your strategy is still focused around your audience’s expectations and creating great content for your audience (if you need a refresher on digital marketing basics, check out the last post), then you’re in good shape. However, for digital marketers looking into future trends, learning more about Hummingbird’s semantic search is a good place to start.

The shift to voice search queries is proof that once again, the web is increasingly becoming more of a human experience than a technological experience. And as one mother brilliantly put it, “We’re all just a bunch of Trekkies, now!” Right on.

He Already Brought Sexy Back… Now He’s Bringing Back MySpace Too?

MySpace has long been outdated by newer social networks like the ever-dominating Facebook and Twitter. But a newly released video shows that Justin Timberlake has different plans for the forgotten website.

In 2011, Specific Media and Timberlake bought MySpace for $35 million. With a new design (similar to Pinterest), MySpace is almost unrecognizable from the site it once was. White backgrounds and horizontal scrolling give the website the facelift it sorely needed.

Also, instead of battling the social media giants, MySpace works with them. You can update Twitter or Facebook, find your friends from those networks and bring over videos and photos, all on the new MySpace.

Music also continues to be a huge part of the MySpace network, built with radio and playlist sharing. It returns to the original website goals of connecting artists with their fans.

When he purchased the failing website, Timberlake was quoted, saying: “There’s a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place” (ABC News).

While a noble goal, the real question will be: can it work? Can MySpace make a comeback? Will people return to the social network they already left behind, especially with so many other new networks to join?

Its a question every social media agency will want the answer to. Will MySpace join Facebook and Twitter in the social media campaigns or will it just become the musical connection that Timberlake dreams it could be? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see….

The Summer Olympics: Being Reshaped by Social Media

What’s the first thing I did when I found out one of the University of Michigan’s own Samuel Mikulak made the US Olympic gymnastics team? Added him on Facebook of course! The 2012 Olympics are being named by some as the “first social Games”. There’s no doubt that social media drives conversation and newl, and it’s only grown more influential in the past four years. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will likely play an exceptional role in how information is distributed from London, and how the conversation is driven throughout the Games.

So what’s the difference between this year’s games and the summer Olympics before it? Four years–and that’s an eternity in Interntet time! Social media has truly exploded, as well as general web use. In 2008, there were approximately 1.5 billion internet users globally, and that number has swelled to 2.3 billion users this year. That’s one third of the the worlds total population!

For more of an idea on just how and why social media will reshape the Olympics as compared to 2008, we’ll take a look at the top 3 social media networks out there, and see just how much 4 years has changed them.

FACEBOOK

2008: Facebook reached 100 million users, and passed Myspace in popularity (Wow, was 4 years ago really that long ago..?!) The chat feature was also introduced this year, while simultaneously taking over AIM and other chat sites with it’s convenience.

Today: Facebook claims more than 900 million users–that’s a growth of 900% in a mere 4 years! The network’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, becomes a global celebrity, while Facebook becomes a publicly traded company.

TWITTER

2008: This was a year of explosive growth, and they finished the year with 6 million users, and 300,000 tweets a day.

Today: The network now has 500 million users, who collectively send more than 400 million tweets every day! News breaks on the network regularly, and it’s a prime marketing channel for many athletes. Likely London 2012 conversation among media and fans will take place on this network as well.

YOUTUBE

2008: By fall of this year, users were uploading 10 hours of video/minute. This site emerged as the “it” site for video sharing, and had been bought by Google in 2006, which just increased it’s popularity. They also launched their mobile site this year.

Today: It’s no doubt that the most memorable Olympic moments will go viral on this network the moment they are aired on television. The company receives over 800 million unique vistis per month, and those visitors watch over 3 billion hours of video per month, while also uploading 72 hours of video/minute. The growth here is truly iconic.

So what?

After looking at the top three social media sites, one may wonder what that has to do with the Summer Olympics. Well-everything! This summer, expect to receive the latest Olympic news not from your favorite TV reporter, but instead from a social media network just as soon as it happens. The moments of this years Olympics will live on as was never possible before thanks to social media.

Who knows what the Summer 2016 Olympics will bring, but for now, enjoy all of the convenience and fun social media has to offer, because it’s events like this where it really matters!

The Best of Both Worlds

Pinstagram, a free service that displays your Instagram photos in the Pinterest waterfall format. Since Instagram did not have a web or iPad application, this is the perfect pair. Pinstagram combines two of the hottest social networks into one easy to use application available on the web or iPad.

Personally, I love this new application, it makes it a thousand times easier to view your Instagram pictures. Once you sign in with your current Instagram account, your pictures are automatically displayed in the waterfall format that every Pinterest user in a costume too. This layout allows users to view more pictures at once.

Pinstagram also offers additional views of pages. For example there is your home page, most popular page, your profile page, and a page which displays the photos you have liked. Additionally Pinstagram allows users the ability to search for a specific tag.

If you have been waiting for Instagram on your Ipad, this new application offers the best of both worlds. I love that the digital world is always trying to think of the next best thing, and I think the creators of Pinstagram have found it. Everyone loves Instagram and Pinterest, so why wouldn’t you love them as one, I know I love it!

Big Week for Mark Zuckerberg

If you haven’t already heard, Mark Zuckerberg had a huge week, not only did his company go public but he also got married.

First Zuckerberg turned 28 this week, but besides celebrating his birthday, Zuckerberg had some other huge events to tackle. His company, FaceBook, became a publicly traded company on Friday making his net worth almost $20 billion dollars.

Saturday, Mark and longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, married at their Palo Alto, CA house in front of 100 guests. Friends and family thought they were attending a party to celebrate Priscialla’s recent graduation from medical school, but were really attending their wedding. After the couple was officially married, they changed their relationship status to married on FaceBook and Mark posted a wedding picture of the couple on his timeline, this seems totally appropriate for the owner of Facebook to document his life on FaceBook.

Another unexpected event for Zuckerberg, he wore a suit to his wedding nuptials. This is a rare occasion for him; he didn’t even wear a suit to the NASDAQ bell ringing, he wore his usual t-shirt and hoodie.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Zuckerberg, he’s only 28 and has accomplished an enormous amount, but I wouldn’t put anything past him. I expect to see more great things from him. Who knows maybe him and his wife will collaborate on something.

Facebook and Twitter Additction OK

In high school and early years of college my Facebook addiction appeared to distract me from what many others thought I “should” be focusing on. As I got older my Facebook addiction led to a fascination with Twitter and other forms of social media. Suddenly I was studying social media and digital public relations strategies in school. Within three years my degree in public relations went from cool to awesome. I was taking innovative journalism classes tailored to social media strategies and search engine optimization and all things digital. Was this too good to be true? Can I really make a career out of this?

Photo: DirJournal.com

It turns out you can. And there is quite the demand for digital agencies and social media strategist as the digital revolution continues to grow according to The Detroit News article, Aging Nation, Technology Give Rise to Five Hot Jobs. There is real value in social and digital and more and more people are recognizing that. The job market is fierce and there is good news for college students. According to The Detroit News Article. “By 2018 a million new jobs expected to be created.”  I don’t know if fate or luck or destiny brought me to my current internship in the digital marketing field, but the future is looking nice for me and for the digital agency.

The Detroit News: Aging Nation, Technology Give Rise to Five Hot Jobs

Kidney Exchanged for Apple iPad 2

The phrase, “that’s going to cost me an arm and a leg,” typically means something is going to cost a large sum of money. For 17-year-old Zheng, a high school freshman in China, that expression took on a more literal meaning…only a Kidney.

Zheng really wanted an iPad 2, but didn’t have enough money so he did the unthinkable and sold his kidney. I’ll repeat that. He sold his his kidney. The majority of student’s would save up for this kind of purchase but Zheng couldn’t wait. After coming in contact with a kidney-selling agent on the internet he decided that risking his life for 20,000 yen ($3K USD) was a pretty great deal. Zheng had the operation, received his money and returned home with more than one new Apple gadget.

Photo: MyChinaViews.com

His mother became very suspicious and reported her son to authorities, ultimately exposing Zheng’s secret kidney transplant.The hospital Zheng claims to have had his surgery at is denying any connection to the 17-year-old and authorities haven’t been able to contact any one involved in the organ transplant fiasco.

It seems Zheng is getting the last laugh here as he enjoys his new toys. After reading this article I wondered how many illegal organ transplants go unreported? Who are the recipients of these organs? Are the iphone mobile applications worth it? How far would you go to get what you wanted? I just hope Zheng doesn’t find another organ-selling agent online and another part of his body to sell in a year when his Apple gadgets are out of date.

The Next Web: Chinese student reportedly sells his kidney to buy an iPad 2

Facebook Re-Connect Feature

Brian Vandeputte

I started noticing the new Re-Connect feature on Facebook, that prompts users to reconnect with a friend that they haven’t spoken to in a while. Since Facebook doesn’t really “announce” new features, the recent addition didn’t strike me as a recent addition until after a couple days. Truthfully, I haven’t reconnected with anyone that has popped up, and none of my friends have ever mentioned doing it either. I’m curious to see how successful it has been?

Pete Cashmore recently posted some less than desirable scenarios that have been occurring because of the new application: “It’s recommending they reconnect with their (current) husband or wife. It’s even advising people to reconnect with friends who have died, causing obvious distress.”

Whether Mark Zuckerberg will correct the mishap is to be determined, but for now, I think we will all wait and see where this new accessory will venture to.

Virtual Conference; more than just a green way to network!

Not in a million years would I have fathomed receiving digital marketing advice from David Plouffe, President elect Barack Obama’s campaign manager, let alone be able to ask him questions.  Thanks to the incredible Digital Maketing World conference held by Marketing Profs on April 1st, 2009 I can actually say I have. 

A week ago if I was asked to attend a conference where David Plouffe was to be the guest speaker, despite my interest in it, I would have declined thinking it would be out of my budget to travel to the conference, pay for a hotel, and actually pay the fees to attend the varied events and seminars.  Today, my answer would be different. 

Marketing Profs Digital Marketing World virtual conference allowed everyone and anyone with an interest in digital marketing to attend a conference with some of the leaders in the Digital Marketing industry from the comfort of their own home at no cost.  Platform provider InXpo in conglomeration with Marketing Profs created an online conference that was far beyond any I have been to in person.  The conference included everything from an image of a beautiful convention centre where the conference was being held, to an auditorium where the speakers would present, an exhibit hall where companies could hold their booths, a resource center where you could download information provided by vendors and the event schedule, to a lounge where you could mix and mingle with others attending.

conference

The conference also eliminated the need for vendors and participants to travel to the site.  It eliminated the need for vendors to create elaborate exhibits, print stacks of pamphlets and informational packages, as well as spend money on chotchkies and doodads to give away.  Making it one of the greenest conferences I have attended.

Other benefits to the online aspect included the fact that there was no line up in front of a booth for a chance to have a conversation with a vendor, there was no rush to get a seat at a seminar, or even the awkward conversation about the weather whilst trying to mingle with others around you. 

trade-show-floor1

When you arrived at each booth a chat window would open where you could see all the conversations going on and join in, or ask for a one on one conversation.  There were several representatives at most booths so there was no waitin in line necessary.  Each booth also had ample information for you to look at with links to their websites, blogs, and so on.  Some vendors even went as far as to provide an opportunity to win prizes like an I-Pod or a book to those stopping by.

The auditorium held a scheduled set of speakers who provided visuals to go along with their live podcast as well as a question and answer session to which you could submit your questions via the live chat window, or via e-mail. 

It was an easy to use, entertaining, intriguing event with so much to offer.  Thankfully all the content and resources from the Marketing Profs Digital Marketing World virtual conference are still available for 90 days for anyone that missed out.

Deepti Dewan Chowdhry

Yahoo CEO Steps Down

In recent new, Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo,has just announced that he is stepping down. Yang said he would continue his duties until the board announced his successor. He also agreed to assist in the process for finding his replaceent. Finally, Yang said he would continue to work for Yahoo and return to his previous job as “chief Yahoo,” a corporate strategy role in addition to remaining on the board. Yang was in control of Yahoo for about a year and a half.

The decision is said to have been mutual between Yang and the board. Although the board was grateful to Jerry’s contributions over the past year and half, they are looking for someone to take the company to the next level.

Ross Sandler, analyst at RBS Capital Markets, saw this change as a positive decision from what he calls a “shareholders perspective.” He said Yang did little to restore confidence in any of Yahoo’s shareholders, employees or customers after botching the Microsoft deal. In February, Yang refused to accept Microsoft‘s bid of $31 a share. He attempted to show some willingness to sell the company but at a much higher price Microsoft was not willing to pay. Due to this, Microsoft rescinded its offer in May.

Yang attempted to develop a plan to help Yahoo compete against Google. He made several cuts in the staff and planned to lay off at least 10% of its 15,000 employees. During the time that this was stated, Yahoo’s net income fell 64% and lowered its revenue projections for the year. Yang made an advertising deal with its rival Google. The deal was supposed to bring Yahoo $250-$450 million in additional cash flow for the first year. Under pressure from regulators over antitrust concersn Google backed out of the deal. Since this deal fell through, many analysts have stated that yahoo might be forced to consider a deal with Microsoft or a merger with AOL. Who know’s what is in store for Yahoo in the near future.

Althouh Jerry Yang seemed very dedicated to the Yahoo corporation, his ability to take Yahoo to the next level did not go as expected. Although he dissapointed the board, he is at least sticking to his company and continuing to support it despite his job situation. As Yang most recently stated, “i have always, and will always bleed purple(in reference to Yahoo’s corporate color).”