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3 ways to think like Google and engage your social-media audience

Aaron Goldman is the author of “Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned from Google.” This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the book launch, which has Aaron “appearing” at 30 blogs in 10 days. More information about the book can be found at GoogleyLessons.com.

Sure, Google may not have a global social network. But that doesn’t mean the Big G can’t teach you a thing or two about how to improve your social-media efforts.

In my book, I outline 20 “Googley Lessons” — ideas marketers can learn from the world’s most ubiquitous brand about how to better engage their customers and prospects.

This is NOT one of them … but it’s worth considering all the same.

Faster is better

Last week Google released Google Instant, a new search feature that brings up results as you type. By shortening a gap you didn’t even realize existed, Google could save searchers more than 3.5 billion seconds a day in total.

Google also shows its commitment to making your Web experience faster with its Google Chrome browser, as highlighted in these “speed tests.”

In general, Google favors a test and iterate approach for product development over a drawn-out QA process. It prefers to launch products before they’re perfected and tweak based on user feedback. This allows Google to get to market a lot faster than its competitors.

So what does it mean to be fast in the social-media world? And why is that better?

  1. Make it easy for people to interact with you. Set up an outpost in every social channel where your audience spends time. Don’t make them come to your branded domain. Just as Google starts showing results before you’re done typing, allow your customers and prospects to locate you without leaving their preferred social network. Even if you don’t have the resources to maintain a presence, at least open an account and throw up a page pointing to your corporate website.  If nothing else, this will reserve the handle for when you are ready to actively manage and, in the meantime, it gives you an extra chance of being found.
  2. Respond quickly to positive/negative mentions. Timing is everything when it comes to engaging happy and/or enraged-off customers. Reward happy customers that tweet favorably about or “like” your brand with special promotional offers. And address the angry ones with a solution to their problem or at least a message of “We hear you and are working on it.” The longer you wait, the less likely the happy ones will be to tell more people and the more likely the angry ones will be to tell more.
  3. Experiment with different messaging. Social media is not your father’s public relations. No one wants to see pretty, polished messages from brands on Facebook, Twitter and the like. It comes off as unauthentic and insincere. Create a filter that your social-media team can operate under without having to get management approval for each message. That filter should speak to tone, substance, style, etc. From there, test different executions to see what drives response. Do people react better to video or text? Discounts or add-ons? Most importantly, though, do this testing in a live environment — not behind some one-way windowed focus group. That’s the only way to truly gauge performance.

So, there you have it, Googley Lesson #21, “Faster is better.”

Now, if only Google could release a tool that would allow you to see the results of your social-media efforts before you were done typing!