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Forget Everything You Know About Social Media & Google



The Google kool-aid

google-profilesWe’ve been working on a series about Google’s new Social Search function and we’ve experimented with it and tried it on for size, and have noted in our research that there is an appalling lack of critical thinking by bloggers and even journalists who are doing nothing more than cheerleading for Google’s “innovation” or regurgitating information, press release style.

The way Google’s Social Search works is by putting social network search results on page one of a google user’s (someone who has set up their Google profile and indicated their social networks) search. I’d dive deeper into it, but just check out how Google explains their experiment:

Seriously, you are wasting your time…

There are two schools of thought- one that says social networking is a time waster and another that says social networking is the holy grail of doing business in this era. Google Social Search (and us for that matter) are of the school of thought that IMPROPER use of social media is a time waster, but PROPER use is key. With this new search function, we’re hoping that NOW everyone will listen to us as we beg Realtors to stop Twitterorgying with each other and actually talk about their market with actual locals in their market since now, they won’t show up for “Nebraska real estate” if all they’ve talked about is “getting wasted at that conference, dude!”

The era of friend collecting and system gaming are coming to an end as now suddenly, people who advocated for following @boobs6969 on Twitter since she’s known to automatically follow back (that hussy) because their social search results will be filled with @boobs6969’s responses that are nothing more than spam links instead of legitimate responses from their friends. You only wanted to know what your friends thought of buying an Ed Hardy shirt, not what @boobs6969 tweeted yesterday about Ed Hardy weight loss supplements.

The Holy Grail of Google

Google has long rewarded quality SEO by giving it exposure on page one, but Google has just validated the use of social media by giving social network connections space on page one. SEO still matters, because everyone still wants that holy “first result on Google” spot that costs an arm and a leg, but if consumer behavior continues to shift toward relying on personal connections, that first place ribbon may go to someone other than the big box brokers as people begin leaning on Googling their social network for answers.

Google has known for a long time that the web culture (which is now mainstream America) prefers knowing what their friends think over what a Google result thinks, we call it crowdsourcing, yet people have long relied on Google for answers but have shifted their consumer-centric questions to places like Twitter. Now, people can essentially Google their social networks. This changes everything because people don’t have to leave Google anymore to get the answers they need.

Some fears Realtors will have:

What can be scary about all of this is the prospect of buyers and sellers connecting organically as FakeBrandon tweets “I’m thinking of selling my house next year, I’m in South Austin, do y’all think I should wait?” and FakeJennifer who is friends with FakeBrandon searches Google three weeks later, sees FakeBrandon’s tweet in her Google Social Search, remembers how kick ass her friend FakeBrandon’s house is, (especially at last year’s Christmas party) and direct messages him before any Realtors even get involved and voila, a sale is done, despite your knowing and buying FakeJennifer (who is a lush) two years’ worth of drinks at happy hours.

You should also think about your competitors showing up in the search results and you might actually be losing sleep wondering if your competitor has made more meaningful connections with people in their social network, leading to their being top of mind and being the preferred result in a social search setting. Are you spending your time wisely on social networks or are you screwing around stroking your own ego and calling yourself a superstar while your competitor quietly focuses on the local market and does most of their social networking over direct message? Gaming the system won’t work now, because Google Social Search lends to an organic result stream.

Guess what, people- Google has popped the “social media is fun” bubble and has made this become the real world. Board rooms across America who have ignored Facebook will now hear that Google cares, they’ll get on board and it will be a much much noisier place to market. Best practices in social media will be solidified by the end of 2010 and you’ll have to focus on building genuine connections OVER being Homecoming queen. Are you ready?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Elad Kehat

    November 4, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Very good post Lani. It’s the first one I read that drives home why Google social search is a very big deal. You raise some issues I haven’t thought about before.
    BTW, did you consider the fact that there were several social-search start-ups over the past couple of years, but they all failed to make an impact? I think it’s probably because they’re not Google – nobody changes their search provider just because of social search, but social search is still very significant – if it appears right there on the search engine you’re using anyway. What’s your take on this?

    Regarding buyers and sellers connecting organically – they already do so on Twitter and Facebook! Social media nevertheless provides a new opportunity for Realtors because a lot of that conversation is public so Realtors can find and connect with new leads. Tools like make that easy.

    • Benn Rosales

      November 4, 2009 at 9:17 am

      What makes this significant is that Google clears the clutter and populates to top of mind WHO in your sphere mentioned it and what they mentioned. This really rocks, it also brings about indirect referrals in cases where a person mentions a great agent, or possibly an agent to stay away from- very powerful stuff.

  2. Ken Brand

    November 4, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Hmmmm. It’s sorta like fire, you can use if to cook or you can fry yourself.

    Here’s how to turn it on: Log in to your google account and join the Social Search experiment at (you have to have a google profile setup first)

    I think about all the people who pooh-poohed FB, Twitter, etc. Turns out it will be bazooka, just make sure you don’t have it pointed at your head.

    Originally, I used Twitter and FB differently. For example, I would post things or comment on Twitter in ways I wouldn’t with FB. Now, it’s all going to be public, thankfully I didn’t do anything regrettable.

    This is great info Lani, thanks.

  3. Tim Wilson

    November 4, 2009 at 8:43 am


    Thank you so much for this information! It is the best (most informative) article/blog on Google and its social media searching that I have seen… lots to think about!

    I am not yet an avid user of twitter and facebook, but look to increase my use. Clients are surely using social media to pass referrals, etc. What I am trying to figure out is the balance of time between doing things IN REAL LIFE (face-to-face) that can cause me to be the SUBJECT (referral) of a tweet, versus actually spending hours every day being ON twitter (and tweeting myself onto everyone’s mind that way).

    For example, I am sure that both my doctor and truck mechanic are getting referrals on twitter passed between their satisfied clients — but neither of them is actually spending hours ON twitter, as far as I know (if any time at all). One is compassionate and well informed about his work, and the other is just plain good at fixing trucks.

    I have no problem sending referrals to either one of them, for those reasons– through whatever means someone talks to me about doctors and mechanics– including face-to-face conversations.

  4. Matt Thomson

    November 4, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I’ll really look forward to the demise of “Twitterorgying.” One of the evils of Twitter I put up with is following top notch Realtors on Twitter, who seem to do 90% of just chatting back and forth to each other.
    Maybe now I’ll get to read more interesting content!

  5. Tony Sena

    November 4, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    “we beg Realtors to stop Twitterorgying with each other and actually talk about their market with actual locals in their market”

    This is one of the main reasons why Twitter is not a good tool for Realtors. Most Realtors don’t know how to use Twitter properly. You indicate “talk about their market with actual locals in their market” but most don’t know how to find locals and when they do how to get them to follow them.

  6. Ken Brand

    November 5, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Google has so many tools, it’s hard to keep up with your Gstuff. This will help.

    Google Gives You A Privacy Dashboard To Show Just How Much It Knows About you


    • Benn Rosales

      November 5, 2009 at 9:14 am

      I’ve had this dashboard for a very long time, it just has a new layout, so I can’t really jump on the it’s new bandwagon, but I will say it’s at least thoughtful. I think I tweeted out about a month ago that I have all these accts and it sucks I have to log into each individually, or need 14 tabs to work with google tools, I’m thinking this isn’t the news, but what might be the new news that you no longer need 14 active tabs- that would be exciting. So from my gmail window, I can see that I have a google voice mail, and two new waves and simply click a tab to change the page, rather than leave one system for another… I can only pray.

  7. HowardArnoff

    November 5, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Lani, as a long time blogger but relatively new to social networking, thank you for your most helpful guidance. Lots of interesting stuff to think about.

  8. Doug Francis

    November 5, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Thanks for helping me start to understand Google’s objectives with my Twitter account… which has, honestly, been a low priority for me because I could not grasp how this could be an effective tool. But don’t think for a minute that I haven’t been listening and observing what people have been doing (for example @GoodLifeTeam ) especially down there in Austin.

    Ken, thanks for the tip too.

    Lani, you always give me more homework!

  9. Keith Lutz

    November 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Although I do believe Social Media to be true and not a fad, I kind of feel like it is like a direct mail piece, where really they need to see me 13 times or more before it kicks in. Especially with thousands and thousands of followers. (I only have a handful, at this point). I also think my handle name is more important than my actual name in tweeterville. I mean “LovingCharlotte” vs “Keith Lutz”, shows passion and may someday invoke a conversation with someone who wants to move to Charlotte.

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Social Media

This non-judgmental app can help you switch to a plant-based diet

(SOCIAL MEDIA) There are many reasons people choose plant-based diets. If you’re looking to try it out, this app helps you stay on track.



No Meat Today, a judgement-free plant-based diet tracking app.

The interest in plant-based proteins continues to grow. Healthline suggests that Americans are shifting toward plant-based meat substitutes because of shortages in the grocery store due to the pandemic, but there are many reasons to make the switch.

Plant-based proteins are considered more sustainable than traditional meat. Nutritionally, plant-based meat alternatives are often healthier. Regardless of the reason, if you’re one of the many Americans who are changing your diet, there’s a new app that can help you stay on track without making you feel judged if or when you do eat meat.

Your companion to eating less meat

No Meat Today is an app available in the App Store. You can get on a waitlist in Google Play. It’s a fun app that asks you, “Did you eat meat today?” You can even define what meat means to you, red meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs and/or dairy. As you eat less meat, your “planet” attracts cows. The design is simple, “don’t eat meat, get a cow.” If you eat too much meat, your cows go away. There’s no judgement if you lose a cow.

The creator, Arnaud Joubay says, “I’m not here to tell anyone what they should do, only to offer a friendly app to those who want to do the same.” It’s recommended to look back at your history to decide whether you want to eat meat or not.


The app was just released earlier this year. Most of its features are free, but you can pay $4.99 for all the features for one year. There have been some very cute cows released for special days. In the App Store, reviews are positive, but the caveat is that the creator asks you to contact him first if you if your review isn’t 5-stars. It’s a cute app that can motivate you to eat less meat.

Here’s the link to the product page.

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Social Media

Twitter insights to engage more customers this holiday season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter wants to help you prep your marketing for the first COVID holiday season by sharing findings on what customers care about.



Man on laptop open to Twitter, considering his holiday shopping with Christmas tree behind him.

The year 2020 has been a year like no other. None of us expected to be confined to the inside of our homes, but here we are. And now, more than ever, the holiday season is something most of us are looking forward to, even if we have to spend it apart. And social media like Twitter will be a key part of that.

So, to get a sense of what consumers expect this holiday season, Twitter UK has shared some insights to help brands better strategize on their holiday campaigns. Twitter’s official partner, Brandwatch, analyzed tweets from March to September to find out “people’s opinions and biggest concerns.” Here are Twitter’s findings.

Compared to previous years, people have already started asking for and have begun giving gift ideas and recommendations to each other. According to the data, mentions of Christmas started to increase in March. Between March 1 and September 30, there was a 10% increase in mentions compared to last year. So, brands should definitely start kicking off their marketing campaigns sooner than later.

The pandemic has undoubtedly influenced how we spend our money and has altered how we are able to have family time. According to the Brandwatch Twitter data, 59k people are discussing how family gatherings will be impacted by it. So, brands should be mindful of this, and incorporate messaging that reaches out to everyone. Messaging that makes family and friends feel connected, even if they are spending the holidays alone.

Another thing to consider is combining your efforts with local businesses. Making purchases from small and independent businesses is something that has been heavily highlighted since the beginning of the pandemic. With Christmas drawing near, this couldn’t be more important in people’s minds. Twitter has seen a substantial jump in people saying they will be holiday shopping locally. By partnering with a local business, both small and large companies can benefit from sales.

Also, health and safety were and still are at the top of everyone’s minds. A lot of people on Twitter are saying they will do all their shopping early. This will help them avoid the large crowds of last-minute shoppers.

As a result, companies should start preparing themselves to receive early shoppers. Part of preparing is making sure all health and safety measures are in place. Brands should follow all CDC guidelines and make sure they continue to be transparent with customers. Sending out a simple safety message through social media or email will go a long way.

These insights from Twitter are specific to the UK, but should still be considered. No one knew we’d still be where we are now. However, the holiday season is still something people are excited about. And, brands can take these insights to help maximize sales.

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Social Media

10 Snapchat Ad tips to increase engagement for holiday shopping season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As holiday shopping draws near, Snapchat offers helpful tips to help business owners make use of their advertising and branding tools.



Woman holding phone open to Snapchat chat window, casually dressed with journal and coffee nearby.

The holidays are basically here, and Snapchat wants to make sure you get the most out of your Snap promotions. The company recently released its “Snapchat Ads Best Practices: 10 Tips to Help Increase Ad Engagement” post. With these pointers and advertising best practices, Snap hopes to help companies “build visually appealing ads that drive quality engagement and high return on investment for your business.”

So, let’s get into the tips!

1. Choose the right ad format for your goals
With a lot of advertising options, Snap says you need to select the right ad type that will better align with and help you meet your business goals.

2. Showcase your product front and center in your ad creative
Displaying a fullscreen video or image of your product will encourage a viewer to want to engage more. As a result, it is good to include a ‘hero’ message at the beginning that has all relevant information, such as offers and specials.

For eCommerce purposes, products should be featured “front and center to drive purchase intent.” For apps and games, include the app’s UI, features, and benefits in the ad. Meanwhile, local businesses should highlight the services or products their business specializes in.

And, always remember to make sure your creative meets Snapchat’s ad specs so your ad can be displayed flawlessly.

3. Make your ads feel native to Snapchat
No one likes intrusive ads that scream at your face telling you to buy a certain product or service. To prevent this from happening, Snap says your ads should “mirror the bite-sized and linear storytelling of Snaps” already on the platform. These non-intrusive ads should be kept short at around 5-6 seconds. And, Snap says these more “conversational ads” get viewed more fully than polished ads do.

4. Drive urgency with relevant messaging
Don’t overcomplicate the message. This will just get people to swipe away. Instead, make sure relevant information is at the beginning and is easy to understand. Placing your messaging within the first 2 seconds is preferable.

5. Design for sound on
Despite what you might think, silence isn’t better. Snap says that about 64% of Snapchat ads have the sound turned on. And, an effective way of including sound in your creative is by using a customer testimonial. Spoken testimonials help viewers understand and better relate to the brand or product.

6. Link your ads properly
Make sure users are being directed to where you want them to go. You don’t want them clicking on a broken link. Or worse, someone else’s content. The right link is crucial for impressions and conversions. Here are Snap’s recommended “attachment types depending on advertiser goal.”

  • Drive online sales by using Web View Attachments. These pages instantly load for the user and are available in Snap Ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.
  • Drive app installs by using App Install Attachments. Snapchatters will be able to swipe and download your app. Using ‘Install Now’ or ‘Download’ as a CTA, Snap says you will have strong conversion rates.
  • Drive app engagement/app visits by using Deep Links. These links will bring existing users back to your app. At the same time, any new users will be directed to the app store to install the app. Deep Links can be added to Single Image or Video ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.

7. Test ad creative and try new ad formats
Testing something is a pretty good idea when it comes to anything. Snap emphasizes this, and says testing can give you “insight into what content resonates most with your target audience.” They recommended testing your ad creative for about 2-4 weeks using different formats. After you’ve gathered enough information, you can determine the winning format that is best for you.

8. Use goal-based bidding to bid towards your desired action

  • Goal-based bidding “allows you to optimize towards a specific action that a Snapchatter is most likely to take, such as installing your app, watching a video, or completing a purchase.”
  • Snap has several bidding strategies, and it recommends using Target Cost Bidding.

9. Broaden your targeting
After you’ve been running your ads for at least a couple of weeks, Snap says to consider broadening your target audience. Snapchat has several different targeting options. Some of the categories you can expand on are geo, gender, age ranges, and languages. Expanding your audience will allow you to get more impressions.

10. Understand your audience reach to optimize
Finally, make use of Snap’s Audience Insights. These insights provide Snapchat with data like demographics, interests, locations, and devices overview. By knowing this information, you can better understand your audience and create content that is tailored to them. Content that will ultimately maximize your advertising efforts.

Overall, Snapchat understands that “mobile advertising is a key component to any digital marketing strategy.” By offering us these tips, they are reminding us of some things we already know, and telling us how they can help us achieve our advertising goals.

With the holidays around the corner, Snapchat says they can help you reach a large and engaged audience for just $5 a day with their offerings. So, what do you think of Snapchat’s tips?

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