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Curation, Collaboration, and Human Connections: David Amerland

Curation, Collaboration, and Human Connections: David Amerland

Air Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12:30pm ET
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David Amerland is at the forefront of the evolution in online and search marketing, and our guest on this week’s Google+ Business Spotlight. David is a wealth of knowledge on semantic search (he literally wrote the book on it) and how businesses can better connect with their audience by adopting a more connected approach to their online presence. These connections are what we are going to talk about in this episode, because understanding how they work will help your business adapt to today’s expectations of your customers. And, of course, it all ties back into how he uses Google+.

Get some coffee, trust me.

Google+ Business Spotlight – David Amerland

This will probably be the only time we recap the introduction, but there’s a reason. You see, our show began with some idle chit-chat about David’s travel schedule, the weather, and the fact that between the three of us (myself, Ben Fisher, and David) we covered about half the globe (Ben’s in Phoenix, I’m in Boston, David was in Greece).

The real reason to recap the intro was to tie in how part of the Google+ Business Spotlight strategy – asking our email subscribers and live viewers to tweet about the show, and bring people from outside Google+ onto the platform to see what this is all about – is a fantastic segue to David’s latest book, Google+ Hangouts for Business (Que Publishing, 2014). You can read my review of it here.

How do Hangouts on Air and Semantic Search Go Together?

David’s bestselling book, Google Semantic Search (Que Publishing, 2013) has become the standard for semantic search and strategy for anyone trying to understand how the search landscape is changing (including Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update in September, 2013), and how businesses can adapt. You can read my review of it here.

Hangouts on Air (HOA’s), and thus David’s latest book, is a logical progression from semantic search, because as Google listens to us speak to each other, they can learn more about our intent, sentiment, natural language patterns, you name it. In a business context, this is a huge opportunity for a company to create content, relationships, engagements, and signals that is easily digestible by not just humans, but the search engines that serve humans.

These signals are building around each other and our profiles on Google+, but in the meantime, Google is mining a tremendous amount of data from the videos: YouTube transcription gives us the actual text (as imperfect as it may be now, it will improve), and the timing of the signals themselves as it relates to the video views, etc.

But let’s take a step back and humanize this whole Hangouts On Air thing. The fact that three people could be talking to each other, and to a fourth (the audience) watching live on the Google+ Event page, whose questions we were answering in real-time, is seriously awesome. Think about the level of human connection that is happening within one of these shows, and how much trust we are building among each other. We are doing this naturally, right? Now, by naturally interacting with one another like we would in real life, by building this trust, authority, and reputation with each other, we can tell Google what we’re all about, to the extent that they can figure out what “buckets” to put us in as they rank our content.

In fact, Google recently awarded several grants to universities to investigate sentiment mining technology, with the intent of creating a sentiment graph.

Which brings us to air quotes and sarcasm…

Is it possible that there will be a <sarcasm> tag for websites and/or social media markup? And will Google eventually recognize “air quotes” as a sarcastic signal?

Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible and plausible. Google trained itself to recognize cats by watching YouTube videos, right? And as its sentiment graphing becomes more nuanced, recommending  adoption of sarcasm markup will help webmasters and content creators send the right signals to Google about the sentiment of the content they create for indexing.

Matt Cutts, if you’re listening, please link back to this article when your team releases guidance on sarcasm markup. We called it, at 7:11 in the video above. 

In the meantime, my recommended Google+ markup for sarcasm is as follows:

~Your pithy quip goes here~

The tilde isn’t real markup…yet…Dave Besbris and Jonathan Terleski of Google+, if you’re listening, well…all I humbly ask is that it goes Android first :) 

Speaking of markup in Google+ posts, the next topic in our discussion is the David Amerland Sunday Read.

The strategy and mechanics behind the Sunday Read and other curative posts on Google+

If you have not seen or read one of David’s Sunday Reads, they come out on _____ (fill in the blank, you can do it!) and pull together a variety of articles and discussions around Google+ into one spot that we can all read, coffee and sweets at the plenty. What’s more interesting are the topics David curates. They aren’t SEO, semantic search, social media, etc. Rather, the topics are human qualities, like empathy, trust, authority, and others. We’ve embedded an example below:


David uses Google Keep to clip and tag things he discovers on Google+ and around the web. It is very organic and conversational, so at some point, the discussions he has pulled together start to connect with each other naturally and semantically. You see, since we as a community are already talking about these topics, the narrative is being pieced together until it’s a complete thought, or at least a cohesive starting point. That’s when David puts his Sunday Read together, and it only takes about 45 minutes. Interestingly, the posts he pulls together into a Sunday Read may have been collected over the course of weeks, which is also why we feel so connected to the topics (we’ve been talking about it for a while now, and the conversation has simply percolated).

How does this translate to business goals? In David’s case, he writes, speaks, and consults about the humanization of business, right? So understanding human nature is imperative, as is bringing together as many minds as possible to a central discussion about a human nature topic.

Curating on Google+, when done well, exposes you to a broader audience that shares the same passion or interest. It’s built-in marketing, and you become a resource, a brand, a trusted voice about that passion or interest. You also create a platform for collaboration: on your curative posts, everybody will talk to each other about the topic at hand, which builds a more complete picture around that topic that everybody benefits from. This, again, builds brand equity for you.

Keys to building a curation brand on Google+

The Sunday Read isn’t the only curation brand on Google+. David’s Sunday Read, Stone Temple Consulting’s STCats, and Mick Sharpe’s Friday Favourites posts have become recognized “brands” on Google+, and all have the following in common:

  1. They’re consistent
  2. They’re branded
  3. They’re valuable

If you are looking to create something like this for your business, think of the qualities of effective email newsletters. The same three elements are present in them as these posts on Google+.

How does all this work pay off?

Even though this “what’s the ROI of social media” argument is totally played out, it’s a valid point. If you do not have a reason for being active on social media, your time spent here is wasted.

In David’s case, the payoff is collaboration and how it affects his writing. Collaboration, learning, and networking are totally acceptable reasons, by the way, for being on a social network. It doesn’t have to always be about marketing.

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