“Leveraging Google search to promote your brand as a content creator is not just logical, it is also smart. Using your company personnel to amplify your digital presence makes total business sense and creates a valuable, additional layer to any paid efforts you already have in place.” From Google Semantic Search, by David Amerland
This statement from this ground-breaking book in the field of online marketing really caught my eye. My question was “How?” I will walk you through a possible scenario and explain my personal understanding of the steps that could be taken, based on the steps author David Amerland has provided in his book. His vision is broad for all sizes of businesses. My version here is granular, for the small biz owner, a glimpse of how the ideas can play out in a small office.
Let’s say we are talking about a Lasik eye surgeon, a doctor who does laser vision correction. The doc is always working with no time for social media or personal marketing. The type of surgery is somewhat new and not fully trusted. What does she do?
“Identify company staff with a key online presence.” (GSS)
Remember that employee who always seemed to be online, tweeting up a storm. This person now becomes a valuable asset, though, in the office, serving as a receptionist. Turn a negative to a positive here.
The helpful medical assistant is younger and quite in tune with the tech world, so she expresses an interest in learning some social media skills for you.
The doctor’s husband is a writer, and has quite a social media following of his own on a new platform called Google+.
“Decide how you can leverage the online presence of your company personnel as a whole to help promote your website and digital marketing efforts.” (GSS)
This one takes some thinking . . . where to begin? The business does have a website. The company hired for that did build in a blog function, but it was not used initially. They did provide a “Facebook” page and maintain for you. That’s it for digital marketing efforts. Why not stop there? Well, it just doesn’t provide much more than basic customer information. You count on medical referrals.
A team meeting with a new Google+ consultant yields some fresh ideas to try:
The writer has ideas about writing about his wonderful wife and her budding successful medical practice, so he thinks of doing several feature stories. He thinks he can write about her life and training journey and things that motivated her to build her career so she can be seen as “authentic” and worthy of “trust.” These are ideas he learned about in his research on Google+.
The Google+ consultant will train the medical assistant in using Google+ and help her learn how to blog about the techniques and the equipment to show how it works for potential customers. An additional assistant will take over a few hours of her responsibilities a week to make this time possible.
The receptionist knows the clients. She hears every concern expressed by the people who walk in the door. She really hears it all. So she is thrilled to have an additional function on social media, and a part time assistant is found to give her several hours a week to do her tasks.
The tasks are assigned, and the Google+ consultant is hired to set up new “profiles” for the company.
“Decide how you can coordinate everyone involved in your digital marketing effort to ‘speak’ with one voice.”(GSS)
The Google+ consultant works with these staff to set up a monthly one-hour meeting plan for coordination of your online efforts. Each person understands that they are one of a team. The wording and language about the doctor and the profession is shared so that proper adherence to privacy issues and medical regulations can be followed. The team makes a plan to try a test function each, the first month, reviewed by the consultant. They will come back to evaluate it and look at client results at end of month. There is a great deal of excitement as this variety of people with different technical skills has never seen themselves as one team before, as equals in a new project.
“Detail how you will educate everyone within your business on the value of Authorship and linking from their Google+ profile to the company website.”(GSS)
The consultant sets up a Google+ profile for the doctor first. A relaxed smiling photo is taken of her, and a family home shot too for this profile page. The family loves cooking together so the big background photo is taken of them having fun in the kitchen.
Next the consultant sets up a Business page for the medical practice, a street address local business page is chosen because it is a local business. A photo of the doctor smiling and one of the office and staff is taken for the profile page.
The consultant then sets up a profile page with each of the other two staff members, showing them how to post on it. They learn how they can make their pages really their own on their personal topics. The receptionist is thrilled that she can post on her new Google+ page and use “Friends +Me” to share from there to Twitter as well as the doctor’s Facebook page.
The writer-husband is already set up with quite a large following so he knows just what to do with a few extra tips from the consultant about keeping the his and her professional work separate.
Each one is advised on wise moves to build their own authorship and online following safely to help protect the online integrity of the doctor. Then all of them are brought in to the Google+ business page as co-managers with the permission to post on it. They are all also invited to be a “guest” blogger on the business website with specific topics and schedules worked out. The consultant will review and edit everything of course, at least to start.
“Detail how an amplification of your company’s digital signal through everyone working in the business will be managed correctly.”(GSS)
This is about the supreme importance of the consultant’s function with this particular small business. No one in the business has the time to manage this. Individuals can handle their own writing and posting tasks, but coordination is not a job function in the doctor’s office at this time.
Working separately, but still in communication with the outside website company, the consultant serves as editor and “clearing-house” for all content. Continuing the visual and verbal branding of the company already set up by the website team is important as well as connecting to the social media they handle.
This role is also a key safety support for keeping the language of the business and professionalism of the business monitored carefully. Each person is scheduled for the week they will perform their company task and kept on schedule. The consultant reads everything before posting and encourages the team members, answering their questions and monitoring their Google+ profiles as well, to help them get used to their new role as “authors.”
The consultant uses the functions of other web services such as circle monitoring software to watch the progress of followers, sharers, and engagers on the business Google+ page and the doctor’s page. Watching the tone of the communications and referrals, as well as seeing how these efforts are reflected in the additional clients and inquiries that result, is a way of encouraging all in their roles.
“Decide whether there are areas of content creation in your business that are currently being overlooked and that could be better used if more members of staff blogged or became involved in the effort.”(GSS)
Initially the staff and the doctor and the writer-husband begin to feel comfortable with Google+.
The doctor realizes that she needs to post something and starts to do research on lasik success online and finds that she can post links to these professional articles on her business page. With her one or two sentence explanations to set up these links, she can use only a few minutes of her time while sharing the breadth of knowledge she has accumulated on her techniques. Her business profile is beginning to look both authoritative in its scope and warm and human in its tone. She does find herself answering questions on the page and is enjoying getting to know some of those who seek her out. Meanwhile, she finds a community of people who have had lasik done and goes in there to offer whatever kind of supportive help she can legally provide, mostly posting just to encourage people.
The receptionist discovers that she has quite a sensitive manner in helping people with their concerns and questions. Without revealing any personal privacy material she has discovered the ability to set examples up with fictitious names enough to portray real questions and real feelings of emotional delight she hears from the happy clients. She is feeling quite like a happiness ninja in her online world. Though she can’t answer any medical questions, the telling of stories is becoming her real strength and makes each of these digital portals quite warm and inviting. Some folks ask her to take their photos with her camera and post their happy smiles on the doctor’s page.
The assistant has found it to be a great deal of work but also a great value to her own training to research each piece of equipment, find pictures of it, and post an explanation on the website and the business Google+ page. The website and the business page are both beginning to look quite well informed and professional. The fresh high quality content is starting to show up on several technical topic pages in the search engine, with her photo of all things! This is fueling her own career, as well as supporting the professional energy of the doctor’s practice.
The writer-husband just falls more in love with his wonderful wife each week as he goes in to interview her on her practice and how she feels about serving her clients. He is effective in portraying her sincerity and people are beginning to get to know the real her, even though she has yet to have much time to personally be an online rockstar like she is naturally at work.
One other technician working in the company realized that his web skills with video could support an online Q&A hangout for the company each week so the team begins to think about how they can use a small amount of the doctor’s time to answer questions on camera.
“Decide how you will encourage your staff to share content they are passionate about and find ways to include your company content in some of that sharing.”(GSS)
This area is where many companies will not be ready to trust their people to speak on the company’s behalf online. What if they have an argument with the company and leave? What if they have opinions that differ from the company policies? Overcoming that trust problem is a major hurdle, it seems. This is a serious issue that causes larger companies, where they may have less trust in their people, to make a significant culture shift to openness and transparency.
In a small company like this doctor’s office, the team thrives on its unity and the integrity of the staff they choose. A good feeling in the office is exactly what gives this business its edge. These people indeed see themselves as professionals in this office and working for the greater good in the quality of their service to others. As a result, they are eager to take this happy spirit into their own profiles on Google+.
Each one has found new friends in their searches online. Google+ is an outstanding place to make new friends on all the topics of interest one may have. The fact that they each work with a lasik office is quite a conversation piece in itself. Each one has had some small lasik techniques done on their eyes or on a family member, so they have their own stories to tell. It comes out in their personal posting as well as their pieces for the company.
Encouragement seems to be the key here, so that each person is valued for the contribution they make to the business. Often these folks are sharing comments online with each other complimenting their spirit of service. Each one of them is becoming a voice online with their own followings and friendships. This has resulted in a significant volume of interest in the business and online following.
The local media has been enchanted with the united energy of the team’s growing reputation as online spokespeople. The video hangouts have become quite popular and others from the community are coming forward to offer testimonials and small bits on the local news to share their excitement.
“Detail what metrics you will use to help those involved in the company’s digital marketing amplification effort gauge the effectiveness of their contribution.”(GSS)
In this office, the staff has wanted to know from the first weeks how it is going and if all this is making a difference. They decided to put up a big chart on the wall showing what they are doing online (because it is so very unusual for a doctor to let office staff do something like this).
They put up a follower chart of Google+ followers, engagers, and celebrate their sharers. Nothing can of course be given as gifts lest they are perceived as bribes, but if you are local and a sharer of this business’ posts, your picture will be found on this wall.
It is not set up as a competition between social media or individual posts, but the whole office now wants to know the hot topics, the most followed posts and celebrate this progress. The doctor has become so excited, thrilled with the staff energy of support, that some special training opportunities are being provided to celebrate these efforts.
In the office they now have a permanent set up of a small camera and wall backdrop so that any customer who wants to can pose for a 30 second promo that is featured on the website, on the Google+ page and corresponding YouTube page.
“Discuss how you can more closely link your company’s reputation to those who work in it.”(GSS)
In the local area, the success of this company is now widely known. Followers come up on the street to recognize the staff members and say hi on their way to and from work. They go online to watch their hangouts in amazing numbers.
The website company and another local media company have been hired to create some local advertising using the staff members and their pictures as online “stars” in “The Lasik Team Firmament” advertising.
It is becoming quite the desirable place to work. The resumes pour in. The doctor has also set up a training program for technical staff and taken on a younger partner to manage the new higher volume of clients.
“List all the different places your company content appears in, or your company has a digital presence in, and describe how you propose the content amplification effort will be used.”(GSS)
A year later, this company looks nothing like its younger self. The office has moved to bigger quarters. The team has doubled. The “hot” thing is to go lasik now.
Other than the original website, and the original Google+ page, the doctor has been invited to guest lecture at many conferences in the region as well as her first national conference. The success of the services and the popularity of them in the press and medical journals provided this visionary doctor with many of the natural accolades the industry supports.
The doctor has written her first book, with her writer-husband, detailing the digital journey they took and how it made her business famous.
The happy and successful Google+ consultant now has more clients than fit in the weekday schedule and has created an eBook series based on the successful creative ideas from this particular client and a few others with similar stories.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The above description by Pepper Oldziey of Peppergraphics Design Studio is pure fiction. It is based on inspiration from chapter four of this amazing book, Google Semantic Search, by David Amerland, and the new journey in marketing that semantic search provides us, as well as my experiences working with my own clients.
Thank you David Amerland for your willingness to have me quote from your work and imagine scenarios from your book’s checklists. This work in no way represents the full guidance from the book, but is just one possible application of its ideas to a small business.
Please read the other articles in this series, based on this book: