algorithm

Beating the Algorithm

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Image by MUMA Monash

In the old days of “influencer relations” (you know way back when in 2009), PR professionals targeted the magic middle and top tier bloggers, which triggered larger blog coverage, and then more often than not traditional news media.

Since then digital media companies straddled the space occupied by both traditional journals and the top tier of bloggers. They use algorithms to detect hot news stories before they trend in the blogosphere, then break the news before traditional players and bloggers alike.

Specifically, Mashable, the Huffington Post, Forbes, Google and the others use algorithms listen to chatter on the social web. When hot trends bubble up they source the content provider, assign a reporter, or in the worst cases use narrative science — computer-based news writing — to break the story first.

This effectively takes power away from PR executives to affect the news cycle through traditional influencer outreach, and in turn, empowers the crowd to determine stories.

Some news outlets use the crowd to validate top stories, too. Validation is embodied by shares on social networks and comments.

For example, USA Today features stories on its web properties based on the posts that get shared the most. The old assignment editor loses weight in these scenarios.
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Marketing Automation Will Improve

The most common complaint about algorithms is their lack of intelligence, specifically their inability to generate results that match human interactions.

Image by anthillsocial

Image by anthillsocial

Producing off communication and awkward misses can actually hurt brands more than help them. Perhaps the most publicly algorithm gaffes have been via Facebook social ads, which over the years have served up many publicly noted gaffes. Then of course there is the confusion that automation creates about big date, which for many is just sloppy data.

So, yeah, automation has its issues, but it will improve.

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The End of the Social PR Revolution

Soup Lines
Image by OakleyOriginals

In building the program for xPotomac (February 25th), I sought to address a sea change in media evolution. That change spells the end for the social PR revolution, a marketing movement embodied by brand-led conversations over the past seven years.

We are currently experiencing a throttling of branded, online grassroots power. Specifically, it’s becoming harder and harder for marketers to be seen with branded earned media and social updates.

This evolution is best evidenced by the increasing role of owned and paid content placement (as discussed, content marketing is the 21st century nice description of advertising), and social or native advertising.

Other signs evidence this change, too. Social search and stronger policing of black hat SEO by Google has put a premium on paid search again. Facebook’s use of Edgerank to force companies and individuals alike to pay for attention is another harbinger of this fate.

The rise of big data and the forthcoming wearable computing revolution — themes that run throughout xPotomac — will cause a further throttling of online grassroots pipes.

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Vanessa Fox Discusses Search, Siri and Social

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Meet Vanessa Fox, one of the most brilliant minds in the interactive marketing space. I was first introduced to her at an event a couple of years ago here in DC.

In addition to running her own interactive agency Nine By Blue, Vanessa literally created Google’s portal for site owners, Webmaster Central. She just released the second edition of her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, one of the best resources you can buy to understand how search impacts business outcomes, as well as content creation and social media marketing.

Rather than wax poetic about Vanessa’s strengths, I asked her some questions about voice search, semantic data, social networking and more. Her answers are just amazing. And with that, here we go…

Will Voice Search Change Everything?

Geoff: How big of a disruptor does voice based search represent?

Vanessa: For the near term, voice search will likely not be all that disruptive but we’re in early days. The biggest initial change will likely be for searchers.
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Destiny: Remembered or Refrigerated?

Caroline Bubbles Silhoette
Image by Major Payn

In the annals of history will people remember us for all of our social updates and conversations?

I wonder if we’re just blowing bubbles into the ether.

After all, we need algorithms and formulas now to sift through the immense amounts of social data we create. If the proliferation of social data necessitates Big Data mining to make sense of it all, how can we possibly remember the average social citizen, much less the A-Listers?

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