DAVID BAIN: TLDs don't matter, Facebook Live are getting serious, and what might Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn mean for B2B marketing? All that and more in this week's edition of This Week in Organic, Episode Number 46.
Hello and welcome. I'm David Bain, in each show I'll be joined by some knowledgeable, opinionated folks to discuss the latest happenings in anything that impacts organic traffic. As for you, in the live audience, get involved so it would be great to read a few of your comments in the comments section underneath the video if you're watching this on authoritas.com. I'll try and keep an eye out on that as well as the #twio on Twitter, but let's find out a little bit about today's guests, where they're from and what's caught their attention this week. So starting off with Mr Mark Asquith.
MARK ASQUITH: Hello Mr Bain, how the devil are you? Yeah, that's right. I'm Mark from Hacksaw design and brand consultancy here in the north of England, and also the founder of podcast website Excellence Expected. I'm just a bit of a geek really.
DAVID BAIN: Also joining us today is Grant.
GRANT WHITESIDE: Hello, my name is Grant Whiteside. I'm the founding product and development director here at Ambergreen. Ambergreen are a digital marketing agency based in Edinburgh, been around for about fifteen years and I love coming on the show and just expressing my opinions and hearing some of the barter, as always.
DAVID BAIN: We love having you on Mr Whiteside, fantastic to have you on again. Also with us today is Emily.
EMILY HILL: Hi, I'm Emily. I'm from Write My Site, a copywriting agency. I'm actually quite relieved to be spending the next hour in a non-Brexit bubble, because all we have done for the last week is write solidly for every single client about what does Brexit mean for their industry. Even though we don't really know the answer to anything, don't tell them I said that. So yeah, very glad to be here and looking forward to getting stuck in.
DAVID BAIN: It took about 60 seconds to mention the B word, didn't it?
EMILY HILL: I thought I'd get it in there first.
DAVID BAIN: Representing the States for us today, we have Bill.
BILL HUNT: Yeah, I'm Bill Hunt from Back Azimuth Consulting. Like Grant, I love doing this show because you get a lot of great people and great conversations. I got to throw my version of the B word. I think we're...I'm from one of the original Brexits from back in the old days.
MARK ASQUITH: Bill, you're not that old.
DAVID BAIN: Shall we vote to see if we keep him on here?
BILL HUNT: I'm outnumbered clearly.
DAVID BAIN: I'm sure you'll share lots of wonderful information with us today Bill, but first topic is Google ignores keywords in TLDs. So John Miller says that Google completely ignores the word in TLDs, but does this mean that Google won't try and categorise websites? If you have a special TLD like .agency, .London, something like that, who has got a .something rather than a .com or .co.uk?
MARK ASQUITH: They're all a bit of a .pain in the arse, aren't they? Remember when the old .co came out and everyone, yeah my name's Mark Asquith.co and they're like, ‘Okay.co.what now?’
DAVID BAIN: You missed the end off of it!
MARK ASQUITH: I'm looking forward to trying to educate my mum that she can go to my site .London, she's just going to laugh me out the building.
DAVID BAIN: You're going to be registering [unclear – 0:03:42] then?
MARK ASQUITH: Come now, we've barely got the electricity, [unclear – 0:03:47] the rest of it. I think it's an interesting one. I think, I don't see how they can't categorise things. I don't know how long it will take for them to start actively doing that or whether there's a bigger plan in place, but I think it's...personally I think it's nice that the keywords don't match. I think that's a real nice...like it just stops the rest of the spam that you get anyway, you know? It just stops the kind of...the crappy URLs that you see out there but I don't know. I mean not to assume that there's a bigger plan in place for the extra TLDs that are coming out, because these are coming out at a crazy rate now, aren't they? They're coming out really ridiculously quick and I don't know how you guys work with clients on that either. Like what now constitutes a decent domain? Is it compromise.com or is it the perfect.something else? I don't know, I'm not sure.
DAVID BAIN: Bill, is .US, very popular now or .com still more popular with new businesses starting in the States?
BILL HUNT: Yeah. I think it's all dot com. I think that's the interesting thing. Most Americans think .com is an American thing. So when you talk to them about a .US, they're like, 'Well what's that?' And we don't see many doing it, most people get it if they can't get what they want but it's never been a really big thing. And for my clients, I think the cost. They're big companies but, for many, the cost to buy some of these have been just not really a good investment. And I think, as Mark was saying, I think we can't expect Google to do something with it if you've got a thousand sites on .travel, you can pigeonhole them. But, to me, it's such a weak signal and I think there was a lot of hubbub, in the US at least last week, when somebody put out a case that they had .SEO and they were ranking number five. And that was apparently the sole reason they did it so I got people saying, 'Hey should we get this one or that?' And interestingly enough, a whole page ad in Adweek this week is, 'Hey .sucks is coming. Get yours and protect your name now.' So I think it's an interesting time and I just can't believe Google's going to use it as a very strong signal for anything.
DAVID BAIN: Chris, is that similar thoughts to you? Have you got any clients that are going with a domain that's a little bit less the norm?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: Sorry is this...to talk...
DAVID BAIN: Grant, sorry I meant...
GRANT WHITEHEAD: Oh sorry, yeah.
DAVID BAIN: I'm sorry, I'm actually writing a tweet to Chris Green at the same time, because apparently they didn't receive the invite so that's why I called you Chris but Grant, yeah.
GRANT WHITEHEAD: I know what you mean. Right, it's a gravy train. There's no two ways about it but based on fear and uncertainty and doubt. I think a lot of domains have been bought and sold on that basis, saying, 'You've got to look after it for brand protection reasons.' So a lot of money's been made out of this rather than anything else. I do have one or two clients, large enterprises, that do lots and lots of things. They broke up different parts of their business, all in their enterprise areas of the business. Whether it's worked for them or not, it's hard to say because not many of their domains have gone live. I remember, I do genuinely feel that if we have two brands with identical names but different TLDs, then it may help click through rates or something along those lines in the right circumstances. But, at this moment in time, how Google starts...it is a really weak signal. Let's face it, at the end of the day, but it might help click-through rates in the right location and clearly this is a .travel rather than a .music or whatever, and hope that people have got [unclear – 0:07:29] the same brand name and the same location.
MARK ASQUITH: I just wonder if it will go, sorry to jump in there David, I just wonder if it will go like the other way as well? You know if you see a .biz or a .something, even a .net sometimes, you just think, 'Well they got that because the .com wasn't available.' This is a real personal thing but it very often puts me off that as well. So it's like which way does...Grant, I think you're totally right. Which way will that go? I think it will be really, really interesting. Is it a positive or is it a negative? And I think that's a really interesting...just something to sit on the sidelines and watch I think, could be quite curious.
BILL HUNT: And I think, to that point, it's maybe a decent defensive mood. I think if you're...a scenario where I was talking to someone about it, if you're a travel writer and you've got a site with your name, and people can't really know what category. And, exactly like you said, if I see it in the search results amongst five or six other things, and it's got a .travel, would that be more likely to click on? Or is it the snippet versus the title? I do think it can be potentially a clickable element as opposed to any type of scoring element.
DAVID BAIN: That's a good point certainly and if it encourages click through rate, that obviously has some impact or will over the long-term have that. As long as if, I guess, there aren't enough domains or businesses using those type of TLDs, that are of inferior quality and Google decides to actually rate that particular TLD lowly. Like it might do a .info or something like that, but I would hope something like a .agency, which I have seen a few businesses start to do, is as likely to have the same amount of authority to begin with as a .com. But I guess time will tell. Emily, have you got any thoughts on this one or any clients that are using different domains and the perceived relevance value, authority of those sort of TLDs?
EMILY HILL: Yeah. I mean I actually bought a bunch of TLDs and some .com, .co.uk options for a new site that I have in the works. And what I did is I ran a little survey just amongst some friends, nothing particularly scientific, but I just said, 'Look these are the top four or five domains I'm considering. What do you think?' And overwhelmingly, they went with the .com because there's just that perception that a .com has credibility, and that you're an established expert in whatever it is you're purporting to do if your web address ends .com versus even something that is .something that's a lot more relevant to the thing you actually do. Like the travel example we talked about before, and so my feeling at the moment is that the public perception is still very favourable towards .com, and a bit more suspicious of TLD endings. From the Google side, I think it's obvious really that if you have an infinite number of potential keyword domains that people are going to use them for spam purposes. And I'm pretty sure it will have thought of that when it was tweaking hummingbird and penguin, and all the other updates that it's been working on to try and stamp out this kind of manipulation of its results. So I'm not at all surprised to hear that it's cracking down on spurious uses of TLDs. But, having said all of that, I have seen some quite creative uses of them. I think the .agency is a good example because you expect a creative agency to be a bit different and a bit forward thinking. So it makes sense, I think, in that context and there probably are other examples like that. But, for now, I'm sticking with .coms as much as I can.
DAVID BAIN: We always have the guys with names that I can't pronounce actually chatting on Twitter, so [unclear – 0:11:24] saying, 'What is a .US?' Maybe I'm being a bit flippant I think there but let's...talking about polls. You mentioned taking a quick survey. Let's take a quick survey between just the four of us, five of us on here at the moment. If you were able to advise a client that wants to start a new brand completely, it hadn't launched anything at all, would you tell them that they have to get the .com and, if the .com is not available, then would you advise them to actually go for a different brand? If they can't get hold of the .com. Let's start with Mark on this one. What are your thoughts on that?
MARK ASQUITH: Do you know, I think it depends on their audience. The entire reasoning behind that is that it's back to my mum, it was there for laughs but actually was a very serious undertone. In so far as, if you've got...if you have to convince someone that .something else is, one, a thing and, two, is alright to type into a URL bar, into Google which is what everyone does, I think that is the challenge. So I'm not adverse to telling people to use a .agency or a .space or a .something else. But I think if the audience requires that level of education then it's going to hinder you more than it is anything else, and I would personally go for a compromise.com address.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, and so .com and agency as part of the domain name, .com obviously rather than whatever brand name .agency. And Grant, what are your thoughts on this one?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: I'm going to sit on the fence. I think there's times when the location where you are, so .co.uk, it makes perfect sense to actually use that domain. As far as compromising what you're asking...
DAVID BAIN: If you're in the States, does it make perfect sense to use a .US?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: I compromise the name at times and stick to .com. It all depends on what your business is. At this moment in time, I've not bought into having a domain name and having to buy .biz, and then try and protect it with .co and then .com and everything else I can, simply because somebody else wants that name as me. You have to think about what your brand is called. I think it's actually becoming more and more important. You actually think about what your brand is called, and try and make sure that other people don't steal it. That's...I believe there's something like four different Ambergreens out there since we started Ambergreen fifteen years ago, but provide different services. So I'm really, really glad we got in there first.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. It's interesting that a lot of people in digital think of domain names as being primarily the most important thing, and generally don't think about things like trademark as much. But obviously lawyers will tell you something quite different and the trademark's more important as well. Emily, if you were advising a client in that situation, .com is not available, would you say change brand name or just stick with a brand and find whatever you can get?
EMILY HILL: I don't know that I'd say do a complete 180-degree turn on the brand. If it's a strong brand and it says something quite potent, then I wouldn't advise chucking that out altogether. But I'd try and find some way of working it into maybe a .co.uk, maybe if it's an organisation, a .org. Other options or if none of those are available and it's a TLD or a change of brand, I'd say maybe [unclear - 0:14:58] but I'd always try and get the .com.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, and Bill, is the .com the end of everything in terms of actually getting a decent website address in the States?
BILL HUNT: Yeah, I think so. It's definitely what people want and with Back Azimuth, we had to go with a hyphen because it was some old rock band that they had the domain. And the only way we could get it was to use...do anything with a hyphen and I'd been squatting on that, trying to get it forever. So it is...I think it is important. I think somebody just starting out, you have that opportunity, you probably don't have an established brand so you can have the name. And I agree with the other folks that try to come up with a name that you can get a domain for, and try to trademark it. We've run into things now, outside the US as well, where a company will start to take off as a start-up here and then, when they're getting ready to go to the UK or Germany where they're telling them, 'Hey it's better to have a top level domain with a .de or a .co.uk for print.' They go to get it and there's somebody squatting that and they want $100,000 for the name. So I think that's another thing too, is think about where you might expand and can you protect that name elsewhere. As Grant said, other people coming up with Ambergreen and things like that. So I think it is important consideration and for somebody just starting out, it is a key thing to think about for your brand.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, well moving onto the second topic. Bing have launched their News PubHub. So this is a service that helps the publishing community, big and small they say, so it basically gets their newsworthy content featured on the Bing network. So my question is, is this a big content syndication opportunity? If so, who for? Or is it not that important really? I must admit, I haven't looked into this massively myself but it seemed to be something that could be a decent opportunity, certainly for bloggers that focus on their industry news an awful lot. Mark, is it something that you've looked into at all?
MARK ASQUITH: No, it actually isn't at all but I have two thoughts on it. Number one is a real, 'Oh my God. What a pain in the arse.' There's another thing, I've got Medium, I've got LinkedIn, I've got my own site, I've got everything else that I publish to. So that's a pain in the backside but then, at the same time, I understand that Bing, if they play their cards right and they do what I feel they should do with the content and treat it as an established site for people that have got authority and prove they know what they're doing, then I can see them using it. But, again, the real litmus test is what is the net effect on, one, the business and, two, the traffic? I'll give it a go. There's no doubt about that, I will give it a go like I do LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, everything else. But, for me ultimately, my goal will always be to build the brand around me and the website and my website, and everything else is just secondary. So yes, I'll try it but I don't know if it's...it's certainly not going to revolutionise things yet I don't think.
DAVID BAIN: So what will you give it a go for? Will you give it a go for maybe creating a category on your blog that's a bit more news orientated, in terms of what's happening in your industry or client's industry? Or will you just try and just publish your regular content to it and see what happens?
MARK ASQUITH: Well I think the regular content's a bit of a challenge because that...when you start pushing that out to Medium and to LinkedIn and all the other places, it just...it gets really, really diluted. So I'm not sure is the honest answer to that, but what I would imagine is that I'll do something around one specific niche within my niche, if that makes any sense? Or something around personal brand, something around content marketing but maybe just focus really tightly on something like Snapchat or Periscope or Facebook Live. Really go deep on it so that I'm not too broad that I can't keep up with it. So anything that's announced about Snapchat, I can commentate on it. Perhaps that's a decent way to do it but honestly this is all winging it. I've not even given it any thought.
DAVID BAIN: And Grant, you've got several clients. Is it likely that this service maybe of interest and of value to some of your clients?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: Yes, I think so. Zero...I think Google News is a zero sum game. It has been for quite a while where one person gets...does particularly well and obviously they get the one box new news item on Google Search and all the rest of it as well. So I've no idea how this is actually going to work out on the Bing audience, but I'm on a Windows computer which is a great thing, right? And obviously Windows is connected to the Bing gang to the Cortana gang to the whole other AI assistance are all going to be looking at this kind of information as well. So if you join it all up together, and you think about Bing and Windows and Outlook and Skype and how all these things come together, we all know that it isn't all about going to Bing for news information. At the end of the day, we're going to get more and more personal assistance when we're looking for information. So before I came today, there was my personal assistant, Charlie, sent me an email, told me everything that David Bain was up to and all the rest of it. Hi, and obviously if David Bain had more conversations about himself, Bing News as we'll call it, then needless to say Charlie would have found it a bit easier as well. So along those lines, this isn't all just about Bing search and Bing news. This is about joining up a lot of devices and a connected experience to understand more about where news is going. So where Google+ didn't work for some people in the past, maybe Bing might.
DAVID BAIN: Maybe this might link up with our third topic which is, of course, Microsoft purchase of LinkedIn but we'll just put that thought out there and perhaps actually put it on hold.
MARK ASQUITH: [unclear – 0:21:06]
DAVID BAIN: Until we get Emily's thoughts on this because Emily, you obviously provide writing services for a lot of clients. Do you think that you will maybe actually try and advise clients to give this a go or do you generally focus on just the writing of content, and not really the consultancy with regards to where that content is published?
EMILY HILL: Well you'll find a lot of stuff on our blog at Write My Site about don't build your content house on rented land. And my view, quite strongly, is that Medium, Pulse, potentially this new Bing news thing, it's all rented land. So you can work incredibly hard, you can put out all this amazing content and then any one of those companies can just rip the platform down tomorrow and it's all gone. Whereas if you focus your attention on your own site, your own brand, your own blog, build your own audience on your owned property then, long-term, that's a much safer strategy. So I'm not massively in favour of doing a whole lot of content publishing elsewhere. We do publish across those platforms, but we rarely give them the same amount of TLC as we would give content for the brand itself. So I suppose my answer to this new platform is the same as my answer to Pulse and Medium and all the existing brands.
DAVID BAIN: So it's a funnel, it's a traffic generation opportunity, don't publish your best stuff there.
EMILY HILL: Well you can publish your best stuff there, but publish it on your site first. Give it a few months and then give them a little snippet of it and link it back to the full fat thing on your blog.
DAVID BAIN: Bill, what are your thoughts on this don't build your content or a lot of your value on rented property? Because obviously we've seen, in recent years, Facebook pages losing a lot of their organic reach. That's probably the big example, but it can happen in other places as well. But obviously there are potential positives with regards to actually driving a lot of traffic from third party sites like this, what are the pros and cons of this?
BILL HUNT: Well I think that the latter is the biggest pro, is it's got a potential to drive traffic. One of the things we've seen in...I was in Taiwan a couple of months ago working with a bunch of brands in a holding company. And they had completely moved off websites to Facebook because they said that's where everybody is. And then one day happened, somebody asked a question, 'How can we get zero traffic from Google and Yahoo?' And someone said, 'I don't know,' and it's like well you don't have any websites. Exactly to Emily's point, if you're renting something and it goes away or it starts governing or filtering what gets out there, it's a problem. At SMX Advanced this week, one of the things that Google was telling us was be careful with syndicating content because, a lot of times, ownership is attributed to the first place that it goes live. And I see a lot of companies will do that, they'll write a brilliant article and they'll syndicate it out to their partners and networks. But it takes them a week to post it on their website so they get a partner that gets credit, that ranks well for the article and they don't. So I think that's really the pros and cons. Write for yourself, exactly as Mark said, take care of your own house before you build somebody else's revenue stream. And I do think, like you were saying, I think, as Grant said, I'm a Mac user but I just had to work on a Windows machine yesterday. And looking all the tiles on the desktop, it makes complete sense to me that using assistance, that somebody could sit and ferret it out and bring it back to the desktop in a Windows environment is a no-brainer for them. And whether or not, we can get traffic, that's an interesting thing. But I do think the big one is what we're going to talk about next, is where this content and using LinkedIn as a way to capture, especially tech B2B, is going to be a pretty powerful medium.
DAVID BAIN: Okay, great stuff. So I mean just before we get to that Bill, do you think that what...the thought just passed through my head there.
MARK ASQUITH: I could do some jokes if you want, I've got some jokes.
DAVID BAIN: What's your best joke Mr Mark, yes?
MARK ASQUITH: I'm only joking, I'm terrible at jokes. In fact I can't say them on air, this is all like really bad stuff.
DAVID BAIN: What I was going to say, in relation to the type of content that's published, is obviously this is a news-type service. Does the type of content have to relate to something that is actually happening at the moment, in relation to other topics there? Will Microsoft, do you think, not be willing to take content that isn't directly related to news?
BILL HUNT: Yeah. I mean I just had somebody the other day say, 'Hey none of my app pages are showing up in Google.' It's like well they were pumping out a bunch of press release crap and it was their stuff that nobody, a) would search for, b) that anybody would care about other than them. And they want to know why it wasn't showing up and bringing traffic. And I think that's where it's going, but one of the things we've been doing, like with Absolut Drinks, is not pimping drinks but pimping drink data. And we find it like Reddit and places like that where it becomes packaged news in a way. What are the most popular drinks this month in five countries? And that's sort of newsy and it's that type data, and it is the kind of things that an assistant can fetch for you and bring back. And I think those are the kind of things, I think Grant nailed it with where this is going to go. And it's bots picking up on certain signals and being able to relay that back to people. And so more newsy, more stat type content, data driven, factual things I think is what's really going to thrive in an environment like that.
DAVID BAIN: Yeah. So you mentioned Grant there and Grant obviously, I think, was fired up to talk about Microsoft's purchase of LinkedIn and what that might mean for the future of maybe B2B marketing. And so Grant, has LinkedIn just become a lot more important for a marketing perspective?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: Possibly, yes I think it has actually. Obviously LinkedIn is a bit of a hassle and you have to commit to it and all the rest of it, but the opportunity that it has now, as I say, to join up with the whole Microsoft network of whatever that is. Whether it's Skype and Cortana and [unclear – 0:27:38] AI assistants that will use it, I think that's probably the best opportunity. What we have to do probably update our LinkedIn profiles, and make sure everybody understands what our Skype names are and actively use it. I know we're all getting dragged into using platforms. Emily, you summarised it beautifully about the fact, about how we're getting pushed into these places now but, bottom line is, that the more that you use LinkedIn and understand about how that's going to work within a Microsoft environment, probably the bigger chances that you're going to get from it as well. Also it goes back to publishing on Bing news and publishing on LinkedIn Pulse and all the rest of it, that's their game to try and drag you that way. I think it's up to us, as agencies and as people, to understand about how much we use LinkedIn, how much we benefit from it and how we just use the...we realise that all these devices and all these platforms are all joining up together. And that isn't going away, it's not going away. Every Windows computer, it will be built so you open up and it sees feeds and it understands things. And it will be able to open up my Windows computer, type in Cortana, ask my name, ask my brand name, ask for Emily and go and get more and more information and it's just inevitable. It's not going away, probably for a very, very good reason and it's about joining up devices in the same way that Google tried to do this with [unclear – 0:29:09] and Samsung phones and all these other things as well. So it's about domination for LinkedIn and Bing and Windows, and they're doing very well at it. It's a great acquisition for them.
DAVID BAIN: Mark, I see you just nodding subtly there. Has LinkedIn just increased its level of importance for you?
MARK ASQUITH: I hate it.
EMILY HILL: So do I.
MARK ASQUITH: I think everyone hates LinkedIn but I think Grant nailed it. I think yes, it's become important. Yes of course it's a hassle, it's a terrible, terrible platform from a usability perspective and, let's be honest, we all get spammed. I got asked to sponsor some guy that I'd never met this morning and what is that all about? I'm not going to sponsor you, I don't know you. That's the frustrating thing. However, again just echoing Grant's sentiments, this is about the data joining the ecosystem and there's no way of getting around that. That's a huge, huge thing for everyone. Again, as Grant mentioned, that...the ability for marketers, the ability for agency owners and anyone working within their own small business, to just look up not only the types of people but the context within which those people operate. So what do I publish? What's the hook? We've seen it with things like Datanyze, the third party kit that plugs into LinkedIn. We're all about trying to figure out the context of the people that we want to communicate with and that, I think, is where the genius of the acquisition is. There was something around it being $60 per user which is the cost of acquisition, which is a serious bargain. That is a serious bargain for Microsoft. So I think it's become really important. I don't know where that sits in this whole Bing publishing ecosystem, but I think Grant has completely nailed it. And I think, as marketers, I think that is super-exciting and I think Microsoft, with that, may have just put themselves back on the map with marketers. And that's a win for them, no question.
DAVID BAIN: Bill, are you almost surprised that Google didn't go in for LinkedIn and have they perhaps missed a trick by letting Microsoft purchase them?
BILL HUNT: Yeah, I think so especially in tech B2B and so many companies, as Mark was saying, being able to target people and context. And twenty years in tech B2B marketing and one of the things I've always seen is big companies will just give them by the truckload white papers to TechTarget, and sites like that, that use them as bait to bring them and sell the leads back at $15 pop. This creates an interesting scenario where I've seen cases in...with a cloud competing company where this idea of epiphany marketing. Where they wrote an article about how to save real estate square footage by moving systems to the cloud, and it didn't resonate with the IT side of the house. But this article was seen by a CFO of a large company, and they had tried 21 times to reach this person and it took one article that came into their inbox, about how to save money by migrating to the cloud, and he called them. He had that epiphany, that, 'Oh my God. I can save money by doing this, why...or is my team doing anything about it?' And I think you take that plus potentially bringing that content into Google Ads or Google Results, that has that persona. We often don't give Google, I mean Bing, a lot of credit for some of the micro targeting that you can do in Bing ads, because anybody that either registers a Microsoft mouse or their copy of Office, all that data gets put into the database and they can actually trade against that. So I think taking things like that side of the house that Microsoft has, the Bing ad platform and actually being able to marry that to the rich data that you have in LinkedIn, it really, I think, gives Bing or Microsoft an advantage that maybe Google doesn't have. I mean they get a ton of information when you log in and you have to use your account for almost anything now, but I think that other side of the equation from the product and software registrations creates a pretty interesting opportunity that I think, yeah definitely, Google missed out on.
DAVID BAIN: Tell me Grant, you sound like a Microsoft fan rather than an Apple fan. Are you generally satisfied with the quality of search results from Bing?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: No, they're rubbish and I use an iPhone, alright?
DAVID BAIN: Okay.
GRANT WHITEHEAD: So I just don't know how to use a Mac, alright? I think that's the best way of [unclear - 0:33:58]. So I started off with Ataris and then I got a PC, that was it. So I came from the music industry so I just started on a certain type of computer. I dare say if somebody showed me how it worked in Apple, I'd be able to do it quite quickly but it's not a case of just loving it or hating it. It's a case of what I can afford and what I have more than anything else.
DAVID BAIN: And...yeah Bill?
BILL HUNT: Yeah David, I mean you made a great point is that Bing search results versus Google and I was there at the launch when Bing launched their new and improved. And when you did topic-based or the results that we got in Google now out of Hummingbird, I mean Bing had cracked that long time ago. And one of the frustrating things for me when they did the announcement, I remember sitting in the movie theatre and the ladies behind me said, 'Yeah I tried,' there was a Bing ad on the screen and said, 'Yeah I tried it. And I got the same thing as I got in Google so why would I change?' And I think what we're seeing is certain context people seem to like Bing for, or people that have always had some sort of Microsoft client. If they're using IE or whatever it's called today, and that's the default search, a lot of people will actually continue to use it. And I agree, in majority of the queries that we do, it is complete crap just like Google's really becoming crap. I think so many of the results are not as good as they used to be but I think definitely on people-type queries or topical type queries, especially in travel and things like that, I think the results are actually quite good in Bing. They just don't go a good enough job of getting people to try it in those contexts.
DAVID BAIN: Emily, have you got any thoughts on the topic with regards to LinkedIn, the purchase of LinkedIn, how this may impact the use of that as a social network, if we're going to call it that?
EMILY HILL: I thought Grant's analysis was really interesting and my instinct is that he is right, that it's an effort by Microsoft to become more of a giant than it already is. But to lead the way in connecting up how people use different services and how they connect to one another, and obviously LinkedIn plays a huge part in the latter particularly in the business community. Yeah, I think it will be interesting to see what happens. I mean I'm quite a fan of LinkedIn in the sense that we provide quite a lot of the content behind those annoying ads that you see, inviting you to download guides and white papers. I think the micro targeting available within that platform is really impressive. It's, in my view, much better than Facebook particularly for advertising to B2B. So it will be quite interesting to see how they tie that in with Bing and potentially with the other parts of the ecosystem. Like Cortana, which is something I've got on my machine but I'm a bit scared to try so I'll have to give it a go.
DAVID BAIN: Just in case you end up in a vortex that you can't get out of.
EMILY HILL: Exactly. It might start controlling my life.
DAVID BAIN: Bill, it will be interesting your quick thought on this one. Do you think that this means that Google have to make some kind of purchase as a response to that? Does it mean that it's more likely to buy something like Twitter in the near future?
BILL HUNT: I don't know. I still own some Twitter shares hoping that somebody will make an announcement that they want to buy them, and then I can sell them actually and make some money. But yeah, I don't know that it's right for Google to buy. I think they've tried their hand at that so I don't know who would buy them. I think Google needs to buy something but similar, but I don't know what's available. I tried to think about that for someone asked me, it's like, 'Well what's an alternative to LinkedIn?' And there really isn't other than Facebook, and they don't have enough money to buy Facebook. So yeah, I think it's an area they're going to miss and don't know what they would buy to replicate it.
DAVID BAIN: Talking about Facebook, that brings us on quite nicely to topic number four which is Facebook have announced that they're going to be offering two person remote broadcasting capability in the near future. So a lot of us do live streaming, obviously content marketing but is this going to significantly impact live streaming in the future? Are we going to see people move from Google Hangouts and Blab and places like that to Facebook? Have Facebook got it all tied up here? Let's start with Mr Asquith's thoughts on this one.
MARK ASQUITH: I think Facebook Live is a game changer completely, purely because the audience is there and it's no friction. If you think that through, if you think about...I've used every live stream that there is apart from some of the crazy ones like Firetalk. There's just way too much but if you think about Blab, if you think about Google Hangouts, and Periscope, if you think about all of the types of tools that we use to connect with the audience, we've always got to bring the audience to us. We've always got to bring the audience to us, and Facebook Live stops that. And you can instantly get the right type of people, you know this whole Facebook is not a business tool. Of course it is. People who are in business are on Facebook, there's just no denying that. It's a fact and I think this move to this waiting room scenario that they've introduced, this two person broadcast, yes I think it will be really, really, extremely important. So I think Facebook Live, on the whole, is a game changer. That said, right now, Google Hangouts is still my default because it's just much more mature. You can trust it, you can rely on it, you know exactly how it works. I tried the Blab screen sharing for a webinar and it just sucks. I think Blab are having a few problems but, without a doubt, Hangouts is still the best version of that. But I think Facebook Live has a lot of potential because ultimately for us, I don't know what it's like for everyone else but for us, webinars are the highest converting sales tool and marketing tool that we ever use. Like ridiculous, we're talking 60, 70% conversions and to be able to not have to drag people to a place, and to be able to get to the place that they already are, I think is super-important. So yeah, I think it's a game changer and I think the ability to do the two person broadcast is just a step in the direction that it was always inevitably going to go in.
DAVID BAIN: It certainly sounds exciting. I mean I've done 30 or 40 Blabs, I've done the same amount of Google Hangouts as well and Google Hangouts has been around for a long time now, probably about four years or something like that, and it seems like such a game changer to use the same terminology there. But unfortunately Google haven't seemed to do that much development and then, a year ago or so, Blab launched and Blab seems quite incredible because it incorporated live chat alongside the live video. People could interact alongside you actually talking, seeing the video as well, it seemed a lot more interactive but the audience appears to have dwindled on there a little bit there as well. And Facebook are, of course, the big Goliath in the room and it would be wonderful if they were to launch something that is easy to use and obviously encouraged the audience to interact there as well certainly. But Emily, I saw you nodding your head when Mark said that webinars do convert particularly well or probably the best compared with anything else that he's tried. Is that something that you do and have you found a similar kind of thing?
EMILY HILL: It's not something we do for clients but it's something I've done myself quite a lot, a lot of webinars and, yeah, I would absolutely concur with that. They are a fantastic lead generating tool and much higher conversions than asking people to download a white paper even though that's great too. So, but the part I was really agreeing with, when Mark gave his view, was that Facebook has that audience there. It has the critical mass. You're not having to ask people to come and join you at your webinar at four o'clock on GoToWebinar. You're just there with them all, when the tool evolves a little more, you'll be there with them on Facebook when it suits them. And we already know that Facebook is pretty good at suggesting the right sort of people you may know, on a personal basis, and even though I said it wasn't as good as LinkedIn for targeting, it's still pretty good. So in terms of finding the right audience for your message, it would be good enough to do that. So yeah, I think it does offer quite exciting possibilities for the future.
DAVID BAIN: I've got Amelia Fond saying great discussion re: Bing search results. Thanks for that Amelia there. Grant, what are your thoughts on live streaming platforms? Are you getting more into this and intrigued by what Facebook are doing?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: I'm absolutely intrigued by what Facebook are doing, again, because they can find the audience for you. What's coming on now, the sheer fact we have two conversations going on at the same time [unclear - 0:43:03] opinionated content becomes properly opinionated. It feels a little bit more real-time, probably a greater level of emotion, probably a potential for greater engagement as well. I thought about lots of points of view. I thought from political point of view, this is the perfect spin tool. Rather than one person just saying something, you can actually just convince the audience easier by streaming a conversation and that's what Paul thinks about...so I'm sure we're going to see a lot more of spin on Facebook, as in political spin as well. And obviously product reviews, comparisons, pitches and, from an entertainment point of view, [unclear - 0:43:46], regional opinions, competitions, time trials, keepie-uppies. All sorts of things and just opens up the game in a way that other platforms could have done beforehand, it's because it's Facebook and because you can do it on your mobile phone and because it's got a readymade audience for you. I think this is a game changer and I think more and more people will use it, yeah.
DAVID BAIN: I mean, for me, it's the fact that it's two way video. I mean if anyone's seen Mark Asquith broadcasting, he does a wonderful job at One Too Many broadcasting. I don't think everyone's great at doing that and, to me, I like hosting shows like this, where I can get other people's opinion and directly talk to people, rather than actually directly actually just read the chat or something like that. So I think, in terms of dedication offering, it's giving a lot more. It's opening itself up to different personality types now. Bill, game changer, is that a fair word for this?
BILL HUNT: Yeah, I think so and if you take the power of Facebook, I think Mark used the word frictionless. Imagine some of their data, like we all have all these reports that tells us that Thursday at two o'clock is the best time to tweet or something like that. And the overhead of doing a webinar is pretty heavy. Imagine if you knew what time a particular audience was predominantly online, you set that up, you've got the waiting room but being able to get the back and forth with people. It was interesting, The Wall Street Journal did an article about these little buttons from Amazon, and just reading the comments from people talking about how ridiculous they were. Or how good they were and imagine getting a room full of people with the different opinions, they can show you how they do something or touch and feel it. I think that plus a particular optimal time of day and taking the friction out of participating, as Grant said, everything from competitions to politics to just simple educating people. Where you can watch them do things, I think definitely makes it a game-changer because it's easy. And when people have to set up something and make sure their screen is right, all that stuff creates that friction that prevents them from participating. I think this is a great way to get them in and it's only going to evolve from there.
DAVID BAIN: And what about the issue with the fact that you're producing content on a third party platform again, and you're not actually having your perhaps core content published on your own domain and having control over your audience. Should this be a concern for people, or is growing your audience on Facebook more important because you can get many of them?
MARK ASQUITH: I think there's a few ways...
BILL HUNT: I mean this is a dual-edged sword...go ahead Mark.
MARK ASQUITH: No, no, no go Bill, you're alright.
BILL HUNT: As I say, that's the dual-edged sword. We all talked about, as Emily said, renting, real estate, but if I can stand on a pedestal in Times Square with half a million people listening to me, that's like gold. And so I think it is the compromise and maybe there is a way to repurpose that afterwards on your site. But I think people need to do it and I think, second is, you got to be confident that you can articulate your message because it is going to open you up to naysayers or people that are going to come in and say you suck. Or I don't like your idea, and how do you train a person to be able to deal with that in a calm manner? And be able to steer people through a conversation without it getting out of control. I think those...that sort of a risk, the opportunity is the reach of Facebook and, yeah, the challenge is how do we repurpose it.
DAVID BAIN: I think Mark...
MARK ASQUITH: When you think about the business side of things as well, this is...it's got a number of implications. There's the repurposing is, if you do it on your phone, if you do it on your mobile, you get the video anyway. That's your video, that's your content, Facebook say that. So you can what you want with that and a good friend of mine, Hani Mourra who provides simple podcast press, he's built a tool for that called Simple Live Press. So it automatically pulls your Facebook Live feed into your website, really good tool so check that out but that's the automation tool out of the way. But I think when you think about business, this has so many different uses. It's a sales tool, it's a retention tool, it's a content tool. If you think about just a funnel, just any funnel, whether it is a retention funnel or whether it's a new sales funnel, it's all about migrating people to the place that they can easily access the things that solve their problems. And if that place is Facebook, then that's fantastic. So we, at podcast websites, we've built a massive community. There's a few thousand members there. The easiest way for me to just tell people that we've got some server maintenance is to press a button on there, get my big, fat northern English head on with my Batman T shirt and tell them we're performing some scheduled maintenance. And it works really nicely but also, things like migrating your audience across to your...back to the point that Emily and I raised earlier about building your own platform, your own brand. The panacea for that is to have an email list that you can work with and you can keep building. Using Facebook Live like this to migrate people across from a community, in a space that they're already safe and familiar with, Facebook, using Facebook Live to convert them into your brand advocates and pull them onto your list, that, again, that is another game changer. Using it like that to say, 'Here's your safe place on Facebook. I can't touch you on it, this is yours, you've got this. This is me in your space.' Once you build up the trust saying, 'Listen I'm over here as well. Come and jump on this list.' That's really important, I think it's really powerful to be able to do that. So I think if you plan it in, it has so many implications. I think it's really good.
DAVID BAIN: It seems like it's even more important now to actually plan out your content and decide what you're planning to publish where, and not just syndicate everything everywhere. You need to actually decide what content you're publishing on Facebook, what content you're going to be publishing as part of your email funnel as well and then on your own website. And if you do that, I guess then people will have a reason to watch content on your site as opposed to Facebook as well. Does everyone agree with that or does anyone actually think that you're still better off, in this day of age, to actually syndicate as much as everything, everywhere still?
MARK ASQUITH: I think with planning definitely. I think you've got to...as an example, Snapchat is a really cool example of this and John [unclear – 0:50:15] does a really good job of this. He will just...he will tease you content so he will do you a little Snapchat story, whatever they are, bloody kids. He does a Snapchat story and he will just tell you that, 'On the show today, I've got this. On the show tomorrow, I've got that. For the full show, visit whatever.' So I think yes planning the content out is really important but, look in real life, that's really hard because we're all trying to keep up with this content marketing thing. So I think being inventive about it as well, saying, 'Okay I'm going to use Facebook Live every week at three o'clock on a Wednesday to tease Thursday's email.' And I've tried it where you say, 'Listen I'm going to reveal this on my email tomorrow but you have to be on this list to get that content.' Just tease it using another channel like Facebook. So yeah, I think wider planning that needs doing like how does each channel fit into that content mix? That's a massive challenge I think.
DAVID BAIN: Grant, are you going to be advising clients to use Facebook Live more in the future?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: I think we have to especially the branders, of course it is. I think some of the drier side of the B2B sector, no. How I'm going to get banks and large financial organisations to use it, not too sure. But certainly, in the B2B space, I think we could do...we could have some fantastic time doing some online cooking programmes and all the rest of it. Clothes as well, fashion shows, how tos, a whole lot of things that the audience is actually out there at this moment in time. It kind of makes sense. We've brought up a brilliant point but we're now [unclear – 0:51:55] and we're not just talking about [unclear – 0:51:59] Facebook. Now we have to think about what content, where it goes, how we plan it beforehand and Mark said some lovely examples there, when he's just teasing. We've been doing it in every other media, we've been showing people teasers and trailers and all sorts of stuff for decades. And I think we're going to see more and more of that now, about how we get people to use one platform to send you to another platform as well. And obviously when we do a video, we can do a transcript and we can put that transcript somewhere else as well, actually on the website. So yeah, it's all been a bit more joined up now.
DAVID BAIN: Whether we like it or not, we're all integrated marketers now.
GRANT WHITEHEAD: Yeah, we are, yeah, whether we like it or not now.
MARK ASQUITH: I'm going to put that on my LinkedIn actually David, cheers for that.
DAVID BAIN: That's okay, copyright David Bain £200, no.
MARK ASQUITH: Always after the buns Dave, always after the buns.
DAVID BAIN: Well before it deteriorates any further, I reckon that just about takes us to the end of today's discussion. So probably just about time for a single takeaway from everyone, just have a little think about that. So we'll have a single takeaway and then just some sharing of find out more details after that. So joining us today was Bill.
BILL HUNT: Yeah, I think my takeaway is look across all the mediums, find out what makes sense for your business and go after it.
DAVID BAIN: Great, and where can people get a hold of you, Bill?
BILL HUNT: At [email protected]
DAVID BAIN: Wonderful, repeat that in the show notes there and also with us today was Emily.
EMILY HILL: Okay my key takeaway, as several of you have kindly quoted, is don't build your content house on rented land and also if you'd like us to write about Brexit, we're happy to do so, but you're all getting the same thing. We don't know. You can find us at writemysite.com.
DAVID BAIN: Yes, that B word again and also with us today was Grant.
GRANT WHITEHEAD: Another B word, right? B, Bing, Bing is not just a search engine as well. It's connected to a whole lot of our devices and platforms, and what they're doing in that space with Windows and Skype and Outlook and how it all joins together is a very, very interesting space. And ignore it at your peril, but it's going to be...a lot of it, it's going to provide a lot of searches that don't necessarily involve using the search engine.
DAVID BAIN: Lovely, thank you for joining us Grant and people can get hold of you, I guess, at Ambergreen?
GRANT WHITEHEAD: www.ambergreen.co.uk and it's [email protected] and, on Twitter, it's @Ambergreen_says.
DAVID BAIN: And last but not least, it's the man with the avatar on Twitter of him singing at a karaoke, Mark Asquith.
MARK ASQUITH: Was telling a joke David, it was telling a joke at a wedding actually.
DAVID BAIN: Oh was it?
MARK ASQUITH: But I'm going to go back to the B word, just be Batman, that's it. Just be Batman, that's the takeaway. No, the takeaway is I think because of the noise that is in the content marketing space, figure out what's working for your competitors, do the exact opposite and shout from the rooftops about it. That's got to be a big thing to get some attention and do something different in your space. So yeah, do something different in your space and use all of these different channels to allow you to do that. So yeah, you can get me at excellence-expected.com or on Twitter @mrasquith.
DAVID BAIN: Superb advice, thank you again for joining us again Mark. Great to have you on again and great advice, stop following the herd. Stop being a sheep and actually just do something a little bit different. So, I’m David Bain, head of growth here at www.authoritas.com, the data science driven SEO and content marketing platform for agencies and enterprise. You can also find me interviewing online marketing gurus over at digitalmarketingradio.com. Now, if you’re watching or listening to the show as a recording, remember to watch the next episode live so head over to thisweekinorganic.com and be part of the live audience for the next show. But for those of you watching live, thank you, and remember we also have an audio podcast of previous shows so sign up to email updates at thisweekinorganic.com and I'll give you a link to that there. But until we see you again, have a fantabulous week and thank you all for joining us. So adios.
BILL HUNT: Thank you.
DAVID BAIN: Cheers everyone, thanks for being part of it.