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Published July 15th 2019

How to Build Your Brand’s Digital Ecosystem with Search and Social

There are so many potential touch points consumers can have with your brand.

Here, Pi Datametrics‘ Louise Linehan shares her tips on building a strong brand ecosystem.

What is a digital ecosystem?

The term ‘Digital ecosystem’ may sound like any other marketing buzzword, but when you bust through the jargon, it simply means connecting your most valuable assets to boost the equity of your brand.

How do you build a digital ecosystem?

Creating your ecosystem is all about adopting an ‘outside-in’ mindset.

That means looking beyond your team, department, or even business to identify new digital partnerships and opportunities to expand your reach.

Developing your ecosystem often involves combining data sets and aligning channels to both improve the service you provide, and enhance analysis of your own performance.

Digital ecosystems can bring you closer to your customers, colleagues, partners, complementary industries, and even your competition.

How do you build a digital ecosystem in search?

Recently, Google has changed the way it ranks your website, meaning that a single search is reportedly far less likely to showcase multiple links to your brand.

But search engines don’t just showcase websites anymore. The landscape is far richer than it once was, especially with the development of search engine result page (SERP) features. There are now a whole host of opportunities for you to open new doorways to your brand, and grow the real estate of your digital ecosystem.

From ‘Text ads’ through to ‘Twitter cards’, you can now dominate Google in multiple forms and guises.

Paying close attention to these features can enable you to inform strategy across traditionally siloed marketing channels, and become the go-to brand in the topics you choose.

In this article, we’re going to be focussing on leveraging search and social to dominate online. Now, without further ado, let’s jump into an example to give you a better idea of what we mean.

Building your digital ecosystem

At Pi, we track digital ecosystems daily, weekly, monthly and every two hours in search.

Imagine you’re a fashion retailer, wanting to dominate the conversation online throughout the duration of your campaign sponsorship of popular British TV show ‘Love Island’.

Tying together your search and social assets is imperative for enabling you to dominate multiple page one positions and boost brand visibility, without being penalized by Google.

Let’s take a look at ‘I Saw It First’ – the official sponsor of Love Island 2019 – and its ecosystem presence throughout the duration of the programme.

This is a visualization of the ‘I Saw it First’ search and social ecosystem, including its website, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube pages, for just its name search.

As Google only has a visual feature dedicated to the Twitter social channel, ‘I Saw It First’s’ other social media accounts (i.e. Instagram) feature as normal search results, or ‘Classic links’ (in grey).

As we can see, the features present on page one of Google for the search ‘I Saw It First’ include ‘Twitter cards’, ‘Text ads’, ‘Video carousels’, ‘Site links,’ and ‘Classic links’.

Throughout the duration of its Love Island campaign, ‘I Saw It First’s’ owned assets are present 100% of the time across every SERP feature except, that is, YouTube ‘Video carousels’.

The brand has the opportunity to showcase its YouTube assets within this page one SERP feature a total of 31.3% of the time between the dates of June 3rd – July 4th, but in actuality is visible 0% of the time.

A quick manual search reveals that this space is taken up by user generated content – usually ‘haul’ videos filmed by customers showcasing their purchases.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact it’s great exposure for the brand, but during a Love Island campaign it might be even more beneficial for ‘I Saw It First’ to own that SERP Feature and showcase its major sponsorship of the show.

A consumer may, for instance, search ‘I Saw It First’ to casually browse or research an item of clothing. If a video appears at the top of the page showcasing the ‘ISAWITFIRST Love Island Wardrobe’ this visual is likely to capture attention and prove a more influential touchpoint on the consumer’s journey to purchase; especially if the consumer is already a fan of the show.

Brands such as ‘I Saw It First’ can conduct this type of digital ecosystem analysis across hundreds of brand searches to understand their overall dominance, and where best to focus optimisation efforts across search and social.

Monitoring digital ecosystems reactively

It’s no secret that the landscape is constantly changing – even down to the hour – and each search returns it’s own unique ‘fingerprint’. Knowing what this looks like can help you dominate during reactive campaigns.

This ‘fingerprint’ can be made up of any of the following SERP features:

Have a watch of this to see what we mean:

What does the reactive landscape look like for the search ‘Love Island’?

Below we can see a two hourly view of the exact type of content that ranks top for the search ‘Love Island’ via Pi Datametrics. Focussing on Friday 21st June, as the Love Island episode airs, we are able to see exactly which features are present in search.

‘Twitter cards’ and, in this instance, YouTube driven ‘Video carousels’ appear in positions 2 and 3 in search. As a fashion retailer, knowing this insight can show you:

  • When you need to join the conversation
  • Which social channel(s) you need to be present on
  • Which topics are trending and what is being said

Seeing ‘Twitter cards’ present in search, for example, is an indication of the content that’s popular on the platform at that time. This can kick off a deeper-dive journey into social data to explore answers to questions, such as:

  • Who are the most popular contestants at this time?
  • What is the current sentiment towards the show?
  • Which influential people are discussing the show?
  • Which publishers share the most popular content?

Knowing insights like these will enable you to devise social content strategies to rank well in both search and social, and boost your brand’s reactive ecosystem dominance online.

What’s more, having this insight to look back on is invaluable for building eventuality models for informing future agile strategy.

If we look at the analysis above, we can see that the SERPs are displaying a ‘Twitter card’ from a viewer, discussing the contestant ‘Arabella Chi’. As a fashion retailer, with this new information we may ask ourselves:

  • Is this contestant especially popular?
  • Do we want to chip in on this conversation?
  • If so, what should our stance be?
  • Should we be creating content around this contestant?
  • Is this contestant a potential influencer we can approach after the show is finished, to represent our brand?

It is at this point we can turn to social media monitoring to get aggregate insight into the conversations occurring.

Using Brandwatch, we can assess overall sentiment towards the contestant, and even see how that fluctuates over time.

Looking at mentions of Arabella by hour during her time in the villa, you can see sentiment around her changed. To begin with, there was a spark in joyful mentions, with people describing her as ‘beautiful’. Things quickly turned sour, with a number of nights where the emotions in conversation were dominated by anger.

Monitoring social reaction to contestants’ actions can help inform whether or not to chip into an issue (perhaps a controversial one is best avoided, for example). It can also show which contestants are most loved in the show, and why – which can be especially useful for those looking for potential influencers once the show is finished.

At the time of analysis, Tommy, Curtis, and Anton had the highest ratio of positive to negative mentions. Things can change fast!

By clicking into the different conversations and using various components like Brandwatch’s topic cloud or AI assistant Iris, trends in conversation can quickly be picked up on in real time to help assess whether a reactive piece of content is appropriate.

Bringing together this kind of information will enable your brand to build a digital ecosystem that dominates both on social and across page one of Google.

If you want to find out more about digital ecosystem tracking, get in touch with Pi Datametrics.

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