Google has entered the arena of social media outreach and is engaged in directly contacting publishers about Google products and offerings, asking people to write about them.
In a nut shell, they are link building now. It is through a third party, but they are doing it.
I received an email a couple of days ago that asked me if I was interested in doing a story about the new Google search stories tool.
Upon initially reading this email I was very suspicious to be completely truthful. Suspicious enough that I did some investigating. Here is what I learned…
This appears to actually be someone acting on the behalf of Google.
After speaking with several people (all of whom were notably professional and nice) I wanted to share what occurred because it is a great example of communication. Social media is people, and these are some professionals who know how to interact with people.
Even though I have some critiques about the initial email I received, they impressed me very much with their open communication as I was investigating this.
I am going to describe this in three parts.
- 1. I will share the email I received and note the things I liked and didn’t like about it.
2. I will explain why I was suspicious of the email
3. I will describe how the communication went when I contacted them, and why I was left with such a great overall impression.
I have highlighted what I think was good about it and what I thought was bad about it. Here is the entire email with my critiques in red and my compliments in green…
Hey Patrick (<–They got my name right, good way to start),
How’s everything? My name is [name], I’m a digital Marketing consultant that works with Horizon Media. (they identified themselves)(but they did not identify that they were working with Google)
I love the site. (compliments will get you everywhere)
I really liked your articles “Facebook fan requests make me want to projectile vomit” and “Google translate for animals”. I thought the Google translate for Animals video was pretty hilarious. (they mentioned by name my posts and commented specifically about them)(they probably shouldn’t just reference the last two posts I did, would be more real if they mentioned a new post and an older post)
I’m reaching out to you today about Google’s new Search Story campaign. (they explain why they are contacting me)
You may remember Google¹s Parisian Love ad that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnsSUqgkDwU .This was Google’s first Super Bowl ad, and the response was so positive, that Google decided to share this opportunity with all of its users. (they used a great reference that most people would know about)
Google’s brand new Search Stories tool has gone live yesterday. You can check the below blog posting to read more about it
(http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/make-your-own-search-story-video-in.html). This tool allows you to create and publish your own personalized Search Story that you can share with your readers, fans and friends. To view the Search Stories Creator template, and build your own story, please visit the YouTube channel @ http://www.youtube.com/searchstories I have also attached a PDF on how to create your own search story.You can also reference the below link on youtube if you would prefer. (a good solid but brief description of product)
If you could check out the tool, create your own story and post on your site that would be greatly appreciated. (very specific and real request, no confusion here) If you could encourage your readers to do the same and share with their friends and family that would also be a huge help. Lastly, if you could let me know when you do create your own search story that would be great because I would love to see and read all about it. (these are very specific requests as well, which I think is good, they are contacting me, might as well not beat around the bush about what you want. The request for further communication is a good thing. It also is a pretty good idea for a blog post.)
One last thing I wanted to mention was that many videos that stand out as creative and fun will be posted on the official YouTube Search Stories Channel. In order to meet those requirements, you must publish a story that meets Google’s terms and conditions, which you can find on the Terms and Conditions page of the You Tube Search Stories Channel (http://www.gstatic.com/sst0/static/terms.html). Thanks a lot and I look forward to seeing what you create and publish on your site.
Thank you! (politeness rocks.)
(the following FTC rule warning was a big red flag because it says to disclose I was directly contacted by Google, but I was not informed in the email that it was Google making the request. This did not add up to me.)
In keeping with recent FTC rule changes, we request that you provide full disclosure to your audience in regards to your relationship with our brand.
Please make clear that you were contacted directly by Google, who asked for your participation in the ways outlined above. In addition, please disclose fully any materials and/or products we have shared with you as part of this initiative. Your honest and transparent participation is truly valued by Google. We look forward to working with you again on future initiatives.”
That was the email I received and now I want to describe what made me suspicious of it.
As I noted I was a bit suspicious of this email when I first looked at it. I am a pretty big fan of Google and I am somewhat familiar with how important their brand is to them. When I first read the email I was never told that it was from Google (or someone directly acting on the behalf of Google) so when I got to the end of it and read that FTC warning stating “I was directly contacted by Google” it didn’t add up for me.
Worse still, I went to the domain name that the email was sent from and…
There was nothing there.
This convinced me at that moment that this could not be a Google contact as I felt that they would not send emails from a domain that didn’t have anything on it.
Since I am a bit protective of Google because I am sorta a fanboy, I replied to the email with this…
“explain more of who you are to me please and what your relationship with Google is. If you do not, the only story I am writing is about your misrepresentation.”
Nice aren’t I?
I received a prompt reply. It was professional, it explained what was up, and it offered me solutions. (wow)
Here it the reply I got….
Google is one of the advertising accounts that Horizon Media represents. The current campaign we are working on in generating awareness and encouraging people to try out this new Search Story software Google has created.
If you would like I could send you my supervisors email so you can discuss further with him.
Hope this helps.
name of person”
I was impressed by the prompt reply, but I wanted to put on my reporter hat and dig deeper, so I replied that I wanted the email. I also said in part…
“The email seems sneaky to me, it is not sent from horizon media, and the domain the email is from is non existent.
I was again given a prompt reply within minutes..
Not a problem at all. My supervisors information is below. I apologize if the email came off as sneaky, that was not my intentions.
[name of supervisor, email of supervisor, and phone number of supervisor was provided here]
I hope to hear from you soon.
Name of person”
Wow. A nice, apologetic reply with actual contact info. I was again impressed, but I wanted to get to the bottom of this so I called the contact.
I had a conversation with the supervisor on the phone, and he explained to that there was a relationship between Horizon Media and Google.
I then spoke to the director of social media & relationship marketing of Horizon Media and we had quite a friendly chat. I have had my share of overseeing outreach efforts, and he was a very nice open person who actually wanted to hear my critiques.
The bottom line of this is that Google has hired someone to do social media outreach and are actively engaging in reaching out to publishers.
I appreciated the transparency of the conversation I had, and my impression went from suspicion to support. Nice job.
They found me, and I am one of the right guys to find if you are Google and are wanting to reach out to publishers.
I think there are two main things a social media outreach plan needs to do in order to be successful.
- 1. Find the right people
2. Communicate with them well
They seem to have done that. If your communications were published by a rogue blogger, would your outreach fare as well?
(notes: I am not a rogue blogger, and do not normally publish email communications on my blog without discussing it first with those I have communicated with. I told them I would do this story, and that it would include critiques on their initial email.)