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We Just Got Skyscrapered

Just yesterday, we got skyscrapered. No, we didn’t get an office in a giant building or fly an ad from one or anything like that, nor is that some weird pop-culture thing that teenagers are putting on YouTube. We were the target of an attempt at “skyscraper marketing” … and I’m talking about it, so I guess it worked in a sense.

I’ll talk more about this particular instance in a moment, but first I wanted to give an intro to skyscraper marketing for anyone who isn’t familiar with it.

The “What” and “Why” of Skyscraper Marketing

Skyscraper marketing was one method which was popularized after Google’s 2013 Hummingbird algorithm update. To summarize the implications of that in brief: there was once a time when you could “trick” Google into thinking that your website was more important than it was by posting links around the internet pointing to your website. Hummingbird was the Google update that put an end to that once and for all and penalized websites that did not comply. From then on, if you wanted to prove your website’s importance (and thereby improve your search ranks), you needed to earn your backlinks organically.

That’s about the time when content marketing became more important. From that point, not only was it the validation that showed prospects you knew what you were talking about, but it was the primary tool at your disposal to influence your search rankings (beyond the basic on-site optimization, such as optimized URLs and title tags, that everyone does and therefore isn’t a real source of competitive advantage). The more shareable the content, the more backlinks it would likely get, and therefore the better it was for SEO.

Thus, Skyscraper Marketing was devised. At its most basic, I can break it down into a three step process:

  1. Find successful content.
  2. Improve upon it.*
  3. Share it with people who would be interested in it and, in turn, share it themselves.

*The necessity for improvement is debatable, but you do have to do something to it. More on that in a moment…

The “How” of Skyscraper Marketing

Skyscraper marketing is, essentially, a type of influencer marketing in that the important part is the last step – getting people with engaged audiences to share it. That being the case, there are two primary approaches (and you don’t have to choose between them – you can do both at the same time).

The first approach is the incremental improvement approach. You find some good content which you have something to add to / make better / pose a counterpoint to / etc., then distribute it to a bunch of people who would find it relevant and potentially want to share it. In this approach, you’re adding something to the general body of knowledge in the hope that your contributed insight is enough to make it a worthwhile share – especially from people who have large audiences themselves. Again, the goal is to get as many backlinks and as many eyeballs as possible (those goals do overlap) so the more people you reach out to the better.

The second approach is the “stroking one’s ego” approach. In this approach, your goal isn’t necessarily to improve upon good pieces of content, but rather to act as an aggregator. You take really good tidbits from the thinking of a number of different influencers, and repackage them into a single, easily digestible, and readily shareable piece of content, being sure to reference and link to the authors / posts whose thinking you aggregated. You then reach back out to those people and let them know that you published something which referenced them. People, being generally inclined towards things that make themselves seem important, will share your article which highlights their own thinking.

BioBM’s Skyscraper Marketing Tips

As with influencer marketing, you want to take care to do it correctly. If you don’t, you’ll not only waste your time and effort, but you’ll also get a reputation among the influencers in your market as a peddler of junk content. If that happens, skyscraper marketing or other forms of influencer marketing will be more difficult for you in the future. Just as poor quality content can reflect badly upon your brand, asking people to share poor quality content will erode your relationships with those influencers.

To not be “that guy,” here are some useful tips:

  • Don’t spam your network. Only send out good content and only send it to people who would find it genuinely relevant.
  • Don’t plagiarize copy … or ideas. If people realize they’ve heard it all before elsewhere, they probably won’t share it.
  • Note that “improved content” does not mean “longer content.” A lot of people have a habit of focusing on expanding upon an idea rather than improving upon it. Improvement is far more important than expansion. If you make something better or take a novel perspective on an idea, that’s far more worthy of sharing than simply adding more of the same.
  • “Improved content” also doesn’t mean that you need to improve on the idea itself. Communicating it more effectively – for instance, using illustration to more clearly demonstrate a complex point – can be just as valuable.
  • Always remember: your content behaves like a product and must be differentiated!
  • If you’re going to take an ego-driven approach, be sure you show that you have taken the time to fully understand and eloquently explain the idea, and give some praise to the original author without coming of as a flatterer.

So to finish the story…

Upon checking our social media dashboards this morning, I saw this tweet:

I’ve been published more than the average person, but that’s still enough to get my attention so I gave it a quick read through. I ended up not sharing it on our @BioBM twitter account (and I don’t use my personal @CHoytPhD twitter anymore) for a few reasons. Primarily, we have very high standards for what BioBM publishes through our channels. We generally require there to be some element of newness, and we didn’t find there to be any particularly fresh thinking. (Sorry, Joe! No offense intended.) Secondarily, it was a really obvious skyscraper attempt, especially since our idea which was shared wasn’t strongly relevant to the body of the article and was simply one of many listed in bullet point format towards the end. On the other hand, Joe did well not to plagiarize the ideas which he referenced, but rather offered a tidbit of them with a link to the source. That was nice of him. (Thanks, Joe!)

That said, it did engage a discussion on twitter and his post did end up being linked to on our blog, so I suppose Joe can claim victory after all. He’s also welcome to follow this shameless promotion for our “Marketing of Life Science Tools & Services” LinkedIn group and post it there as well. 2262 members and counting!

Just for fun, and because who doesn’t love architecture, here’s a few more images of skyscrapers. All images are courtesy of Unsplash, which in an amazing feat of generosity allows their beautiful, high-resolution images to be used for any purpose and without attribution. I find that so awesome that I’m giving them attribution anyway.


"Innovative companies deserve innovative marketing. If you want to leverage the next generation of marketing strategies to not only help you achieve success, but create genuine strategic advantage for your company, contact BioBM. It’s never too early or too late, but the sooner we get started the more of a head start you’ll have."

Increasing Customer Affinity

Affinity has a transformational value on brands.

Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon have all moved beyond having a simple transactional relationship with their customers to one that creates intimacy and serves their needs in a more holistic manner. These companies are generous, they are unselfish, and their approach is well beyond one of asking for the next sale. Whereas most companies self-promote in order to obtain the customer’s next purchase, elite brands seek not only to create customer loyalty, but to be loyal to their customers.

The overwhelming majority of companies are only good at fostering transactional affiliations with customers. They ask for their business, the customer gives it to them, and that is largely the end of the relationship. Companies frequently try to obtain repeat business; those who do so well attract supporters – customers who have moved beyond individual transactions and consciously prefer your brand, buying repeatedly. Relatively few companies are effective at recruiting promoters, people who actively share their positive impression of your brand through advocacy to others. Those brands which have strong networks of promoters are often very successful, but there is a fourth level of customer affinity that not only drives even further degrees of loyalty, but also leverages customer assets to build brand value even further, creating a positive feedback loop for both the brand and customers: co-creation.

Co-creators actively add value to the brand by contributing to its offerings for other customers. They are so invested in the brand that they add to it themselves. This may be altruistic, but may also be to realize some kind of return, be it financial, recognition, or otherwise.

Increasing Affinity

Most companies pay careful attention to how loyal their customers are to them, measuring things like net promoter score and tracking sentiment on social media. They think that good customer service will win the loyalty of customers, and while good customer experiences may turn transactors into supporters and perhaps even the occasional promoter, good service is not enough to routinely transform customers’ affinity to the highest levels. In order to move up the affinity ladder, brands need to not only focus on how loyal their customers are, but how loyal the brand is to their customers. If a customer is anything more than a transactor, they are giving you more than money. Likewise, you need to be doing something more than selling products and services (in other words, creating transactions) to better foster that affinity. You need to actively add value to the lives of your customers outside of the transactional realm.

Building co-creation opportunities often, but not always, requires a degree of altruism. You must seek to provide opportunities for your target market which do not actually cost them anything.

Examples of Co-Creation

Many businesses are built entirely around co-creation. Yelp or any user-driven recommendation website are almost entirely based on co-creation. Facebook is driven by co-creation. Airbnb is a co-creative endeavor, relying on its hosts to build the success of their platform. Your business, however, does not need to be centered on a co-creation business model in order to leverage it for increased customer affinity.

Customer-centric resources are tools that any company can use to greatly heighten customer affinity. By helping customers solve problems outside the context of a buying journey, you will provide massively positive experiences that will increase affinity. While resources do not require a co-creation component, such a component may be integrated into them. Consider the Nike+ ecosystem, where users can share workouts, compare progress with friends, and help motivate each other. The GoPro Channel is another well-known co-creation resource, where GoPro leverages its own popularity to support its customers’ best creations.

Social Media, “Engagement” and the Affinity Failure

Many marketers consider themselves to have succeeded at forging relationships with customers if they have high “engagement” metrics or large social followings. These are not indicators of affinity and are often vanity metrics. A social follow is by no means an indication of support, and it certainly does not suggest that the follower will promote your brand. In the life sciences and most B2B industries, social media is largely a platform for the dissemination of content. It is a utilitarian tool. While the ability to foster personal relationships with members of your target audience certainly exists, social media is not a natural channel for brand-customer communication. If your goals are to increase your audience size and reach, seek new social followers. If your goals are to increase customer affinity, look for non-transactional ways to provide value to your audience.

As customers not only take greater control of their purchasing decision journeys but compress them as well, brand affinity becomes increasingly important. Those brands which are able to create heightened levels of customer affinity will have immense advantage in an accelerated journey which reduces the consideration and evaluation phases. Customers are increasingly making decisions based on established preferences. The brands with the greatest customer affinity will be the winners.

"Looking for ways to increase customer affinity? BioBM develops resources for life science brands that grow their audiences and enable them to dominate their brand space. If domination is on your brand’s agenda, then contact BioBM today."

The End Is Not Nigh (now let’s get serious…)

People love to decry the end of marketing. It’s a good attention-getter. While those who shout about the coming of the end of marketing from their soapboxes are usually guilty of lacking realism or using poor logic, they do make us think about the future and that can be a learning experience. Let’s take an example…

Knowledge @ Wharton recently published an interesting, albeit narrow-sighted and overly apocalyptic article about the end of marketing and what, according to the author, will be the very narrow opportunities to engage audiences that will remain in the future. The author does a very good job of identifying trends but a very bad job of predicting what the future will likely look like, but both the good and the bad provide important lessons and highlight valuable opportunities.

First, the trends. No reason to discuss these much because most should be more or less obvious to anyone reading this.

  1. People would rather listen to other people than brands.
  2. People are going to greater lengths to avoid the onslaught of advertisement.
  3. Marketing technology “cannot truly understand the complexities of consumer intent” and therefore hitting the trifecta of the right message on the right channel at the right time is exceedingly difficult. (This I would actually say is up for debate. It’s a gray area. A discussion for another time, perhaps…)
  4. Marketers are overwhelming digital channels, further driving users to avoid marketing out of simple necessity. See point #2.

And here are the author’s four corresponding points of how he envisions the future:

  1. “As consumers bypass media with greater ease, the social feed is the wormhole to the entire online experience.”
  2. “As consumers outcompete marketers for each other’s attention, every piece of media contained in the feed is not only shareable, but shoppable.” – basically, he’s arguing that social channels become capable of performing transactions.
  3. “As the individual controls the marketing experience, communication shifts from public to semi-private.” In other words, people move from things like Facebook to things like Snapchat, where there are fewer ads and more privacy.
  4. Only two types of marketing will remain: discounts / sales and transparent sponsored content.

These predictions amount to a wild fantasy.

The most obvious flaw in the author’s reasoning is that somehow a completely shoppable social media ecosystem would evade the rules that everyone else has to play by – namely that when marketing becomes overwhelming, the audience will block it out or leave. This also ignores the plain fact that the large majority of the things that people buy are not found organically via social media. There is no shortage of people who shop. Decisions may be influenced in the social sphere, and perhaps some impulse decisions both begin and end there, but those are the exception; the overwhelming majority of purchasing decisions do not occur entirely within the social sphere and that would not change if social channels were empowered with transactability.

The real world contains a great deal of equilibrium. The ability to target people and their ability to tune it out is a balancing act. It is a cat and mouse game. Technology works both ways, and as new channels and technologies are born there become more ways to reach customers. However, as channels are flooded, the impact of each individual effort diminishes. Marketing self-regulates by decreasing its own ROI as utilization of any particular channel increases.

So What Will the Future of Marketing Look Like?

There are definitely many channels that will continue their trend towards ineffectiveness. It’s increasingly likely that audiences, fed up with maddening digital display advertising techniques, continue to adopt ad blocking technology and erode the potential of that channel. Email, while still rated as a high-ROI channel, is looking like it may have a perilous future as email service providers become better at filtering out promotions. Social media will certainly take on a larger share of permission-based marketing, but it will remain a risky business to rely too much on “rented” audiences. Increasing utilization of content marketing will continue to add noise and, in turn, increase its own cost by requiring better and better content to obtain the inherently limited resource it seeks to obtain: the audience’s attention. Increased use of social media may, if adoption increases as we project, fall victim to a similar effect, limiting brands’ ability to market effectively using social channels.

Not all developments will be bad. A decline in interruption tactics will lead to a fundamental shift in how marketing is viewed from a tool to generate demand to a mechanism to deliver value to audiences and a source of strategic advantage. Customer-centric resources and other owned platforms will proliferate as companies seek new ways to deliver value to customers while increasing the affinity level between customer and brand. These companies with strong brand affinities will create sustainable advantage for themselves as they shortcut and compress the customer decision journeys. Additionally, new and yet unknown channels will develop, and at increasingly rapid pace. Consider that until about 20 years ago, no digital channels existed at all. Accelerating technology development will continue this trend and also enable more personalized, coordinated, and targeted marketing in a manner which is more accessible and usable by companies of all sizes, budgets and capabilities.

I’m not going to try to pinpoint detailed specifics – I’m not claiming to be a psychic and it would be a waste of your time to read simple conjecture – but there are things that we can be fairly certain of given current trends, a bit of logic, and a hint of foresight. Marketing isn’t going anywhere, and while in the future it may not look quite like it does today, it will still be something that Philip Kotler would distinctly recognize.

"Marketing is a race, but unlike the 200 meter sprint there aren’t any referees that will call you for a false start. Get a jump on your competition, charge forward on the path to market domination, and start leveraging the next generation of marketing strategies today. Work with BioBM."

If You Don’t Own Your Channels, You Don’t Own Your Audience

A very telling thing happened in October. YouTube, in preparation to release it’s paid subscription service, Red, told its top content creators that “any ‘partner’ creator who earns a cut of ad revenue but doesn’t agree to sign its revenue share deal for its new YouTube Red $9.99 ad-free subscription will have their videos hidden from public view on both the ad-supported and ad-free tiers.” (ref: TechCrunch). In other words, if content creators who are getting revenue from their YouTube videos don’t agree to Red, their channel will go dark. All those subscribers will mean nothing if they can’t access your content.

This should be something of a reality check for marketers. On YouTube or any third party social channel, your audience doesn’t belong to you; it belongs to the channel. Those Twitter followers? Twitter owns them. All those Facebook likes? They’re not your property, they’re Facebook’s. Any one of those channels can do anything they want with them at any time. Feel insecure? It is.

What if Facebook removed access to people who have liked your page unless you pay for engagement? There’s no reason they couldn’t. Or what if the social network that you’ve poured so many resources into in order to develop a large following were to fade away – perhaps people start abandoning Twitter en masse for Snapchat (or whatever comes after Snapchat)?

You don’t own your social media audiences. In many cases, you don’t even own the content you’ve shared on that social channel. You definitely don’t own your advertising audiences or any other audience which is rented. Any and all of these audiences can be taken away. If you’re looking to develop an attentive and loyal audience that’s both engaged and secure, what can you do?

Building an Owned Audience

Building an owned audience requires that you create a platform for audience growth which is under your full control. Any audience on a “rented” channel belongs to the channel and not to you.

Building an owned audience also requires that the channel you create offer sufficient value such that people want to engage with it and return to it. Getting someone to hit the “follow” button on a social platform is very non-committal. Getting someone to sign up for an entirely new platform is a higher bar. You need to ensure that you sufficiently understand and address genuine audience needs in order to for them to commit. Furthermore, unlike social media, you need to provide enough value that the audience will go back just for the value your owned platform provides; there won’t [necessarily] be many other people and brands drawing them back into it, giving them reasons to return and engage. While yours may be just one of 100 liked pages and 500 friends competing for space on a Facebook user’s feed, that may be enough to provide you with the opportunity to grab for their attention. There may be a lot of competition for that attention, but there are also many reasons for the users to continuously return to the channel; the burden of reeling the audience back in is widely distributed among their many connections and the platform itself. On an owned channel, you must make it entirely your responsibility to entice to engage and continue to reengage over time, but each time they do you own that attention. You write the rules.

That begs the question: What do you need to do to build an owned channel?

The form that the owned channel takes is irrelevant. The form should simply be a response to audience needs. It can be as simple as a blog or as complex as anything you or I could imagine. There are only three requirements:

  1. It has to provide genuine value to the target audience. That’s what is going to attract their attention. Understand what problems your customers are having and focus on helping to solve them. Your platform has to be primarily about your customers.
  2. The value has to be sustained over time. An audience that only pays attention once doesn’t do you much good. While the audience itself can sometimes be leveraged to add value to the platform, don’t plan on it happening. Expect that you’re going to have to be the one to continue to add value to the platform over time. If that seems like an unsustainable effort, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
  3. It has to meaningfully connect the audience with your brand.

By creating a platform which enriches the lives of members of your target market, you’ll find yourself growing a willing, captive, and secure audience – on your terms.

"Future-proof your marketing and create a strategic advantage by having “owned” audiences that turn the tides of customer sentiment to your advantage. Scientists are slow to change their loyalties, but if you can consistently provide the best value – the best experiences – your brand will become the default selection above which others must prove their worth.

Own the incumbent advantage. Contact us."

Start Building an Audience

Start Building an AudienceA lot of companies focus heavily on short-term demand-generation efforts. For small start-ups without venture funding, that is often out of necessity. However, many companies do so even when it is not necessary, and in these cases an overly short-term focus carries an unintentional long-term cost.

As we’ve discussed previously, a buying journey can be thought of as a quest to minimize risk. Scientists want to be certain that your product or service will fill their need. The more certain they are, the more likely they are to purchase. One factor which weighs heavily in the perception of risk is trust. If you have not established trust with your scientist-customer, the customer will be less likely to believe that your product / service will fill the need or, at minimum, will require more convincing. Conversely, if there is an alternative which is provided by a trustworthy source or brand, then this option will be given preference.

Short-term demand generation campaigns largely ignore this reality. This is especially damaging for lesser known brands, or brands with which the customer may have limited interaction. (Note that it is possible to be “well known” but not “well experienced” – in other words, for customers to know who you are without ever having any meaningful brand experiences.)

As an illustrative example, pick your favorite home appliance brand. Imagine there is a new appliance which you don’t currently have but which your favorite brand sells. Given that, how responsive would you be to a brand which you’ve never heard of which also makes that appliance? Unless they have a way of getting in front of you early and repeatedly in your buying journey and present a compelling message, chances are they wouldn’t have much of a chance against your favorite brand – or even just a popular one which you’ve heard of repeatedly.

This is why audience-building is so important. It creates a group of potential customers who you can repeatedly expose to your brand, building familiarity and trust with them over time. This trust then translates into a greater likelihood of your products and services being chosen when it becomes time to make a purchasing decision. It engages and influences potential customers before they have a recognized need, building advantages which translate into value once a relevant need is recognized.

Audiences can be built on almost any platform and through almost any means. An opt-in email list can be an audience. Social media followers or groups can be an audience. However, in order to create value for your company, you need to create value for your audience, and that comes via product-unrelated value (usually content).

Building an audience takes time, and so does creating familiarity and trust within that audience. By starting early, and putting in the effort to create value for your audience, you’ll be building long-term value for your company which will continue to pay you back over time.

"Is your brand trusted and respected? If the answer isn’t a resounding “yes” then there’s work to be done. Contact BioBM and we’ll help craft and implement strategies to build your brand into something meaningful to your target markets. Don’t wait to start building long-term value. Start on the path to a more powerful brand today."

Social Media Optimization

A lot of life science companies create social media accounts for the wrong reasons. Some do it strictly for demand generation (bad idea – scientific products are not impulse buys), some do it because they feel like they should, and some do it because they have some unrealistic expectation that social will make them the next big thing (not to ruin your dream, but your chances of your content – whatever it may be – going viral are very slim). While we’ve always been proponents of social media marketing so long as expectations are realistic and the focus is on brand-building, there is an increasingly important reason to engage in social media: SEO.

As search engines, and in particular Google, have aimed to find ways to improve search results, they are effectively crowdsourcing their rankings by relying more heavily on social media. In what I believe to be a clear indicator of the increasing importance of social media in SEO, a recently released study by SearchMetrics correlated 44 factors to Google Rank and found that social signals correlate with Google rank better than any other type of factor. In fact, the seven social factors investigated all ranked in the top eight Spearman Correlation scores. Keeping in mind that the SearchMetrics study is a correlation study and not a causation study, due to the complexity and opacity of search engine algorithms, determination of causation in search engine rankings is effectively impossible so correlation is as good a measure as we’re going to get. Despite that Matt Cutts himself stated in an interview that “Links are still the best way that we’ve found to discover [how relevant something is]”, there is little doubt that social has become very important in search engine rankings and will continue to become more important in the future.

Does this mean every company should be active in social media? Certainly not. First of all, SEO itself is not important to every company (although it is important to most) so jumping on the social media bandwagon isn’t necessarily important even within this context. Secondly, you have to have the resources and dedication to do it right. Having an unused, abandoned or spammy social account, or even one simply devoid of meaningful content, can hurt your brand. Social media is mostly about content, so if you don’t have anything of value to say then don’t bother. This isn’t to say that you need to devote large amounts of resources to social media.

If you do want to engage in social media for SEO (or “social media optimization”), the rules to follow are mostly the same as for social media in general but with a few exceptions. Most notably, while you can help build your brand by sharing the content of others, social media optimization is much more effective when you post your own content as the ultimate target of the social sharing will be your own site. You will need at least a partial focus on content creation.

Search marketing is arguably the most powerful tool for most life science companies to generate demand, and search engine optimization is a key part of that. In the rapidly evolving search engine algorithms, social media is playing an increasingly important role. Companies relying on search to generate demand should be looking to social media optimization to make sure that they can get to the top of the rankings and stay there.

"Looking to improve your search rankings through social media optimization, or just build your brand through an increased social following? Contact BioBM. Our life science digital marketing experts are ready to help your company meet its potential. Let’s have a conversation and learn how to get there."

Change to LinkedIn Groups

Using LinkedIn groups for Social Media Marketing in the Life SciencesAs just about anyone who uses Hubspot already knows, back in November Hubspot added some functionality to the Hubspot Social Media Tool which allowed Hubspot users the ability to post directly to LinkedIn Groups en masse. While group spam on LinkedIn has been a small problem for some time now, this action by a marketing automation platform as well-used as Hubspot sent up some red flags at LinkedIn. Earlier this year, LinkedIn issued its response:

“Now whenever someone is blocked and deleted in one group, they are put on Requires Moderation in all of their existing groups so that their contributions will be routed to the Submissions Queue for review before displaying in their groups. Any group manager can of course flip such a person back to Free to Post within her own specific group if desired.”

This change is highly relevant to all life science marketers using LinkedIn for social media marketing. Those who adopt the ethos of quantity over quality and go for the most reach while paying scant attention to the relevance and value of their group contributions may soon find themselves not being able to post to many of their groups, especially since many LinkedIn groups are either sparsely moderated or not moderated at all. LinkedIn has suddenly made it very important not to be viewed as spam.

Luckily, all that is necessary to avoid the unfortunate occurrence of requiring moderation across all LinkedIn groups is to do exactly what those utilizing content marketing should be doing anyway: ensure that your content is relevant and valuable to the group membership. Don’t try to overextend your reach into groups where your content isn’t relevant, don’t overuse promotions and follow the group rules.

"Looking to increase the effectiveness of your life science company’s social media efforts? Talk to BioBM. We’ll help you devise a strategy that leverages content and creates value for your target audiences in ways that help build brand value and grow your presence in the marketplace. Contact us today."

Get a Google+ Community

Google Plus communities for life science marketingWe get a lot of people asking us how they can better use LinkedIn for marketing or business development. It seems an almost universally accepted fact that LinkedIn, and in particular LinkedIn groups, can be a powerful marketing tool. We agree – that’s why we started the Marketing of Life Science Tools & Services group. Now, however, LinkedIn groups are a mature feature, well-used by scientists and suppliers / service providers. There are usually multiple groups for any given area of interest, and “copycat” groups frequently don’t catch on. You can create a more niche group, but that may be of interest to only a fraction of your audience and you may have problems growing it to a critical mass. Quite frankly, the best time to have started a LinkedIn group was probably 2007 – right before the early adopters started using them. At that point, you could have been the founder of the “Molecular and Cell Biology” group (currently 6,725 members), the “Genomics: Next Generation DNA Sequencing (NGS) and Microarray” group (15,554 members) or the “Structural Biology” group (3,817 members). Wouldn’t that have been nice?

Well with every new platform comes new opportunities, and last month Google launched their equivalent to LinkedIn Groups: Google+ Communities. It’s very early in its life-cycle, so most of the popular terms are still available as community names. It’s way too soon to know if Google+ Communities will ever reach the level of adoption that LinkedIn Groups have, but it’s not much of a risk to snap up a name and occasionally seed it with some content. You might be glad you did later.

"BioBM Consulting has helped many life science companies formulate and implement social media strategies that are practical, realistic, and create value for the organization. If you would like to leverage our experience, contact us. We’d be happy to speak with you."

New White Paper from BioBM

BioBM Consulting has released a new white paper: “10 Key Questions & 5 Powerful Rules for Life Science Marketers when Building an Online Community.” A critical read for any life science marketer that is considering the use of online communities for marketing purposes, this paper discusses discuss 10 key questions that life science tools companies should answer prior to undertaking the formation of an online community and also provides 5 powerful rules that companies should follow when building and managing such communities.

BioBM Principal Consultant Dr. Carlton Hoyt added:

Statement from Principal Consultant Carlton Hoyt

Online communities can be a very powerful tool for life science marketers, potentially putting large amounts of the target market at their fingertips while building or nurturing a leadership position in their field. Such undertakings can be very difficult, however, and can ever backfire if the life science company does not put sufficient thought into its development and ends up with a very visible failed effort. This paper will guide life science marketers in their development and management of online communities to help them create more value for their target audience as well as their company.

This white paper is freely available to all individuals in the life science industry. To learn more about the new paper, to preview it, or to request a copy, please visit: http://biobm.com/idea-farm/reports-papers/

Google Wants You To Plus

In what’s probably half designed to make search results more personalized and half an encouragement for people to use Google+, Google implemented changes to its search algorithms recently. Google+ users who are frequently signed in while performing searches have likely already noticed, but Google+ results and pages that have been +1’d or shared by a connection are now given a massive boost in the search, usually to the front page.

Click the image blow for an example. Note the areas that I’ve highlighted in red, green, and blue, which each indicate different Google+ results.
Google's new search algorithm strongly favors Google+ content.

Say your company sells PCR primers. If you mention PCR primers in your Google+ profile or in a post or other content on Google+, and a scientist that you’re connected to on Google+ searches for PCR primers, your post will almost guaranteedly display near the top of the results (assuming the person doesn’t have lots of other connections also talking about PCR primers). Likewise, based on information that Google compiles about a user, it will have “recommended” connections and content from recommended connections get a similarly high-profile

Of course, this type of simplification ignores the difficulty of growing a following on Google+. Unlike Twitter and more similarly to Facebook, Google+ doesn’t let companies follow people who aren’t following them back. Facebook at least partially makes up for it by allowing you to have high customized pages which you can use to incentivize engagement. Google+ has no such capabilities, so building engagement can be somewhat more difficult.

Another thing about the change is that it places a huge premium on social content – posts, links, videos, images, everything. Have pictures of the team from the last conference? Put it on Google+. Was there a news article about your company or products? Put it on Google+. While you’re at it, write search engine optimized descriptions; just keep in mind that people will read them so don’t go overboard.

With that one change, social media marketing for companies with Google+ went from kind of pointless to extremely worthwhile. Just know that like any social media marketing it’s a slow process with long-term rewards, so be patient, provide good content, and do your best to build your network.

Also, expect that Google will continue to try to integrate Google+ into search, so long as they don’t do anything that creates a massivle backlash. The past few days there have been reports of google asking searchers if they’d like to ask their Google+ connections about their search. Not sure if that particular feature will stick, but it’s certainly an indication of the direction Google’s trying to go…

UPDATE: Between the writing of this and its posting, we noticed another change. Google now integrates social results from your Google contacts. This means that if someone in your gmail contacts or from a synced android phone shared something, it will also show up in the new “personal results” section and receive greater visibility, even if you’re not signed up with Google+. Furthermore, if you have a website listed in your Google or Google+ profile, Google’s search well respond as if you’e shared all pages on the site, even if you haven’t actively done so. The screenshot below is taken from a search where I was signed into Google on an account that does not have a Google+ account.
Google's new search results show results from Google contacts as well.

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