Google is working hard to improve search, and it’s doing such a great job that the general public doesn’t seem to be noticing. With the inclusion ofpersonalization,localization, customization, and with the depth of data Google knows and understands about the average user, it’s easy to overlook how much goes into making a useful (intuitive) search.
Yet despite Google’s improvement, or perhaps because of it, people seem to be losing their ability to perform advanced searches within Google — something I’d define as critical to navigating the Web efficiently and effectively, especially as a search marketer.
In fact, Google recently released news of a major update —Hummingbird— specifically designed to help users with complex searches.
Get What You Want
With all this background information, and Google’s evolving ability to understand context, I think it’s more important than ever before to make sure you’re getting out of Google exactly what you want.
We talk a lot about how to optimize your site for Google, but being a power-searcher is also super important for marketers, whether you’re trying to find how your brand is represented on the Web, or what your competitor is doing. And it’s not hard — I believe anyone can become a search pro by understanding 10 simple search modifiers, and creatively applying them to search.
So, instead of surrendering your power and trusting Google (you wouldn’t trust it to run your AdWords campaigns, would you?), let’s take a look at a list of the top 10 search modifiers, and how to use them effectively to perform advanced searches.
The List Of Search Modifiers
Here’s the entire list of the top 10 search modifiers for your perusal.
Query AND query
Query OR query
This article will give you the tools you need to understand advanced search modifiers, and how to perform intelligent searches to find what you really need. But, before we jump into that, let’s take a look at why advanced search is disappearing.
Why Advanced Search Is Disappearing
Performing an open ended search such as [gas station] a handful of years ago would have been laughable. The results would have been nearly useless — a random mix of big name oil companies and information-based sites (think Wikipedia) describing gas stations and their functions via 10 bare bones links in glorious blue.
Googling back then was nearly an art form — it took an understanding of which words to use, why, and to what effect in order to achieve the desired results.
Search required a certain tech savvy, an understanding of technology to the degree of proficiency.
Now however, if you’re in a new area looking to quickly fill up your gas tank, whether you’re on your laptop, phone, or even a borrowed desktop, the odds are you can and will simply type in [gas station].
Here’s what that looks like on a laptop, not signed into any Google accounts, and with Incognito Mode running:
A far cry from the bare bones, ten-blue links of the past — the first five links are relevant to the area I’m currently in, directing me to where I can purchase gas conveniently and affordably. What’s more, there’s a map of my surrounding area with gas stations marked, and a full knowledge graph carousel at the top.
Obviously, searching [gas station] these days is a surprisingly viable option.
Any user searching via smartphone will be even more likely to do such a broad query search. Here’s a few screenshots of what it looks like when I do the same search with my phone, in the same area:
As you can see, the rich snippet is nearly the same (minus the KG carousel), but more detailed, allowing me to get on-the-spot directions to seven different gas stations, organized by distance. After that, the top five results are the same as the laptop search, with slight variance in ranking.
The point is, Google’s search technology has reached the point of high usability. People don’t think, analyze, or really even understand how search works anymore. They just assume it will work and they’ll get the results they need.
This is a very real trend, and likely to continue. For example, consider Google Now — no searching required, just results you’re likely to need and can further refine. Also, consider Google Glass. Glass doesn’t even support advanced searching — it’s all short, to-the-point answers, likely based on the Knowledge Graph, which is rapidly expanding.
But, Google isn’t perfect. There’s still plenty of need to be savvy within search, especially if you’re using it to navigate the murky Web in a precise manner.
So, there’s still need for advanced and intelligent search, despite Google’s improvement.
The Search Modifiers And How To Use Them
1. “Query” — The Exact Match Search
How it works: Quotation marks, or “query” will Search Google for only the exact match of your query, also known as exact match search.
Example: “Page One Power link building”
Uses: Searching for an exact piece of information. Great for searching serial numbers, model numbers, obscure names, etc. Very basic, but very important in advanced search, especially when combining search modifiers to achieve specific results.
2. –Query — The Query Exclusion Modifier
How it works: the subtract modifier will remove any query you don’t want in the search results.
Example: “Jon Ball” -“Page One Power”
Uses: Trimming the fat from your search results. When searching for something specific, and you’re finding the inclusion of terms or phrases you specifically wish to avoid, simply introduce the exclusion modifier to remove them from the results.
3. Query AND query — The Query Combiner
How it works: using “AND” within search will make sure both your queries appear within each result.
Example: “Jon Ball” AND “Page One Power”
Uses: Narrow your subject within search by combining terms. Searching without the ‘AND’ operator would return results individually featuring either “Jon Ball” or “Page One Power,” as opposed to results featuring both “Jon Ball” and “Page One Power.”
Note: if you don’t use caps, you run the risk of Google thinking it’s a phrase as opposed to an operator.
4. Query OR query — The Similar Query Search
How it works: Allows you to search for multiple terms.
Example: “Jon Ball” CEO OR Founder OR Owner OR Partner
Uses: Search for multiple/similar phrases and words within one result. Typically the ‘OR’ operator is used for multiple words that express the same idea — i.e., CEO/founder/owner/partner.
5. Site:example.com — The Site Specific Search
How it works: Site:example.com will refine a Google’s search to a single website.
Example: Site:pageonepower.com “Jon Ball”
Uses: Finding information within a specific website, especially when using additional search modifiers. This can also be used to narrow down to TLDs (.gov, .com, .edu).
6. Inurl:query — The URL Specific Search
How it works: Will only return Web pages that have your query in the actual URL.
Example: inurl:Jon Ball
Uses: This search modifier has a variety of uses. Great for finding various online profiles of someone with a unique name, or finding certain types of pages (guest posts, link lists, infographics, forums, etc. etc.), and can be used effectively with site search as well.
7. Intitle:query — The Title Specific Search
How it works: The intitle:query modifier will refine search to only pages that have your query within their title.
Example: intitle:jon ball
Uses: Very similar to inurl:query, this works well for finding online profiles, different types of pages, and general information regarding your search (since they’ll have the phrase or word in the title).
8. Filetype:query — The File Specific Search
How it works: Searches only for pages hosting the type of file you specify.
Example: site:pageonepower.com filetype:pdf
Uses: Finding particular files on a particular subject. Also, as the screenshot shows, it’s a great extra filter to help find a specific piece of content on a specific site.
9. Related:query — The Related Results Search
How it works: Returns results related to your query. Note: the query can be a website, much as in site search, to return other related websites. However, the website needs to be fairly well known, otherwise related search is unlikely to find anything.
Uses: Exploring the Web, finding pages related to your query, and even finding less well known sites similar to popular sites.
10. Inpostauthor:query — The Blog Author Search
How it works: Inpostauthor: Also known as blog author search — will search blog posts for the author.
Example: inpostauthor:Jon Ball
Uses: Tracking prolific bloggers across the Web! It should be noted that this search can return pretty broad results, especially if the author’s name isn’t fairly unique.
Adding Creativity — Using Multiple Search Modifiers For Advanced Search
So, we’ve covered the top 10 search modifiers. Now, think creatively to search intelligently.
Alone, these search modifiers can help for slightly better results. But combining them together to create a truly precise search — putting together a search string — is where the magic really happens.
In fact, Dr. Pete of Moz wrote a wonderful post about advanced searching based around the site specific search, titled 25 Killer Combos for Google’s Site: Operator. Seriously, take some time to read through that — it’s a great example of how to combine various operators together to create a targeted search for precise results.
Inurl:Guest Post “Firstname Last” –site:mycompeitor.com
Intitle:Guest Post “Firstname Last” –site:mycompeitor.com
“Author: Firstname Last” –site:mycompetitor.com
“Written by Firstname Last” –site:mycompetitor.com
“Author Profile” “Firstname Last”
“About the Author” “Firstname Last”
“Author Bio” “Firstname Last”
Inurl:Author “Firstname last”
As you can see, even combining two together will give you much more precision than one alone.
I have to say my favorite search string for tracking guest posts is Inurl:author “Firstname Last.” Very simplistic, this search string is great for finding high-quality guest posts, since quality sites tend to make an author page, and the majority of these pages will have “author” in the URL.
Don’t forget to check author bios, either — plenty of people only add slight variation to their bios, allowing you to effectively exact match search for pieces of their bio to track them across the Web.
However, Google search can be used to search for brand mentions as well. Typically, it’s not quite as effective as these tools will be, but for those DIYers, or for learning advanced search, it should prove fun.
Here’s a few examples what that might look like:
-site:pageonepower.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com “Page One Power” OR “pageonepower.com” OR “http://pageonepower.com/” OR “http://www.pageonepower.com/“
-site:pageonepower.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com “Jon Ball” OR “Jonathan Ball” OR “CEO of Page One Power” OR “Founder of Page One Power”.
You want to remove social profiles along with your own site. After that, you should be targeting key brand terms, products, and figures within your company. Using the OR operator will allow you to search for multiple terms at once. Until recently Google had a synonym operator in the form of the tilde ( ~ ), but they unfortunately removed it.
3. Obscure files
One of the main reasons to hone your Google skills — the search for the needle in the haystack.
For this example, let’s assume you’re looking for a presentation from a conference you’ve recently attended.
Often times after a conference or event, presenters will self-host presentations due to the frequency at which conference websites update/delete their pages.
There’s a variety of ways presenters can do this — on their own site, on a third-party site (such as slideshare), or through social media.
Rather than manually checking multiple sources, let’s try an advanced Google search:
“conference name” AND “firstname last” presentation OR files OR slides OR video –site:conference.com
There’s a few that should get the ball rolling. The most important thing you can do when using search modifiers is change your search based upon the results, to further hone in your search.
Advanced search is extremely important. Google recently released an update, Hummingbird, that’s specifically targeted at improving complex searches, likely due to the natural language used via voice search.
Google search has improved immensely since it was released 15 years ago. So much so, in fact, that I believe people have a hard time truly remembering what search used to be like. But despite this continued improvement, relying on Google limits your own ability to search efficiently and effectively.
Don’t become over-reliant on Google’s search technology. Remembering 10 simple search modifiers and using them creatively can give you the power to search like a pro.
What Google just announced at its I/O developer conference is a bombshell for the future of the company. ( bloomberg.com · by Joshua Topolsky · May 28, 2015)
For years the search giant has witnessed the chipping away of its core product — search — due to the rise of mobile applications and their siloed-off experiences. Users are engaging more and more with programs that have no attachment and often no requirement for search on the broad web, and as a result Google’s position as the owner of our habits, interests, and needs across the internet has looked increasingly at risk.
But Google might have just changed its trajectory.
The company demoed a new feature within its Android OS which allows the Now service (a dashboard of notifications focused on your life and interests) to plug in as a layer that essentially hovers above any app running on your phone or tablet. Activated by the home button, it’s always there. This means that you can get contextual search information around almost anything you’re doing, provided there is text and data that Google can pull from the app itself. And the best part is that developers won’t have to make any changes to their existing software to allow the new service — dubbed Now on Tap — to bring search and context into the user’s view.
For instance, while listening to music in Spotify you can search for more info on an artist across the entire web, or if you’re talking about a restaurant with a friend in WhatsApp, Google can pull up data on the place and even help you make reservations. And this is not a feature of the app itself, rather an assistant that lives as part of the entire operating system.
This is a major move for two reasons. The first is that it really brings Google back to a place of dominance as the glue that holds your digital life together. The web has thrived and grown in no small part because of Google’s ability to track, organize, and understand all of its disparate pieces. Now it’s able to do the same thing with every app running on your phone. It allows Google to get back into the search game by speaking the common language of apps. It gives the company a second life with access to user behavior and needs.
But secondly, it starts to show how Google can be an interconnecting layer between the apps themselves — a kind of neutral staging ground between one action and another. This is a sea-change for how we use our mobile devices and how mobile apps interact with one another. Currently, we use operating system-defined tools which let apps interact with each other (with rules set out by the OS-makers, not developers). But imagine if developers didn’t have to think about how their work connects to the rest of your world? Imagine if Now on Tap is aware enough of the core functions of those apps that it can predict what you’d most likely want to do with them, and then execute on those needs?
That’s the ultimate promise of Now on Tap — and it’s a game changing one.
However, the technology has its limits. There’s no chance a service like this will ever make its way to Apple’s iOS given the closed nature of the operating system (and the fact that Apple will undoubtedly take a stab at the same concept). And Google also has to prove that this kind of natural language processing can work effectively enough to live up to the company’s promise of a seamless experience.
But if the service is as impressive as what Google just showed off on stage in San Francisco, there’s a whole new world ahead of us for our devices. One that’s more connected than ever.
Ever since Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down as co-chairmen and co-chief executives of BlackBerry, neither has spoken much in public about the once-dominant smartphone maker’s fall into near market obscurity. The two and many others have opened up, however, to two reporters from The Globe and Mail in Toronto: Jacquie McNish, a senior business writer and author of several books and Sean Silcoff, who reports about the company. The resulting book, “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry,” which will be published in the United States on Tuesday, fills in some details of the early history of BlackBerry. And its later chapters offer gripping details about the emotional and business turmoil surrounding its near collapse.
Q. How did you gain what seems like extensive access to Mr. Lazardis and Mr. Balsillie? A. Ms. McNish:Sean opened the door in 2013 when we were doing a long-simmering investigation into the company. Up until that point, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis were very frustrated with the common narrative and they were willing to tell a much more complex story.
At times, Sean and I felt like we were therapists. We interviewed 120 people and I think the vast majority of them have some form of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Q. What was their initial reaction to the iPhone? A. Mr. Silcoff:It was an interesting contrast to the team at Google, which was working on smartphones at the time. Google seemed to realize immediately that the world had changed and scrapped its keyboard plans.
At BlackBerry, they sort of dismissed the need to do anything about it in the short term.
Ms. McNish: One thing that they misunderstood is how the game had changed when AT&T announced its deal with Apple. BlackBerry had built its whole business model on offering carriers products that worked efficiently on their networks.
The first thing Mike Lazaridis said when he saw an iPhone at home is that this will never work, the network can’t sustain it. What they misunderstood is that the consumer demand would make carriers invest in their networks.
Q. Verizon’s need for an alternative to the iPhone, which was sold exclusively by AT&T at first, forced BlackBerry into the touchscreen business. Why was the result, the BlackBerry Storm, a technical and sales disaster? A. Mr. Silcoff:Verizon presented them with a very tight deadline to deliver a touch screen. It was very early times for touchscreens and it wasn’t clear that the iPhone would end up as the model for the market.
Mike Lazaridis hated typing on glass, so he came up with a new vision for glass that required users to push on it. That combined with the deadline and an inadequate operating system meant that there were a lot of long odds going against BlackBerry.
It was their biggest order ever. But when the Storm came out late and buggy for Thanksgiving 2008, what they hoped would be the next big move was disaster for the company.
Ms. McNish: One of the big reveals for us in the book was the enormous power wielded by carriers in the smartphone race. Verizon pushed BlackBerry to deliver its touchscreen Storm phone in little more than a year and when the rushed product failed, Verizon demanded $500 million to recover its losses. BlackBerry balked at the big ask, but in the end shouldered more than $100 million in repairs and other benefits.
In the wake of Apple’s ascendency, carriers have seen their clout and economic value significantly diminished as customers spend more of their smartphone money on Apple phones, apps and other content than they do on carrier bills. It is one of the greatest wealth transfers in our generation.
Q. Although it was phone purchases by consumers that brought BlackBerry to its peak, did the company ever understand that segment of its business? A. Ms. McNish:David Yach, the former chief technology officer, said that he learned in retrospect that beauty mattered, fun mattered. That was so antithetical to BlackBerry. It was aimed at efficiency, security and all the practical things people in the biz world want.
Q. What do you see for the company they left behind for John Chen, the company’s current chief executive? A. Ms. McNish:Their biggest investor is a long term player — they are not looking for a quick fix.
And they have time, in part because of BlackBerry’s legacy of very prudent fiscal management.
Mr. Silcoff: John Chen has a tall order on his hands. Their revenues are still falling there’s no clear indication yet that the world needs more BlackBerry phones. He has an ambitious plan but he has yet to show that his software will start delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in in new revenues.
This was a company that had $20 billion in revenue and changed the way we communicated. It’s not likely we’ll see that lightning strike again.
A version of this article appears in print on 05/25/2015, on page B4 of theNewYork edition with the headline: Book Details BlackBerry’s History and the Turmoil of Its Near Collapse.
SAN FRANCISCO — Every night, the software developer Aaron Melocik follows a precise food routine. He blends together half a gallon of water, three and a half tablespoons of macadamia nut oil and a 16-ounce bag of powder called Schmoylent. Then he pours the beige beverage into jars and chills them before bringing the containers to work the next day at Metrodigi, an education technology start-up.
At the office, Mr. Melocik stashes one Schmoylent jar in the refrigerator and takes the other to his desk. From 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., he sips from the first jar for breakfast, and the second for lunch. He consumes about 14 fluid ounces of Schmoylent each day so he can focus on coding instead of grabbing a bite to eat.
“It just removes food completely from my morning equation up until about 7 p.m.,” said Mr. Melocik, 34, who has been following his techie diet since February.
Boom times in Silicon Valley call for hard work, and hard work — at least in technology land — means that coders, engineers and venture capitalists are turning to liquid meals with names like Schmoylent, Soylent, Schmilk and People Chow. The protein-packed products that come in powder form are inexpensive and quick and easy to make — just shake with water, or in the case of Schmilk, milk. While athletes and dieters have been drinking their dinner for years, Silicon Valley’s workers are now increasingly chugging their meals, too, so they can get back more quickly to their computer work.
Demand for some of the powdered drinks, which typically mix nutrients like magnesium, zinc and vitamins, is so high that some engineers report being put on waiting lists of from one to six months to receive their first orders. And the drinks are taking off across techie social circles. Venture capitalists have also poured money into the companies that offer the meal replacements, and investors including Alexis Ohanian, a founder of Reddit, count themselves as fans of the drinks.
“My dream in an ideal scenario would be if I could just pick up some at the airport, premade in the refrigerator section,” said Mr. Ohanian, who invested in Soylent and treats the drink as a fallback meal. The entrepreneur, who frequently flies between New York and San Francisco for work, says he will whip up a batch of Soylent and sip it throughout the day when he is too lazy to make something to eat.
In March, the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz served Soylent-inis and Soylent Whites at a cocktail event at the South by Southwest conference in Austin. Some members of the firm, which has invested in Soylent, have even gone on a Soylent cleanse, drinking only the liquid for several days, said Chris Dixon, an Andreessen Horowitz partner. He said he was not a participant.
Other coders are customizing the meal replacements to social occasions. On a recent Saturday evening in his Ikea-furnished apartment in San Francisco’s Haight neighborhood, Pulak “Potluck” Mittal, a 23-year-old software engineer, hosted a dinner party for half a dozen techie friends. On the menu were pad thai noodles and a side dish of Soylent.
One attendee, Dan Carroll, founder of the education tech start-up Clever, complimented Mr. Mittal for mixing peanut butter into the oatmeal-colored drink to accompany the pad thai. “That was very thoughtful, that you really tailored the Soylent experience to the food,” Mr. Carroll said.
The rise of the meal replacements mirrors Silicon Valley’s start-up froth — and includes a dose of confidence. The makers of the new drinks said their products were better than the commercial powders that had been on the market for years, because those tended to have lots of sugar and overemphasized the use of protein. In contrast, Soylent and Schmoylent are both blends of nutrients that would allow one to drink only those meals and live a healthy life, they said.
Rob Rhinehart, a software engineer, said he came up with the idea for Soylent in 2013 while working long hours at a wireless communications company and realizing he was eating poorly. He said he wanted to create something that could be “universally applicable” for hard-working poeple like himself. So he founded Soylent, based in Los Angeles, that year and gained more than $3 million in funding from the crowdsourcing site Tilt.
Orders took off quickly. The company said it had shipped more than the equivalent of six million “meals” across the United States. Mr. Rhinehart declined to share financial details but said his company was shipping “at the kiloton scale” each quarter and had attracted $24.5 million in financing. While Soylent has a diverse customer base, tech workers in particular have the “early-adopter personality” that makes them open to trying the powder, Mr. Rhinehart said.
Soylent’s success has created opportunity for imitators, who are mixing and marketing their own powders. Alex C. Snyder, known on Internet forums as “Axcho,” quit his job at the software company Linden Lab last August to sell his own variants of Soylent, like Schmoylent and Schmilk. Many of his repeat customers in the San Francisco Bay Area work in technology.
Mr. Snyder said he was sometimes puzzled by the sales of the products that were in plastic bags and labeled with a sharpie, which made them look “sketchy.”
“I was like, why are people even buying?” Mr. Snyder said, reflecting back about a year to the time when orders started pouring in. “It was really weird.”
With the demand, he said his company — which he plans to call Super Body Fuel — would move its production operation to a large warehouse in June, upgrading from a co-working space in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Soylent, Schmilk and some others typically taste like bland, gritty pancake batter. But never mind that, since the meal replacements save techies cost and time. While a meal generally costs upward of $50 at Silicon Valley-area restaurants, a week’s worth of Soylent or Schmoylent totals $85.
Alexandros Kostibas, a founder of Habit Monster, a San Francisco software start-up that nearly went bankrupt recently because of high costs, said he paid himself less than he paid his employees, and he guzzled Soylent partly because it was more economical than eating out. He said a frozen dinner was already a shortcut, but Soylent was a healthier, quicker alternative.
“I think engineers are ready to throw in the towel on the illusion that we’re having this family dinner,” he said. “Let’s do away with all the marketing facade and get the calories as quickly as we can.”
The time wasted by eating is, in Silicon Valley parlance, a “pain point” even for the highest echelon of techie. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, once said, “If there was a way that I couldn’t eat so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal,” according to a new book on the entrepreneur, written by Ashlee Vance. Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment about whether he had tried Schmilk or Soylent.
When Mr. Mittal started working at Clever this year, the company declared in an email introducing him to colleagues that he was an avid Soylent user. Soon after, Mr. Mittal said, some co-workers approached him to ask if they could try some.
“I’ve been a little bit of a Soylent dealer to a number of my co-workers,” Mr. Mittal said.
But Soylent, Schmilk and Schmoylent are acquired tastes. Mr. Mittal said many of his colleagues did not end up getting hooked on Soylent. The few who were still drinking it weren’t too enthusiastic.
“I am getting sick of the taste,” Dan Sparks, an engineer for Clever, told Mr. Mittal in a recent electronic message. “I am thinking I’ll have to start flavoring it.”
Today, Facebook is the second biggest website on the Internet after Google. And Facebook may be aiming for first.
Some iPhone Facebook users havespotted a new icon called “add a link” alongside older options to add locations or photos. Clicking on the icon permits users to search for a link to post on their Facebook wall as part of a post on any topic.
This function is helpful for mobile users, who have to go through back and forth between different web pages if they want to do that normally. Facebook has confirmed that this is their plan, as a spokesmantold Wiredthat Facebook is “piloting a new way to add a link that’s been shared on Facebook to your posts and comments.”
This Facebook addition could pose a serious threat to Google. For the past few years, Facebook has functioned as a middleman where users can easily share links from other websites to all of their friends. Now, Facebook intends to take over that process for itself which means SEO companies and marketers pushing products such as100k Factorywill have to come up with a new strategy.
Furthermore, the search engine would be powered with over one trillion posts indexed by Facebook to gain access to websites. This is data which Google does not have, which clearly makes Facebook a direct competitor.
The intended result will be that users will continue to stay on Facebook and not head to another website like Google. This is important because the two websites are becoming more competitive on the lucrative mobile advertising sector. Facebook’s revenue from mobile advertising made up 73 percent of its total advertising over 2015 Q1, and advertising revenue makes up nearly all of Facebook’s revenue.
Facebook’s work on finding links are not the only way in which the company intends to become a repository and not a middleman of information. On May 12, Facebook announced that it was cooperating with nine news organizations including The New York Times, BBC News, and Buzzfeed to produce Instant Articles.
Instant Articles will be posted directly to Facebook instead of the organizations’ websites. This will also encourage users to stay on Facebook instead of heading to those websites directly.
In April 2014, the World Wildlife Fund gave the world an inspiring lesson in social media and wildlife conservation by using Snapchat for its #LastSelfie campaign.
The photography app, which allows users to view shared pictures and video for a few seconds before they're automatically deleted, mimicked the very real disappearance threat that plagues animal populations today. The campaign itself was a call to action for Snapchat’s young audience, but it was also a wake-up call for brands that limit their social media presence to Facebook and Twitter.
According to BusinessInsider.com, Snapchat’s audience is mostly made up of young females in their teens and early 20s, and that audience is one of the hardest to reach. Was the WWF on to something?
Snapchat is not the only platform that is pulling the social rug under the more conventional social media. Tumblr and Instagram are also emerging as millennial-oriented, actionable social spaces in terms of marketing efforts and return on investment. Facebook took a hint and launched Messenger as a standalone app meant to enhance the private messaging experience, and while reviews have been mixed so far, the app is clearly rooted in the need to include money and business in the conversation.
As Caitlin Burns, a business strategist for media companies, puts it, it’s hard to tell which platforms will be the next big thing, but she sees a clear trend of moving away from data-hungry platforms into “public-ish” -- more private -- communities.
Let’s take a look at what each platform can bring to your brand.
A video or picture message on this platform will permanently delete itself after a few seconds, which makes each second invaluable real estate. Brands should view this feature as an advantage rather than a limitation.
Instead of trying to fit messages in such a time-constricted social environment, brands should use the time constriction as an angle to its message. A quick glimpse of an upcoming product, a suspense-filled video or an intimate invitation to meet on another platform are all suggestions that can be cleverly implemented. Remember, the sender decides how long a picture is viewed, from one to 10 seconds, so there are ways to control some of the effect.
It’s probably not a coincidence that the company just hired its first chief marketing officer, Stephanie Dolgins. A platform that largely caters to the prized millennials, Tumblr has become known for, among other things, its humorous GIFs, but the possibilities are endless.
With its unlimited post character count and the prominent place that is given to visual content, Tumblr is the platform of choice for many brands, such as Kraft or Sephora, to showcase the culture around their products. Recipes, tutorials and how-tos are some of the angles of a brand’s social storytelling that definitely belong on Tumblr.
Instagram allows you to show a curated version of your brand. If you look at Taylor Swift on Instagram, she projects this incredible idea of intimacy. She might post about her day, her cappuccino or how she’s decorating her house, but it’s a carefully chosen and aesthetically beautiful version of all of these things.
This is the same way teens and everyone else uses their accounts. You can show stylized images of your product, photos of people engaging with your brand or other photos that help potential customers feel intimate with your brand.
"All of these platforms are different tools you can use to be the voice of your business and to interact directly with your customer base, with the audience you’re trying to reach," Burns says. "Figuring out the best way to put your business out there in the world requires you to know yourself and understand how to feature your project."
Over the last year, Josh Legg, an electronic musician who performs under the name Goldroom, has noticed a change in how his fans interact with him online. More have turned from Twitter to Snapchat, the mobile app on which short messages digitally self-destruct after a few seconds.
“It immediately transforms the conversation into something that’s much more intimate and appealing for both sides,” said Mr. Legg, 31. “Anything they say, they don’t have to worry about it going out to the public — and neither do I.”
This week, in a further embrace of the platform, Goldroom will release four music videos on Snapchat, made with the company’s involvement and shot in a way that takes advantage of how people hold their phones. Unlike virtually all music videos, TV shows and films, Goldroom’s videos will be in vertical, or “portrait,” format.
The first of the videos, “Embrace,” will be released Tuesday, with another new one every day through Friday. They are the latest step in Snapchat’s evolving role as a media outlet. While Snapchat is popular as a messaging platform for young people — hundreds of millions of “snaps,” or short videos and photographs, are sent on the app each day — it is increasingly being seen as a place where news and entertainment can attract those same young people.
In January, Snapchat introduced its Discover feature, offering bite-size content from major media partners like Warner Music, Vice and ESPN. Peter Hamby, a CNN correspondent, announced last month that he was joining Snapchat in a journalistic capacity, and even the television star Sofía Vergara recently said she would do a reality show on the platform.
All of that, analysts say, suggests that Snapchat has landed on a formula that it believes can help media companies capture the attention of fickle young viewers.
“We’re living in a world where consumers feel they can get online content anytime, anyplace,” said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG Research, “but what Snapchat has done is create urgency with content that only lasts 24 hours.”
Snapchat, based in Venice, Calif., has become one of the hottest technology companies, raising more than half a billion dollars and last valued by its investors at more than $15 billion.
In the digital music world, the growth in the number of outlets for promotion and new releases has led to a fragmented market in which it can be frustratingly difficult to break through with new audiences, said Josh Deutsch, the chief executive of Downtown Records, Goldroom’s label.
“In a climate where you’ve got digitally native, multicultural consumers communicating across different platforms and using a variety of streaming and radio services, it can be so difficult to cut through that,” Mr. Deutsch said.
Goldroom’s four videos will be released through Snapchat’s Snap Channel on its Discover page, which Madonna used in February to release a new video. After all of Goldroom’s videos are released, they will be combined into a short film, with each part as a separate chapter.
Snapchat has been particularly popular in the dance world. Star D.J.s like Diplo and Afrojack use it to send mini-updates from the road through a feature called Snapchat Stories, which lets users stitch together short videos that remain available to those in their personal network for 24 hours — longer and more widely available than a private snap, but short of a fully broadcast message.
The Stories feature was introduced in October 2013 with a video made by Goldroom. Mr. Legg said that he was at the time a moderate user of the platform when he received an out-of-the-blue email from Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s chief executive, who invited him to the company’s office to talk about music.
Since then Snapchat has become a steady social media outlet for Mr. Legg, as he posts musical snippets or anything else that seems interesting enough to share but not momentous enough for a Facebook update.
“I can put a chord progression I’m working on, or something as simple as what I eat for lunch,” Mr. Legg said, “things I figure the world probably doesn’t care about so I would never post in other places.
“But I feel totally comfortable putting that stuff up in my Snapchat channel,” he added, “knowing that it’s going to disappear.”