Saturday, 14 May 2011

Search magnet

"Search magnet" is a conventional term in internet marketing. It refers to a co-meme which is effective at attracting the attention of those searching.

If using Hofstadter's terminology, a "search magnet" is a co-meme that attracts the attention of searchers to the scheme's bait. On the internet most searches are textual searches - so search magnets are often textual. Sometimes searches have a visual component - for example, where multiple items are presented to the user and they select one. So, we also have:

  • Text search magnets - uses commonly-searched-for keywords;

  • Image search magnets - looks visually interesting;

  • Audio search magnets - sounds interesting;

Usually the prime function of the search magnet co-meme is to attract attention. However, it can do double duty - and be combined with the bait, or other co-memes.

Case studies

  • Will it Blend is a classic use of search magnets.

    Blendtec's Will It Blend? viral videos combined many popular consumer electronics products with the Blendtec Total Blender in a novel way - by "blending" them. The show features the Blendtec founder, Tom Dickson, attempting to blend unusual items to help him show off the power of his blender.

    The full story is here - but for our purposes note that the result was a large number of short videos with names featuring popular consumer-electronics products.

    Dickson says that the campaign has been a great success for Blendtec:

    The videos were placed on the internet in early November. Within just a few short days, we had millions of views. The campaign took off almost instantly. We have definitely felt an impact in sales. Will it Blend has had an amazing impact to our commercial and our retail products.

  • Another example of the use of search magnets is Ray William Johnson - an internet comedian who is best known for his stratgey of memetic hitchhiking on viral videos. His YouTube channel has details. Here is a sample video:

Missed opportunities

By contrast, the OldSpice YouTube channel is probably a failed example of a search magnet campaign. The campaign may have succeeded in other ways - but they made hundreds of videos, and did a really weak job of sprinking search-friendly keywords into the video titles.

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