I know. This is an oddly specific title for just my third post 1. Am I running out of ideas already?
Why write about the Seer Interactive Q&A chats on Google Plus that were put to bed over two years ago?
Besides having a minor man crush on Seer’s CEO, Wil Reynolds, the truth is I think this company is legit. I imagine it has its flaws like any other place, but from an outsider’s perspective, Seer seems to have the complete package.
- Great leadership – Take a look at Wil’s hiring philosophy, example of humility and challenge to the SEO community
- Great content – The IFTTT Recipe, How Tech Companies Make Money and Screaming Frog posts come to mind.
- Great company values – From social responsibility to their alumni network, they stand out in this area. 2
- Great results – Check out their case studies page.
- Great people – Here’s what a few employees have to say about their company culture.
Okay, let’s get back to the Q&As. I always appreciated them, not only because of the knowledge shared, but what it said about Seer as a company. First, it shows they care about the SEO community. While helping people do SEO better certainly has an indirect impact to their bottom line, it’s not like Seer’s target audience consists of SEO professionals. No, it’s companies that need SEO professionals. Secondly, it shows Seer is committed to excellence. Want to make sure someone knows their stuff? Make them answer really tough questions, without any preparation and put it on display for the world to see. It’s hard to fake that. So let’s move past this love fest and get to what I actually learned.
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with Seer Interactive. These opinions are my own.
Lesson #1: Launch something with a plan
Seer launched their G+ page in late November of 2011, but they sat quiet on it until there was something worth promoting, finally waiting to tweet about their page a week prior to their first chat. Clearly these recurring Q&As were part of the G+ page rollout plan.
Lesson #2: Hyper-focus on what you can own
Why run a live chat, something that requires a participative audience, on a social platform less than a year old? Besides being part of their launch plan, my guess is because it was something they could own. It’s better to stand out in a small crowd than to disappear in a large one.
Also, they ended up sticking to SEO as a topic through the remainder of their chats. Why? Because it’s a space where they had more influence and clout. Check out the difference in engagement for SEO vs. PPC chats. 3
Lesson #3: If you build (and promote) it, even more will come
One of their most engaging chats was with a guest, despite it being over a very specific category: international SEO. 4 The benefit of having a guest is she brings her own audience with her, which means more promoters to more people.
The bottom line is promotion matters. Even if you can’t get others to promote it, you should plug it on your own platforms. Check out how the engagement swelled as Seer reminded their followers more times on G+.
Lesson #4: Timing matters
I’m not sure who coined, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, but they probably weren’t referring to taking a little time off from your bi-weekly SEO chat. Still, it seemed to benefit the activity on Seer’s Q&As. Take a look.
Also, there’s something to knowing when to shut it down. April 2014 was their last G+ chat, which is probably around the last time you visited Google Plus. Amirite?
Lesson #5: Branding isn’t everything, but it’s something
Instead of choosing between branded (#SEERQandA) and established, non-branded hashtags (#SEOchat, #PPCchat), they did both. While they stuck mainly to a branded hashtag during the actual chats, many reminder posts used more popular ones.
Lesson #6: It’s better to make mistakes and do something than do nothing at all
Between technology issues, broken hashtags and the imperfections that come with real-time communication, Seer didn’t perform without some bumps along the way. And while there’s certainly value in preparation, at some point you have to stick your neck out there and accept that it won’t be perfect, but perfectly worth it. Plus, consider what you lose by doing nothing at all.
Lesson #7: Practice what you preach
Many companies talk about investing in people, the community, the industry, etc. but don’t always follow through. There’s an earnest authenticity I feel when Seer crosses my path, and my guess is I’m not alone. Beyond the business case for things like corporate social responsibility and company culture, it seems much more exhausting to spend time appearing to care about this stuff than just doing it.
What lessons have you learned?
Take a look through all 21 Q&A chats linked below. Anything else stand out? Leave a comment and let me know.
|Date||Hashtag||Topic||Plus 1s||Shares||Comments||# of Reminders||Weeks Since Last Chat|
|10/10/2012||#SEERqanda, #SEO, #RCS||SEO||5||2||114||1||2|
|10/24/2012||#SEERQandA, #PPC, #SEO||PPC||4||1||19||1||2|
|11/7/2012||#SEERQandA, #SEO, #RCS, #Searchlove||SEO||9||8||47||1||2|
|1/23/2013||#SEERQandA, #InternationalSEO||International SEO||9||4||82||1||11|
|3/26/2014||#SEERQ&A, #SEO||SEO (beginner to advanced)||16||2||128||5||9|
|4/9/2014||#SEERQandA, #SEO||SEO (leveraging other teams)||5||0||55||10||2|
|4/23/2014||#SEERQandA||All Things Digital||6||2||111||5||2|
I won’t link to it for obvious reasons, but another example of Seer living out one of their values, excellence, is by donating money to charity every time someone visits a 404 page of theirs. That’s genius! It directly incentivizes one of their core values.↩
I excluded three chats where the topics were link building, international SEO and ‘All Things Digital’ because I didn’t want the degree of specificity to muddy up the results.↩