The war for hearts and minds online and offline is won by one thing and one thing only: data. Whatever label you care to slap on a business: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, Walmart, without data they are empty shells.
The greatest challenge on the Web in the twenty-first century is to connect with your target audience in a way that enriches both them and you. For that to happen, beyond the glitz and gloss of “professional” styling you have to connect at a level that is personal enough to dispel misunderstandings, overcome perception barriers, and create the kind of trust that produces long-term business relationships.
Just a short seven years ago this is what we had to do in order to find a restaurant near us:
Anyone remotely familiar with search knows what metadata is. Basically it’s data about data that helps quantify it, classify it and put it in context. A flock of birds flying high in the sky, for instance, is more than a flock of birds flying high in the sky when you know that most birds have the Vitali Organ, a special middle-ear receptor that can sense extremely small changes in atmospheric pressure. This allows them to predict the weather, sometimes days in advance. When birds fly high in the sky then the weather is most likely to be clear.
When, in 1958, Alvin, Simon and Theodore released their Christmas special song few expected a trio of singing chipmunks to get very far. Yet, as a succession of cartoons, songs, albums and movies have shown the talented trio had stumbled onto a magic formula whose impact was big, so big, in fact that its importance would be barely understood, half a century later. But first, so we know what we are talking about, the song:
Search is always personal. The stuff we type as we search, in its totality, encapsulates our interests, hobbies and knowledge. It reveals our nationality, the language we are most comfortable in (if we speak more than one), our location (with some caveats) and, even, our socioeconomic position. Use that to filter particular search queries through and each search also begins to reveal intent.
Search is a ubiquitous technology. That means that its use, while intentional, is mostly subconscious. We search for things using Google on our devices. And our search queries, in their entirety, fall into one of three categories:
Telling stories is something all people, everywhere, love to do. My dad used to tell tales of his fishing trips on rubber dinghies which to me, hearing his recounting and having actually been there, bordered on the fictitious.