Michael Scott & the Human Element of Google

As a child I remember begging my parents for a new pair of batting gloves.  I thought they would help me hit better.  Later I asked for a new bike so it would help me ride better.  In Jr. High I asked my mom for a pair of Nike Flight ‘88’s because I wanted to shoot jumpers better.  A few years back I bought a nice surfboard hoping it would help me surf better.  I recently purchased a triathlon wetsuit so I can race faster.  All these things may be true but batting gloves, bikes, shoes, surfboards, and wetsuits are only going to be as good as the human being using them.  Many people think Google itself holds the keys to success.  I believe Google is only as great as the users who take advantage of the tool.

Recently, a Los Angeles resident wanted walking directions during her visit to Utah.  She used Google Maps and it led her onto a major highway.  She get’s hit by a car and files suit (sounds like she’s recovered from her fractures so I use this example in jest).  Here is her claim:

Defendant Google, through its “Google Maps” service provided Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg with walking directions that led her out onto Deer valley Drive, a.k.a. State Route 224, a rural highway wit no sidewalks, and a roadway that exhibits motor vehicles traveling at high speeds, that is not reasonably safe for pedestrians.

The Defendant Google expects uses of the walking map site to rely on the accuracy of the walking directions given….

As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google’s careless, reckless, and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Laren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle…

Now, I can go on and on about the whole “if Google told me to walk off a cliff” analogy and poke fun at Ms. Rosenbergs lack of common sense.   Believe me, I really REALLY want to.  C’mon, she walked onto a highway and blames a map?!?  But I’ll segue into a more important topic… the human element of Google.  I feel a growing concern as I have conversations with business owners.  I am happy to see so many organizations take advantage of online marketing tools yet I realize they are removing the human aspect from their Google & Yahoo! efforts.  Google is a good tool just like my cool new surfboard.  However businesses must realize it is up to humans to make it great.  Advertising on search engines will get you in front of customers but I don’t see enough companies taking the baton and running with it.

Here are some examples that may help illustrate my point.  Retailer X rejoices after getting an e-commerce sale from the search engine campaign.  However this same retailer neglects the fact that a follow up phone call or email from a HUMAN can turn that one purchase into multiple repeat purchases.  Local service provider Y begins online ads and gets her phone to ring.  This business never requests how the customer found them nor do they ask for referrals.  Worse yet, they’re rarely around to pick up the phone when a customer calls.  Company Z spends $1000 for a search campaign this month.  Based on a ‘gut feeling’ he decides to cancel the campaign or add to it without taking time to look at the metrics.  This leads to missed opportunity or wasteful spending.

Businesses are still built and operated by human beings.  Search engines are a wonderful tool to help us succeed.  We just need to make sure we, as people, stay engaged in the process to maximize the benefits and avoid walking across any “dangerous highways” along the way.  Sprinkle some humanity into your online marketing, add a dash of effort, and a pinch of emotion to turn a good Google/Yahoo tool into a great benefit.

Ok, so I can’t resist.  Here’s to you, Ms. Rosenberg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIakZtDmMgo

– Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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