It’s very nearly time for the ‘year in review’ articles and special supplements and I have come across an early one: the top 10 Internet searches of the year according to Yahoo. You can see the full list at http://yearinreview.yahoo.com/2010/us_top_10_searches#Top%2010%20Searches
but here are the top 3: BP Oil Spill, World Cup and Miley Cyrus. Also in the Top 10 are 5 more celebrities, a ‘celebrity’-making show and the iPhone. So my question to you is: do you want to be right up there in such elevated company? In case you are wondering, the search data for 2010 for Google is not yet available, but Bing also has predominantly celebrities on its top searches list. My own unscientific sample shows that the most popular of my blog posts is the one entitled ‘Avatar and Anthropology’ – and I bet you can tell which of the two words has got people enthralled, can’t you?!
So here’s the rub. Entrepreneurs and consultants, retailers and, in short, all those who need to have an online presence are told to do search engine optimisation, think carefully about keywords, write exciting copy, attend this-and-that sales or marketing course… All with the ultimate purpose of being easily found by as many people as possible. But what if people are not really searching for your serious-minded business anyway? Do you stick to your small audience or do you jump on the bandwagon of popularity and use those trigger words creatively? For instance, in my case, should I say something like: ‘Justin Bieber is a good example of globalisation and intercultural communication’ (and tag it under ‘Justin Bieber’ rather than ‘globalisation’ – which has a far smaller audience and a different spelling anyway in other parts of the world)?
The temptation is always there to broaden our appeal. We even find ways to justify it to ourselves (and others) by saying that ‘research needs to come out of its ivory tower’. Or ‘management gurus need to speak plain language instead of jargon’. And I completely agree with both of these statements. But it’s a question of how we do it. I can think of a handful of people who do it well, but many more who don’t. Can you?