By Joe Pulizzi published May 9, 2007 Est Read Time: 2 min

Can Marketers Launch Vertical Search?

This week I attended American Business Media’s Spring Meeting 2007, which had a large focus on digital media (surprise, surprise). The first discussion of the event revolved around social networking and how publishers can launch and monetize social networking sites.

Much of the conversation revolved around vertical search. For those who are unfamiliar with what vertical search is, Wikipedia has a wonderful definition. The quick definition?  Take Google and focus it on a particular industry or topic.  For example, mash up Google with a 60+ year-old, and you get

One of the panelists, Steve MacMinn, Chief Technology Officer for GlobalSpec, a leading vertical search portal in the engineering space, shared some interesting thoughts that I believe are relevant to marketers and publishers. Here are the highlights:

1. Content is king. You cannot just build a shell and expect anything. Without good content, don’t even try it.

2. Answer users’ questions. If you create feedback mechanisms, be sure to create a process to respond.

3. Start with a few focused topics. You’d rather have a small area full of content than a big area with just a few threads.

4. Moderate the community. Spam and rants can take over if you are not careful.

5. Don’t squash what you don’t like. If someone starts to talk bad about you, take it as an opportunity to improve the product. Could be the best feedback you ever received. Treat it that way. Many companies try to delete these posts as fast as possible. That tactic usually cuts off dialogue quickly.

6. Keep distance from the business. Be careful using the information you receive. If you take their email and start selling them right away, what kind of message does that send to the community?

7. Invite people back. Create mechanisms, such as email updates and RSS feeds to bring people continually back to the website.

As a marketer, creating a vertical search community or forum can be a dicey activity at best. Do the research up front on what your customer behaviors are, and what types of behaviors you are looking to generate. As long as you are open and honest with your customer base, even a little experimentation is welcome.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the bestselling author of seven content marketing books including his latest, Content Inc. He has founded four companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and his newest venture, The Tilt. His podcast series, This Old Marketing with Robert Rose, has generated millions of downloads from over 150 countries. He is also the author of The Random Newsletter, delivered to thousands every two weeks. His Foundation, The Orange Effect, delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in 35 states. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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