How Will Discovery Change Search & Social?

Don’t know what you want to do on Friday night? Open up the Gravy app and let it know that you feel like doing something brainy. The local discovery app uses your location and suggests book readings, speakers, and/or writing groups that are all happening within 25 miles of you. Welcome to the world of […]

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Don’t know what you want to do on Friday night? Open up the Gravy app and let it know that you feel like doing something brainy. The local discovery app uses your location and suggests book readings, speakers, and/or writing groups that are all happening within 25 miles of you.


Image via Shutterstock

Welcome to the world of social and local discovery. These services and apps take your preferences, location, social activity (through connection to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter) and demographic information to suggest events, links, and more.

In a world with Internet information overload, users are looking for easier and faster ways to find stuff to do and content to read without having to dig for it.

Making The Jump To Discovery Apps

Sure, not everyone is finding all their information through discovery apps like Gravy or Potluck. But it’s not too early for marketers to start thinking about getting involved in discovery apps and services. Gravy has sponsors (LivingSocial is one), and having an active presence on these sites (both as a company and as individuals through employee branding) should become a part of every business’ local and ecommerce strategy.

One of the reasons why discovery services work so well is because they can connect to a user’s social networks, which already have a built-in history of friends, preferences, and interests. This availability of existing social network data makes finding events and information for users available right from the get-go, rather than requiring a waiting period while the app finds current behavior to create a user profile.

And because instant results are what users want, discovery is going to be a lot bigger than we all might be ready for.

Discovery Apps Make Personalized Data Useful

Building on personalized user data will help apps be more intuitive and helpful than ever before. We are relying on apps and technology to make our lives as easy as possible. Besides finding events and interesting content, personal assistant apps like Donna and Cue that also connect your other services (including your email, calendar, and Facebook events) let you know when you should leave for the airport, what room your meeting is in, or the nearest networking event that you can tackle during your lunch break.

By promoting the use of technology to take care of users’ schedules and social lives, discovery developers are hoping to tap into a huge market of data from existing social media and online services, thus generating custom experiences with a focus on display generation, not information.

Getting Found In Local Discovery Engines

For a business that wants to get found in local and online discovery engines, the key is involvement and current online data. Many discovery apps automatically pull data from RSS feeds, social media pages, event calendars and more to generate users’ results. Businesses are much more likely to get shown in results when these online portals are kept up to date.

Businesses, no matter their industry, should also experiment with different paid promotion strategies to see what works best for them. Yelp offers paid targeting for users looking for local services — businesses can become a featured business at the top of search results or have a call-to-action button installed on their company listing.

Additionally, FourSquare and Facebook Places allow businesses to offer incentives for users that check into their location. Many of these incentives have a special icon next to them, thus standing out in discovery search results.

For content discovery, businesses should look into content syndication (through sites like Business2Community and Google News) and focus on generating high-quality content that is targeted to their specific market and industry.

Building up a social media presence can also get more exposure, which may be a factor in discovery algorithms. Posting on other top industry blogs can also help get more exposure, as they may have more weight than your own website.

For instance, a unique post written on Marketing Land  (which has over 16k likes on Facebook and over 44k follows on Google+) may have more weight than one published on my own blog, even though posted by the same writer on the same topic, simply because Marketing Land has more traffic and social influence than I do.

To find these opportunities, query the blogs you read regularly and search [industry keyword+write for us] to try to find opportunities. While most places don’t pay for guest posts, the exposure is worth the time and effort.


No matter what kind of discovery your business needs to focus on, services like Gravy, Donna, and Potluck aren’t going away anytime soon. As users find more ways to rely on their mobile devices and the Internet, marketers need to be ready to ensure that their businesses can easily be found online.

You can make this happen by providing unique personalized experiences through the business directly or via partnerships with services that connect people to what they didn’t know they wanted. A more streamlined life filled with fun events that your friends will like is only a few clicks away, and users are flocking to discovery services to make it all happen.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Kelsey Jones
Kelsey Jones runs her own social media and search marketing business, MoxieDot, where she helps clients grow their online presence. She was voted one of the top 100 marketers of the year by Invesp in 2009 and has worked for Yelp, Gazelle, and Search Engine Journal. Check her out on Twitter @wonderwall7.

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