I shot off an e-mail to Tara, the Community Catalyst (which, by the way, is one of the coolest job titles I’ve ever seen) for Lijit thanking her company for how helpful the Lijit search tool has been in George Mason University‘s Mason Votes project. I figured I’d also take a moment here on my blog to detail just how Mason Votes has been using Lijit’s search tool and why it matters so much.
For those of you who don’t know, Lijit is a social search tool that allows users to search a site and it’s social networks and associated friends. You can also see it right here on this blog.
When I was tasked with adding overall search functionality to Mason Votes, at first, I wasn’t sure what to do. But then, I realized Lijit was the perfect solution for Mason Votes’ search.
Mason Votes’ content is spread out among a number of social networks, including Flickr and YouTube. We also have George Mason University students who create media for us and for our affiliates, UWIRE and UPI. On top of all that, a number of the University departments that make up the Mason Votes committee, which partly oversees the website, also have resources about the election.
So I put Lijit up on our front page and integrated it into our WordPress install. Initially, we had some issues with it properly indexing our Flickr photos, but I contacted Lijit’s support people and they fixed it right away, allowing users to initiate a search both for blog posts and every photo we took that had to do with that post.
Lijit has been driving people to look at our content more in depth and all across our social network, unifying Mason Votes content in one search field. The committee loves Lijit because it includes their departments in the search. Writers love Lijit because they can come to one place to find all of their election content. Photographers love it because they can find all of their photos.
One of the greatest features we’ve been able to take advantage of is being able to see, in detail, what people are searching for that brings them to our site and what they search for on our site. We can convert search terms into more hits by increasing our blogging on what people are most interested in. This drives traffic to the site and means satisfied readers, because we write about what they care about.
On an even more satisfying level, I’ve sat down with some of our writers and we’ve seen their parents coming in (we can tell by the location of incoming searches and search terms) and finding all the content their kids have been creating for Mason Votes.
It doesn’t get better than that.
I’d like to publicly thank Lijit and their search service, because they’ve made Mason Votes a much better site then it ever could have been otherwise. Without Lijit, so much of our content would have likely remained unseen. Lijit is a great example of how to really use the social web to unify your content and, most relevant of all in this case, to provide educational information. Thanks!