Thanks to the Memorial Day holiday, it’s been a little quiet around here. Well, that, and it’s just been quiet in general it seems. Yesterday, though, presented a couple of interesting things in the world of online marketing, mostly regarding Facebook (and no, I’m not talking about Facebook stock falling or the photos that surfaced of Zuckerberg’s honeymoon).
Apparently the social media giant has decided to roll out a couple of new features for pages, which opens up new possibilities for social media managers. The first is the introduction of Promoted Posts, which allow page managers to promote a post in order to extend that post’s reach. With a normal Facebook post by a brand on their brand page, your reach is limited and constrained by Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm, which somehow decides who gets to see your posts. A Promoted Post, however, will reach beyond the algorithm, but Facebook hasn’t said just how much further the post will reach. This is also a paid feature, which means marketers and social media managers will need to pick and choose carefully the posts they choose to promote (if any at all). Obviously, for those that have the budget, promoted posts could be a great way to extend the reach of posts that contain links to lead gen pages, Facebook offers, special fan only promotions, etc. The billing works much like the billing for Facebook ads does, in that you set your own price, and that price is good for the lifetime of the promoted post, which is three days. The screen shot below, courtesy and copyright Facebook, shows how to promote your post.
The other change Facebook made to its brand pages is the ability to set different permissions for different types of admins. Previously, everyone listed as an admin had the same rights, which could obviously cause some issues within organizations where multiple people have admin rights to their company’s Facebook page. The new admin levels are Manager, Content Creator, Moderator, Advertiser and Insights Analyst. As the primary admin for Apogee’s Facebook page, I like that I could give different people different permission levels if necessary, and I’m sure many other marketing managers and social media managers probably feel the same way. From the agency side, I can see how the Advertiser and Insights Analyst permissions could really apply to agencies who manage clients’ social media accounts, or at the very least their social paid media. Basically, an Advertiser can create ads and view insights, and an Insights Analyst can just view insights, allowing an agency to create ads and view the analytics without the manager having to hand over full admin rights. To me, that’s quite possibly a win-win. The other cool part about this change? Page managers can now also schedule posts ahead of time directly through Facebook rather than having to use a third party application such as Hootsuite.
In Google news, the search giant unveiled the “new” Google Places–which is now a part of Google+ and will be called Google+ Local. Earlier this year we had a blog talking about Google+ and how Google’s trying to swallow everything up and put certain things under the Google+ umbrella. Apparently Places wasn’t immune to that, and not surprisingly, the move is purely monetary. The other not surprising thing is that Google says this move was also motivated by an ever increasing amount of mobile searches. One cool thing about the move is the integration of Zagat reviews, which will replace Google’s five-star system. the not cool thing? Google’s obviously trying to herd all of us into the Google+ circle and force us to use a service that still hasn’t seen widespread adoption (170 million active users as compared to Facebook’s 845 million users).
And last but not least, in other search news, Yahoo!, once known as a search engine rather than a news aggregate, unveiled Yahoo! Axis, which is a desktop (or mobile) application that allows you to search the web through the app rather than a browser such as Firefox or IE. I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet, but if Axis catches on, it looks like SEOs might have one more thing to think about regarding search engine optimization and the way we search on the web.
As some of you may have noticed yesterday, Facebook Timeline for brands is now available. Brands have until March 30th to make the change; after that, brands–like regular Facebook users–will be forced into the new Timeline layout. That being said, Timeline isn’t something brands should fret over. Instead, brands should see it for what it is–an opportunity to further visually brand yourself, along with socially telling your company’s history. Brands that embrace Timeline will ultimately be more successful than those that don’t.
So what should you do to make sure your brand is getting the most out of the new Facebook layout? Here are some quick, simple suggestions: (more…)
Okay, so the title’s a bit provocative. But anyone who’s logged onto Facebook within the past few days (and especially this morning) and who also happens to have a Google+ account has to have noticed the, um, similarities between the two social media platforms. While they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Facebook’s recent changes have a lot of people–or at least a good chunk of my feed–grousing and ready to jump ship.
First, a few days ago we noticed the addition of “lists” to our left sidebar. This looks a lot like Google+’s “Circles,” except Facebook automagically populates your lists for you, unlike Google+ where you have to do the populating yourself. To be honest, I still haven’t used the circles feature on Google+. Sure, I’ve created some circles, but the very few updates I’ve made have been visible to everyone. As for Facebook’s lists…I’m not sure I LIKE Facebook automatically populating those lists for me. It feels a tiny bit like an invasion of privacy (how I can say that with a straight face I’m not sure, considering Google and Facebook probably know more about me than the FBI and my family combined), or at the very least forcing me to do something I wasn’t even aware I could do. If I want to group people, I’ll group them myself. Clicking and dragging really isn’t that hard.
The other Google+ like change was the “People to Subscribe To” box in the right hand sidebar. Aren’t these people I previously would have friended or liked? It’s like Google+ and Twitter rolled into one, and again, I’m not 100% sure I like it.
Here’s the beauty of social media to me as a marketer and as a user: each avenue offers a different sort of communication and serves a different purpose. As much as we joke about MySpace, it appears to still be a somewhat valid place for musicians to gather and post their music. Twitter is great for instant release of information, but not as good as Facebook for interactivity and easy conversation flow. Google+ seems to be a good place to have conversations and share information–much like Facebook–just with more influence over Google’s SERPs and far fewer people. In a weird sort of way, I like my social media avenues to be separate and to have different purposes, kind of how I use one spatula for making grilled cheese and another one for stir frying veggies and yet another one for the grill.
The general thought here at Apogee is that Google+ probably won’t last more than a year, but that Google’s definitely to be commended for trying to introduce the Next Big Thing. There’s definitely something to be said for being a thought leader. There’s also something to be said for being the person that takes the original idea and turns it into something pretty freaking awesome. The thing is, Facebook is trying to be the latter, and right now it isn’t working for anyone.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Google+ will last? Do you like the changes Facebook has made or do you absolutely hate them?
Love: myth busters. Google covers a couple important myths here: duplicate content and affiliate programs causing traffic drops. From my experience, duplicate content seems to be one of those issues that is brought up frequently by both clients and potential clients. I think it’s one of those issues that is easy to latch onto since it’s a simple concept to grasp upfront, unlike, say, tossing out the words canonical, static and dynamic. One area where duplicate content can easily reek havoc, though, is in title tags–if you target the same keywords across mulitple title tags (everything else being equal), you will likely see your site drifting in and out of prime ranking real estate.
Love: myth busters, again (I’m doing my best Joseph Campbell impersonation). Also, getting into the nitty-gritty, academic side of search. Search is information retrieval and infromation extraction. It’s, “let’s crawl the Internet’s billions of documents” and, “let’s rudimentarlity extract information (I know you have to refine your searches still, I see you) from these documents and provide relevant results.” And, like the article says, search is linguistics, cognitive psychology, information architecture, statistics and more. Motto: Something academic nearly always undergirds what’s happening in front of the masses–go be academic, read the “boring” stuff, find out where your field is heading and how you can help yourself and clients get there first. Or, more simply, “there are smarter people than me behind this, what do they have to say about it?”
Love:OpenID and the ability to skip out on registering for another website. As we have covered previously on this blog, people don’t like having to register and constantly log in to website after website after website. Well, the big boys are finally starting to get it and are slowly adopting the OpenID platform, or some type of single sign-in protocol, with Kmart and Sears the latest mainstream companies to join the OpenID party.
Love: openness; as in, “Facebook, tear down this wall!” Your social media platform may be an island, but this user isn’t! </rant> Currently, most of the information contained in social media sites is walled off from the rest of the World Wide Web. As the article states, Facebook Connect does allow users to connect and share their information with other sites, but it’s only a fraction of the Internet. Will users continue to silo their information?
Love: free? How do you survive as a business that creates content, whether video, text, images, et cetera, in the age of the Internet where free is very easy to find? Check out the conversation between Chris Anderson, Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin on how free plays and will play a role in business. I tend to agree with Seth Godin–free is already here and businesses need to figure out how to provide enough free content to entice users to pay for the rest.
Love: leverage what you’ve already got for SEO benefit–that goes for anything, take all of that offline information and put it online in the form of a blog, how-to articles, videos, answers on Q&A sites, images and more. It can all be spun. In this case, use the PageRank your website already has to provide valuable internal links. Don’t insert that keyword into the content all willy-nilly–make sure it’s relevant and appropriate. Also, an important principle to take away from this article is that it’s okay, not to mention extremely beneficial, to make edits to the content of your site. Updated content informs the search engines that you’re likely providing even more relevant information about your industry.
I recently spoke with Lauren Perdue, a natural search specialist at Apogee Search. She discussed social networking strategies that businesses should consider to increase their online presence.
First, let’s identify the difference between social networking vs. social media. Social networking sites are websites that allow people to connect and socialize. Usually, they have a profile based platform through which individuals create a profile and interact with other users. Social networking sites often offer a social media aspect within their sites, but this function is often secondary.
Social media, on the other hand, is self-published news or articles. Individuals can disseminate information without relying on a major news outlet. Social media has a very strong community aspect.
Businesses should consider using social networking sites since they are free and a great way to grow a loyal customer base. Facebook offers fan pages that companies can use for self promotion and to pass along information. This is a free option that any business can use to begin experimenting with social networking.
Businesses should be aware of the potential risks involved with social networking sites as well. They are opening themselves up for public comment, and these comments are not always positive. Companies should be especially careful if they have skeletons in their closet or other embarrassing information that they do not want to share.
Companies should also remember their goals when considering social networking options. If they do not have the time to continually update a blog, then they should not start one. Additionally, Twitter users often use cell phones to make updates. It doesn’t make sense for a company that forbids cell phone usage to utilize Twitter.
Social networking gives businesses the opportunity to interact with their consumers and to solicit feedback. There are very few forums that provide businesses as much information about their consumers as social networking.
Lauren concluded with two key tips for implementing a social networking camapign:
Maintenance is key! Users will only participate when the content is interesting and when new information is contributed regularly.
Try to maintain a fun and casual tone. Twitter and Facebook are not the place for stuffy, corporate tones. Keep these tools fun and interactive and you will find more success.
MySpace is looking for ways to increase its revenue stream and MyAds may be just what they are looking for.
The new program targets small and medium size businesses and allows users to create their own advertisements using a template hosted by MySpace. Advertisers can upload images, logos and text to create banner advertisements.
The program is similar to Google’s AdWords which lets advertisers bid against each other to be displayed. In Google, advertisers bid on keywords and the ads are displayed when a user searches for those keywords.
Under MyAds, ads are targeted based on self-disclosed demographic information of MySpace users. Advertisers can target users based on gender, relationship status, age, zip code, and even musical preference. Like Google, advertisers pay per click with rates starting at about 25 cents.
MySpace was once the most popular social networking site and is now losing ground to college-based Facebook. Recently, MySpace launched a music library giving users free access to thousands of songs in an effort to win users back from Facebook.
However, Facebook established an advertising program similar to this months ago. Facebook lets advertisers target their ads based on information in a user’s profile. Facebook also has more developed tracking tools and offers more flexible pricing options.
MySpace hopes the program will let small organizations such as local bands or small businesses advertise on MySpace and reach out to specific demographic groups. Critics are concerned that the timing is off. Most small businesses are cutting back in these slower than usual economic times and are not looking for new places to advertise.
Still, targeting based on user disclosed data gives advertisers a chance to really segment and target their audiences as well as employ analytic tools to track their results. This just might increase MySpace’s revenue and give them the capital they need to compete with Facebook.
Apogee launched our very first social media client in September and it has been quite an adventure bringing their corporate presence to the masses through Twitter, Facebook and the like. It’s been exciting to set up new channels of contact between our client and their constituents, and we’ve learned a lot already.
Why social media? What’s the difference between social media and the rest of the web?
Without Social Media: You bookmark a link to a muffin recipe. With Social Media: When you bookmark a link to a muffin recipe on delicious.com, not only can you access the bookmark from any computer, but people looking for muffin recipes on delicious.com will find the one you bookmarked, as well as many other bookmarked recipes and other links. You may also find out that someone else has made the recipe and it gave them hives, thereby avoiding the dire consequences of said muffins before even cracking an egg.
Without Social Media: You can read about spaceships on a website from one source. With Social Media: You can read about spaceships on a Wikipedia page, which links to user-created informational spaceship videos on YouTube, which leads you to a Facebook group for like-minded spaceship enthusiasts.
Web 2.0/Social Media is information by committee. It’s the internet equivalent of the town crier, oral histories of old learned men, beauty shop gossip queens, and the local paper all in one medium. And it is remarkably efficient in connecting like-minded peoples to desired resources.
What’s in it for you?
All social media are not created equal, and not all outlets are appropriate for any given entity. A creative mind can think of appropriate content for video, text, and image sharing. But content generation can be very time consuming and in social media quality is often more important than quantity. Just because you can split all your time evenly between Facebook, Myspace and Twitter doesn’t mean you should.
In the next parts of this series, we’ll examine the pros and cons of various social media outlets, and which would be right for your business.
Facebook has released a cute new application called Lexicon which calculates the bigram (two-word) frequency of potential keywords based on Facebook wall posts since January and pushes out a trend graph based on the data they have. This could be a valuable tool for clients who are interested in marketing to the Facebook demographic.
It’s also got a handful of other interesting ramifications. For instance, you really get a feel for how seasonal things can be by entering queries such as “vacation”, “swimsuit”, “bikini”, where we see growing trends to the summer—likewise for “heat wave”. News events cause interesting word correlations. For instance, note the spike in frequency for “suicide” and the spike for “Heath Ledger” coincide—apparently wall posts were a big rumor mill during Heath Ledger’s death.
This tool definitely has promising ramifications for the future of paid advertisement on Facebook. Advertisers can use the wall post data to gauge the interest of Facebook users in specific keywords or topics and use the trend data to make important decisions on their campaign. A downward trend in wall posts may herald less likelihood of the appearance of the paid advertisement. Also, the reduction in buzz may indicate less leads derived from targeting this keyword in the future. This is a good example of the utility of domain-specific data to further inform keyword-related decisions both within the domain and without—Facebook users use search engines, too, and we can extrapolate these trends out to show the interest of a specific demographic and how it impacts search volume for any given keyword.
While the majority of other blogs would have you read the top trends of 2007 I’ve decided to bring you the trends that are either in limbo awaiting their fate, or have moved from limbo to a fiery eternity. What happened? Where did these trends go wrong? Could we have seen this coming? Is there any hope of resurrection?
Paid Links top the list of trends in limbo. Some have said the transition of Google “reprimanding” such links has had a dramatic effect on their site’s ranking other (most) sites still walk the search engines with impunity. What Happened? I don’t think anyone is quite sure because Google has had its hands on the pulse of paid links since about February 2003, but it seems that only recently have they made an extended effort to reprimand them. Maybe Matt Cutts reached a breaking point and just snapped; think Death Wish with lesser consequences. Where did it go wrong? Don’t ask me; ask Google, they are the ones that created an algorithm built on valuing links. I personally see nothing wrong with paid links. While it is Google’s search engine, and they can do with it whatever they please, for a search engine to reprimand paid links is like a TV station reprimanding commercials. Could we have seen this coming? Yes, Google’s been thinking it’s the Internet for quite some time. Is there any hope of resurrection? The real question is: Is there any hope of totally stopping paid links? I say, “No, long live the paid links.” Google is definitely doing something to curb the current proliferation of paid links, but as long as there is a corrupt lawman there will always be an honest outlaw. Think Death Wish where the ACLU murders Charles Bronson.
Directories are also in purgatory awaiting their fate, however some have already been sent to bowels of indexing hell. In September some speculated a number of Directories were manually removed from being indexed, while Matt Cutts declared the algorithm did it. How convenient. What Happened? The directories that stopped being indexed for their own name were directories that Google found to be manipulative. Such directories were low in subject matter quality, and allowed anyone and everyone to join, along with other factors the algorithm found to be manipulative. Where did it go wrong? When a trend closely resembles that of SPAM it really doesn’t have much room to grow in the first place. Could we have seen this coming? Yes. Is there any hope of resurrection? For the recently departed: no. As for current or new directories, staying true to a legitimate purpose and business model should keep you out of the place my grandma said nose pickers go.
Toolbar PageRank is in purgatory. What happened? PageRank essentially shifted from something that’s global to something that affects individual keywords differently. Where did it go wrong? PageRank did nothing wrong. Sites that sold high PageRank links to webmasters are to blame. Could we have seen this coming? Yes and no. While some people saw PageRank as a way to naturally enhance their rank some simply saw it as an opportunity to game the system. The latter definitely saw this one coming. Is there any hope of resurrection? According to Mr. Cutts, “No.”
Facebook’s Beacon was in purgatory the minute it came out and now thanks to moveon.org is in hell. What happened? Facebook’s charisma doesn’t match its intelligence. I know that these efforts were all done to boost advertising dollars, but with Beacon, Facebook briefly became an offshoot of Homeland Security. It’s bad enough my friends have to know my girlfriend and I broke up, now they have to know I buy Osh-Kosh-B-Gosh pajamas. Where did it go wrong? Remember when Facebook launched the news feed? Facebook doesn’t, and that’s what could have stopped this disaster. Users were in uproar when they discovered that anyone could know how, when, where, and why they changed their profile. The social voyeurism of Facebook is a slippery slope, but a track record of what users like/dislike is usually the best insight into what will work, and what will be whacked by Janeane Garofalo and her goons. Could we have seen this coming? Everyone, but Facebook saw it. Is there any hope of resurrection? Not even Jesus would know how to resuscitate Beacon.
Suing Google is the last search engine marketing trend that looked like is was gaining momentum mid year, but eventually fizzled out towards the end of Q3. What Happened? The Doubleclick lawsuit was the worthiest attempt we’ve seen in quite some time at taking out the search engine leader, but unfortunately no monopoly could be found. Unless Google somehow starts violating the Geneva Convention, I see this trend accompanying Rick James’ permanent place in purgatory. Where did it go wrong? The last time I checked, spite, had no legal precedents. Suing just because you were beat out in the acquisition is generally not the brightest way to conduct a lawsuit. Could we have seen this coming? Of course, but we all knew nothing would come of it. Is there any hope of resurrection? Of course, but we all know nothing will come of it.