We’ve known for a while now that Bing and Facebook were in good with each. They’ve developed a pretty cozy relationship over the last few years. Last year, Twitter and Google were playing nice until Twitter ended their relationship with Google abruptly. Now I know why.
Bing made them a better offer.
Both Facebook and Twitter have toyed with the idea of developing a competing search engine. But no one has ever developed a search engine that even came close to the powerful Google. Until Bing.
Google has wanted its own social network. Until now all their attempts have been failed attempts. Then someone came up with the idea of Google+. Bingo! Huge sucess. Well, OK, it’s been a success.
Google+ is Google’s search engine plus social networking. Not everyone is buying it, but the people who are buying it are really buying it. On June 1, Bing announced something similar, only they don’t have their own social network so they’ve partnered with Facebook and Twitter.
Along with the new features in its search engine, Bing has redesigned its search results pages. They’ve added a third column.
The cool feature about the new Bing-Facebook relationship is that you can now query the search engine and then tag your Facebook friends on the search to get their feedback and have them answer your question. Beyond that, Bing will also notify you of experts in that area and you can ask the recommended experts. Pretty cool. But let’s take it a step further. If someone does have the answer to your question they can answer you on either Facebook or Bing.
Isn’t that nice?
I haven’t played around with the new Bing much, but this excites me. I think it can be a big boon to businesses trying to market themselves online. Your search engine marketing now has even greater potential.
Did you know you can make your Facebook posts go viral and Facebook will let you know when it happens? That is, if you have a Facebook page.
A Facebook page is one of the best marketing tools you can have for your business. Facebook Insights is a tool that allows you to measure your effectiveness in posting to your Facebook page. You can do it too often and you can do it not often enough. Insights will give you a clear picture of your reach and let you know whether you should scale back or plunge on.
There are 4 key metrics with Facebook Insights.
- Engaged users
- Talking about this
Reach is the number of unique people who have seen a post on your Facebook page. Ideally, you want this number to be high. If you post too often fewer people will pay attention to you. Build up your readership by posting once or twice a week, but no more than once or twice a day.
Engaged users is the number of unique people who clicked on a post. Again, you want it to be high, but people won’t click if you don’t post engaging content.
Talking about this is the metric that measures how many unique people respond to a post. This includes Likes, shares, comments, answers a poll, etc.
And virality is the measure of the number of people who themselves have created a story from your post. It is calculated by dividing the number of people talking about your post by your Reach. Keep your readers engaged and post interesting content that they want to read about and your Facebook posts will go viral.
A new study shows that Facebook would earn 22% of the search market share immediately if it launched a search engine right now, today. This actually brings up two questions for me.
- No. 1, why doesn’t Facebook have an adequate search feature then?
- And, two, what if the search engine just wasn’t any good? Would that share drop off considerably once users decided they didn’t like it?
Of course if Facebook did have its own search engine, that would strain its relationship with Bing. I can’t see that Bing and Facebook would continue to have the relationship they have now if Facebook were to develop its own search engine. So I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
Thirdly, if Facebook had 22% of the market starting out and it did build a search engine that people would use, it would likely siphon off some market from Bing. It could very well end up at the 40% market share neighborhood and leave Bing flailing like Yahoo!
Building a search engine is a difficult thing to master. Certainly, 22% of the share of the search market would put Facebook at No. 2 in the search engine competition. However, creating value in search is not easy to do as both Yahoo! and Bing have discovered.
I’m not saying Facebook shouldn’t build its own search engine. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be good if they did. I am saying that simply building one wouldn’t necessarily mean it would be good.
What do you think? Should Facebook build its own search engine? Would it be worth trying if they did? Would you use it? And one more question: How would that affect search engine optimization practices?
Have you ever wanted the ability to make offers on your Facebook page? To offer discounts, giveaways, contests, and engage your audience in other promotions that lead to your benefit and theirs? Well, now you can. Facebook has announced that Facebook Offers is in limited beta.
What that means is that you can request the ability to make offers on your Facebook page if you request it and Facebook grants it. The best I can tell at this point, Facebook will grant the offer to anyone who asks.
So what can an offer do?
Facebook Offers is a lot like Groupon. You make offers to your Facebook fans that you hope they will take you up on. When they do you get increased exposure for your business, more traffic to your website, and more customers sending you their money. You can reach new people with your offers when your friends and fans share it with their friends and fans.
I think Facebook Offers is a great idea. I’d like a little more clarification on whether or not it is open to anyone who asks. If it is, then this is a grand opportunity for all. If not, then it’s a grand opportunity for a chosen few while the rest of us will have to wait a while. Eventually, Facebook Offers will be open to everyone.
Facebook marketing is getting better. Slowly. But it is getting better and that’s something to brag about.
An SEO company conducted an experiment with a well done control test that sheds some light on the connection between organic search rankings and social media promotion. The conclusion is that Google+ promotion increases search rankings. I think there may be some nuances this test doesn’t touch on, but it looks pretty reasonable to me that they’ve drawn the right conclusion.
I have noticed that Google+ is a good reputation management tool.
If you look at the results of the study, they seem to indicate that acquiring new Google+ followers is the best activity for increasing one’s search engine rankings, but that could be misleading. The results are based on gaining just 100 new followers. Would the results be the same if the number of new followers were 1,000? How about 5,000?
Next in line for increasing search engine rankings is getting +1s. It actually makes sense that getting more +1s would increase search engine rankings. This doesn’t surprise me at all.
That Facebook promotion actually does increase Google rankings does surprise me a little bit. But I’m glad to see that it happens. Facebook has done a lot to make itself a walled garden so a lot of your activity isn’t measured by Google. Evidently, Likes and shares are.
Tweets and retweets can also increase search engine rankings, but only by a smidgen. The only thing that surprises me about this is that the results are much lower than expected. I’d have thought that Twitter promotion would do more to increase search engine rankings.
Finally, simply acquiring new Twitter followers not only doesn’t help, but there was a slight decrease in search engine rankings. That’s another surprise. But this might not have anything to do with Twitter. If no other social media activity took place, then the slight decrease in search engine rankings might have been as a result of that lack of activity.
Given these results, it seems to reason that if you engaged in Google+, Facebook, and Twitter promotions simultaneously, then your search engine rankings should improve relative to the amount of activity engaged by your competition. Nice test. I’m glad someone undertook it.
If you are looking for a way to make yourself more popular on Facebook, some scientists in the Netherlands have the answer. You need sexier friends.
Two scientists conducted a study using 78 people and their conclusion was that if you want to increase your Facebook popularity, then you should have more attractive friends. Is that a useful study?
Social scientists have for years now said that popularity off line in part has something to do with how attractive you are or your friends are, but does that translate online? Maybe it does. But I don’t think a sampling of 78 people in a study is enough to make that statement definitive, do you?
Nevertheless, it’s worth giving it a try. Maybe you can go around looking for attractive Facebook people to add to your friends list. Then what?
These kinds of studies don’t do businesses much good at all. You are looking for customers, people who will interact with your brand and purchase your products or services. That requires a certain level of targeting. If attractive people are your target market, then by all means seek out the most attractive people you can find. But if attractiveness has nothing to do with who is in the market for your goods, then don’t consider it.
Facebook is a place where people go to meet new friends and interact with their current friends. Don’t overcomplicate your social networking. Just do it.
It appears that large companies have given up their blogs and flocked to social media instead. The reason they’re giving up is because they say that social media is easier to manage than a blog. But is it?
I love this paragraph by Cynthia Boris:
Just remember that if you want your social media outlets to benefit you, you have to do more than just keep the lights on. You have to provide meaningful content that engages your audience. In that respect, it’s just as hard as blogging, but most people don’t see it that way.
Not only that, but …
What blogs give you that you don’t get with social media, is a chance to communicate without all the noise. On Facebook, you’re one of a dozen posts competing for instant attention. An hour later, you’re off the front page and forgotten.
What Cynthia Boris doesn’t say is that your company blog also provides you with search engine optimization benefits that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer. OK, Twitter does offer a little bit of SEO juice, but it’s nowhere near what your blog has to offer.
Every blog post you write is another chance to be seen in a search result. Your blog itself increases its SEO chutzpah with longevity. And you can build invaluable internal links with a blog. Facebook has blocked Google so your posts aren’t going to be indexed and your links back to your site won’t be seen. Twitter is in bed with Bing, not Google.
I’m not saying don’t use Facebook or Twitter. They have their place. But having a blog is one of the best SEO tools you can have. If you have trouble coming up with content, maybe you should think about hiring someone else to manage your blog.
Facebook and Bing have been partners for some time. Recently, Facebook has started to get a little bit more aggressive at promoting search to its users.
The Bing ad appears to Facebook users when they log out of their Facebook accounts. Evidently, that happens often enough that Facebook thought it might be prudent to capture those users with an ad promoting their preferred search engine – Bing. Of course, it’s still too early to tell if the promotion has resulted in Bing picking up any market share. But it could happen.
What’s even more important is, How will this affect businesses who use Facebook? Or businesses who SEO their websites for Bing?
That brings up another point. ARE you SEOing your website for Bing? Of course, you should be.
Bing has nowhere near the search market share that Google has, but it’s still a sizable enough of a market share that you shouldn’t ignore it. People do still search the Internet with Bing and it seems that more and more people are doing so. Many websites show Bing as in the top five among referrers to their website. And that’s signficant.
If Bing is listed in your referrer log as a site that sends traffic to your website, then you should do as much as you can to encourage that traffic. SEO your website for Bing search. That means new pages and old pages.
You can improve your website’s Bing SEO for old pages by checking your rankings and tweaking your pages with some type of multivariate testing. You should employ solid SEO practices for your new pages to see how you make your Bing SEO shine.
Bottom line, don’t ignore Bing – or Facebook – for traffic.
Late last year Facebook introduced Timelines for personal Facebook accounts. Now, they’re introducing Timelines for brand pages.
This is going to be a good deal for businesses. That’s small businesses as well as large brands. For one thing, the Timeline format is more attractive than the traditional wall. And secondly, you and your page visitors can see a history of your brand at a glance. That’s cool!
Practically, you have a lot of control over your Timeline. You can pick your header image, which means you can make your Facebook brand Timeline an attractive marketing tool. You can also add key dates to your Timeline to show key events in your business’s history. You can also choose the content that is featured at the top of your Timeline – social apps and whatnot. And finally, you can feature any social media campaigns you happen to be running.
So, the question is, how will Facebook Timelines for brands work for brands. And the answer is, pretty much like they always have. Except now they’ll be more attractive.
With your own Facebook brand Timeline, you can position your company and all of your products brands to an ever-growing Facebook audience. If you engage your audience meaningfully through your Facebook Timeline, then you can parlay that into more traffic for your website and more sales conversions. You can take orders right from your Facebook Timeline.
If you’re ready to embark on a real Facebook marketing campaign, then you should consider a Facebook Timeline for brands. If you already have a brand page, you can convert it to a Timeline now or wait until it happens automatically on March 30.
Selling isn’t bad. Without salesmen, there might not be any marketing going on, or certainly not any buying. But there is a time and a place for every purpose. Facebook is a place for sharing. Not selling.
There are plenty of reasons why you should spend all of your time trying to sell on Facebook, but there’s really just one overriding reason. It’s still considered personal space.
If you’re old enough, you’ll remember those pesky door-to-door salesmen. They showed up at your home to try and sell you a vacuum cleaner. Right when you were busy doing something far more important. Fast forward a few years and telemarketers were the ones who called – just as your family sat down to dinner.
The truth is, many of those salesmen were successful as selling – door-to-door and over the phone. But they sure annoyed a lot of people doing it.
If you spend all your time trying to sell on Facebook, you’ll end up annoying your potential customers. And unlike door-to-door salesmen and telemarketers, you could end up getting kicked off of Facebook. Get enough reports that you are harassing people with marketing messages and you’ll have your account discontinued.
A better way to approach Facebook is to share your expertise with people in a non-threatening way. Make your Facebook messages about things other than yourself.
If you can downplay the hard sell and just interact with your friends and fans to earn their trust, they’ll eventually see you as a viable merchant to buy from. But you’ve got to be patient, not pushy.
Leave it to Marketing Pilgrim. On one day they’re asking if Facebook Stores are a failed experiment. And the next day they’re announcing Timelines for Brands.
Here’s the question: Do you think Timelines for Brands will change anything?
Many a company has tried to sell through Facebook. Personally, I think it works better for smaller companies and solopreneurs, who can maneuver easily as individuals on Facebook and sell without actually marketing. But that’s just me. Nevertheless, Facebook does have something to offer for brands.
One of the new products, and it hasn’t actually rolled out yet, is Timelines for Brands. These won’t be just like your personal timeline, but they will be a little more eye appealing than the current Facebook page layout. That’s a good thing, right?
People who visit your brand’s timeline will be able to see at a glance the various features of your Facebook marketing offerings. They’ll be able to see your contests, coupons, featured items, and other timeline features at a glance. But will that matter?
I’m not one to pronounce an Internet marketing strategy dead just because no one has figured out how to profit from it yet. How long did it take for companies and brands to take to social media to begin with? How about video marketing? And mobile marketing?
There is a lot of opportunity in Facebook if you can figure out how to leverage your efforts. Hard selling doesn’t work. People go there to hang out, not buy stuff. Still, that doesn’t mean they won’t whip out their wallet for the right item.
Two days ago Facebook files papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission to make an initial public offering (IPO). That means the company is committing itself to making its profit and loss statements public for the rest of its life. But will that change the way the world networks?
Facebook has already become the 800 million pound gorilla (it has 800 active million users worldwide). It will likely grow and the money it collects from its IPO will likely help it reach some strategic goals, but the core aspect of its product will likely not change much if at all.
Maybe it will get better and maybe it will get worse, but change? Let’s see …
- Facebook offers personal profiles to anyone willing to sign up for an account and provide certain specific private information to the company based on its user’s term of service.
- Companies can set up a brand page and promote themselves to users through that page.
- Developers can build apps that interact with Facebook and allow users to engage with marketers, businesses, and savvy development agents.
- Facebook also offers paid advertising models for businesses wanting to reach new prospects.
- You can interact with Facebook through you desktop computer, laptop, smart phone, or tablet.
What else could Facebook offer? What else likely to be offered as a result of the private company becoming public?
Of course, new technologies could lead to Facebook expanding its offerings to its consumer base, but that would happen anyways. The company already has made billions of dollars so the money it collects from the IPO will not likely give it much more financial clout that it already has. So why go public?
It is likely that investors and shareholders realize that certain information is going to end up public anyway so why not be the first to make the disclosure? It’s a good political move for Facebook to go public, but don’t count on the IPO changing the service in any drastic way. Social networking will continue as it has for the last five years.
A brilliant post at SEOmoz illustrates how Google uses its own SEO guidelines to rank its own pages higher in the search engines.
How has Google won so much real estate on their own search pages in such a short period of time? Do they cheat? No, not really – more on this later. Google wins by employing really smart Search Engine Optimization techniques – the same SEO practices available to any online business.
What Cyrus Shepard doesn’t tell you is that Google knows its own algorithms better than anyone else. It has the inside information. Facebook doesn’t. And that’s one of the reasons that Facebook is at a disadvantage.
On the other hand, the SEO principles that Cyrus shares in his post are pretty much all common knowledge. They’re things that everyone – even Facebook – at this point should understand.
One really telling point is how Facebook blocks Google from crawling its profile pages. As Cyrus points out:
Facebook actively prevents Google from crawling most of its content, allowing big G to access “Fan” pages, but limiting information from regular profiles. Now that Google+ has entered the social game, this policy puts Facebook results at risk of dropping in rankings and losing search real estate.
On the one hand, Google+ has an advantage in the search engines because it is owned by the largest and most popular search engine. On the other hand, Facebook doesn’t employ sound SEO tactics anyway, so if you take away the Google+ advantage, Facebook would still be at a disadvantage.
So what’s the lesson here? No matter what business you are in, think about how search engine optimization can help you reach your goals.
Back in September Facebook outlined its Timeline feature. Yesterday, Timeline went public.
Timeline has been billed as a new way to use social media. Instead of the traditional profile, your entire life story will appear as photos, videos, posts, stories, and whatever else you post on Facebook. There are two ways to get Timeline right now.
- You can go into Introducing Timeline and click the green “Get Timeline” button at the bottom of the page; or
- You can wait until you see an announcement at the top of your profile.
If you’re in a hurry to get your Timeline active, go to Introducing Timeline and get started. But beware. You have 7 days to review your Timeline and remove anything you don’t want to be seen publicly. After that, it’s live and you won’t have a choice any more.
Now the question is, can you use your Timeline for your business? And the answer is, Sure, why not?
The Timeline can essentially be used the same way you currently use your profile for business. The difference is you can now include prominent photos and videos. Everything you upload or post will go into your Timeline. That includes business-related and personal. This could be a great tool for sole proprietors, freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Facebook is moving forward. Are you?
Veteran journalist and Web entrepreneur John Battelle is writing a book about what the Web might look like a generation from now. He has some very interesting ideas and he will often give a little glimpse into what he is thinking along those lines on his blog. His latest post is about the Internet’s “Big Five” – the key players in the Web to come.
It’s easy to see where he is coming from in choosing these companies to represent what the world may look like 25 years from now. But that’s a long time in Internet time. Remember, it only took a decade for any of these companies to make an impact on the world as it is now.
But his blog post does make me question some things about the direction that the Web is moving in. Here are a few that come to mind.
- Will Apple primarily become a mobile app company?
- Why hasn’t Microsoft leveraged its core products by hosting them in the cloud? It seems that this could be a key area of competitive advantage given the popularity of services like Google Docs, Zoho, and Salesforce.
- Can Google succeed in becoming the core reputation management platform online? Has it already?
- Is Amazon the Wal-Mart of the Web? Can it put Wal-Mart “out of business?”
- Can Amazon position itself as the premier cloud service for the Web in the next 20 years?
- Would a public IPO push Facebook higher in the rankings, perhaps past Amazon, or Google?
- Who will emerge as the Internet’s most prominent icon for the next generation? Will it be Google, Facebook, Amazon, or some company we haven’t heard of yet?
- Can Google win as long as it maintains confidence in the Open Source Web given that none of the other four companies do?
The interesting thing about this list is that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon all have core online businesses. Apple is integrated heavily into mobile apps. Google, of course, is the leading search engine. Facebook is the leading social network. Amazon is the leading e-commerce website. Only Microsoft has a core business that is not an online business – its Office suite of products. How will that affect the Internet for the next generation. If Microsoft doesn’t take its core product online, will it become obsolete?
What are your thoughts?
Is it a good marketing strategy to develop multiple Facebook pages? It depends. There is a lot riding on your ability to manage multiple pages. Here are some thoughts to ponder.
- Do you have the resources to manage multiple pages? For every page you have you’ll need at least one administrator. Does your administrator have time to manage those pages while also attending to their other duties within the company?
- Do you have the money to outsource the administration of your Facebook pages? If you cannot have someone inside your organization manage your pages, then you’ll have to pay someone else to do it. Is it affordable?
- Does each Facebook page have a strategy? It’s conceivable to have a Facebook page for each product you sell or each division within your company, but you also need a strategy for each page. Who is responsible for developing that strategy and is implementation feasible for each page you want to develop?
- Do you have enough content to fill each page you want to develop?
Facebook marketing has become a strategy all on its own. Make sure you have the proper resource before you implement a Facebook marketing strategy, including multiple pages for your business.
Facebook has been in the news a lot lately. Here are some of the biggest headlines regarding Facebook and what they are up to in these times:
With all this talk of Facebook, if you run a business and you want to know the best practices for marketing through Facebook, talk to someone who knows how to meet your needs.
According to a recent survey, Facebook is the most effective social media website. Surprised?
A look at the numbers is really telling:
- Facebook = 36%
- Twitter = 14%
- Video sharing = 14%
- LinkedIn = 10%
- Review sites = 7%
- Google+ = 5%
- Local/daily deals = 5%
- MySpace = 1%
- Facebook = 47%
- Twitter = 32%
- Video sharing = 23%
- LinkedIn = 24%
- Review sites = 12%
- Google+ = 7%
- Local/daily deals = 6%
- MySpace = 2%
Don’t use the site:
- Facebook = 4%
- Twitter = 24%
- Video sharing = 47%
- LinkedIn = 38%
- Review sites = 65%
- Google+ = 70%
- Local/daily deals = 76%
- MySpace = 81%
I don’t think anyone is surprised that more than 80% of small businesses aren’t using MySpace. What is surprising is that 76% of small businesses aren’t using the local and daily deals websites. Or that 65% aren’t using review sites.
While it’s easy to say that Facebook is effective for the small businesses that are using it, it’s really difficult to compare it to sites they aren’t using. Can we really compare?
Who’s to say that review sites and local deals sites wouldn’t be more effective if more businesses didn’t use them?
The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not there is a social media site poised to give Facebook a run for its money. Right now it seems that Google+ might have the mojo, but getting small business owners to try it seems to be the challenge.
If you are a small business owner and you’re ready for social media, are you going to try Facebook? Do you see an alternative?
Social media sites have risen from nowhere to be the most popular sites online. Facebook is currently the most trafficked website online. It used to be Yahoo! Then Google.
YouTube is the second biggest search engine online. But it’s more of a social media website due to its viral video nature.
Twitter and Google+ are both in the top ten most trafficked sites online as well. And LinkedIn isn’t too far behind.
But the race isn’t over yet. All of the social media sites are working hard every day to improve themselves. The latest, Google+, is constantly improving and growing fast. It could become the second most trafficked website online in a matter of months. And Google is already suggesting that it will be the face of Google in the future. How that will affect its traffic numbers is anybody’s guess.
Who will ultimately win this war between social media websites is indeterminable. What is important for business owners is that you have menu options. You are not stuck using one social media site for your marketing and branding.
In fact, if you aren’t using multiple sites to establish a social media presence, then you aren’t getting the full benefit of social media marketing. The best approach to social media is to analyze the sites for their strengths and determine which ones make most sense for your business, niche, and situation.
If you haven’t noticed, there’s a full on war going on between Google+ and Facebook, which is interesting because they may not really be competing.
Google+ is really all about integrating all of Google’s services into one service that ties them all together socially. Facebook is just about connection. Period. Always has been.
Later this month Facebook will introduce its Timeline across the board to every user. How will that change things?
First, you’ll be able to add a huge header at the top of your Timeline to define who you are and what you’re about. That’s a very important branding element for small business owners who are using Facebook for marketing.
The Timeline is being billed as the story of your life. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, it could just as well be the story of your business’s life. And that’s huge. But is it really a whole lot different than what you have now?
It will be easier to search for past events in your Timeline – for you and for your subscribers.
Oh, and speaking of subscribers, that’s something else Facebook has added. Instead of friending everyone who asks, just get them to subscribe to your public updates. You could build a business on subscribers alone. What do you think of that?