Archive | January, 2013

Four Things Marketers Can Do With the New Facebook Graph Search

28 Jan

Facebook’s new search engine, graph search, is being called everything from handy, an invasion of privacy, and an amateur stalkers dream. Many posts already discussed the new feature for personal use, dating, and marketing, and dozens of others explained about graph search optimization.

Let me break it down to you: There’s no such thing as graph search optimization.  If your page is built properly and all of the information is up to date in the about section, there’s really nothing you can do to boost your results but make sure you keep doing a good job and make your page as engaging you can.

But graph search does offer fantastic opportunities to marketers in terms of tools, research, and advertising.

Higher CTRs

Yes, click-through rates, and no, I’m not talking about sponsored results.

When I first got graph search last week, I was frustrated. Sure, I enjoyed checking out my friends’ interests and photos, and I won’t deny that I searched for topics I am interested in like Pitbulls, social media, and wedding planning.  But whenever I glanced at the left side of the screen looking for the familiar red notification icon, I couldn’t find it and had to look to the right.

Later that day, I realized that I had noticed tons of ads that day. Then it hit me, I noticed more ads because I kept looking at them, on the right side of the screen.

Shifting all of the buttons to the right was a brilliant user-interface change to make users notice ads and be less blind to them, and my personal bet is that we’re going to see increase in CTRs for marketplace ads.

Sponsored Results

When sponsored results were first launched last August, it seemed like a small, insignificant ad unit. The search was so slow and faulty that no one used it to look for something new, but as a quick way to get around and find friends, applications, or pages while crossing their fingers that it would actually work this time. Now, it’s the only tool for marketers to push up their pages or apps to the top of the search results.

Although its use is obvious, I’d recommend doing some research in order to choose the right terms, which brings me to the next topic.

Research

No one at Nielsen will lose their job when graph search finally rolls out to everyone, but it’s still a powerful research tool for marketers interested in learning more about their audiences. What kind of music do my fans like? Which TV show is most popular with my teen-age female audience? Who should I consider as a digital presenter for my brand assuming that I can search for the most popular celebrity among my main target audience? What kinds of games are most played by my fans?

All these and many other questions can be answered by graph search if you’re patient enough.

(Even More) Advanced targeting

Facebook’s targeting options are already almost infinite. For example, I can create a campaign to target only women who are celebrating their 35th birthday today, live in Florida, like Italian food, and aren’t already registered on my client’s database, and offer them a free desert at my restaurant for their birthday.

But what if I could create the same offer only for women who looked for Italian restaurants in Florida during the past week? I’m not talking about promoting my restaurant on their results, but about using these data to target them with offers on their news feeds, tickers, or mobile news feeds.

Assuming that I did some research, I would also be able to target this ad to users that were most likely to redeem the coupons based on their search queries.

This sort of targeting is not available yet, but I trust Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to let users get used to graph search and then allow us to create even more relevant ads.

All in all, graph search is a powerful tool and, as a marketer, I’m excited about the opportunities for brands. Facebook was right to not initially approach brands with the announcement, and to let users try it and get used to it first.

LinkedIn Discontinues Answers Section

21 Jan

LinkedIn kicked off the new year with flying colors, announcing it had surpassed the 200 million monthly active user mark. This milestone represented the professional platform’s enormous and steady growth over the past few years, and the service spent much of 2012 introducing new features for its members. However, LinkedIn started 2013 by discontinuing its Answers option as of January 31, 2013.

The Answer section of the site saw engagement rates declining, and in a recent email sent to members, LinkedIn indicated it will focus on discovering more engaging ways to share across the network. While Answers saw its engagement decline, marketers still generated a lot of buzz through LinkedIn, but through features like Groups and multimedia posts.

As the email highlights, members already hold discussions with questions and answers in Groups. This trend led more users to join active forums on the site, rather than pose independent questions themselves. In addition, Polls and standard status updates also make questions and answers visible on LinkedIn.

For social media marketing professionals using Answers to generate buzz on LinkedIn, strategies must be refined. The Groups function can help brands engage with audiences more efficiently, and marketers may want to focus and distribute social media content in active forums to capitalize on the growing network’s influence in the marketplace.

10 Must Have Facebook Apps for Businesses

14 Jan

Today we take a look at ten of the most popular Facebook applications that are 100% compatible with timeline, to effectively enhance your social presence on the internet.

#1: A Facebook Forum

Just in case your fans love to chat so much that they need a forum, add the app to your Facebook page. It’s well worth it for market research, and an increase in fan interaction.

#2: Scribd For Portfolio Sites

If you need to impress your fans with images, slideshow presentations, PDF’s, documents and other portfolio items, use the Scribd app for Facebook. Your fans will love it.

#3: Google Maps

If you run a brick and mortar business, and rely on a lot of ‘walk-in’ traffic – make it easy for your fans to find your shop by including the ‘Google Maps’ app in your timeline.

#4: Involver RSS For Pages

Have you been looking for a good blog app? Use RSS for Pages, and your fans will be able to read your blog directly from your Facebook tab.

#5: The Pinterest App

If you’re a huge Pinterest fan, then add your Pinterest profile to your business page. Your fans will be able to see all of your great marketing-orientated images.

#6: The Contact Tab

The Contact Tab Demo Company provides a great contact form interface, which includes all of your contact info, maps, social icons, URLS and more – all in one place. It’s great!

#7: Youtube Video App

If you have a Youtube feed, then your feed needs to be on Facebook. The good news is that your video is much larger than it used to be, across the entire page.

#8: Twitter App

A Twitter app on your Facebook page is a must-have, to give your Facebook fans some quick and juicy info from your business. Just remember, don’t link your Twitter and FB accounts!

#9: FAQ App

If you’re a law firm, accountant or web designer – your business needs a FAQ section. Add this app to your Facebook timeline, so that fans can have easy access to your details.

#10: Customize

Get a Facebook app built that will compliment your business presence. For example, if your main goal is to sell your ‘ebooks’ then get an app built that does this for you.

Each of these 10 app suggestions will improve your social presence in the eyes of your fans. When you take the time to build a great timeline profile, it will pay off! Facebook has become more and more like a social ‘website’ for your business – so take advantage of it!

It’s a great idea to look into having your own custom apps created. Nearly all of the professionals and large brands do it, because it enhances their user-experience. When your users are happy, you’ll get more interaction out of your page, and that means more business!

Which apps on this list have you found the most useful and why? I’d like to hear how your business benefits from this list.

10 Social Media Marketing New Year’s Resolutions

7 Jan

We all know there are many things we could do to fix our social media marketing programs or make them better. But the reality is that no one can do it all at once. Unless your organization has a huge multi-member team, it’s simply not possible to listen to every conversation, respond to every comment or post, moderate every conversation, create unending streams of entertaining and valuable content, and spend unlimited amounts of money on advertising that supports your social channel.

However, you can select a few key areas to either do better in or to start to be active in. So this column is just a few things you could choose from as part of your social media marketing New Year’s resolution list.

So here goes:

  1. I promise to ask myself, “Why would anyone want to be my friend?” I don’t mean you personally, I mean your brand. Why would anyone want to connect with your company? Why would they want to fan you, follow you, listen to what you have to say, and share your stuff? If you are Harley-Davidson or Coca-Cola, this is an easy question to answer. People love those brands and they are part of consumers’ lifestyles. They have built-in appeal and passion. But unfortunately for most of us, our brands are just not that likable. So you have to figure out what kind of value you can present to people as a social connection. Also, it can’t just be a one-time value such as a contest, coupon, or offer. It’s got to be ongoing value. People have to look at your content and say, “This is the kind of information I want in my newsfeed; this is stuff I would want to share!”
  2. I promise to be more interesting. It’s important to remember that if you’re not interesting in social media, just like in life, people will stop listening to you. And if people stop listening to you in social media, it’s the kiss of death, because they will unlike you on Facebook, then Facebook will block your content from its feed via EdgeRank, and people will stop paying attention to you. You have to post things that are interesting and that people can use and will want to share because it’s entertaining, emotional, useful, or it makes them look smart. The reality is all this may not come from you, and it’s alright to find interesting things that may or may not have anything to do with your products or services and share them with your audiences.
  3. I promise to have more personality. Here’s another thing that brands forget when they’re socializing online. People are accessing social media for the most part to have fun (B2B sites like LinkedIn aside). They’re there to catch up with friends, share things that are happening in their lives, and to be entertained. So you can’t be strictly business – you can’t just talk about your products and services. You have to present the human side of your company, and social media is the right place to present your human side. Let your fans and followers get to know your brand and the people behind your brand.
  4. I promise not to be so uptight. Here I am more talking about compliance. You guys have got to lighten up. The reality is there’s tons of stuff already being said about you and your brand in social media and nothing you do is going to stop that. Now I’m not saying give people license to be stupid and say things they shouldn’t say, but compliance does not approve everything your people say in public, at speaking engagements, or in live interviews. Sanction a group of people to speak on behalf of the company in social media and trust what they say just like you do with media and public relations. I know this is more realistic for some companies than others, but there are a ton of things your social media people should be at will to tweet, post, and say without having to run it through approval. Figure out as many of those scenarios as possible and let the content flow.
  5. I promise to be patient. If you’re just dipping your toe into the social media pond you will never get wet. It takes time to build up your social media presence and to leave your content in the fabric of the web. For many of us the real benefits of social media will be realized via search. So give it some time and realize there is no better way to spread your thought leadership content, offers, and product accolades through the web and social media.
  6. I promise to share. For many companies and brands social media is less about the fan or follower and much more about the share. So many companies will never have a million fans but that doesn’t mean a million people will never see your content via social media. Socially enable all your content for sharing and make those share buttons big, noisy calls-to-action. The share is a super valuable action, so encourage it.
  7. I promise to be more inclusive. We’ve all heard of the term crowdsourcing, but it means many different things. It can be simply asking your audience questions or actually developing authoritative, entertaining, and high-quality bodies of content from the people who really know what’s interesting – your audience. Involve a large group of people in creating something great and watch them talk about it. Watch them share. Watch them embrace it. Want to see a cool example? Check out Harley’s photo mosaic of owners.
  8. I promise to be more attentive. So you convinced people to be your friend, right? So when they take the time to comment or post to your profile or retweet your tweet, respond! Answer their questions, like their posts, and of course say thank you. You built this audience, now pay attention to them.
  9. I promise to be more generous. At this point let’s just get rid of the notion that every bit of benefit you receive from social media will be “earned.” I mean, c’mon. You pay the wire services to distribute press releases, you pay your PR firm, you pay for PR road show events – your social media program deserves a budget that is capable of moving the needle. Your Facebook program needs a budget for Sponsored Stories, your Twitter profile needs a budget for Promoted Accounts, and your promotions need talented and creative people to come up with interesting and entertaining content. Trust me – half the stuff you create can be used in other areas! A great infographic made by your social media team will act as a great incentive for your AdWords campaign!
  10. I promise to encourage. If the only people contributing to social media in your organization are your marketers and social media managers, then you will never reveal the greatness, personality, and expertise of your company. Encourage social media content production throughout your whole company. Everyone has something to offer and the true experts who represent why people love your products or look to your company for their expertise most likely don’t live in your marketing department. Incentivize your experts, celebrate your class clowns, and let people know this is a huge stage for them to celebrate what makes them great within your company. Let the whole company submit content for social media publishing consideration and let them know why it’s good for them and their careers. Not everyone will participate, however, the content cream of your corporate milk bottle will rise to the top!

I figure 10 is enough – I mean, most of us are lucky if we stick to one New Year’s resolution. However, if you have other great social media New Year’s resolutions please post them in the comments and let everyone else benefit from your wisdom.

Happy New Year’s and happy marketing!