Today, Facebook deals went live in 5 U.S. cities including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. In November, Facebook announced “Facebook Deals”, and in March, the first release was sent out in Atlanta. Now, that original release is titled “Check-in Deals” (which has 15,000 likes) and the new deals site is live.
Similar to how Groupon operates, local businesses offer group discount rates to groups or parties. For example, “25% off your dinner for parties of 6 or more”. Users can buy in to these deals by using their credit card or using Facebook credits. This move by Facebook is already being called the “Groupon killer” as it’s expected to take significant market share from them.
“This helps businesses in 2 ways. Customer loyalty and social distribution” says Scott Witwer, Chief Experience Officer at WebiMax.
“This builds Customer Loyalty because users who check-in to a place more than a specified number of times can get a reward incentive. Social Distribution is built since as customers check-in and redeem deals, stories are published to their profile about that deal. The result is that their friends will see when they redeem deals and in turn help spread awareness about any promotions businesses are running”.
Users are able to “like” specific deals, and share them in their news feeds. When a deal is bought, it will also be posted to their wall so that others can see what deals are being taken advantage of by people they know. Furthermore, users can sign up for e-mail alerts on what deals are new in the area.
Facebook is now entering the local deals business, much like how Groupon.com works. In November 2010, social media titan Facebook announced “Facebook Deals”. That has evolved over the past few months and in recent announcements, they have begun advertising just what exactly they intend to do. The fundamentals behind this new initiative are that local businesses send Facebook coupons for groups to participate in. This can include, for example, “25% off your dinner for parties of 6 or more”. This new addition is making Groupon.com a bit nervous as Facebook aims to accomplish exactly what Groupon did that rapidly brought them to fame.
In an official Facebook wall post, dated yesterday (Wednesday, March 16, 2011), they said “We’re working to make it easier to find fun things to do with your friends and connect with local businesses.”
They’ve added a tab titled “Deals”, which briefly describes the idea, and where the service is available as of right now. Currently, it is only available in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. Facebook has not clearly stated when it becomes available in other major U.S. cities, only “coming soon”.
It seems as though news breaks every day that confirms the statements of Kenneth C. Wisnefski, Founder and CEO of WebiMax that “social media is emerging as the new era of marketing, beginning to replace traditional marketing tactics”. Companies that haven’t contacted an SEO company that also specializes in Social Media Campaigns perhaps should.
“Much of WebiMax’s success is a result of our ability to continuously evaluate the internet marketing industry (since it is constantly changing and evolving) and find ways to adapt and stay ‘one step ahead’ of the curve’ ”, says Wisnefski.
Businesses may be asking themselves “How can Facebook Deals help me”?
Scott Witwer, Chief Experience Office at WebiMax discusses this question:
“This helps businesses in 2 ways. Customer loyalty and social distribution:”
Social Media is expected to play an important role in this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament, where 68 College Basketball teams compete to determine the 2011 National Champion. March 17th 2011 kicks off the first round with games being played as early as 12:15ET. Since this is during working hours, experts believe people will be logged in to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube since not everyone will be able to access a television during working hours.
Twitter hashtags that people should keep their eyes on include #MarchMadness, #ESPN, #CBSsports, #NCAA, and others that will be posting live, up-to-the-minute scores and alerts from all of the games. Facebook will also be posting photos, videos, and more. YouTube is another great resource which can feature live clips from inside the dome’s as fans in attendance post live video.
“This year, we’ve already seen an increase in the role social media plays in American news consumption. Deal hunting, celebrity tabloids, breaking news, and now college basketball fans are planning to take over social media during March Madness.” – Scott Witwer, Chief Experience Officer of WebiMax.
A recent survey revealed that 23% of online Americans plan to use various social media to follow the NCAA tournament. 50% will use social networking websites, while 27% will utilize mobile applications.
Founder and CEO Kenneth C. Wisnefski was recently featured in an article on AOL Small Business regarding this year’s March Madness and how it relates to productivity.
Most businesses are not hiring for all of the obvious reasons. WebiMax has been doing it a bit differently in the past 3 years. Since its inception in 2008, WebiMax has always recruited talented and motivated people to join the team.
“What we’ve always done is take these people (that showed so much initiative) and trained them in to the roles we needed fulfilled”, says Kenneth C. Wisnefski, Founder and CEO.
The secret to success is your employees. One of the best examples of a competitive advantage is the men and women behind the scenes that embrace their job and do what is necessary to take the business to the next level.
“WebiMax consists of highly skilled and motivated professionals working together to build, optimize and promote websites that get the results our clients desire. Our employees are our greatest asset”, says Scott Witwer, Vice-President of Technology.
WebiMax takes great pride on its success story. Going from a small start-up with just 4 employees to now 125 U.S. based employees with three major offices and plans to expand into 3 additional U.S. cities in 2011, WebiMax would not be the success story it is today without the dedication and diligence of its greatest assets.
In Web design, we often use metaphors from the construction industry to describe the process of developing a website. This is no surprise as the keys to success are very similar whether building a physical storefront (brick & mortar), or an online storefront (click & mortar).
We’ve even adopted some of the same titles and roles. So while it is definitely beneficial to hire highly skilled designers, developers, architects, engineers, and project managers to oversee your construction project, the same adage holds true in both the physical and virtual realms…
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail! “
Planning is an absolutely critical component to launching a successful web presence. In the words of the world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright,
“You can use an eraser on the drafting table
or a sledge hammer on the construction site.”
This couldn’t be truer in the web design field. Building a website without planning makes about as much sense as building a house without a door. You’re going to need to redesign it if you want people to visit.
So before you put on your website-building hard hats and break digital ground put down the blueprint and website design checklist for a moment and consider these questions…
Findability: Can users find it?
Just like your invited house guests, you want your online visitors to be able to easily find your “home on the web”. As I’ve posted previously… “Hard to find = Does not exist”. Focus ruthlessly on Search Engine Optimization!
Usability: Does my site provide users what they want? Does it create any obstacles?
Usability is important both on the web and in everyday life as well. In “The Design of Everyday Things“, user experience guru Donald Norman lists several usability problems caused by lack of planning and bad design. Some of his examples are:
- Doors that open the wrong way
- Faucets that turn the wrong way
- Washing machines with spaceship control panels
My personal pet peeve is the doors, hands down. Have you seen this before? The door handle “design” gives the clue that the door is supposed to be pulled open. However, this convention is not always followed, resulting in people thinking they can’t figure out how to open a door.
In this picture, someone has even placed NEON stickers to show that the action that opens the door is opposite of what the door handle suggests. So, next time you face plant on some random glass door take comfort in the fact that 1) you’re not alone, and 2) it’s not your fault, it’s just bad usability.
So, if we’ve learned anything from this example, other than to proceed with caution, it is to follow standard conventions. Make it very obvious what is clickable on your site. If your users can’t find what they are looking for, they will quickly bounce off your site… even faster than the time it takes your face to turn red after running into a door.
We’ve all heard that content is the most important part of a website. It has even been crowned “King”. We also know that if a website is difficult to find, it basically does not exist.
Hard To Find = Does Not Exist.
This is why Search Engine Optimization is so critical to your online marketing.
While Humans ultimately buy the products and services offered on the web, those products and services would rarely be found or purchased if the robots didn’t find and index them first. So, do we design websites for the humans or the robots?
Option 1 – Design for Humans:
It’s been proven through various forms of web usability testing and research that web users generally don’t read our pages… they scan them. In “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability”, author Steve Krug sums it up nicely:
When we’re creating sites, we act as though people are going to pore over each page, reading our finely crafted text, figuring out how we’ve organized things, and weighing their options before deciding which links to click.
What they actually do most of the time (if we’re lucky) is glance at each page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. There are usually large parts of the page that they don’t even look at.
We’re thinking “great literature” (or at least “product brochure”), while the user’s reality is much closer to “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”
There are a number of proven methods to entice humans to engage with our message. The three main guidelines for writing for the web include the following:
- Be Succinct. Write no more than 50% of the amount of text used in print publications.
- Write for Scannability. Don’t require users to read through dense copy, which on the web sounds like Charlie Brown’s school teacher… “Whah, whah, whah, whah, whah, whah”. Instead, write short paragraphs, subheadings, and bulleted lists.
- Hire Professionals! Good content requires a dedicated staff that knows how to write for the web and how to massage your content into your website design layout for optimal read… I mean… scannability.
Option 2 – Design for Robots:
In order to successfully get content in front of card-carrying humans (a.k.a. potential customers), websites need to be structured so they are easily indexed by search engine robots (a.k.a. crawlers, spiders). Search Engine Optimization depends largely on keywords and key phrases, so writing keyword-rich copy is absolutely critical to increasing search engine rankings.
There are a number of proven methods to optimize web content for search engines. The three main guidelines include the following:
- Generate Keyword-Rich Copy. Content needs to works well at delivering your message to your Human visitors, while making your targeted keywords and key phrases easily indexed by Robots. Use your keyword phrases in headlines, title tags, in the first paragraph, the top of the HTML document, and in alternative text on images. But be careful not to overdo it – as you don’t want to appear to be keyword stuffing.
- Develop Accessible Markup. Accessibility is not just for the visually impaired. The more accessible your HTML pages are, the easier it is for search engines to read and rank them.
- Create a Detailed Site Map. Submitting a Sitemap XML file to the search engines helps them understand how to crawl and index all of the pages, including the frequency that the content changes.
While writing for robots is essential to SEO, don’t stress mechanical search engine optimization so much that user’s needs are forgotten. We must provide content on our websites in a format that supports the way both Humans & Robots use the web. We must write for human visitors first, and then optimize our code and content to help search engine robots find and index our pages.