Yesterday I kicked off a series of blog posts dedicated to choosing the best social network based on the needs of a business. For small and medium-sized company owners, there is no certainly no lack of choices to be made when selecting which social sites to operate on. Many SMBs tend to lack the sort of SEO experience and social media awareness to really take advantage of each network’s full capabilities. Fortunately, each site can be boiled down to a few key attributes that can make picking the right one an intuitive, and even enjoyable, process.
In my previous blog post, I discussed social networks that emphasize the importance of location-based sharing above all else. Although those sites provide excellent marketing opportunities for small companies with only a handful of physical locations, sometimes it’s a massive audience that holds more appeal for business owners. While I’ll be announcing the most popular and farthest reaching social networks tomorrow, for now let’s focus on another category: the up-and-comers. The following websites are growing fast and may soon capture a considerable amount of social media market share.
Pinterest: Image Sharing made Quick and Easy
If you’re a frequent visitor of any SEO-focused news or community website, you’ve no doubt heard of Pinterest. Although it is currently in an invite-only beta testing phase, Pinterest has quickly grown to become one of the most talked about social media sites today. Based on the simple premise of sharing popular images with friends and strangers, this site encourages a more passive approach to social networking. Many Pinterest users effortlessly collect dozens of images and share them with other users every day, ultimately passing along content hundreds of times. It’s this sort of media sharing habit that SMB owners should focus on.
While getting involved with Pinterest does take a bit of time (due to its beta state, some companies have to wait weeks for an invite), businesses can generate a lot of site traffic for themselves by becoming involved with the site both actively and passively. Although the team at Pinterest doesn’t want people advertising directly on the network, that doesn’t mean a SMB owner can’t publish images of their business or staff and drum up a friendly following. At the same time, one can also look into putting Pinterest sharing buttons on the pages of any products one may sell. Amazon and eBay have already done so and see a lot of conversion rates from Pinterest on a daily basis because of it.
Google+: Gaining Steam at a Decent Clip
I know what some readers may be thinking. It’s true, a lot of people in the SEO community are outspoken about Google’s social network and many consider it a failure. Although it doesn’t stack up to Facebook (but really what network can?), Google+ is something that more business owners need to consider for their social media marketing purposes. It’s a topic that I’ve visited before in the past, but it belongs here as well: SMB owners need to look at Google+’s relatively small user base as a chance to get the edge on the competition.
Over the past few months, there has been a significant amount of growth on Google’ social network. As many businesses have yet to establish a presence on the site, there’s also plenty of room for small businesses to get involved here and now. A few moments taken to set up a profile and a bit of initiative in maintaining a social media feed on Google+ could be massively rewarding in the future. Social media sharing buttons for the G+ service are also recommended for those SMB owners who consistently see regular visitors on their site that may share their content through Google+.
Tomorrow I’ll be going over my top two picks for the strongest social networks of 2012. For now, I recommend that readers look into social media optimization and organic SEO services that can make a major difference in the web traffic they see. I can be contacted at email@example.com if there are any questions that need to be answered.
As social media websites become the focal point of countless internet advertising firms, so too have small business owners come to depend on social networks for their ongoing marketing campaigns. While Facebook is the primary social website for many companies these days, the fact is that there is no shortage of social media sites to pick from when trying to improve a company’s conversion rates and traffic. Although social media companies often ignore many sites when campaigning, the options available to businesses advertising on social networks are rather robust.
Over the next few days, I’ll be looking at the half dozen or so websites that most social media advertisers call home. Many small business owners tend to ignore the vast array of networks they could be marketing through and instead rely on Facebook as their sole avenue of social campaigning. Experienced SEO agencies realize that each site has its own unique properties that allow businesses to capitalize on their company’s strengths. By choosing to focus one’s efforts on a social network that offers features that are worth using, a small business owner can bring in far more clientele than otherwise.
In today’s blog post, I’ll be putting the spotlight on those social networks that bring customers directly to a company’s doorstop. While they may not be as active as the bigger networks around today, geographically-focused social media sharing sites are an excellent asset to any small to medium-sized business.
Foursquare: The Little Meta Game that Could (and Does)
The most well-known of these social networks is, of course, Foursquare. Over the course of the last several years, Foursquare has become the most prevalent social media sharing site for “check-in” activity. Structured as a friendly competition between other users, the site is accessible through free apps available on every smartphone digital market out there. Getting involved with the network is as easy as having your business get listed online.
Many companies benefit from Foursquare through having an active listing full of comments and constant check-ins from users. For best results, you will want to have ongoing contests and promotions accessible only to network users. For example, a coffeehouse owner can offer a free drink for every five check-ins or a discount for regular visitors. The more active a Foursquare business account is, the better the chance that users will share their activity on Facebook or other networks. This allows businesses to appear in social media user feeds and gain additional exposure with little to no effort.
Pinwheel: The Up-and-Comer
Pinwheel is an interesting network. Similar in function to Foursquare, it allows its users to share their travel activity to friends and family in a few quick steps. The big difference between it and Foursquare lies with how users are able to add non-business locations to a map and pin images across it. As of right now, Pinwheel is in beta phase and as such users will have to sign up for a mailing list in order to get into it.
Business owners may be asking why they should bother with Pinwheel. Well, for one thing, getting into the network’s beta means getting in on the ground floor. A business established on Pinwheel now will have a considerable advantage over those companies that try to jump on the bandwagon once the site goes live. Pinwheel promises to offer many of the popular features that Foursquare provides to its users, so businesses that use the network will have plenty of tools to work with.
Facebook’s Check-In Feature: Well-Integrated, but Less Reliable
Companies already involved with Facebook may have seen its users check in at various locations from time to time. It’s true that site users can post their activity and mention a business as well as tag others, but the function isn’t as active on Facebook as it is on social media networks dedicated to that function (a la Foursquare). On the plus side, Facebook actively tracks the metrics for a business’ check-in rates and analytics are available for that information at any time.
Small business owners who focus most of their efforts on Facebook should definitely look into encouraging their followers to check in when visiting their company’s locations. Check-in activity can help keep a company’s name in user feeds consistently throughout both workdays and holidays.
Thus concludes the first installment in my three-part series on selecting the right social media site for business campaigns. For additional information, I advise readers to check out our resources on social media company services or to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The current prevalence of social networks in our daily lives is not to be underestimated. Although some sites such as Facebook have been showing a generally downward growth trend as of late, the medium that we refer to as “social media” is stronger now than it’s ever been before. With nearly a billion users to be found between Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, it’s clear that there is no end in sight for social networking. This, of course, bodes well for social media companies that handle business marketing. What may surprise many readers, however, is how the constant growth of social media may continue to cement the relevance of SEO as a whole.
Just last week, a report was released by Social Media Examiner that delved into the activities of over 3,800 social media marketing companies (SMM) the world over. As these social network-focused internet marketing firms answered the annual site survey in droves, everyone got a chance to see the breakdown of their efforts. Although one might assume that SMMs focus most of their efforts on PPC campaigning, it turns out that less than half do so and instead favor SEO in their campaigns.
Really it’s the SMM preference of SEO-related activities over pay per click advertising and event marketing that is a real attention getter. Out of the nearly 4,000 social media company representatives polled, 65% of them admit to relying on search engine optimization over a mere 38% who claim they use PPC ads. In an additional inquiry, the polled companies were asked if they intend to use more SEO or PPC services in the future. 68% of the surveyed marketing firms stated that they will be using more SEO methods through the year, while a significantly lower 43% intend to redouble their PPC efforts.
Social Media Marketers both Need and Want SEO
In spite of the recent concerns being voiced by key members of the industry, social media companies certainly have a great deal of confidence in the future of SEO. With Google’s massive Panda overhaul being released shortly, it’s a reassuring thing to see that online advertising firms haven’t lost faith in the current state of internet marketing. For all the doomsayers and alarmists currently speaking out against Google, some small business owners may be tempted to ignore organic link building in favor of paid advertisements. It’s reports such as the one published by Social Media Examiner that offer concrete truths in uncertain times.
The results of the survey show that the biggest social media marketing firms realize that search engine optimization is here to stay. While Google Head of Webspam Matt Cutts has warned the SEO community against sites using “heavy SEO,” the fact remains that smartly designed optimization efforts will continue to prove beneficial for business owners of every shape and size. While any SEO company worth its weight knows that less is more, what also matters is how the work is implemented. For social media companies, that means creating quality content for both networks and destination pages. It’s because of reliance like this that SEO will be along for years to come.
Social Advertising, or placing ads in social media, shows huge promise. It is one of WebiMax’s “Lucky 7 for 2011″ Social Media opportunities.
Facebook Ads, in particular, offer some powerful advantages for online marketing:
• a huge universe (approaching 750 Million regular monthly users, or one in every 13 earthlings)
• over 70% of all U.S. internet users are on Facebook
• an audience of web-savvy consumers reaching their best earning years
• plays well to a mobile market that is twice as active on Facebook on average, thanks to widely-adopted apps
How important is the Facebook / Mobile connection? – 40% of cell phone users own a smartphone. 12.5% of all E-com is projected to be mobile by year-end. – 60 Second Marketer. 33% of Facebook updating is mobile – Dan Zarella
Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) have tripled their social media use in as many years – Search Engine Watch. SMBs plan to spend 19% of marketing budget on social media. – Hubspot. And where better to look for guidance than Facebook, which has made a mission of embracing Small Business, including a recent deal allowing businesses to buy Facebook Credits good for advertising through AMEX’s membership rewards program.
Facebook Ads leverage ‘interests’ as detected in profiles and activities, rather than merely ‘keywords’. This is a powerful targeting tool, contributing to Facebook Ad results, yet a WebTrends survey pegs Facebook Ad performance at about half that of typical PPC networks. There remains some skepticism among marketers whether Facebook Ads deliver in the B2B channel, yet some campaigns bring in staggering results (e.g. “88,000 Fans in 4 Weeks“)
Whose ads are likely to get the most (CTR) from Facebook? According to WebTrends research of 11,000 ads:
• Tabloids and blogs (0.165%)
• Media and Entertainment (0.154%)
• E-commerce (0.89%)
• Travel (0.86%)
• Automotive (o.82%)
• Nonprofits (0.77%)
• Start ups (0.74%)
• Cosmetics (0.072%)
• Retailer (0.70%)
• Restaurants (0.66%)
A Friend of a Friend is a Friend Indeed
A pyramid of an average of 130 friends is waiting to be influenced by each user that you impact. Targeting friends of Fans nearly doubles an Ad’s CTR. Setting up Facebook Ads gives SMB lots of options about who to target, but Facebook also enumerates users who fit your defined criteria, so you can plan around your target demographic.
Testing is the traditional way to tune ads, and this is so true for Facebook Ads. Testing Creative enables one to find the copy and image that motivates best. List selection chooses the audience most receptive and ready to spring, using Interest groups populated by users that have listed their pursuits. Once you have identified a responsive, passionate Interest, then try to narrow your scope by age, gender, relationship or education. Advertisers can now target by Zip Code. Thus, your campaign can attain maximum Clickthrough at the lowest Cost-per-Click or Cost-per-Action.
Manage your campaigns with an iron fist for fiscal responsibility. Establish a:
• target result (sell X number of widgets) and an acceptable cost (at $.50 per sale) that you will not exceed.
• Set a sustainable Daily Budget to control expenditure, and
• Schedule a term for your campaign.
• Choose whether you will pay for Click-Throughs (Cost-Per-Click, or CPC) or pay for ad impressions (Cost-Per-Impression, or CPM).
Since the ultimate result is what counts, some advise pay for impressions (CPM) and calculate your own Cost-Per-Widget-Sold with the data in the report provided by Facebook as a webpage or an Excel file. Facebook will E-mail notices of activity in your account, but during a campaign, you should be a frequent visitor to your account.
Ads must be approved by Facebook. The scuttlebuttt is that a higher bid and continual spending will get you more attention and faster approval cycles. Go figure. If you intend an E-Commerce result from Ads, Facebook offers a PDF “Guide to Tracking Conversions” with simple codes to track things like individual page views, purchases, registrations or downloads. Their Ads Manager presents conversion event data in Reports, divided among impressions that converted after seeing your ad, and others who converted by clicking it.
The Speed of Social Advertising
Facebook Ads may have a limited lifecycle, some say as brief as 24 hours, research indicates ad burnout after 3 – 5 days, so keep an eye out for the tailing of a campaign, as the expense can skyrocket and erase a campaign’s effectiveness. Be prepared to test continually during a compressed timeframe. Here is where an agency may be of great assistance, since an owner of a small business may have more pressing matters than repeatedly hovering over the reporting from their ad campaign.
One of the most frequent, and successful, uses for a Facebook Ad campaign is to grow one’s Fan base, by advertising for “Likes”. Since so much hinges on the Landing Page or a Custom Tab on the Fan Page, it is certainly useful to have professional help for content writing and design. Motivation to evoke response often comes is sparked by a Contest, Vote, Survey, or other activation technique.
Setting goals is central to any business activity. What’s amazing is how many different goals have met with success on Facebook. Building E-mail and marketing databases. Nurturing Customer Relations with loyalty campaigns. Driving leads to website conversion. “Doing well by doing good” contribution campaigns. Promotions that gather user-generated content in return for exclusive entertainment. Invent a Pizza and share the profits.
Big bonuses await those businesses that enjoy the attention of a passionate following, are frequently the subject of conversation and give a great user experience. Some viral “Like” results have reportedly doubled campaign results.
What’s on the horizon?
The Facebook Deals product may one day be ideal for SMB with a Fan page. This digital discount coupon service available as a Beta test in San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Austin and Atlanta has been slowly building. Consumers sign up for Facebook Deals app, then Deals arrive one of 8 ways… home, a Deals page, sponsored ad that reveals friend who have partaken, messages and wall posts that friends share, by Notification, in their News Feed and via E-mail. A user purchase triggers a story to friends’ feeds, bringing a viral boost to Deal uptake. Five cities will be added to the beta. Deals are flexible and there are no minimum discount requirements.
The Other Gorilla in the Room
Meanwhile, Google is promoting discount Offers in Portland, NYC, and SF Bay Area, with plans to expand to five major metros, as it tunes the appearance and ways that the Offers are promoted. This could be a good sister to their Boost Ads, which have experienced reliability concerns impacting displays and rely on Places quality factors that can be damaged by multiple pages/accounts or even something as simple as including a placename in the company name.
Michael has been part of the WebiMax Team since April, 2010. Michael’s clients may draw from his experience in some of Philadelphia’s largest agencies and studios working on accounts from Fortune 500 to SMB. The perspective of a former business owner makes him a valuable asset as a WebiMax Project Manager. Recipient of the Best of the Web, PDMA Benny Award and John Caples Creative Award, Michael is Certified Internet Web Professional and Net+. This combination of experience, creativity and technical training informs his incisive analytics, insightful consulting and successful campaigns of SEO, reputation management and social media.
As far as 2011 is concerned, there have been many world, economic, and political events that have shaped the first half of the year to be somewhat of a wild roller coaster. Behind all of the events is one common trait that has served as a notification system. Social Media. Social Media in 2011 has helped redefined the norms of communication, and more importantly, the way news is transferred through the world.
In (what now seems as the “old days”) of media, we would have to wait until the 6:00pm news, or the daily newspaper to read what was happening in the world. Today is a whole different story. All you have to do is have a Facebook and Twitter account to stay up to the date as news evolves.
In February, protestors trying to overthrow the Mubarak government used social media to broadcast to the world the events as they unfolded. The hashtag #egypt held all the news.
On March 11, 2011, a major earthquake sent a Tsunami at Japan, devastating the whole country, and nuclear reactors. There was a long-standing fear that the nuclear reactors would cause a leak, causing another intense wave of devastation. The Japanese power company created a Twitter account to keep followers up to date on the status of the plant. Social Media redefines the ways in which we communicate.
NBA star Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement via Twitter. (Not the newspaper).
Recently, social media caused a whole heap of trouble for New York State Congressman Anthony Weiner (D, New York) when he allegedly sent crude photos via Twitter to other women. Congressman Weiner later declared his resignation.
Even more recent, a New York Times article surfaced discussing how social media helped cause conflict in Saudi Arabia. A woman posted a short film of herself driving through the city (breaking Saudi Arabian law). The government of Saudi Arabia ceased the video, obtained via YouTube, and arrested the woman. Her supporters quickly turned to Facebook and Twitter, to spread the news in protest.
People love social media, we go crazy over it! When LinkedIn had their IPO, they opened at $45 and traded as high as $120 per share! At that rate their market capitalization was greater than the U.S. GDP. More Social Media IPO’s are due out soon, and investors are gearing up for them.
Social Media is a powerful platform.
Although somewhat comical that our blog post today is on the importance of writing them, we at WebiMax strive to provide additional resources and information that people can use and benefit from. Now, on to today’s topic, the Importance of Using Blogs:
Since we’re a search engine optimization (seo) company, let us start there. It is understood in the SEO world that blogs attract the attention of search engines faster than static HTML pages. And getting your pages found and indexed is a vital step in getting ranked higher on search engine results pages. As you create new static pages on your website, create a new blog post that links to each new page using the primary keyword of the static page as the anchor text. Important right? Furthermore:
This support system can help get your static pages indexed by alerting search engines via RSS, ping services and social media, while the link on the blog post provides a relevant path to the new page.
Do you have older pages that still have yet to be indexed? Use this technique to create new awareness for both search engines and visitors!
Not only is it justified from an SEO background, you also need to establish your credibility in your field. People want to absorb as much information as possible today, and make sure their making the most informed buying decision (with the products you offer and trusting the seller). The best way to win-over potential buyers, is to discuss topics, industry, products, etc. in which your business operates. You’re #1 goal with this is to establish your credibility on the web and to increase your website traffic.
Blogs are considered “content rich” because they use are usually written in everyday, casual language, versus how a magazine or literary work is written. Studies have shown that people are more inclined to buy from people they know, so emphasizing your expertise in your field is a must!