The folks at Nielsen are pretty good at media market research and providing extensive (and more importantly accurate) data within various verticals including entertainment, advertising and recently, a growing industry which combines both:  Social Media.

In this year’s Social Media Report which Nielsen released earlier today, a staggering statistic was revealed regarding social media usage – Americans collectively spent 121.1 billion minutes on social networks in July of 2012 alone!

Nielsen's 2012 Social Media Report
Image Courtesy of Nielsen

According to the infographic published by Nielsen, 5.7 billion of those minutes were logged via mobile devices, 40.8 billion were through apps and somewhat surprisingly, 74 billion minutes were attributed to desktop/laptop users.  Even more surprisingly, apps and PCs experienced significantly more growth in this sector than smartphones and tablets.

What’s less shocking is Facebook’s continued dominance in the social media industry.  The world’s largest social network accumulated an average of over 300 million visitors per month this year.  Facebook also proved to be the most engaging network in terms of audience retention, as users spent more time on the site than any networks such as Google+, Twitter or Pinterest.

Speaking of Pinterest, the up-and-coming, visually-appealing social startup has earned the title of Fastest Growing Network of 2012, having grown by over 1,000% since 2011.  Blogger, Twitter, WordPress and LinkedIn were amongst the other top networks this year.

What do these stats mean for business owners?  Most importantly, they’re an undeniable indicator of social media’s staying power and usefulness as a marketing tool.  Every minute that a user spends on a networking site sharing, following and liking is another opportunity for businesses to achieve greater consumer awareness and gain new customers.  With literally billions of minutes a month being spent on social media, those opportunities are virtually limitless.

Furthermore, these statistics show that while Facebook is the most obvious target for Social Media Optimization & Social Media Marketing campaigns, rapidly emerging networks like Pinterest are truly capable of gaining market share and getting noticed in the social media landscape and shouldn’t be overlooked as potential marketing platforms.  The data speaks for itself: Social Media is a valuable resource for businesses and those not utilizing it are undoubtedly missing out on one of the world’s largest and most effective promotional outlets.

What are your thoughts on Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report?  I’d like to know your thoughts on how social media marketing will change in the year ahead.  Leave a comment below, send an email or a tweet with your opinions and insights on the future of Social Media!

facebook brandingOf all the popular social media companies out there, Facebook always feels like the most troubled. It also has more users than any of its competitors, so criticism is easy to come by. Ever since it’s lackluster IPO, the company has been scrambling to come up with a way to reassure investors that they are worth the billions they were valued at. Responding to market pressures, Facebook has aggressively pushed the message that they are focusing their energy on becoming a mobile service first and foremost. As more and more users access the internet primarily through their phones, Facebook is rushing to change the way they operate in order to meet the needs of changing demographics.

They’ve restructured their staff, requiring all of their developers to have skills in mobile application development. Whereas previously the company had a small, dedicated staff that worked exclusively on mobile, now mobile is factored into every project. For example, the team which develops the Messenger service (you know, the Facebook instant messaging feature that is both really useful and often infuriating?) also has to develop for the mobile app version of Messenger at every step of the way.

The most important thing Facebook needs to tackle first is getting its mobile app working properly. If you own an iPhone, you’ve no doubt noticed the constant updates that keep coming out. As of late, they’ve all been for the better! Hopefully with time they can get the app moving fast enough that it’s always an enjoyable experience.

IGoogle on a Tabletn recent years, mobile Internet usage has increased dramatically and smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices are now the primary point of connectivity for a rapidly growing mobile demographic.  For Internet marketers, reaching this massive user base is essential in creating more effective campaigns.

In order to truly achieve optimal visibility throughout social media, developing mobile-friendly sites, pages and content are a must.  With Facebook and Twitter ramping up their mobile advertising efforts, it has become easier for social media marketers to build campaigns which target tablet and smartphone users, but even with some help from the networks themselves, it is still important to fully understand the metrics of mobile online marketing.

The Big Difference
The most critical aspect to keep in mind when developing mobile-specific content is compatibility.  Does your site have a design that looks good and loads quickly on a tablet or smartphone?  Is your rich content mobile-friendly?  If not, any pages or content shared throughout the mobile Web is virtually useless.  Additionally, social media marketers can take full advantage of popular apps such as Instagram in order to generate more original content geared toward mobile users.

The impact of mobile device usage on social media campaigns is already being noticed and as new “must-haves” such as Apple’s iPad Mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’s Surface make their long-anticipated debuts this holiday season, the market is expected to grow even larger in the months ahead.  Every social media marketer should pay attention to their mobile audience and understand the value of building campaigns with this ever-increasing demographic in mind.

Share your thoughts on social media marketing in the comments section below or drop me a line at brymshaw@webimax.com or @brwebimax on Twitter.

Although this year’s election has been the most expensive in US history to date (with a total price tag of over $2 billion), the most significant platform utilized by both Romney and Obama to enhance their visibility throughout the campaign may, surprisingly, be the most cost effective, as well.  Social media first proved its worth in the political arena during President Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign.  The usage of YouTube and Facebook to connect with a vast, diverse audience had undeniably helped Obama pull ahead in the polls and capture coveted demographics in crucial swing states such as Ohio.

By creating a new form of “digital grassroots” campaign, Obama was able to successfully reach voters who spent more time on Facebook and YouTube than watching C-SPAN or reading political publications.  Additionally, the least expensive element of Obama’s campaign proved to be the social media component, as the President’s social following was largely organic and the campaign’s online ad spend was far less than its print and television counterparts.  The first ever “Social Election” was a complete success and had paved the way for future campaigns.

Fast Forward to 2012…
As the incumbent, Obama now maintains a sizeable lead in terms of social following.  As mentioned by both Todd Bailey and Mike Stricker in our “Social Media & Election 2012” Web series, Obama’s following has been substantially greater than Mitt Romney’s on networks such as Facebook and Twitter since the outset.  However, Romney’s campaign has placed a strong emphasis on social media and this has made the race to the White House much more competitive.

While the size and scope of this campaign has been greater than any before it, the role of social media marketing has played an instrumental role in the overall reach of the campaign.  Going forward, candidates will almost certainly need to make social media a major part of their campaign efforts in order to raise awareness and establish themselves amongst the ever-expanding Internet audience.

SEO is almost constantly evolving, growing and becoming more complex, but regardless of how search engine optimization techniques change; content will always be an important component of online marketing initiatives.

While a majority of my posts emphasize the benefits of rich content and multimedia within Internet marketing campaigns, the role of blogs, articles and other on-site text is as crucial as ever before.  In fact, creating more effective and “SEO-friendly” content is a primary objective of many campaigns.

Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates made their now-infamous debuts, words like “quality” and “relevance” have become prevalent in the SEO community, but creating strong, relevant content is only the first step.  Search engines actually encourage the promotion and distribution of such content and have even developed useful tools to help authors achieve greater visibility within the SERPs.  The following strategies are amongst the most effective in the industry for authors and marketers looking to enhance the reach and visibility of their content:

Utilizing Authorship
When properly utilized, Google Authorship can be an excellent resource for content creators and can help to increase overall visibility and social engagement within Google+.

Chris Countey - Google Authorship

Notice how a Google search of the term “Chris Countey” returns results from sites on which our own SEO guru is featured as an author?  Additionally, when Chris is mentioned by other contributors with authorship enabled, those results appear prominently on the SERP, as well.  Authorship offers distinct advantages to content creators and definitely provides value within SEO campaigns.

Social Media Promotion
Outside of G+, networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide prime promotional real estate.  Sharing, tweeting and liking have played a part in social media marketing and optimization campaigns for quite some time now, but using these platforms to promote blog posts, articles and other content has also helped many SEOs achieve greater success and higher visibility.

PR & Media Outreach
There are opportunities for content creators that go beyond guest blogging and social promotion.  PR efforts such as press releases, media outreach and interviews provide major platforms for content creators to enhance their audience on a local, national and even global scale.  Some Internet marketing firms are already offering PR services and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon in the months ahead due to its proven success.

Speaking of PR, I’ll be presenting at next week’s Agile SEO Meetup and further elaborating on the role of public relations and media outreach within online marketing campaigns.  Click the link to check it out live next Monday (the 12th) at 7pm EST or tune in online via Webex.

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on content marketing and optimization and all things SEO.  Reach out to me directly at brymshaw@webimax.com or find me on Twitter: @brwebimax.

Recently, Facebook achieved one of its most significant milestones since its launch in 2004 when the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network reached one billion users on September 14th.  For Facebook, attaining a user base that consists of 1/7 of the world’s entire population is a major accomplishment.  However, many of the small businesses which utilize Facebook as an online marketing and advertising outlet are still skeptical of the network’s ability to enhance their revenues despite having the most massive user base on the Web.

Small business owners are not the only ones concerned with Facebook’s performance as an ad revenue-driven organization.  The company’s stock value remains unimpressive and many investors are reluctant to add Facebook to their portfolios, regardless of the brand’s ever-increasing visibility.  While the announcement has undoubtedly granted the world’s largest social network substantial bragging rights, it has seemingly done little to really enhance the company or its profitability.

However, a more interesting statistic has also been revealed by Facebook as of late that may prove beneficial to their brand.  As of April 2012, the network’s monthly user growth had fallen to 1.74%, the lowest it has been since its 2004 debut.  Today, Facebook claims it has reached 2.04% monthly growth.  This marks the first increase the network has seen in over 13 months and could help to restore investor confidence in the brand going forward.

Although it is critical for Facebook to increase their viability to investors and improve their company’s waning stock values, it is just as important to build consumer confidence.  As a business driven almost entirely by advertising revenue, Facebook must take greater measures to attract advertisers, particularly small to mid-sized businesses which account for a large percentage of online advertising revenue.

Facebook’s audience is clearly larger than ever before and maintains the greatest potential as an advertising and marketing platform; but the company should begin to investigate other revenue streams in order to grow from a fiscal perspective.

E-Commerce is the most likely route and could put Facebook in direct competition with online retailer, Amazon.  The development of a “Facebook Store” could position the company as a formidable competitor and drive up share prices, while simultaneously making Facebook more attractive to advertisers.  Additions of features such as the “Promote” button and the soon-to-be-released “Want” button are definitely steps in the right direction, but a more comprehensive strategy may be necessary.

For now, Facebook’s popularity may be unparalleled, but its profitability is minimal at best.  Business owners have yet to see any discernable benefits from the network’s growth to upwards of 1 billion users and an investment in long-term revenue enhancement should be considered an essential component of Facebook’s business model.  If the network is able to successfully expand its offerings beyond its current capabilities, the future of Facebook will not only be secure, but beneficial to small business owners, as well.