Less than 2 months after Facebook’s botched IPO, the social media titan seems to “want” to make a comeback and win over investors once again.  The company is developing a “want” button, aimed at creating a virtual wish-list for their 900+ million users.  Additionally, General Motors, who ended their Facebook paid advertising campaign due to unimpressive results, is in talks to resume their paid advertising campaign worth a reported $10 million annually.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with FOX News and discussed the chance that Facebook is making a return to the credibility it once had.

A few notable points stick out to me:

Development of the “Want” Button:  Industry experts have found in Facebook’s sourcecode a new button, titled “want”.  This button is comparable to their “like” button that is current, however this time, it gives consumers the ability to express their intention with a product or brand.  I like this for Facebook.  As I state in the interview, this takes some of the work away from investing in market research, and almost allows companies to have their own research conducted through the social network.  Imagine you are a television manufacturer and hundreds of thousands of people click the want button, you will immediately see what type of ROI you can expect to make on this particular product.

Facebook Jobs Board: Facebook is in a very strong position to launch a sort of “jobs board” that would directly compete with LinkedIn, Monster, and CareerBuilder. Consider this: Facebook stated during their IPO that users spend an average of 10.5 billion total minutes per day on the platform.  Small businesses (who already have a follower-base on Facebook) can post jobs and disengage from Monster and CareerBuilder, and ultimately save costs from posting on these career websites.  Facebook certainly has the reach needed to market this service with over 900+ million global users.

These developments and anticipated announcements all point to a possible Facebook comeback.  Already, the firm is more than 20% above their low since having gone public.

What do Google, Microsoft and Apple have in common?  A lot, actually; and following their respective developer conferences earlier this summer, several new commonalities have been revealed.  We now know that new tablet devices are being developed by Google and Microsoft and that Google and Apple are both looking to capitalize on their mapping software.  We’ve also learned that iOS 6, Windows 8 and Android 4.1 are going to incorporate more Internet and social media functionality than any previous operating systems.  This enhanced focus on social connectivity will undoubtedly be an important component of these new systems, but its impact on Internet marketing may be even greater.

A More Social Future
Despite Facebook’s apparent inability to succeed on Wall Street thus far, the network is still as popular as ever.  With upwards of 900 million users, nearly 1/7 of the world’s population is using Facebook.  That’s an impressive reach for a social network that began less than a decade ago as a college project.  Microsoft and Apple have both seen potential in Facebook and their confidence in the brand is reinforced by its incorporation into their new OS offerings.  The move to integrate social media directly into the operating system itself will only bolster its popularity, which will significantly impact the Internet marketing industry.

Effects on Internet Marketing
SEOs and SMOs are likely to see a substantial rise in their client base.  Online marketing initiatives will become increasingly valuable as the Internet itself continues to become more accessible.  Today, the role of social media in marketing initiatives is larger than it has ever been and it has proven effective for many companies worldwide.  Search engine optimization and social media are expected to become even more closely related going forward, as well.

The release of iOS 6 and Windows 8 are also likely to impact current social media campaigns and increase their overall effectiveness.  The future of social media looks to be very bright and with the help of tech industry mainstays such as Microsoft, Apple and Google, it may become the very cornerstone of online marketing.

What are your thoughts on the future of social media marketing?  Drop me a line at brymshaw@webimax.com or on Twitter @brwebimax.

Ask any small business owner what their greatest challenge is online and the answer will almost always be: Visibility.  Small companies often face this issue, as they do not have the well-established branding of large corporations nor do they possess national or global visibility offline.

Today, social media has become one of the most useful tools for small businesses.  Not only is it now possible to increase online visibility by utilizing popular brands such as Facebook and Twitter, but it can also help to increase sales and revenue, as well.

Building a Social Identity
The world’s largest social networks may have had humble beginnings, but they have grown into some of the most significant brands on the Web.  In fact, many smaller companies have actually used the popularity of those networks to expand into new markets and capitalize on E-Commerce.  In the first quarter of 2012, comScore reports that E-Commerce spending totaled upwards of $44 million.  This figure represents one of the highest single fiscal quarter online sales in history.  In fact, economists estimate that 2012 will be the most profitable year ever in terms of online sales revenue.

Using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and other networks to promote brands, products and services has been a crucial component of that online sales growth.  Many Internet marketing companies offer social media optimization and marketing services, but as social media becomes a more competitive market, it has also become more difficult for brands to get noticed.

The real key to building a strong social identity is quality.  To increase views, likes, shares and even sales, brands must offer users unique and relevant content.  Additionally, companies should deliver rich content whenever possible to help maintain user engagement.  Videos and images are more likely to be shared throughout social media than text and can be effective marketing tools.

From Social Media to Sales
Businesses with an E-Commerce platform should heavily promote it within the social space.  By directing users from network profiles to product pages, those pages gain more authority and the probability of sales increases.

Social media is undoubtedly one of the most valuable assets to small businesses.  Combined with E-Commerce, it can maximize the potential of virtually any company with an online presence.

Facebook, Google+, Twitter and virtually every other social network have become more than pastimes for the millions that use them daily.  Today, these sites are the product offerings of multi-national corporations and have not only changed many aspects of Internet marketing, but impacted popular culture around the world.

From Humble Beginnings…
The world’s largest social network now boasts over 900 million members.  That figure accounts for nearly 1/7 of the world’s entire population.  Not bad for a company that began in 2004 as a small project of then-Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg.  While the story of Facebook’s origins and rise to prominence is well-documented (and has even won Oscars), the reason for the site’s success is not as obvious.  Like many social networks before it, Facebook was merely intended to be recreational.  It was designed as a platform for people to interact and engage online, while possibly (and hopefully) generating some ad revenue to keep the business afloat.  Fast forward to 2012; Facebook is a publicly traded corporation with global reach and more importantly, international influence.

…To a Global Phenomenon
The rapid expansion of Facebook goes beyond Wall Street.  The advertising and marketing industries have noticed the impact of social media in the wake of Facebook’s growth.  Even news journalism has changed on the post-Facebook Web.  In one form or another, social media is now incorporated into the business model of virtually every company with an online presence.

Jumping on the Bandwagon
Success breeds competition and Facebook is no exception.  Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn have arrived on the social scene in the years following Facebook’s emergence as the number one network and more are likely to come in the months and years ahead.  While none of the aforementioned sites are even close to Facebook’s membership, they are showing exponential growth.  In fact, Pinterest even became the world’s third most frequented social network while still in its beta phase.

Looking Ahead
However, like many industries, social media is not without flaws and is bound to change and evolve according to the demands of its user base.  Facebook’s IPO and the subsequent backlash that it has suffered have demonstrated that social networks need to assert their influence in the online marketplace and prove their value as viable advertising outlets.  Additionally, social media sites must strive to remain in the Internet limelight in order to retain their ability to attract potentially lucrative online marketing campaigns.  There is certainly a place for social networking on the Internet of tomorrow, but innovation will undoubtedly be the key to future success in the social space.

Facebook LogoThe last two weeks have been an incredibly stressful time for every web-focused company. Between Facebook’s recent woes concerning its IPO and General Motors pulling out of its in-network marketing, there’s been more than a little bit of uncertainty in the SEO and online marketing communities as of late. Many of our readers no doubt have their own growing concerns over the state of all-things social media and search engine-related. While current events may have everyone second guessing the viability of their social network strategies, in truth there is no reason to panic.

What about Facebook?
Anyone who watches major news network programming or reads the latest headlines will be familiar with the immense amount of criticism falling on Facebook at the moment. Over the course of the last seven days, Facebook’s underwhelming stock performance has led to a lot of serious questions regarding the effectiveness of the company’s in-network ads as well as whether its mobile efforts will pay off in the end. It’s gotten to the point where even notable SEO experts are making similar inquiries.

Although Facebook’s future is uncertain, that doesn’t mean that businesses should shy away from the social media site here and now. Many of the arguments taking place between pundits over Facebook are based on speculation, and the possible outcomes of these predictions won’t come to pass for months or years to come. While it’s easy to fall prey to the sort of fear-mongering that is common to network television, small business owners need to remember that FB will continue to be a valuable asset to their online marketing efforts.

How is that Done?
If anything, companies operating on Facebook should be focusing less on their in-network PPC campaigning and more on building up a solid social media following. The world’s most popular social network recently hit the 900 million user mark, and this milestone shouldn’t go ignored. In particular, business owners will want to remain dedicated in their efforts to expand the size of their follower base while simultaneously engaging those users that subscribe to their news feeds. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Search for groups or organizations that may share interests that match what your company specializes in. Do what you can to interact with their members and gain their attention.
  • Post original and interesting content that is worth reading. This can be done by posting links to blogs and other company properties that may host these materials.
  • Comment on breaking industry news that has everyone talking. Users will often take the time to add their thoughts to these posts if they are asked for their opinion.

Despite Facebook’s current predicament, the fact is that the social network still has every bit of impact it had before the company went public. The only difference is the amount of discussion taking place at the moment. Should readers have any additional questions or comments regarding their Facebook operations, they can contact me directly at jwersits@webimax.com.

What do you think about when you hear of an ‘entrepreneur’?  Most of us are immediately impressed, imagining a Mark Zuckerberg or Wall Street tycoon; but, what about the scores of entrepreneurs you never heard about?  Sure, there are those kinds too!  Where do entrepreneurs in the making go to accelerate their chances of becoming a Zuckerberg?  They go to ‘accelerators,’ businesses such as Y Combinator and TechStars, two of the most popular startup-training/seeding hubs; yet the WSJ observes more than 200-plus existing businesses worldwide.

Within 12-week programs, aspirants are offered seed funding and intimate counseling in exchange for about 6% equity stake.  Applicants are abundant (sometimes more than 1,500 apply for only 12 spots.)  The success rate is not, which makes some wonder whether such ‘accelerators’ are actually beneficial.  Moreover, some question whether these businesses are taking hopefuls for a ride.

One member of a private community of tech professionals urges entrepreneurs to research the accelerators first.  Many times, accelerators will pump hopefuls full of promise of receiving funding; however, many accelerators lack the resources to catapult their students to stardom.  Critics say the best accelerators take no more than 10% of a startup’s equity.

Additionally, some observe how accelerators business models are formed to profit regardless of how students fare:

If an accelerator gives $25,000 in capital to participants, takes a 5% equity stake, and graduates 40 companies in a year, it can break even if just one gets acquired for $20 million, even if the other 39 fail.

A director at a VC firm found that 45% of 29 North American accelerators didn’t have graduates that went on to recruit funding.  Professionals warn that success is slim even regarding the top programs (only 0.1% of firms, less than five years old receive seed or early-funding money from VCs).

Entrepreneurs beware; most accelerators are established as seed funds, making them easy and cheap to create.  The accelerators make revenue when a startup is acquired, goes public, or sells stakes to a venture investor.

It seems like most elements of business, startups need to approach accelerators with due diligence and understand the odds are against them.  Does it mean startups shouldn’t give it a go?  Not at all; but, startups (especially) need to mind their scarce financial resources.