Tell you what, if you go to my Facebook profile right now, you will see that, over time, I “Liked” at least a dozen high fashion brands and two dozen local attractions including restaurants, hardware stores and a few travel agents. For one, there is this little French restaurant 3 blocks over that I have been meaning to drop by for quite some time now. Then there is dinner cruise I am always thinking I will book one day for my birthday or Valentine’s Day.
Basically, I am a potential customer for each and every one of these businesses and I absolutely love the fact that Facebook and the other social networks make it so easy for me to keep up with what’s happening around me. I mean, if tomorrow, the little French restaurant is having a special event like say 50% off steaks, I would want to know but at this point, I am not an actual customer of any of the establishments I “Liked” on Facebook. My “Like” means very little. And I’m not even talking about tweets or +1s!
So here is a question for you marketers.
Why are you guys still obsessed with Facebook likes and Twitter followers? Is it getting you anywhere?
You need to realize that at the end of the day, social media is all about increasing your business potential. A good social media campaign increases the reach and impact of your brand and exposes you to the right people. But an even better social media strategy involves work that converts this potential into action.
So are you ready to get your social media strategy right? Let’s get started!
1. Don’t Be an Attention-whore. Be Tactful!
For social media success, you need eyeballs on your content. What you need to know is this: Getting on people’s radar is a tactful process. You can’t mastermind crazy stunts to build your brand awareness. Sure, faking a hack (*cough* Chipotle *cough*) might draw some attention, but do you think that kind of brand awareness leads to action?
If you are going to invest in social media marketing, make sure people talk about you for the right reasons. You want your followers and Facebook fans to convert into buying customers.
Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm is dead. In fact, it’s been dead for the last two and a half years. Instead, the social networking service is using a more complex algorithm based on machine learning. The current News Feed algorithm doesn’t have a catchy name but it is estimated that as many as 100,000 individual factors are involved in organizing and producing a Facebook user’s News Feed.
Facebook’s original News Feed ranking system worked around 3 variables:
3. Time decay
Affinity is a one-to-one function between a Facebook user and an edge. In Facebook’s EdgeRank, an edge is anything that happens on Facebook. It can be a status update, a like, a comment or a share. For businesses, affinity quantifies and qualifies the connection between a brand and a fan. Affinity is built when a fan repeatedly interacts with a brand’s edges.
On Facebook, a comment is deemed more valuable than a like because it involves more engagement. In the “weight” system used by Facebook’s EdgeRank, certain actions have more value than others. All edges are assigned a value.
Time decay is a measure of how long an edge remains alive. Mathematically, time decay equals 1/(time since action) and the older an edge, the less valuable it is. This serves to keep Facebook’s news feed fresh.
So with EdgeRank, the way people used Facebook determined what stories showed up in their News Feed. This is still the case but now, there are some other factors that also come into play.
Each month, more than a billion people use Facebook. Users are accessing millions of Pages (over 18 million Pages to be precise), many of which actively look for ways to show up in people’s News Feeds and they are using a diverse range of mobile devices to do so with different technical capabilities for processing and displaying content. With all that going on, Facebook faces the challenge of controlling what stories users see each time they log in on Facebook and what content from Facebook Pages make it into people’s News Feed. Affinity, weight and time decay are still important but now, there are also categories and sub-categories of affinity.
Facebook is now measuring how close a user is to specific friends and Pages based on not only personal interactions but also global interactions. For example, if Facebook shows an update to 100 users and only a few interact with it, it may not show in your News Feed but if many people actively interact with it, chances are, the story will show in your News Feed.
1. Relationship Settings
Facebook now allows users to choose different relationship settings. For each Facebook friend that you have, you can label the person a “close friend” or an “acquaintance.” With liked Pages, users can choose to “Get notifications” or “Receive updates”. These factors are taken into consideration to determine what shows up in people’s News Feeds.
With 2013 coming to an end, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have published details of how the world snapped, tagged and posted their way through the year. From the new Pope to pop stars like Justin Bieber, 2013 has seen some familiar faces and surprisingly popular places.
Online Highlights of 2013
Let’s talk Instagram. With more than 150 million users worldwide and around 55 million photos posted everyday, Instagram is the perfect way to look back at the year that has almost gone. Earlier this month, the photo-sharing social network revealed its most popular picture and the most Instagrammed locations, cities and hashtags of 2013.
This year, the most ‘liked’ photo on Instagram was Justin Bieber’s picture with Will Smith, collecting more than a whopping 1.5 million likes.
The top location of the year on Instagram was the Siam Paragon shopping mall and leisure complex in Bangkok, Thailand with Times Square in New York and Disneyland in California in the second and third places respectively. No European landmarks made the list, which also includes New York’s Central Park and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. London was the fourth most geo-tagged city behind New York, Bangkok and Los Angeles.
The year’s top hashtags on Instagram include #friends, #food, #fashion and #selfie with the most popular being #love.
Moving on to Facebook, this year, the most talked about topic on the social network was Pope Francis with Miley Cyrus, Nelson Mandela and the former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also in the top 10. News events that dominated the most talked about topics on Facebook also includes the birth of Prince George.
In Twitter verse, Leah Michele’s post after the death of Glee co-star Cory Monteith and the tweet confirming the death of Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker were the most re-tweeted posts of the year.
What’s Google Saying?
In 2013, people searched for:
1. New Beginnings
– On July 22, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy, delivered at 16:24 BST at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.
– As of August 19, fifteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, France, Iceland, Netherlands , Brazil, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry.
– This year, Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the planet.
– Cory Monteith, 31, actor on the television show “Glee” died on July 13 after struggling with substance abuse for years.
– Nelson Mandela, 95, colossus of the 20th century who emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to the white minority rule in South Africa died on December 5.
– Paul Walker, 40, star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series died on November 30 in a car crash.
3. Consumer Electronics
This year, the most searched-for consumer electronics were:
– The iPhone 5s. Although overall opinion to the debut of Apple’s new smartphone seemed to be positive, there were some moments caught on social media that drew wows while others were just ho-hum.
– Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung’s biggest release this year was the Samsung Galaxy S4.
– PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. According to the annual Google Year-End Zeitgeist, PlayStation 4 beat the Xbox One on the consumer electronics searches chart.
4. Other Global Top Trending Searches
1. Harlem Shake. The Harlem Shake is an Internet meme in the form of a video, which became viral early February 2013. The video currently has 68,406,520 views on YouTube.
2. Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is an annual marathon hosted by several cities in eastern Massachusetts. This year, during the 2013 Boston Marathon, at 2:50 p.m. EDT, two explosions occurred about 180 m apart on Boylston Street, in the last 205 m of the course. Three spectators were killed and more than 200 people were injured.
3. Malala Yousafzai. In a world where girls are gazed at more than heard, this newsmaker is no less than a revolutionary. Being featured on Time’s magazine cover as the 100 Most Influential People in the world, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, recipient of the 2013 UN Human Rights Prize as well as many other awards and laurels, this girl surely knows how to get her message across. A pen is surely mightier than the sword as they say.
4. Miley Cyrus. The 20-year-old singer took raunchy performances to a whole new level at the MTV Video Music Awards this year with an explicit display of tongue wagging and twerking.
5. Oscar Pistorius, Aaron Hernandez. The two most Googled athletes of 2013 include Oscar Pistorius and Aaron Hernandez. Oscar Pistoriusis a South African runner who used prosthetic legs after having both limbs amputated at the age of 11. He won numerous gold medals at the Paralympic Games and participated at the 2012 Olympic Games. Pistorius was a source of inspiration for the disabled until the sad news broke that he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Aaron Hernandez has a similar story. A star on the rise, in the summer of 2013, he was convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits. He faces a life sentence in prison without parole.
6. Typhoon Haiyan. Typhoon Haiyan was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in early November 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and at least 6,109 people died in that country alone.
A look at Google Zeitgeist
The Facebook Like button is perhaps the most widely used website widget across the web. It is used on millions of websites around the world and it’s become integrated into the way we browse the web and share interesting content we come across with our friends and contacts. Because of how actions figure in Facebook’s Open Graph, it’s become more important now to use the Facebook Like button across your website than it was before.
Facebook’s Like Button
Facebook’s Like button is the quickest way for people to share content with their social contacts. A single click of the button will ‘like’ pieces of content on the web and share them on Facebook.
How to get the code for your Like button
To get the code for your Like button, fill in the following:
- URL to Like
- Layout of the button
- Width and
- Action type
The Facebook Like button comes in 4 different layouts: standard, box count, button count and button. Facebook also allows two action type options for the Like button: Like or Recommend.
Next you need to check or uncheck the following two boxes:
- Show Friends’ Faces
- Include Share Button
With all the above information specified, click Get Code.
In addition to the settings above, you can also change other things about your Like button. We’ll discuss three.
- colorscheme: The color scheme used by the plugin can be light or dark. The default is light.
- href: This is the absolute URL of the page that will be liked.
- kid-directed-site: If your website is directed to children under 13, you must enable this. The default is false.
A Quick Q&A
Is it better to display the Like button on its own or use the Like and Share buttons together?
The difference between the two options will probably answer this question for you. The Facebook Like button lets people post links to Facebook with a single click. The Share button on the other hand allows users to add a personal message and customize what they are sharing before posting. In most cases, it’s better to include both buttons on your website and allow people to decide how they want to share your content.
Can you display the Share button without the Like button?
Of course you can. To do so, follow this link https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/share-button/ instead of the one above.
As of August 27 2013, Facebook has new terms applying to all Pages making it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and run promotions on the social site. Here is what you basically need to know:
– Promotions on Facebook can now be administered on Page Timelines. Previously, this was only possible through apps. This means that businesses can now:
- Collect entries by having fans and followers post on a Page or comment on a Page post
- Collect entries by having fans and followers message a Page
- Use Likes as a voting system
What remains unchanged is that like before, businesses cannot run promotions on personal Timelines.
– Accurate tagging is now a requirement in promotions. This maintains accuracy of Page content and prohibits Pages from encouraging Facebook users to tag themselves in content they are not actually depicted in.
For instance, if you own a bar and you have a new drink, it’s OK to ask people to submit names for your new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize but you cannot ask people to tag themselves in pictures of your new drink in exchange for a chance to win a prize.
More about Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines
Before we get into what’s changing and the best practices for businesses to create and administer promotions on Facebook, let’s think about what is considered a promotion on Facebook.
On Facebook, a promotion typically includes 3 components:
- Element of chance
- A giveaway
Facebook has now removed the requirement that promotions on the social site may only be administered within apps. Promotions are now also allowed on Page Timelines but not on personal Timelines. These new promotion guidelines make it easier for businesses of all sizes to create and run promotions on Facebook.
To make the most of these new Page terms, here are a few things to consider:
Local business owners are constantly assessing whether or not social media is a rewarding promotional vehicle. In most cases, the dilemma stems from the fact that successful social media marketing costs but there is clear evidence that businesses have been propelled forward using social media because consumers gravitate to these channels of communication.
As a business owner, you want eyeballs on your products and services. According to this list of the most popular websites worldwide, clearly the social networks including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are where the large swaths of consumers are.
The Value of Social Media for Local Businesses
The social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest have huge volumes of visitors. Of course, just because a social network has millions of users does not mean that it’s an estimable tool for business promotions. There is a valid criticism that for some types of business promotions, the social networks and the activities taking place on them are not serviceable. With that said, there are a few other arguments against social media for local businesses.
1. No Real Sales
Businesses usually don’t see direct sales from social media marketing activities. People use the social sites to find products and services. There is no real purchase intent involved.
2. No Real Traffic
Work and content invested in social media is a lot like “sharecropping.“ There is not much traffic that gets referred from the social sites to websites.
However, what you need to realize is this:
– Business promotion is by nature ephemeral work. The benefit lasts for only a limited period of time whether it’s on the social networks or offline. For example, you could set up shop in a neighborhood someday and after a couple of months, the road infrastructure changes and traffic is directed away from your district.
– And secondly if you are not getting real sales and enough site traffic from the social networks, you are probably not doing your social promotion right.
The Benefits of Social Media for Local Businesses
In addition to the obvious benefits of social media including the traffic and sales prospects that the social networks lend to your site, there are other substantial arguments for social media marketing.
1. From an SEO Perspective
Activities on the social media networks generate social signals that can help sites rank better in the SERPs. Both Google and Bing acknowledge that social signals are now important ranking factors in their search algorithm mix.
2. Proactive ORM
Activity on some of the more popular social media networks provides your business with leverage and safeguards your reputation. For example, say a prospective customer Googles your business name, your social profiles and status updates are more likely to rank in Google’s search results over negative webpages from dissatisfied customers and competitors.
Search engine optimization and social media marketing have become extremely important for most businesses to become a successful online brand. A question often asked by marketers in social media conferences and events is about the ROI on social media investments. While measuring the social media ROI is not an easy task (its another topic altogether), these tips will certainly help you improve your social media marketing ROI.
1. The Humanization of Brands
Consumers today are very active on the social sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. This perhaps explains the reason why brands today want to engage with their prospects through social media.
In 2012, the most important thing that digital marketers learnt about social media marketing is this: For success on the social media sites, you need to humanize your brand. You need to find a way to connect to people. On the social sites today, people choose what they like and who they want to interact with. The interaction is more often than not personal.
So basically, if you use social media to drive traffic to your website and increase your conversion rate, you need to get up close and personal with your fans and followers to make them feel like they belong. You need to be more than a brand. You need to be a name, a face and an authority figure. Share relevant links, photos and videos. Let people in on some behind-the-scene action. Build an online business community around your brand.
In addition to having a great persona on the social sites, you also need to engage with your fans and followers. Without engagement, there is only so far you will get in terms of social media success. Without a good and workable engagement strategy, you will nullify the effect of your social media campaign.
So engagement is important but what does it imply exactly? What does engagement on the social media sites include? Does posting an update everyday count as engagement? Do redirecting people to useful resources count as engagement?
On the social media sites, engagement does not have a clear-cut definition but it includes the following:
– Reaching out to people by showing an interest in what they have to share
– Providing real value in the community by participating in discussions
– Being generous in sharing resources
– Always having the right answers ready for your fans and followers should they have any query
– Asking for feedback
– Dealing with positive but also negative feedback with good social skills
On the social media sites, people put a premium on things like transparency and honesty. In the past, brands have made the mistake of providing fake profile information and misrepresenting themselves to be something they are not. Even today, the social sites are littered with fake profiles and inaccurate information.
If you want to connect with people, be a brand that people can trust to be honest. Be transparent.
Social media today allows for consistent networking and business branding. This helps you stay in the visual and mental periphery of the members of the social networks and, if you are successful, establish your reputation as an authority in your field. Business branding on the social sites starts with interaction with others, offline and in the digital space.
8 Practices for Successful Business Branding on Social Media
1. Keep it Social
Unfortunately, some people forget the “social” in social media marketing. The social networks are all built on a first principle: getting social with others. If you are on the social sites increasing your business reach and impact, you will actually need to get social with the members of the network including industry influencers, customers and anyone who reaches out to you. As a matter of fact, excluding certain people like trolls and spammers, social media branding is all about building relationships with different kinds of people.
2. Choose a Voice and Set the Tone for your Brand
Depending on the kind of impact you want to have on your followers and customers, your voice on the social networks can be corporate or more easy-going and casual. Either way, it does not matter as long as you stay true to your image. Remember that what you share says a lot about you.
For social media success, your social media voice and tone should match the demographic you are targeting. If your voice is not sitting well with your target audience, it’s time to make a change.
3. Keep Things Short and Sweet
Twitter allows for 140-character tweets. There is no such restriction on the other social sites including Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. You will find that on the social sites, sometimes shorter is better. Keep your messages resourceful and your language simple and concise.
4. Brand Awareness is Important
Social media allows businesses to grow their public profile. On Twitter, LinkedIn and many of the social networks, you have the possibility to reach out to industry influencers, create grassroots campaigns and participate in active conversations. By creating and sharing valuable content, you can come in the rear view mirror of your industry influencers and then it’s only a matter of time before a flood of new followers is directed your way.
Social buttons, strategically placed on your website and at the top of any content you share with your audience, makes your website more social. They help spread content organically and aid general search engine optimization. The question is: How many social buttons are enough?
Too few may limit the reach and impact of your business.
Too many may dilute your impact on the most important social sites.
What to do?
Pick the most valuable social buttons and drop the rest.
Facebook has over 1.1 billion users. It is by far the most widespread social network and it is the platform that receives the highest levels of engagement. If you have to pick ONE social button to include on your website and at the top of your posts on your blog, it’s a no-brainer that a Facebook “Like” button would be the obvious choice. Traffic on Facebook is too heavy for marketers to pass on it.
Second to Facebook in popularity is Twitter. Twitter has over 500 million users although, statistically, only 200 million of the users are actually active. However, Twitter is a much more open channel of communication as compared to Facebook: users can ‘follow’ whomever they please. This makes Twitter ideal for sharing content. The Twitter button is valuable.
Although nowhere as popular as Facebook, the social network by Google offer the unique advantage that it is by..well Google. It does not matter how many users are actually active on Google+ or what the level of engagement is like on the social network, the Google ‘+1’ button is valuable for the simple reason that it is helpful from an SEO perspective. It is no secret that social signals are now important ranking factors. Social shares are important to Google, especially Google +1s.
Predominantly a business-oriented social network, whether or not you should include a LinkedIn social button on your website and blog is something you will have to assess for yourself. LinkedIn is not a platform people use for entertainment . In fact, most people sign up on LinkedIn for the purposes of recruiting employees, looking for a job or staying in the loop with business networks.
Say you work 48-52 hours a week. After making it through a typical week, you can choose two things you to do.
- You can order some pizza, buy some beer and just chill out on your couch catching up on your favorite television shows.
- Alternatively, you can call up some friends and make a night of it hitting a couple of bars.
As tempting as staying in for a lazy night might sound, let’s face it, if only you find the energy to get the party started, a night out could turn out to be a lot more fun than catching up on reruns of “Friends”. All you need to do is put in that extra effort.
When it comes to social media marketing, the same principle applies. How so you might ask? Let’s draw some parallels here.
- A social media strategy can be lazy and a solo mission whereby you only invest minimally in what you share with your audience.
- Or your social media marketing strategy can be top-notch, creative and structured to truly engage your audience.
Choosing to Go for That Night Out | Things You Can Improve About Your Social Media Strategy
1. Decide Where to Go
The first thing about planning a night out is deciding where you want to go. You probably have a few favorite bars in town. Alternatively you can ask some friends for suggestions or do a Google search to find places with the best reviews. Having a well-informed plan will mitigate the chances of you wasting precious time bouncing from place to place on a night you are supposed to have fun.
Similarly, because of the importance of social signals as ranking factors, many online businesses are currently jumping on the social media marketing bandwagon without a workable marketing strategy
Do your homework first. Determine which social platforms are best suited for marketing your business. You can have an incredible Twitter marketing plan but if all your prospects are on Pinterest, that leaves you back to square one. You need to be where your target audience is.
2. Clean up Nice and Tidy
No matter what kind of week you’ve had at work, you would not think about hitting the bars in town in sweatpants and sneakers, would you? Whether you are familiar with this bar you are going to or it’s completely new territory, chances are, you will strive to meet an appropriate dress code.
On the social sites, a similar principle applies. You need to understand your customers and the type of interaction they are expecting from you before you can design a marketing strategy to impress and conquer with the right messages.
3. Don’t Forget to Accessorize
An outfit on its own has little if any chance of cutting it. What make you look good are the accessories that you use alongside the outfit: maybe a fashionable watch or a killer purse or some kind of bling.
In social media, monitoring tools are not a must but they can provide an incredible insight into the psyche of your prospects, which can jump start your social media marketing efforts for SEO success.
If you are not willing to pay for the big bucks for a premium social media interaction-monitoring tool, there are many relatively inexpensive or even free tools available including Social Mention, Commun.IT and HootSuite.