Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to Advertise on Facebook

It seems like a great place to be. Facebook has the numbers - a huge audience, the ability to target exactly the people you want - but then what? "Please, Facebook," you say. "Take my money and make people Like me or go to my website or buy my stuff."
"Okay," Facebook says. "Do you want a Sponsored Story or Facebook ad? What story type?"
You are a small business owner, perhaps, just trying to spread the word a little, and you maybe don't even have a marketing background. You stare blankly. "Um...what will work best?" you ask.

Up until now, Facebook didn't answer that question. However, the company is testing ways to make the advertising interface less confusing - AND more directly answer questions about ROI and how to specifically drive different types of responses. Instead of asking what type of advertising you want to do, Facebook will instead ask what you want the end result of your advertising to be. As you can see below, it starts by asking "What do you want to promote?" While this is similar to the earlier questions about "what story type," the choices here are a lot clearer, especially to people who don't have a background in advertising.

Even more interesting is the "Objectives" section at the bottom there. This relates to the audience you are targeting. Do you want people to Like your page? Install your app? Click on your ad? More specific targeting goals can only be a good thing as you look for ways to effectively reach your target audience and get the response you need.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Google Changes SEO Algorithms

So you may have heard recently (I believe it was first announced at SXSW) that Google is changing its SEO algorithms (again). Apparently, the question was asked how smaller businesses could compete with large companies on SEO - and what happens when someone searches and the whole first page is optimized content instead of what they were looking for?

The short answer is that Google is moving towards a more semantic search. This means that Google is trying to get at the meaning behind the words that people search with - how the meaning changes when certain words are next to each other. For instance, "New York" is different from a search of just "new" and "york." In other words, semantic search is about the intent, rather than just the keywords.

What this means for SEO is that over-optimized pages will basically be penalized, moving down the search results page in favor of legitimate content. So what can you do about it? As Matt Cutts, head of Google's search spam team, said, "Make a compelling site. Make a site that's useful. Make a site that's interesting. Make a site that's relevant to people's interests...We're always trying to best approximate if a user lands on a page if they are going to be annoyed...All of the changes we make are designed to approximate, if a user lands on your page, just how happy they are going to be with what they're going to get."

So if you were planning on using SEO in your social media campaign, you might want to take a second look at your methods.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blogging vs. Facebook

Key Observations about the State of Blogging
Earlier I found this infographic of 10 reasons how, for businesses, blogging is better than Facebook. And while some of the points are definitely accurate, I thought the graphic was perhaps somewhat biased, and made it sound as if Facebook was unnecessary and a possible liability. I think it's a very convincing argument as to why you SHOULD be blogging, my confusion is why it seems to say you should blog INSTEAD of being on Facebook.

Here are the points made, and my thoughts on them:

"10. STABILITY. No frustrating changes to deal with - Facebook changes are fast and furious, and they can drive you nuts! But your blog is self-hosted, stable, consistent, and dependable."
This is true, and it might be a reason why blogging is easier for you than Facebook. But easier doesn't mean better, and whether on a blog or on Facebook you should be keeping up with relevant design, privacy, or other options in order to best present your information to your audience. Having a blog is not an excuse to never make changes.

"9. BIGGER PAYOFF. Facebook marketing is a risky and uncertain investment, but when done right, the time invested in your blog ALWAYS pays off."
I feel like this one can be turned around. If you do it right, Facebook marketing will also pay off. Whatever platform you are using, if you invest the time and research to do it right, it will most likely show results. In this respect, a blog isn't any less risky than Facebook.

"8. SEO. When done right, blogging improves your search ranking through in-bound links and key-word optimization. Facebook doesn't contribute to your search ranking."
I think this is probably the most important point here. Although Facebook results can and do show up in search, they don't have the same link- and keyword-rich content that a good blog does. And if someone is using a search engine look up your business, they probably aren't looking for the Facebook page.

"7. LONG SHELF LIFE. Your blog articles have a long shelf life because they will continue to be found in search for months/years. Facebook updates only last a few days at the most."
This is definitely related to the point above. When you're talking about search engines, blogging is the way to go.

"6. NEWS FEED. Facebook decides who sees your updates, but on your blog ANYONE AND EVERYONE can see your content."
This really isn't quite true. On Facebook, users decide whether or not to see your content, by "Liking" your brand or blocking it from their news feed. The same goes for a blog. The only people who will see it are the ones who are looking for it - a post might turn up in search, but the user still has to decide to click through.

"5. CONTENT HUB. A blog is the hub of your content and where your thought leadership starts. Facebook only helps you to distribute/promote your content."
My only issue with this statement is the use of the word "only." What, exactly, is wrong with having an outlet to distribute and promote your content?

"4. OFFER MORE VALUE. FB fans will only 'Like" your brand if they think you have something of value to offer. But on your blog you can give them more value via helpful tips, advice, and teaching them new things."
This one makes no sense to me. You can give people tips and advice on Facebook, and when it comes to blogging, it's just as selective - your audience will only read your blog if they think you have something of value to offer.

"3. MORE CLICKING. A compelling link on your blog will most likely be clicked while a link to your Facebook page will most likely be ignored!"
If you're posting links to your Facebook page on your blog and they are being ignored, maybe the problem is that you should be posting links to your blog on your Facebook page instead. 

"2. REACH MULTIPLE AUDIENCES. This includes RSS, email, site visitors, and ALL social networks. On Facebook you can only reach the people that 'like' your page."
So because they've liked your page and not signed up for your email, you should neglect them? Facebook is one of the multiple audiences you want to reach.

"1. CONTROL. You get to do what YOU want...NOT what Mark Zuckerberg wants!"
I'm not sure what to say about this one, except: Mark Zuckerberg wants to make money. Selling ads makes him money. This means that businesses have to see some value out of being on Facebook in order for him to be able to sell ad space. So, what you want from Facebook is value for your business, and so does Mark Zuckerberg. Because that's what will keep you coming back.

I think what I'm trying to say here is, this isn't - or shouldn't be - an either/or scenario. Facebook and blogging do different things for a business, and using them properly together can do more than either could by itself. As the image at the top of the post shows, Facebook is the number one social tool people use to drive traffic to their blogs.

If Facebook isn't working well for you, it might be because you're not using it in the best way. Many business turn to social media just because it seems like everyone else is, and then use it the same way as the other forms of communication they are more familiar with. This makes them, basically, anti-social on social media. By all means, start a blog for your business. But don't neglect other ways to reach your audience.