Thumbs Up or Down? Facebook is Killing the Thumb.

New Facebook Like Button

The iconic thumb is dead (well, dying at least). Facebook has removed the thumb from most of their standard like and share buttons, replaced by the Facebook logo itself.

This is a smart move. The thumb was getting old. People are starting to see the Facebook logo pop up everywhere and the thumb was a little ambiguous to some. While the majority of people knew what it was and who it represented, now there’s no doubt what social activity you’re doing with a post when you click the button.

I like it. Do you?

Here’s the report from The Verge:

Aside from design, Facebook is also pairing its Like and Share buttons in hopes that websites will include both. Most people might not know the difference between them, but Bao emphasizes that there’s a distinction. The Like button instantly posts content to Facebook, while the Share button lets you add a comment before posting, or lets you share the content in a specific place like a private message. In Facebook’s tests, the new buttons got clicked more often than the old ones, possibly because they’re a bolder, more visible color. As the web gets flooded with more ways to share links, it turns out even one of the most popular websites in the world still needs to stand out.

Read More: The Verge

The 30 Minute Social Media Management Schedule

30 Minutes

In an ideal world, you’re the social media and content manager for your company. You spend eight hours a day harnessing the power of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ while developing content for your blog and YouTube channels. It’s tough, but you’re making it happen.

In the real world, you’re probably responsible for a ton of different things and social media was tossed onto your pile of work. How can you cope? Is it possible to have a strong social media presence without devoting a ton of time to it? Yes and no. Yes, you can have a pretty decent one, but 30-minutes as detailed below is the bare minimum to be considered truly active. I’ve seen people do it in about 2 hours a day and have a super strong presence.

For those of you who are having to hold it together until help (or more time) arrives, here’s a great infographic that can work as a daily checklist of activities that you need to accomplish to maintain the minimum level of social media power, courtesy of Pardot.

30 Minute Social Media Infographic

Facebook Wants to Track Your Cursor

Facebook Cursor Tracking

There are heat maps that show where people click. That’s not good enough for Facebook. They want to see where your cursor goes on the screen. This extreme level of data collection might not make much sense, but from a marketing perspective, it’s an important thing to know.

They already have a good idea about whether or not you’ve seen something on your screen, but they want to improve that as well. Right now, they present a virtually infinite number of posts on news feeds, but different people scroll different lengths as they progress down the page. They want to know exactly what made it into the visible part and what did not.

This will help them understand user interaction (or lack of interaction) to better serve content that is more relevant to a user. For example, if you’re presented three ads three different days by the same company and you did not interact with it at all, scrolling passed it or ignoring it, then they know you’re less likely to find it valuable and will start serving you ads from someone different. This is why you should never, ever waste a Facebook post. They all count.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal reports:

Facebook Inc. is testing technology that would greatly expand the scope of data that it collects about its users, the head of the company’s analytics group said Tuesday.

The social network may start collecting data on minute user interactions with its content, such as how long a user’s cursor hovers over a certain part of its website, or whether a user’s newsfeed is visible at a given moment on the screen of his or her mobile phone, Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin said Tuesday during an interview.

Read More: Wall Street Journal

The Three Numbers to Watch on Facebook Posts

Tracking Your Facebook Posts

Understanding success or failure of marketing on Facebook can be broken down to the basic element: the post. Judging the effectiveness of your posts is clear and easy with Facebook Insights.

While the platform (finally) has a robust dashboard that allows users to dive deep into the effectiveness of their page, there are three numbers to monitor for each individual post that can help you know if you’re truly finding success.

 

Post Clicks

This is the easy one, but it’s also the one that needs a clear understanding. “Clicks” on a post are different depending on what type of post it is. Any link associated with the post counts as a click, so whether they click the name of the page, the date, the link if it’s a link post, the play button on a video, the image itself on an image post, or the “more” button to expose more of a status update, it counts.

This number has to be viewed in relation to other posts of its kind. For example, getting 50 clicks on a link to your website is more impressive than getting 60 clicks to an image because images get clicked a lot more often than links. Comparing how links perform relative to other links is the right way to look at these numbers.

 

Likes, Comments, and Shares

This is a no-brainer. Did they engage? Did they find enough entertainment or informative value in your post to do something publicly with it?

If you make statements, you should get likes from those who agree. If you ask questions, you should get comments from people replying. If it’s an image, are people sharing it? These are the pieces of information that you’ll want to track and improve upon when viewing this number.

 

Post Reach

This is the all-important number of the group. Regardless of how many people are interacting with your content or clicking through to your posts or links, are enough people seeing it? The previous two numbers have an influence on reach, but they are usually superseded by the advertising dollars spent.

If you’re advertising, the previous two numbers are still extremely important. Throwing money at bad posts will get you a short-term gain, but it isn’t sustainable. If your advertised posts are not able to get the positive algorithmic benefits of engagement and clicks, your dollars are going to start yielding less. Thankfully, the opposite is true as well.

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The Teen Exodus from Facebook is NOT a Permanent Departure

Facebook Teens

There’s a real beauty to Facebook for adults. It allows us to keep track of things that are happening in the lives of those important to us such as friends, coworkers, family, and those who are distant from us. It’s for this reason that the hoopla about Facebook losing too many teens is being misunderstood by many, including Facebook itself.

Here’s the thing. Facebook isn’t cool. It hasn’t been cool for a couple of years. It was cool before more adults started getting on it. Now it’s a drag, at least from a teen perspective. They see their parents spending as much if not more time on it than they were and they simply don’t want to be using the same social network as them. It’s pretty natural. Few teens want to be hanging out in the same places that their grandparents hang.

More importantly, they don’t have to. The people that they want to interact with are the people that they see for several hours five days per week. For the most part, their world is isolated to their friends from school. Facebook brings no additional value to fulfill their lives the way it does with adults. As some flock to Instagram, Twitter, and other social networks, it’s natural to see this sort of exodus.

They’ll be back.

When they graduate and they really want to know more about people than what they can see in 140-characters or less or what they can discover from a 15-second video, they’ll turn to the same place they abandoned. When their friends go off to different colleges, take on different jobs, and move to different states or countries, they’ll want to keep tabs on them in ways that only Facebook can deliver.

This isn’t the end of Facebook. Kids might be the driving force that makes networks popular, but Facebook has reach a self-sustainability point. They are flocking away from it now, but they will flock right back to it in the future. They’ll have to when they can no longer see their ex-boyfriend and who he’s talking to in the lunch line. Businesses must understand this in order to make appropriate decisions about whether or not to invest in Facebook as an advertising venue. As Zach Billings mentioned in a blog post the other day, “If your target audience is an older crowd, then Facebook is still the social network of choice.”

If your future target audience is the teens that will some day be adults, then you should still stick with Facebook.

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Facebook’s Autoplay Video Ads are on Hold

Bud Bowl

There is a revenue stream that Facebook has been dying to tap into for some time now. It’s one that many advertisers cannot wait to get their hands on and it’s the type of advertising that Facebook users are going to absolutely hate. Facebook autoplay ads are coming. They’re just not coming as quickly as expected.

Facebook started playing with autoplay video ads last year and were expected to roll them out by the middle of 2013. Then, we were told that they would likely come out in November. Now, word on the street is that they won’t be available until 2014. The reason is simple. Users are going to despise them. Some will leave Facebook as a result of them – that’s how obnoxious they will be. They will destroy some of the trust that Facebook has built up around its user experience and they aren’t ready to take that chance just yet.

The good news for users – you won’t hear them unless you click on them. The bad news – they’ll play whether you want them to or not. This will be a huge play for Facebook’s profits, but will it do more damage than good in the long run? That’s the question that they apparently haven’t answered yet, thus the delay.

These rumors come from AllThingsD:

Sources tell AllThingsD that Facebook has been advising some advertiser clients not to expect a rollout of the much-awaited auto-play video ad product before 2014. The ad format was originally supposed to make its debut in the first half of this year, but that never happened, and its launch has been pushed back several times since then.

Read More: AllThingsD

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Move over Google, Facebook will win the Internet


Mount Google

The Internet Mountain

Having worked in the online marketing industry for over 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go.  I’ve also seen companies ascend the mighty internet mountain, only to pass out from the lack of oxygen and come tumbling back down.

Currently, there’s little doubt that Google stands atop that internet mountain.  They’re the biggest, the baddest, and the most influential company on the internet, in my humble opinion.

If you want to find something on the internet, you most likely resort to using Google to find that something you’re looking for.  This is especially true with finding businesses.  However, I believe that the war for internet supremacy, while currently dominated by Google, will not ultimately be won by that behemoth.

Who do I believe will be the victor when the dust settles?  Currently, I believe that company to be Facebook.  Now, this could change.  A newcomer could come on the scene and dethrone Facebook.  My real point is; the internet won’t be won by a search company but rather a social media company.  Here is the reason why.

 

Organic Search Bomb

Any business owner that relies on organic internet traffic has probably had the following experience.

One day, a business owner wakes up and sales aren’t coming in as regularly or perhaps the phone isn’t ringing as often as it usually does.  Flummoxed, the business owner does a quick analysis of his company’s online marketing channels and finds nothing out of sorts.  Then, he goes to Google and types in a familiar keyword that brings up his company’s website in the #1 spot.

To his amazement, his website isn’t in the top spot anymore.  In fact, it’s all the way down at number 6!

He quickly calls his webmaster and asks all the usual questions.  Did something happen? Did we do anything? Is something broken?

More and more I’m seeing this happen with my clients.  And the funny thing is, it has nothing to do with what they’ve done, but rather, how they’re now being viewed.  And the one doing the viewing is Google.

Maybe it was a Panda crawl, maybe it was Penguin or maybe it was some other covert aspect of Google’s algorithm that no longer likes the company’s website.  The point is; they’ve taken a hit.  They’re revenues have taken a hit.  And this drop in rankings has caused serious damage to the company.

I’ve seen entire companies fold because of organic search problems.  I’ve seen layoffs and downsizing due to this as well.

 

Social Media: Steady as She Goes

Now, let’s examine how this scenario would play out if the company we’re discussing drew most of their customers in through Facebook.

The business owner wakes up one morning.  His sales are steady, his calls are coming in as expected, and his company is humming along.  He logs into the admin side of Facebook and notices that his “likes” have jumped from 62,125 to over 63,000.  Great news!

He gets his marketing department to develop an online promotion and posts it on the Facebook page.  At which point, a good number of his followers share it, like it, and redeem the offer.

And this brings me to the point of this article.  A company’s followers on Facebook won’t fluctuate due to an algorithmic change on Facebook’s part.  The number won’t shoot down due to something completely out of the company’s control.

Yes, the company’s follower number can take a hit with bad press or a mistake on the company’s part.  But, those actions are not nebulous and they’re usually easy to identify and find a solution.  Unfortunately, the Google algorithm isn’t as easy to decipher.

 

Google’s Ultimate Downfall

As an SEO (search engine optimization) consultant, I read hundreds of blogs from industry insiders and Google employees.  And I’m shocked at the lack of consensus on what actually affects Google rankings.  You could take two “experts” in the SEO field and ask them what are the top 10 ranking factors and you’ll get two very different lists.

This also brings up the point of Google’s willingness to change the rules of the search engine game.  They will make broad changes to their algorithm that affect thousands if not hundreds of thousands of companies and give little or no notice of the change.  (Exact match domains, anyone?)

Whereas, Facebook actually seems to want to help companies increase their reach and exposure. (Graph Search, news feed optimization, etc.)

All of this doesn’t even take into account the fact that people trust a friend’s referral over an organic search result, but that’s an argument for another time.

The bottom line is this.  Companies are built on the idea that they can make projections on revenues.  A big part of those projections is their marketing.  More and more, companies will find that social media offers a steadier, more efficient, and more reliable medium for marketing over organic search rankings.  As this shift continues to take place, you’ll see more companies divert their marketing dollars towards Facebook.

There are already signs of Google losing marketing dollars to Facebook.  And the pace of that loss is accelerating.

I don’t know when Google will get light-headed from lack of oxygen, atop the internet mountain, and come tumbling down.  But I do know that Facebook is well stocked with mountaineering supplies, and they’ve made base camp just below the summit.  They’re just waiting for their opportunity to ascend.

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Why Facebook’s New Publishing Tool is a Threat to Twitter

Buzzfeed Facebook

Since the beginning, Facebook has been a place where people share what they’re doing. They post pictures, videos, and status updates that let their friends and family know what’s going on in their lives at that very moment. Some use it to post thoughts on things that are happening at that moment. Others simply share the latest joke they heard. For the most part, Facebook has not been successful at driving traffic to websites relative to its size.

That has changed in the last year. People are more open and willing to open links from Facebook. They are willing to use it to see interesting posts on blogs and news websites. This can be most easily seen from sites like Buzzfeed that saw a 855% increase in traffic year over year compared to a “mere” 208% for news site TIME.

The one thing they haven’t mastered is in real-time news. That’s Twitter’s wheelhouse. Despite the shared real-time nature that the sites share, the simplicity and chronological order of posts on Twitter make it a faster way to see the current links of immediate stories. Publications can post much more often to Twitter without losing followers than they can on Facebook where over-publishing can force them to lose fans. Facebook’s new publishing tool hopes to change that.

With the new tool, publishers will be able to see what stories they have on their website that have not been published to Facebook. They’ll also be able to see which ones they should post to Facebook based upon its success in being posted by other users. The immediate goal for Facebook is to encourage publishers to post more often. The end goal is to get them to spend money promoting their posts because of the attention that they’re able to get.

Facebook is already the highest traffic-sending social media site out there, but those numbers are misleading. Relative to their size, they’re actually not sending nearly as much traffic as they could. If they could get more publishers to share more content (something they’ve tried and failed at in the past) then their chances of turning that into additional ad revenue increases.

This is a problem for Twitter. They are banking on major media outlets to pay them for more exposure. Facebook is already making tremendous strides in the business world through their advertising program. If they can take dollars from publishers, television, and other media outlets, it could hurt Twitter in their bread and butter business. Twitter needs publishers to want to promote their posts because they are more effective at the news than at direct business engagement.

Facebook owns business marketing. If they can take over media promotions as well, Twitter might be left with a big chunk of their advertising dollars (as well as their hopes for the future) heading to their nemesis.

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The Easy Way to Master Facebook

Master Facebook

Don’t get me wrong. There’s an extremely complex and effective methodology behind utilizing Facebook as a true marketing and advertising tool that requires some specialized training, a strong sense of creativity, a willingness to experiment, and an unrelenting focus on keeping up with the latest and greatest from experts and Facebook itself.

Then again, there’s a simple way as well. As much as I would love to turn this into a lengthy blog post, I would only be adding fluff. It’s too easy.

Here are the steps:

  1. Post really amazing content on a regular basis
  2. Do NOT post anything that isn’t absolutely amazing just for the sake of getting a post up
  3. Support all of it with Facebook ads
  4. Reply to everything that people post in reply or on your wall

That’s it. Sorry to disappoint those who specialize in social media as a career (I’m one of them) but those are the steps required to make Facebook sing for your business. If you do those steps, you’ll be doing better than literally 99% of your competitors.

With that said, there’s a caveat. This will get you to the top. It won’t keep you there. The truth about Facebook marketing is spreading and more people are starting to get it. This is why there’s hope for people like me. The next 17 steps in the process are much more complicated and result in a stronger Facebook presence designed to drive business. Thankfully, these are the steps to make clients stay ahead of the 99% now as well as next year when 10%-20% start to “get it” with Facebook.

Today, the best way to do it is to hire a professional or to diligently perform the 4 easy steps above.

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Fishing on Facebook for Traffic and Sales #Infographic

Fishing

The majority of businesses on Facebook fall into one of two mindsets. They either use their Facebook feed for sales and marketing only and wonder why they aren’t getting any engagement or they believe that Facebook is strictly a branding tool and there’s no need to try to sell anything or drive traffic to their website. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to prove that both concepts are incorrect.

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