Are You Using Facebook Ads to Generate New Sales Leads for Your Business?

Facebook Ads

You should be. It’s easy.

This article will discuss optimizing your Facebook Ads for capturing leads. I’ll give you ten best practices on optimizing your ads for engagement, and then focus on lead capturing strategies – and why Facebook Ads’ targeting tools are changing the way we’re generating leads online.

Let’s get started.

 

Optimizing your Facebook Ad for Engagement

Let’s get this over with so we can get to the good stuff. If you’re not already implementing these ten strategies below, do it now, and watch your Facebook Ad click-through-rates increase.

Image best practices:

  • Pictures of people (specifically a smiling, wholesome woman) generate more engagement than anything else
  • Pictures of animals and babies take 2nd and 3rd
  • Odd-looking or humorous images cause Facebook users to do a double-take, increasing their chance of reading your headline or body copy text
  • Avoid complex images. Keep it simple and devoid of text

Headline Best Practice:

  • The word ‘free’ and dollar values work to grab the eye of Facebook users
  • Focus on attracting the eye, let your body copy convince the user to click

Color and Detail Best Practice:

  • Avoid blues and whites as they’ll cause your ad to blend into the existing Facebook color scheme
  • Use red, green and orange: bright colors that attract the eye. Red encourages click-through as it makes the heart beat faster (giving the illusion that time is passing faster than it is). This encourages people to act impulsively
  • Don’t be afraid of borders. If your ad’s landing page image is blue, keep the same image, but throw a colorful border around it
  • Details, like borders, shadows (even increasing the green and yellow gamma on your image) have proven to increase click-through-rates. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

 

Lead Capture with a Contest or Landing Page

Okay, on to the fun stuff.

Integrate your Facebook Ad with a corresponding contest or landing page to generate qualified leads. Use the ad to get them interested (with an awesome value proposition, CTA, and image) and a solid landing page (with USP, image and list of benefits) focused on the email generating call-to-action.

Contests

Contests are a fantastic way to generate qualified, valuable leads, provided you optimize them intelligently and offer the right prize.

Choosing a prize is about finding the happy medium between putting your business out of… business, and offering something nobody wants.

I recommend gift cards. No, they’re not the sexiest thing ever, but they work. A gift card allows you to promote your business as a whole. Anyone interested in any of your products will engage – and only people interested in your products.

Yes you’ll get results with a cash prize or an iPad, but I strongly recommend not doing this. You will, of course, generate a bunch of leads, but how long do you think they’ll stay subscribed to your email list after the contest is over?

A gift card ensures the people who enter your contest are actually interested in what you’re selling. Ask yourself, do you want 1000 leads who have a 2% chance of converting, or 500 leads who have a 10% chance of converting? (For those who hate math, the answer is 500…)

Landing Pages

Traffic Facebook users to a landing page optimized for lead generation. This means offering a reward for the lead, like an ebook or a white paper.

Ebooks are a great way to generate leads. Your business is probably already generating content (you should be, if you’re not). Compile this content, whether it’s a blog article, case studies, or a how-to-guide on balancing your own checkbook, and email-gate it.

Email-gating is simply requiring a visitor to your landing page to provide an email address before getting access to your awesome content. Your landing page should be built around selling this content.

Remember, you’ll get better click-through if your unique selling proposition (USP), value proposition, and image are the same in your landing page as they are in your Facebook Ad.

A/B Test both Facebook Ad and landing page to see what strategies work best for your target audience.

 

Targeting an Audience of Awesome Leads

Facebook Ad targeting is what makes Facebook Ads worth doing – it’s what makes the ROI make sense for small businesses. Facebook Ads can be targeted with a previously-unheard-of specificity. I’m talking targeting an ad at Facebook users who have just sold a used truck. Or targeting not only people in a relationship, but people at different stages of their relationship, or who have just gotten engaged, or who are doing long distance.

Target your Facebook Ad intelligently and you could be seeing a CTR of .1% or higher. Don’t target it and don’t be surprised when you’re getting .02.

For lead generation, we don’t want to target Facebook users by their car-history. Instead…

Target by lookalike audience

  • Import a contact list of current customers, leads, or previous contest entries from your CRM or database
  • Create a lookalike audience, in which the characteristics of your original list are matched with Facebook users who have never met your business
  • Target your Facebook Ad at this audience of people similar to those you know are interested in your product, service, or offers

Targeting by lookalike audience not only increases Facebook Ad CTR (as its made up of people very much like your existing customers) it also gives you a valuable, qualified list of leads more likely to convert in the future.

 

Target by Precise and Broad Category Interest

If you’ve already gone the lookalike audience route, or are looking to change up the details of your business leads (going from small business to middle, or CEO to marketing manager, for instance), target by Precise or Broad Category Interest.

Let’s say you’re using an email-gated ebook (on A/B Testing) for lead generation.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Precise Interest could look like this:

Specific Interests

Provided you’re targeting all english-speaking countries, and your spend budget is set at a maximum of $20 dollars/day, you can expect around 50 qualified clicks. If your landing page is optimized (let’s say at a 20% conversion rate – which is reasonable if you A/B test well and put some time into it) you can expect at least 10 qualified leads each day.

Let’s say you’re using a contest (giving $250 in maternity and baby supplies to new mothers) to generate new leads.

 

Targeting Facebook users by Broad Category Interest could look like this:

Broad Interest

You could also target women with a 0-3 year old baby. This means your ad is only seen by your target audience. The leads you’ve generated (perhaps for an upcoming push into the maternity sector) are perfect for an email marketing and lead nurturing campaign in the coming months.

And once you’ve generated this list of leads, do a lookalike audience on it and start all over again.

 

Conclusion

Hopefully you have a better idea of how to use Facebook Ads to generate leads online. Targeting well ensures your leads are the kind you want. Compare the rate we worked out above with what a lot of lead generating companies charge, and see if this isn’t awesome.

Have you had success, or frustrations, with Facebook Ads? Start the conversation below.

Dealing With Online Trolls As A Businessperson

Internet Trolls

Internet trolls have become unavoidable, no matter what kind of website you have or what industry you’re in. Trolling is basically making a comment that’s designed to make people upset and get a reaction out of them. Most of the trolls I’ve noticed make anonymous posts and comments, but they sometimes make their identity known.  As a businessperson, you don’t want to come across as being aggressive with anyone, customers and non-customers alike.

No matter how much an online troll can frustrate you, you always have to keep your composure and take the higher ground when dealing with them, otherwise you risk ruining your brand and your online reputation. So what else should you do when dealing with trolls?

Remember What They Want

Just like your customers, you have to remember that trolls want something, and that something is a reaction. Trolls will use any means necessary to elicit a reaction either from you or your customers or your readers if you have an online blog. The limits they can go to to stir the pot can be quite shocking, but don’t give them what they want.

While you can ban them or delete their comments, who’s to say that they won’t make up a new profile just so they can continue with their malicious attack? This is why it’s important that you learn to properly deal with them rather than simply delete their harmful comments or ban them.

Ignore Them

Instead of deleting troll comments or banning them, you can simply ignore them and tell your other readers or customers to do the same thing. The moment you engage with them is the moment they really start to set their sights on you. While it’s always a good policy to always respond to comments about your products or services, be they good or bad, online trolls are the exception. Don’t give them the reaction or attention that they’re aiming for and they’re sure to move on.

Don’t Take Things Personally

While it might not seem like it, Internet trolls aren’t attacking you personally. I don’t know what makes people want to scour the Internet in search of innocent prey that they can use to unleash hateful and rude comments on, but I do know that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Should you ever encounter trolls on social media, never think that their comments mean that something is wrong with your products or services. Again, it has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you or your business.

Report Them

Even if you do ban a troll you should still report them so that they don’t keep up with their foolish behavior with other individuals on the same social media site. You should also report them if you’re ever unable to ban them from your social media platform. Make it difficult enough for them to engage anyone in conversation and eventually they’ll move on from the social media site entirely, making things better for you and everyone else.

Laugh About It

Instead of getting angry or frustrated whenever you encounter a troll, have a good laugh about it. Here you are trying to better your life and run a business while other individuals have nothing better to do than make nasty comments. Which of you is actually making something of your life? In fact, maybe you should be flattered that out of all of the other businesses out there they decided to leave a rude comment on yours. You must be doing something right to receive such an honor.

No matter how big or how small your business is, there’s always a chance that you’ll become the next victim of trolling. Learn how to deal with them now so that you can make all of the right moves when/if it happens and so that you can get back to your business as soon as possible.

Source

The Purposes, Parameters, and Limitations of a Company Blog

Blog for Business

One of the most common recommendations for businesses this 2013 is to ramp up content generation and content marketing. They need to do this if they want to maintain a presence in the first SERPs.

Search engines, particularly Google, are working towards providing users with the best possible search results—and that means high-quality websites with original, well-written, and high-quality content. Technical SEO is still important of course, but that alone will not buoy a company website for long.

A blog in general has many uses, but if you cross-match that with the qualities of a company blog, it can give a company the following advantages:

 

1. For SEO

A company blog is a sound solution for company websites that don’t really need to change or update their content that often. SEO 101 tells us that constant updating is necessary in order to rank, and so a company blog resolves that problem. It may be launched on a different platform or site altogether, but the company’s name and link will always be in the forefront.

If you are paying for a recommended SEO company to manage your official website, you should also commission it to create a company blog, if there isn’t one created yet. Anyone can see how useful a blog can be for SEO: it enables you to do content marketing, link building, market content through social media, and even earn additional income through advertising and PPC, among others.

 

2. For Marketing and Promotions

A company blog is an excellent venue for releasing press statements, official announcements, and promotional offers. These bits of news can also be for the benefit of the company’s own employees in lieu of an internal memo or email.

In between these important blog posts, the blog’s writers can post articles and write-ups on topics related to the industry the site belongs to, or the products and services it offers to customers. These blog posts can help with your marketing efforts, too. They allow people to see the relevance of your company and the products and/or services you offer. That will encourage them to purchase something or pay for your services.

 

3. For PR (press relations)

Internet users also tend to be trustful of company blogs. People have the impression that as an authority blog, they contain correct information, accurate facts and valuable articles. Of course, it’s going to be the responsibility of the bloggers to live up to that standard. Doing so will help impress upon the readers the integrity of the company.

The purposes of a company blog are not limited to these three. It depends on what you want to achieve with it, besides being more visible in the SERPs.

 

Topics for a Company Blog

We’ve mentioned earlier that a company blog can be a useful tool for official announcements and the like. But, since it’s unlikely that a company will need to make such posts every week, company bloggers will have to write about other things to keep up with the regular blog post schedule.

The freedom of a company blogger to select topics to write about is often limited by the following conditions:

  • It must be related or pertaining to the industry to which the company belongs to. It makes sense for a cosmetics company to blog about must-have beauty and skin care products for winter or summer, for example. However, readers will no doubt be confused if they find a post talking about budgeting and finance in the same blog.
  • It is in line with, or at least supports, the mission of the company and the principles it stands for. A company that promotes green energy, for example, will not publish posts that applaud technologies and innovations that compromise the environment.
  • It shouldn’t be blatantly speaking negatively about the company’s competition. Not only is this unethical and unprofessional, it also leaves a negative impression on the public.
  • It should never put the company in a questionable light.

So what does that leave company bloggers to write about?

  • The exciting products being developed that customers should watch out for.
  • A commonly-asked question, which is fully answered and explained in the post.
  • Everyday situations will show how your products/services will be very useful.
  • The company’s chosen charity or a recent outreach program.
  • Economic developments and upheavals, how the company responds to them, and how its products/services will be affected/not affected by them.
  • Sympathetic posts about the common problems your target audience face.
  • Transcribed video blogs featuring the company, its stores and branches, the employees, etc…
  • Accomplishments of the company, including awards and recognitions it receives.

A company blog should be a positive reflection of the blog itself. It should be presentable, professional-looking, has obvious credibility, and is trustworthy. Company bloggers can’t go wrong if they keep that in heart and mind.

22 Content Types to Keep You Blogging

Content

One of the hardest parts about blogging is staying consistent and pumping out enough content to keep your readers coming back for more. It’s a challenge, not just because of the time necessary to stay consistent and abundant, but also because it’s possible to run out of ideas. Don’t get me wrong – there’s not really such a thing as running out of ideas completely – but we can hit a road block and sometimes we need to get some inspiration.

Other times, all you need to do is take a look at the infographic below that will give you some examples of types of posts to help keep your juices flowing, your fingers typing, and your content bursting. This graphic comes to us through Copyblogger.

Compelling Content Infographic

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Where, What, and Why: The Content Marketing Trio

Three Stooges

Having tracked data for the last seven years in the automotive marketing arena, I can tell you a few things that I’ve learned that have brought us to where the content marketing world is today. It’s all about process and answering the questions that consumers are asking and it’s something that, as I’ve said time and time again in the past, needs to be viewed holistically.

Rather than go into a long post about how to make it all sing properly (that’s for future posts), it’s important to understand the content marketing trio. No, they have nothing to do with the Three Stooges, but those who don’t understand the consumers’ mentality might ended up looking like stooges in 2014. This is that important.

To get this understanding, you have to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes. You buy things. Take what you know about that and apply it to the mentality and process below.

 

Where

If they can’t find you, they can’t do business with you. This is a no-brainer. You can advertise on the various networks, get your branding in place through billboards and radio, put ads in third-party sites across the internet, and a dozen other ways to help people find you, but it’s search marketing that truly answers all of the questions that start with “where”.

Since content marketing can help your search engine optimization tremendously, it fits in as the first of the trio. Most people are probably finding your website by the name of your company. While this is fine, you don’t need to be heavily optimized to be found for your name. It’s the other people, the ones that are doing generic searches for you by product or service in your local area, that can have a double impact on your business. By being better optimized, you are moving yourself up in searches which means you are also moving a competitor down.

 

What

This is your website. “What” you’re trying to sell should be easy to determine once visitors get there. The challenge is that having a website that’s just like every other website in your market is silly yet so commonly practiced thanks to the mega-vendors and forced OEM adoption.

There is a psychology that goes along with websites that says, “different is usually better”. If your customers visit five websites, four of which look pretty much alike and the fifth, yours, looks different, they’ll wonder why. It will register, even if only on a subconscious level. If the design and content are compelling, you have an advantage.

 

Why

In industries such as automotive where the differences in price are measured in small percentage points, the “why” factor comes into play. Most have a page that’s a variation of “Why Buy from Us” on their website but it gets very few visitors. It takes more than that to get a consumer to consider you over a competitor.

This is one of the many places where social media comes into play. When are people most likely to click on the social media buttons on your website? When they’re done. In other words, they might visit a handful of websites and put in leads at two or three of them. Once they’re done, there’s a decent chance that they’ll click through to your social media presence to see what you’re up to from the human side of the company. What will they see? Will it be a ton of ads? Will it be a ton of “look at me” posts?

What if they saw your community involvement? What if they saw your happy customers? What if they saw the local community engaging with you and you engaging back with them? They might look at you and two of your competitors during the course of their browsing. Will you be the most compelling? Does you social media presence give them a good reason to want to buy from you rather than the store down the block that’s posting boring or unauthentic content on their social media profiles?

Holistic

In future posts, we’ll go into how the holistic method of content marketing can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts, but it’s important to understand that reasons that it’s all tied together. Don’t think search, websites, and social. Think where, what, and why.

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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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A Quick Note on Responsive Design on Blogs

Responsive Design on Blogs

The other day I wrote an article about whether or not to use responsive design on a website. There are really only two choices nowadays – responsive or adaptive – and I recommended in the case of websites such as car dealer websites that adaptive was actually the better choice for now.

Needless to say, I received some nasty emails from those who are fans of responsive design. I, myself, am a big fan of responsive design and noted as much in the post. However, there are certain “heavy” websites that should lean towards adaptive until the internet infrastructure and delivery technology are mastered.

With that said, blogs must be responsive to succeed in today’s media consumption society. There was a time not too long ago when the big push was for “news nuggets”. It was a world that we thought we were getting into that focused less on long-form content and more on content that got to the point quickly. That was a false-positive on the death of long-form content and I was one of those who was (at least partially) wrong about it.

Today, people really do want to take their little gadgets that they carry with them everywhere and read a whole story.

More importantly for the sake of responsive design, blogs are “lite” websites. They aren’t car dealer websites. They aren’t realtor websites. They aren’t loaded (normally) with a ton of hi-res pictures, HD videos, and a ton of widgets and calls to action on every page.

Bloggers, if you thought I was talking to you the other day, I wasn’t. I’m talking to you now. Go responsive or go home.

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6 Basic Mistakes that will bring your Internet Marketing Campaign Crumbling like a House of Cards

House of Cards

Internet marketing has been the song that many e-commerce establishments have been singing and quite rightly so the concept has proved to be one of the most effective business promotion tools of the 21st century. I personally am a very big fun of simplicity and more often than not the main secret for success is simply based on getting the small things right.

For many businesses that are leveraging on the use of the internet to expand their markets setting in place an efficient and goal oriented internet marketing strategy is a primary necessity. However for the last five years simple and basic mistakes have deterred online based businesses from reaping off the maximum benefit of e-marketing. The following is a list of basic mistakes you should avoid in your internet marketing program.

 

Poor Financial Planning

Budgeting is a very important aspect in our day to day life. Am sure many of you will agree with me in this because if you don’t plan your budget well you are doomed to fail in anything you do. When it comes to internet marketing the story is not any different and that is why you need to be careful in your budgetary allocations so as to avoid underfunding and misappropriation.

Marketers should lay down a well planned budget showing distribution of funds for different tasks that need to be carried out. For sure funds allocated for different tasks will vary. For instance, if you want to create a website or to advertise in social media the financial allocation will be very different. Your success in internet marketing will depend on your mode of financial planning therefore plan well and on time.

 

An Impatient Attitude

Many of us lack the virtue of patience but patience is very crucial if you have to achieve your goals and objectives. If at all you need to succeed in e-marketing trust me, you need patience!! Internet marketing is just like a small baby who will go through various stages before they get to walk.

Any marketer should know that also in marketing you will not get results immediately, so you should not give up and wait for the end results because when you start eating the fruits of your labour you will surely enjoy. You should be ready to invest time and money without giving up because if you do you are just like a withered tree.

 

Limiting Your Potential

Internet marketing for sure has a lot of potential and it can help you market a diversity of businesses. Many people underestimate the potential of internet marketing thus not putting a lot of hard work and effort in it. I assure you that if you can put all your efforts this can be the best channel for you to succeed in your business therefore exploit its potential.

 

Poor Leads Follow Up

The most important priority for internet marketing is to generate business leads. Following up leads can help in closing down important sales and customer acquisition. Lead follow up involves simple techniques such as responding to customer queries and concerns as well as offering additional information to potential customers.

 

Being Over Ambitious

Sometime being over ambitious can lead as to do wrong things even lying. Some business owners may not be able to get good leads and may even decide to give empty promises to their customers which they cannot be able to fulfill forgetting that everything hidden in the dark will come to light. Client will end up discovering this lies thus sales will reduce at a great deal. The marketers therefore need to develop marketing strategies that will attract potential customers and within their abilities.

 

Forgetting your On-Page SEO

Another mistake that online based business owners do is forgetting their on-page SEO. Developing well optimized and high quality content is a fundamental game changer that may as well have the  final say if your e-marketing strategy will work or not. The good thing is coming with entertaining and informative content is not hard and anyone can do it. If you can avoid these four basic mistakes, there is no doubt you will be among the few who are now using e-marketing as their mainstream product and service promotion tool.

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Why Social Media is Becoming a Business of Its Own

Silicon Valley

As the worlds of Wall Street and Silicon Valley meet we will see many changes to social media. The prize for profitability remains unclear, however, this has not stopped tech companies from aspiring for a future public offering.

In 2012 we witnessed the efforts of Facebook’s IPO and the conversation surrounding stock price. Today, Twitter is prepared to file for its own IPO this November even after some major concern over the company’s future potential to earn a profit. Why is this important? As we continue to use these social media platforms, our experience will change, quarterly, to keep up with Wall Street.

 

What Does it Mean For Tech?

The tech industry experienced a huge boom in the last decade. Our workforce shifted to ecommerce resulting in a rise of tech start-ups and traditional businesses incorporating social media strategies. These ventures are certainly responsible for a number job creations but now there is a growing concern of sustainability for profit in the tech industry and among social media companies.

These tech companies will compete to further differentiate their offerings, but this must make sense for consumers as well. Currently most tech companies generate a majority of revenues from the sale of ad space or promoted content through various formats like the new tablet pc innovations and the growing popularity of mobile ads.

Twitter is strategizing on how to turn a profit with its own upcoming IPO; while twitter has generated a continuous revenue stream, the company continues to notably lose money each quarter. Social media companies will need to develop new strategies based around the user audience. A better understanding of the primary motivators for consumers is needed rather than the stale focus of selling ad space and gaining revenues.

 

What Does It Mean For The Consumer?

The average eight year old may be considered a social media expert by some. There are so many platforms and we all use them differently. For social media consumers this changing focus to profit from service is something to be weary of.  We will begin to notice ads in our news feeds as we expect commercials on cable.

Be conscious when you click and understand the double edged sword of social media. We are shaping the direction social media. Tech companies are collecting cookies and analyzing our demographics to try news ways of gaining revenue from our efforts. The social media community depends on the people.

These sites are traditionally a place for people to search and share or catch up with distant friends and co-workers. While I don’t believe people will stop using social media, the reasons for which we do may change as a result.

 

Putting It All Together

One absolute takeaway are the trends and movement of social media and the companies responsible. The issues of ad space and ad revenues will continue to rise and consumer reactions to this are going to shape social media as a business. We once used social media in its simple form, but we are now in the middle of a shifting environment; we will see social media become more of a brand portal and concern for content rather than a place to share pictures of food or your friend’s birthday party.

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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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