How Will You Be Using Google Plus?

Facebook vs Google

In the battle of the giants, which one will reign supreme? Like vs Plus is a site where you can show your brand loyalty and cast your vote. After all, you can’t both Like and +1 everything, right?

Even if you’re tired of hearing so much on Google +, it’s important to stay connected so that you can adapt in the fast paced world of social media marketing. Here are some more ways you can use Google +:

– Chris Brogan shows us that we can blog with Google +. This basically consists of sharing a video/picture or some other media content and quickly following up in your own post with comments and links.

– Since business profiles are not allowed yet, you can take this opportunity to be innovative and show a personal side. Creating a personal profile associated with your business will allow you to socialize in a niche community and showcase your expertise.

– In a way, Google Circles reminds me of communities and groups on LinkedIn. Creating and organizing different Circles will allow you to network with different groups of people without worrying about keeping matters separate. (For example: connecting with clients, partners, employees, and friendly competitors… frenemies, anyone?)

– Watch out for Google Sparks. This is a section where you can receive personalized news articles and other information based on your interests. I see where SEOs can use this feature to their advantage by utilizing the right keywords.

Google + is more extensive than other social media platforms right now but it doesn’t necessarily mean that users have the time and knowledge to use them all. Let’s just see where all this potential can take us – after all, we’re talking about something that’s less than 3 weeks old!

The Value of a Facebook Fan

How much is a Facebook Fan really worth? When it comes to Facebook marketing, this is an answer that all business owners would like to know.

However, it’s more difficult to calculate ROI on social media marketing because post impressions, Likes and comments can’t always be directly tied to dollar and cents. Many have tried and here are some interesting results:

  • Last summer, Syncapse found the value of a Facebook fan to be approximately $136.38.
  • Earlier, Mashable calculated that a Facebook fan was worth approximately $3.60.

Although all these numbers, formulas and stats are interesting, I don’t think that most local businesses can benefit from these facts. In fact, obsessing over these numbers could really distract from your marketing strategy. To me, this is like focusing on SEO ranking reports without looking at other factors, such as search volume.

Like many other forms of online advertising, Facebook marketing can’t just be analyzed through one factor because one of the most important ones is pretty intangible and that is potential.

That’s why I found this recent study by Hitwise to be so interesting. According to the study focusing on retailers, 1 Facebook fan means about 20 additional visits to your website over the course of one year. I find this to be useful because it comes from another angle on website traffic and doesn’t focus so much on the  $$$. This study also puts customer loyalty into perspective and that is also another important factor that you can improve by using social media.

Do you think these numbers and studies about the value of a Facebook Fan really hold true? In the end, it’s about how much your Facebook fans matter to you and what you want to do about it.

3 Thoughts on Social Media Marketing

Are you feeling overloaded by social media marketing news? If you find that there’s just too much to keep up with, here are 3 recent stories that caught my eye:

Yahoo News Like Log StudyThe Like Log Study by Yahoo! Labs

WHAT: This is a study that is a must read for statistics-fanatics and social media lovers alike. Over a span of 3 months, Yury Lifshits compiled an overview of Facebook Likes, comments and shares of some of the biggest websites and provides insight into what it means.

WHY: Did you know that social media engagement sharply after the first day it’s posted? Timing is everything and it’s possibly why social media optimization is becoming more important.

Is the Twitter RT Irrelevant? by Joel Postman

Twitter Retweet

WHAT: Is Twitter becoming so overflooded with Retweets that they’re actually becoming meaningless? In terms of “usefulness” and originality, RTs may be losing their weight, but what about when it comes to etiquette?

WHY: Last month, we dug a little more into retweeting. This article is thought provoking as we delve into netiquette and how it plays into interacting with your peers.

Brands That are Winning with Multichannel Marketing Strategies by Courtney Boyd Myers

social media best practices

WHAT: A quick overview of how successful brands are playing the social media game. It’s never a bad time to look at some best practices and to see how others are using the multi-channel strategy.

WHY: As much as we’d like to “win” solely using Facebook, Twitter, SEO, or PPC. It’s probably not going to happen. Diversifying your online efforts will give your business better leverage when it comes to amplifying your brand message.

So, after browsing these three stories, what do you think? Are there any other stories that have caught your attention and why?

Posterous for Simplicity

PosterousIf you haven’t heard of Posterous, it’s a blogging platform similar to Tumblr. As for simplicity, many users say that it takes the hassle out of blogging and that it’s even easier to use than WordPress!

Whether you’re thinking about switching platforms or starting a brand new blog, it’s helpful to take a look at why Posterous is becoming a popular choice amongst bloggers today.

  1. Design: Like WordPress and Tumblr, you also have a wide variety of choices when it comes to your blog’s theme and it’s also fully customizable.
  2. SEO – While Posterous isn’t exactly known for being search engine friendly, some say that the ‘constant theme’ is a plus. Since your pages will all look the same, this will help search engines crawl your blog and easily tell the difference between design and content.
  3. Social media integration – Posterous is extremely flexible when it comes to connecting to your social media profiles. Have you ever tried connecting something from your WordPress blog to Facebook? It’s do-able but rifling through plugins is time consuming and takes away from your blogging time. With Posterous, you can connect to Facebook, Twitter,  Flickr and more in one easy step.
  4. Simple blogging – Most bloggers use Posterous because it makes it easier for them to blog. There’s no need to deal with complicated plugins, updates and errors that can pop up in WordPress. With an email option, bloggers can collect any thoughts that pop up and post it as fast as they can fire off an email.

Posterous seems like a great light-weight blogging platform for those who don’t want to deal with the hassles of other services. While it may not have as many tools for internal customization and help with SEO, it’s social media integration is far ahead of WordPress and Blogspot. The good thing is that it’s free, so if you’re an avid blogger looking for new things – why not give it a try?

Optimizing Your Facebook Posts (Part 2)

Now that you know about how Facebook ranks Top News posts (see previous post), you’re probably wondering how you can optimize your posts for optimal viewing.

To optimize your posts, you’ll need: regular updates that are also engaging.

As easy and simple as that sounds, you’ll find that there is much more to it, especially when you have to apply it to your target audience. Speaking of, here are a few things you can try:

  • Target your Facebook updates by region. Before you post an update, hit the Everyone/Customize button (next to Share) to choose specific states or even cities. Depending on your product/service type, this can really help you zero in on your audience and experiment with the best types of updates for them
  • Encourage comments. If you’re unsure of where to start, you can start with simple yes/no, this/that posts. Giving users direction will often help illicit responses rather than just open-ended ‘please comment’-type posts.
  • Use different media. Your Facebook Page updates shouldn’t be filled with all text, picture or video updates. Mix it up from time to time to give your fans something different to look at.
  • Give them a reason to keep coming back. Do you want to offer helpful information, great deals, weekly updates or just entertainment?  You can’t expect repeat visits if people don’t have a reason to do so

This is a great example of a post that works because of the right elements. Adventure Time is a Cartoon Network show and this update includes: a video, a connection to being a fan of their Facebook Page, and a reminder of when you can watch their show.

So, the next time you think that just making a Facebook update will automatically make it visible to all your fans – think again! Social media marketing takes a lot of hard work and time and that’s why it continues to be such a big deal.

Optimizing Your Facebook Posts (Part 1)

You’re on Facebook and making posts. But, did you ever stop to see IF your posts are even being seen? Before we explore how to make the most out of those Facebook posts, it’s important to understand the method behind it.

The image above should look familiar. When you log onto Facebook, your friends’ posts or organized by ‘Top News’ or by ‘Most Recent’ posts.

Personally, I always like to view Most Recent posts. But according to an article on Social Media Today, a staggering 95% of people only view posts on the Top News feed, missing other posts that don’t rank as high. By default, posts are automatically organized by Top News.

So, did you know that Facebook has an algorithm for ranking these posts? It’s called Edgerank and consists of three main factors:

  1. Affinity – this relies on the relationship between you and the other user. If you guys interact more on Facebook (messages, wall posts, profile views), your friend’s “affinity score” will be higher than other people you don’t really talk to.
  2. Weight – Facebook gives a different weight of importance to things that you can engage in (Like, comment, tag).
  3. Time – Facebook is pretty much based in real-time so it’s not surprising that older posts become less important.

Knowing this should give you a better idea of what shows up on your main Top News feed and why. This is especially important for businesses because it’s only estimated that 40% business wall posts show up on Top News feeds.

Make sure to stay tuned for our next post later this week as we explore different ways you can optimize your Facebook wall posts!

Making the Most of Your Social Media Content

content creation

After all your hard work , you want to make sure that your efforts don’t get lost in the sea of online content. From your regular blog posts to  Tweets, here are some ways you can make sure that you’re making the most out of your social media content:

  • Blog – Writing a post-worthy blog isn’t enough to get your content found. Make sure to fill out the Title, meta description, anchor text, tags with meaningful and relevant keywords before you post. You can also edit the URL of your post to make it shorter and more concise (see: the url of this post vs the title)
  • Images – When you add pictures to your blog or website, always remember to add a title or description. Even if it’s just your brand name or a broad description, these words will go a long way!  My pet hamster made it to the first page of Google Images because I optimized a Flickr photo his name in the title, tags and description.
  • Video– It’s easy to optimize YouTube videos. Properly optimized videos are powerful assets that will benefit your brand in the long run because they have a strong staying power (especially if you get them to rank for a specific location/niche.)
  • Twitter– Keep your messages short and sweet and don’t be afraid to include target keywords and other terms you want to be associated with. A fun part of Twitter is that your responses to other users and retweets also count as content.
  • Facebook– This isn’t the place to blast the same messages over again. Neither is it a place to overtly self-promote. With New Facebook Pages rolling out, you can make your fans keep them engaged and make them feel like they’re part of something exclusive by creating unique, well-timed messages.

What are some other ways you properly optimize your social media content?

Managing Your Online Reputation

As Joan Jett famously sang,”I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation.

If you’re amongst the few with this mindset, there’s always room for improvement. One important aspect of social media marketing is managing your online reputation. And that consists of two basic parts:

1) Staying alert about negative feedback
2) Being ready to respond quickly and appropriately

Social Media Monitoring
There are many different tools and services that can keep you updated on what’s been said abut your business. Good ol’ Google Alerts should be the first on your list and it’s also free. Radian 6 and Monitter are a few others that come to mind.

Regular participation on your social media profiles should also help if you get any customer inquires or direct complaints. (Another reason why you shouldn’t just create profiles and let them sit there.) Remember, these are only tools that will help you be more aware of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Crafting a response is another area to focus on.

Choosing an Appropriate Response

When I see a bad review on Yelp or Facebook, it’s always refreshing to see a meaningful reply from the business owner. Unless, it’s something like this: “Why don’t you come in here and say it to my face?”

As verified business owner, you can respond directly to reviews on Yelp, Google Places or Yahoo! Local Listings. But remember, your online reputation and future business is on the line, so it’s probably not wise to blame or threaten the customer. There are many things you can do in these cases but it’s best to take action first – especially before the complaints pile up. You can invite the customer to a more private mode of communication and help fix their problem. You can also apologize for their experience and invite them to try your products/services again. I’ve seen this happen many times with reviews reversed (from bad to good) when customers are offered a second chance.

Brand monitoring is a key function of social media marketing. Don’t let your little problems snowball into a reputation crisis that you can’t avert!

Tools for Measuring Facebook Engagement and Growth

Measuring engagement and ROI can be tricky topics… but even more so when it comes to your Facebook Page. As of now, there is no definitive answer or “right” way to do it. Luckily, there are many tools and strategies that will help give you a better understanding of the social activity on your Facebook Page.

  1. Facebook Insights – I’m not a very big fan but it does the job. Facebook Insights give you an overview of’ ‘Like’ growth since your Page’s creation, fan demographics, and analytics per post. As Mari Smith puts it, impressions are based on the number of times your post is loaded on someone’s Facebook stream. This isn’t very helpful and also doesn’t take into account unique views.
  2. Google Analytics – If you prefer using Analytics, you can embed a tracking code onto a custom tab on your Facebook Page. Again, it might not be too helpful because it can’t be used to track activity on the Wall.
  3. Manually – Depending on how much time you have dedicated to a campaign, tracking engagement manually can be a cost-effective method.

In the end, Facebook measurements can fall short, so it’s important to avoid getting too caught up in numbers. How do you keep track of your Facebook Page growth?

And before I forget, here are some great (free) tools that you can use to track your social media marketing campaigns:

Social Media To-Do List for 2011

It’s the start of a new year, what do you have to show for it? Instead of making useless resolutions that you probably won’t keep, take some time to consider some meaningful ones for your social media plan:

Defeat randomness: It’s tempting to be random because of the social nature of these sites. But don’t!
Start off with a plan and develop objectives that you can stick to. Just like failing with your New Year’s resolutions, you start off by falling off on one day of working out, then three, then weeks and months go by! This is why you see so many abandoned Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages.

Avoid over reliance of social media – Instead of trying to branch out all at once, it’s easier and more effective to focus on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on your industry. Do a few things at a time so that you can do them well. You can always add more sites later if needed.

Another thing: if your site, products and services suck, do you really expect a handful of tweets to fix that? Think of social media as an extension of your brand’s image.

Invest in the biggest asset of time – Research and training will help you effectively carry out your social media objectives. It will also give you a better feel of the changing social environment and possibly build more more genuine online reputation. The main problem is that of time and many business don’t have the want or patience to invest.

What are some of your social media resolutions for 2011?