2013 Social Media Predictions in Review


My lifetime collection of fortunes!About this time last year, we published our social media predictions for 2013.  While we don’t have a crystal ball, if there’s one thing we know about social media, it’s this: things always change.

So, for fun, let’s see how our predictions fared:
Social Media Prediction 1: Technologies will integrate and collaborate.

This prediction could not only mean more integration between social media channels such as WordPress, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter, but it could also mean integrated analytics that include everything from blog views to repins on Pinterest.  This could also mean integration between Google+ and other social media platforms, which could ultimately help marketers with SEO when using social media platforms other than Google+.

How our prediction fared: Well, 2013 has brought us easier ways to collaborate between social media platforms. For one, Facebook connect continues to be a popular plugin, new services allow for publishing to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+ at one time, analytics reports are more accurate and available than ever thanks to new tools…and most exciting, Facebook now has a scheduling feature.  One thing remains the same however: Google Search and Facebook Search are still two different worlds, and considering the fact that are both competing for your traffic, we don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Social Media Prediction #2: In With Real-Time Marketing, Out With “Optimized” Newsfeeds.
Our prediction is that services such as Facebook will have to revert back to some of their old ways, allowing users to control which posts they see and how often, rather than “optimizing” the newsfeed so fans only see one in every seven business page posts.  This will also mean that optimization will focus on timeliness and relevancy rather than profitability, which will make scheduled posts obsolete, and posts that key in on trending topics, priority. While Facebook may not be thrilled to face this reality, fans need to get the updates they signed up for and businesses need to know their efforts have a ROI. If Facebook doesn’t jump on board, our prediction is users will find somewhere else to go…like Google+.

How our prediction fared: Facebook has initiated Graph Search which uses a variety of relational search items such as locality to help users connect with local businesses, groups, and people. We have also noticed that reach among active users has been creeping up…as long as you have the ads to consistently grow your audience. So, in a way, some of the old ways are coming back, but what has changed is that Facebook needs to make a profit, and so ads are increasingly important.  It will never be the free platform of Facebook past.
 Social Media Prediction #3: Social Media Marketing Budgets Will Grow.

We have noticed an uptick in business, and we don’t expect this uptick to turn around any time soon.  Profits and the GDP are at record-setting highs, businesses are still stretching their staff, and social media–once considered “for the birds”–is now more relevant than traditional media.  This all adds up to larger marketing budgets and more work for social media consultants like us.  No longer considered a luxury, businesses are starting to put more emphasis on how social media can improve SEO, create customer loyalty, and build brand awareness.
How our prediction fared: Just look at the number of social media-related jobs on LinkedIn and I think you will have your answer. Budgets are growing to adopt more social media help–in house and as consultants–as well as to pay for those costly Facebook ads :)
Social Media Prediction #4: Relevance is SEO, and SEO is Social Media.

SEO is becoming the new focus of social media.  Marketers will soon post for one purpose: to gain web credibility and SEO. As more social media platforms collaborate, and as Google’s internet empire grows, expect more emphasis to be put on originality, content, and link building as opposed to the early-2000′s tactics of shock and awe for hits. He who creates custom content and shares it with the world (and that means on Google+ too), will reign as champion of the social media SEO game.  There are some smart cookies down there at Google, and they are always finding new ways to give credibility to sites with original, human content, while also filtering out cheaters and spammers in the SEO game.  They aren’t there yet, but we predict they will be soon. And wouldn’t that be a beautiful world? When you Google a term and get the most relevant results, rather than the most optimized (via clunky, non-human writing and techniques)?

How our prediction fared: Yes, SEO is still king, and that may just make Google the SEO God. Google has even implemented Google Authorship to help further detect spam and plagiarism so authors and bloggers with Google cred and original content will outrank keyword-stuffed spam.  So, while Google+ still struggles along to meet the user numbers of it’s social media counterpart, Facebook, there is still a lot of reason to consider using Google+, and optimize your blog content for it.

 

 


Plagiarizers Beware: Google Now Verifies Authors with Google Authorship


google authorship copyGood news if you’re following the rules; bad news if your not: Google’s new authorship function is placing real authors above plagiarism artists.

What is Google Authorship?

Google Authorship creates brands out of authors, giving them an author rank. By linking your online work to your Google+ profile, Google verifies you as an author, and therefore you get a higher click rate.

What affect does Google Authorship have on rankings?

In the past, plagiarized articles can sometimes end up higher in the Google ranks than an original piece. When you are established as an author, Google ranks you higher than a one-off, link bait website that plagiarized your work. So, your work will rank higher because Google has verified you as an author and given you an author rank that will rank you higher.

How does Google Authorship help bloggers?

Articles that feature an author have a higher click rate.  In addition, because all your blogger profiles are linked, a reader of one of your blogs can more easily find, and read, another one of your blogs. All the pieces you author are easily found using your Google+ profile.

In addition, authors that use the Google Authorship function will have their articles verified, and therefore indexed, faster than traditional publishing methods.

Blogger pretenders beware: if you think SEO is just about a jumble of keywords and a good domain name, then you are sure to be disappointed. In Google’s never-ending attempt to put original, quality articles in front of users, they are verifying and validating not just the text, but the author too!

If  you are interested in working with a handful of verified, quality authors to bring your blog and website SEO to the next level, consider a social media consulting firm such as The Social Business.  Our services provide original, informative content from Google-verified authors.


How Google will Destroy Facebook with Search…Or Will It?


google search vs facebookWhen it comes to social media, is more really the merrier?  Because a lot of effort is involved each time a profile is created on a different social media platform, clients are often asking us, “which ONE platform should I focus on?”  And the answer, to be frank, is often “clear as mud.”

A recent article in the Search Engine Journal was brought to our attention by a client who wanted to know if we were doing enough on the Google platform.  The article, entitled “How Google Will Destroy Facebook in 2013” made a pretty bleak argument against Facebook, stating:

“By taking an in-depth look at the interaction between these two powerhouse players [Facebook and Google], as we will in this article, it becomes clear that Google will prevail, and quite decidedly at that. Facebook’s death will be slow and painful, causing the majority of grief to its nearly 1 billion users along the way.

…Search marketers simply don’t have enough evidence from Google that clearly defines Facebook signals as ranking factors for websites. Instead, the community relies heavily on correlations found through data analysis…

..All of that correlative data is great for making some decent speculative deductions, but does not represent definitive evidence regarding Google’s infusion of Facebook signals into a website’s ranking factors.”

  Read More  


What Pages Need to Know About Graph Search By Facebook


It’s not the end for the hashtag.  In fact, it may be just the beginning.

We mentioned in an earlier post that 2013 will be the year that SEO and social will collide, and Google’s ever-growing presence and search engine strength will put pressure on other social media media platforms to up their game. Last week, Facebook announced its latest set of improvements, which did just that: a comprehensive search tool, Graph Search, which enables users to search for friends that “like” certain things.  For example, a user can find out who of their friends participates in certain hobbies, frequents certain restaurants, have visited certain places, or like certain brands or pages.

As the line between Facebook search, social, and SEO become ever more blurred, it is important for businesses to understand how Graph Search will affect their social media operations, and how they can use it to their advantage.
Here’s how Graph Search works:

  • The search bar first returns the top search suggestions, including people, Pages, apps, places, groups, and suggested searches. People can search for things like restaurants near them, hotels in places they want to travel to, photos posted by Pages they like, or games that their friends like to play.
  • These search suggestions take people to a unique results page. The results returned are based on factors that include information that has been shared by your business and the connections of the person searching.
  • As has been the case for some time, we may also make search suggestions in the search bar that then can trigger web searches. Web searches will display Bing results and Bing ads, similar to results on Bing.com.
  • Pages and apps can still use sponsored results, which appear to people whether or not they have Graph Search (sponsored results have been globally available since August 2012). There are no new ad formats available today.

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Five Social Media New Years Resolutions


Time to ring in the new year, and rid of some old ways of doing things.

2013 is bringing forth an entirely new chapter to social media, and now is the time to prepare!  Social media, now being taught at universities everywhere, has become more than the receptionist at the front desk tweeting “Good Morning” to followers. It has become an integrated, thoughtful, and creative marketing approach to the World Wide Web. And with that comes the responsibility of social media marketers and consultants everywhere to step up their game and vow to never again make the same rookie mistakes of past.

The Social Business is here to help, with our Five Social Media Resolutions for the New Year.  We took what we thought were trends in social media, sharing, engagement, and platforms, and came up with five commandments not to be broken in 2013.

Resolution No. 1: Thou Shall Post Only What’s Timely, Interesting, and Relevant.

We reported earlier that Facebook’s algorithms have changed, making it more difficult to reach user’s newsfeeds.  The less the engagement obtained on a post, the less likely another post is to show up on on a user’s newsfeed later.   Therefore, vow  that you WON’T post anything that you don’t expect to get some level of engagement (comments, likes, or shares). Avoid posting too frequently, and create a call to action by asking your fans to “like”or read the post, answer a question, or give feedback.

Resolution No. 2: Thou Shall Respect SEO.

We reported that SEO is becoming the new focus of social media.  Social Media Marketers will soon post for one main purpose: to gain web credibility and SEO. As more social media platforms collaborate, and as Google’s internet empire grows, expect more emphasis to be put on originality, content, and link building as opposed to shock-and-awe, link bait, and strictly engagement techniques.

This means more credibility and growth will come from original posts with more content.  There are some new tools available to help bloggers obtain credibility using original, human content, and in 2013, this optimized content will be SEO gold.

Resolution No. 3: Thou Shall Not Disregard Google+.

He who creates content and shares it with the world (and that means on Google+ too), will reign as champion of the social media game. Don’t put all your eggs into the Facebook basket. That’s because platforms such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ are gaining ground (coincidentally, while Facebook is losing ground), and adding incentives for sharing on their sites.  Google+, for example, has sweetened the deal by giving SEO credibility to stories that are “+1″ (shared) while also beginning to add much anticipated features such as sharing, analytics, and integration with certain third-party services.

Resolution No. 4: Thou Shall Update Social Media Accounts.

The beginning of the year is a great time to review and update your social media accounts.  Give your Facebook page a”Face-lift” with new pictures, milestones, profile pictures, and albums.  Or, check out our Ten Ways to Make a Facebook Page More Engaging in Less than Ten Minutes.

In addition, don’t forget to update your Google+, You Tube, Twitter, Pinterest, WordPress, and other social media accounts.  Take a few moments to view each on different browsers, and check for broken links, inaccurate infomation, alt tags, 401 errors, or anything else that might be affecting your conversion rate.

Resolution No. 5: Thou Shall Create, and Share. And Share Again. And Share Again.

Not only is it important to create unique, engaging, and SEO-packed content, but it’s important to make sure your message gets out there as well.  Integrating your content so it can be easily shared on services such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube, LinkedIn, Google+, and WordPress, will broaden your audience and advance your credibility.  One word of warning, however.  Be sure to share with your audience, but also be sure to cater to the platform you are sharing on.  The message, tone, and formatting of your message will determine whether your audience engages with your post or not.  For example, the post for this article would look very different depending on the media being posted to.  For example:

On Facebook:

“New Year’s Resolution: Give your Facebook page a Facelift.  This, and four more resolutions for your social media this year. [LINK]”

On LinkedIn:

“Five New Year’s Resolutions for Social Media Marketers.

We reported earlier our predictions for the face of social media in 2013.  Now we’ve compliled a list of resoltions to keep you on track for those changes.

What are your Social Media New Year’s Resolutions?

[LINK]”

On Twitter:

“What you are doing wrong in social media, and how to resolve it in the new year: [LINK]”

On Google+:

“Five resolutions every social media marketer should make to their social media practices in 2013.  [LINK]“


Social Media Marketing Predictions for the New Year


English: A Crystal Ball I created in 3D. Suppo...

Recently, HubSpot published an article with their predictions for marketing in 2013.  Among their predictions, they believe:

1. Prediction: Social & Content Influence SEO

2. Prediction: Email Lives On

3. Prediction: Marketing Becomes More Accountable for Revenue Generation

4. Prediction: Inbound, Not Automation, Becomes Priority

5. Prediction: Marketers Will Know Thy Customer

6. Prediction: “Campaigns” Fade Out, Real-Time Marketing Is In

7. Prediction: Context Is Content’s New Best Friend

8. Prediction: Marketing Technology Evolves

  Read More  


What You Can Do With a Little Chump Change


FAcebook vs google adsBoth Google and Facebook offer advertising.  Both Google and Facebook generate the majority of their income from advertising (Google – 96 percent; Facebook – 86 percent). And both Google and Facebook have a global online presence that dominates cyber space.  But Facebook’s valuation is approximately half that of Google.  Why then, should you ever consider advertising on Facebook instead of Google?

As many marketers are finding out, companies with limited budgets and resources may be able to obtain comparable results using Facebook advertising instead of Google because of the following:

  1. Facebook ads have a high page view rate because it is a smaller network, so the target audience sees the same ads more often.  Because you generally pay-per-click instead of pay-per-impression, you get the benefits of these impressions without paying for them.
  2. Facebook ads are easier to set up.
  3. Facebook ads are less expensive to run.  The average Cost Per Click (CPC) of a Facebook ad is about $.60.

Google Ads are very difficult, and costly, to set up for maximum optimization.  Though Google has a mass amount of videos and tutorials on AdWords, it takes the equivalent of an eight hour course to get the basics down.  In addition, a lot of keyword research is necessary for initial set up, and you may need a graphic designer and web developer to help set up ads and landing pages.  The final disadvantage to Google Ads is the cost.  Generally, accounts with an ad spend of less than $500/month are dramatically less successful.  So if you are working with a small budget and limited resources, Facebook advertising is a better option for you.

Disadvantages to using Facebook versus Google include:

  1. Facebook has weaker performance and lower conversion rates. Google Ads have an average click through rate (CTR) estimated at almost 10 times the CTR of Facebook ads.
  2. Facebook has fewer ad targeting options.
  3. Facebook has fewer ad formatting options.
  4. Facebook has a smaller reach, capturing about 51 percent of all internet users, versus Google’s 90 percent.
  5. Facebook does not have mobile ads.

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5 Free Tools To Take Your Social Engagement Even Further


What’s good is good, but what’s free is better.

If the recession has taught us anything, it has taught us to do more with less, be more efficient, and find cost-effective ways to do the same thing.  Here are five services that can help you further your business’s customer interaction online without ever reaching into your pockets.

1.  Google Voice:

What you can do with it: Establish a business number, choose your phone number (using a local prefix and maybe even a clever number/letter arrangement such as 541-BUS-NESS), and subscribe multiple numbers to ring a single phone.

Why it rocks: Cuts down on the cost of enlisting a business landline and mobile phone number.  Your virtual “business number” will ring your cell phone or home phone.  You can even set times for your business number to ring/not ring, and set up a custom voicemail for that line.  All voicemails can be sent to your Gmail account and transcribed to a text message.

2.  Shortstack.com:

What you can do with it: Design and create Facebook Welcome Pages, contests, sweepstakes, videos, and forms.

Why it rocks: Customizable templates let you make pages for just about anything you can think of.  You can add features such as a portfolio of pictures, or a form to capture leads.  Easy integration with Facebook pages and accounts makes “going live” simple and seamless.

3. Mailchimp.com:

What you can do with it: Design and email company newsletters, share them on social networks, and track campaign results.

Why it rocks: Customizable templates help you maintain the look and feel of your company.  You can create lists to target or segment your messages, add Autoresponders, and sync your customer database to Mail Chimp’s contact list.

4. YouScan.me:

What you can do with it: Design, create, and download a QR Code.

Why it rocks: QR Codes from YouScan.me allow you to add multiple social networks to one QR code.  So one scan and your customers can find you on Facebook, Twitter, and the web.

5. Jing:

What you can do with it: Create screencasts to share on social networks. Perfect for sharing instructions and how-to’s because your customers see what you see.

Why it rocks:  You can choose to upload videos to screencast.com and share the URL, or share directly to Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr.

Share with us!  What are your favorite free tools for small business?


Social Media Management in 30 Minutes a Day


English: an animated clock

“An hour of planning is worth four hours of doing.”  When getting started in social media, it is not uncommon to become overwhelmed by the constant notifications, responses, and comments that need to be addressed.  But you can effectively manage your social media postings in as little as 30 minutes a day.

Is it possible to manage your networks in 30 minutes a day? The short answer is yes.  By setting time limits, you are more inclined to use that time effectively, and to dedicate it exclusively to social media, making you more efficient.  However, it is important to note that the more time you dedicate to social media, the more likely the desired outcome.  This is meant to be a process for managing your networks and not a social media strategy.  If further time commitment is not possible, you may want to enlist the help of a social media marketing consultant.

Minutes 1- 5: Strategize.  Take five minutes to examine your day and what you want to accomplish.  Start by compiling a checklist of outstanding items that need to be addressed; for example, responses that require further thought from the day before, or questions that need to be researched. Determine where you will need additional resources, and what can be addressed today. Finally, itemize “hot topics” of the day that you would like address in some form via social media.  These “hot topics” could be something relevant in the news, a product release, welcoming a new customer, or company news.

Minutes 5 – 15:  Scan. Respond. Share. Repeat.  Scan your social networks for items that need to be addressed.  Using an integrated tool for this, such as Hootsuite, allows you scan multiple networks and user names in one application and saves time logging in to multiple sites.  Start with the site you have the most klout and interaction on, and decide to devote the majority of your energy there.  For each social network:

  • Scan the network.  Look for anywhere your business or username is mentioned, or a similar product/service is mentioned (for Twitter, don’t forget to search both your @mention and your business name; for example we run searches for “@thesocialbiz”, “The Social Business” and “James Gentes.”).
  • Take a Moment to Respond (but limit yourself to a minute/response).  Once you’ve scanned for relevant information, you are ready to respond. Start by responding directly to @mentions and comments posted directly to your wall (make sure the “Everyone (Most Recent)” option is selected if working directly on Facebook).  Next, respond to post responses and comment responses.  Finally, if time allows, respond to relevant posts by other users where your expertise may be helpful. Try to limit your response time to a minute or less per post.  If a response requires more time than that, make note of it and address it when you have time to strategize.

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How Taking 15 Minutes on Google+ Now Can Make Worlds of Difference Later


Marketing Plan

Oh, no!  Not another social network!  For some businesses, it’s a full-time effort just trying to manage their Facebook and Twitter pages.  And then along comes Google+.  Another place to make updates, with a whole new set of tools, and a different platform to learn.

Last week we told you why Google+ for Businesses Shouldn’t be Taken Lightly. The potential to raise your search rankings on the largest search engine in the world is enough to raise at least one eyebrow.  But if you are not ready to take the plunge into Google+, don’t fret.  You don’t have to fully integrate now.

What you do need to do is take 15 minutes to establish your presence on Google+.  If social media has taught us anything, it has taught us that it isn’t always obvious which social media platforms will be adopted, and which ones will be as short-lived as the 2011 ABC lineup.  You can save yourself a lot of time and energy later by establishing  your presence and claiming username on Google+ today.  Claiming your space on Google+ now will prevent others from establishing your business’s presence for you, pretending to be you, or infringing on your trademark (as was so often seen when early adopters claimed popular Twitter and Facebook trademarked names–aka “name squatters“–in the infancy of those networks).

Once you are set up on Google+, you can engage in the media at your leisure.  If you decide you are ready to begin integrating Google+ into your Social Media Plan, you can do so knowing that your presence is already established.

How to Create a Google+ Page in 15 Minutes

1. Go to the Google+ for Business Home Page.

2. Click on “Create your Google+ Page.”

3. Sign in using your Gmail account, or create one if you don’t already have one.

4. Determine the category your business fits into (Local Business, Product or Brand, Company, Institution or Organization).  If you choose a Local Business, be prepared to provide a phone number and address for Google to attempt to locate you.  For a Product, Brand, Company, or Organization, you can provide a URL for your website.

5. Add all the applicable information, accept the terms, and hit “Create.”

6. On the next screen, you can add a tagline and profile picture.

7. After completing your profile, you have the option to publicize the new Google+ page, or to add a Google+ badge (HTML code) to your website.  Do this only if you plan on integrating Google+ into your Social Media Marketing Plan immediately.  You can always add the badge later. Keep in mind this code will help you appear more prominently in Google search results pages, so don’t let this drop off of your to-do list.


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