Instagram Explained in 5 Minutes

Instagram is the fastest growing social media site worldwide with 23% growth in active users in the last six months alone. Users can spend hours scrolling through great photos posted by their friends, favorite celebrities, brands and products, bloggers, TV networks, and more.

There are over 300 million users who share up to 60 million photos each and every day. As the up and coming social network, Instagram has the largest population of younger users. Over 50% of users are between 18 and 29 years old.

So how does Instagram work and how could your business benefit from this Social Platform?

In this blog we will help you understand how Instagram works and how your business could use Instagram in its future Social Media endeavours as a way to connect with current and potential customers in a very graphical and interactive way that is not as easy to do on Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Facebook.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo-sharing social network designed to easily and quickly share pictures or short videos usually taken on a mobile phone.

On Instagram you can “follow” other profiles and you have “followers” who follow your photos. You can also like individual photos posted and can re-post other users’ photos. With each new photo you can write a caption, add hashtags to make your photo more searchable, and encourage comments and sharing.

How Do Instagram Hashtags Work?

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a pound sign (#) used to identify messages or photos about a specific topic, brand, location, etc. Hashtags make it easier for users to find your photos on Instagram and are what makes Instagram so networking friendly!

Hashtags are Searchable. Hashtags can affect where or if you are ranked in Instagram search.  Being visible in search results is important, because potential clients will search for what they’re interested in or what the most popular hashtags are. Using a hashtag that represents what’s in your photo is very important.

Hashtags are Interactive. Hashtags can also be created and used to encourage interaction. Why not create a specific hashtag and ask customer who buy your running shoes post pictures of where the shoes take them? Or start a hashtag for all your guests to use at your customer appreciation dinner?

Currently you can use up to 30 hashtags so the options are nearly endless. The goal is to pick commonly used yet relevant hashtags. You can use the Instagram search function to see how frequently a hashtag is used and what types of photos are associated with that hashtag. You can also use websites like top-hashtags.com to see the most popular hashtags for Instagram.

How do I get more followers on Instagram?

Many of the same rules apply to Instagram as for all other Social Media sites: Be interesting, Say something humorous or relatable, Post high quality photos, etc.

One commonly overlooked strategy to engage and get new Instagram followers is to use the popular like and follow hashtags (ex. #like4like, #follow4follow). People can be selfish and want something in return and they particularly want to be followed or liked back. Just remember than when you say you will like or follow them back, you try and stick to that. This can be a tedious process but it can be an important part of the growth stage.

How often should I post on Instagram?

As you attract new followers on Instagram it is even more important to keep them happy if you want them to continue following you. Remember that it is not just a numbers game – the quality of your followers is just as important if not more important than quantity!

A general rule of thumb for businesses on Instagram is to post a new photo every few days. This gives your followers a reminder of your account but doesn’t bombard their Instagram feed with too many posts.  The goal is to keep them liking your photos and following your account.

A recent study by Huffington Post found that the best time to post on Instagram is 5 pm (people are procrastinating at the end of their work day) and 2 am (there are less people posting and more engaged users).

How do I showcase my brand personality on Instagram?

Every Instagram account has a different style and layout. It’s a good idea to keep all your posts in a similar format and look. Inconsistent style or voice of posts can be confusing to your followers. Using a filter app is a perfect example to making your page consistent – one of my favorites is called Rookie Cam.  There are so many different ones out there, so pick a filter that suits your brand and the type of photos you are posting.

How do I connect Instagram with my website?

If you are active on Instagram make sure you have your Instagram account linked from your website along with all of your other Social Media profiles.

Currently the Instagram bio has a 150 character limit so write a catchy and quick description. Be sure to place a link to your website here as Instagram does not allow you to use links in your photo captions or in comments.

Do I Need Instagram for My Business?

After all this are you wondering if your business needs Instagram?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if you should start using Instagram for your business:

  • Does your target market fit the demographics of Instagram (18-29 year olds)?
  • Do you have time and resources to devote to keeping your Instagram account updated?
  • Would your limited time and resources be better devoted to other more important Social Media profiles?
  • Are your products and services easily captured in photos?
  • Do you have a steady stream of new photo content to post regularly to Instagram?

If you have further questions about Instagram or about how SEO and Social Media interact, please contact us at contact@1stonthelist.ca or call 1-888-262-6687.

Wondering What to Post on Facebook? Here’s Buffer’s Tips for Posting on Facebook That Work

Do you find yourself wanting to use Facebook for your business but aren’t totally sure how or don’t know what people want to see?

A couple weeks ago Buffer App author Courtney Seiter posted 12 Facebook tactics that are working for businesses right now. Here are some of the top tactics for posting on Facebook:

  1. Native Videos
  2. Quote Photos
  3. Trending Topics
  4. 3-D Ads
  5. Cinemagraphs

Other tactics for posting on Facebook including upping your frequency, studying negative feedback, zeroing in on your key topics, and at the end of the day, keep testing.

Read the entire article here.

What I’ve Learned About Social Media

Recently a client forwarded us some interesting articles and thoughts on Social Marketing. The information included this statement that really stood out to me:

People don’t want to talk about brands or companies,
they want to gossip about their family and friends.

What do you think?

This is where we’ve always struggled with Social – how do “boring” industries like Pest Control engage their customers through Social Media? Who in their right mind would want to share about the bed bugs in their home?

Let’s make it clear that at 1st on the List we don’t specialize in Social Media and don’t push our clients to invest heavily in Social. However Social almost always comes up in each and every SEO campaign we run.

Here are our key thoughts on Social that we think will help you get in the right frame of mind when thinking about your online visibility.

Understand Your Visibility on the Internet and How They Interact

Essentially there are three main types of visibility on the Internet:

  1. Organic rankings – ie. SEO – on Search Engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
  2. Paid listings – ie. PayPerClick or AdWords – where you pay to have your website listed at the top of Google search results.
  3. Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Pinterest, YouTube – where your target market spends a lot of their online hours.

Overall none of these directly affect each other and should be considered as separate approaches to getting visibility. It’s not to say that branding and exposure from one doesn’t affect the others, but the effect is indirect.

For example, a person may first come to your website from clicking on your Paid Ad. The next time they may remember your brand and do a search in Google. The following day they may see one of your ads on Facebook. This is all to say that it can become hard to measure at exactly what point you gained the visitor as a customer. Where was the tipping point?

Different Social Platforms for Different Types of Businesses

Just because everyone is on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean you should be too! Facebook might help ever so slightly with referrals but should you pay someone to spend 10+ hours per month running your Facebook page?

It’s important to think through where your customers are spending time, what Social platforms lend themselves best to your industry and what you will gain from each one. For example we designed a website for a local Custom Home Design firm. At the time they photographed over a dozen of their houses to feature on the site. At the same time they added all of these images to their Houzz profile. One of their photos has been added to 700 Ideabooks and counting! Talk about exposure. Within a couple months of having the pictures on Houzz they got a call from a new client who basically hired them on the spot, because he liked the Houzz pictures that much.

So Social can work in bringing in business … if it is done smart.

Create a Social Footprint That Makes Sense

Companies and brands should have some type of Social Footprint that makes sense for their type of business. The footprint should also be where their target market is spending their time. Ultimately, Social Media should be used to help enhance the main business drivers where a small investment helps the other marketing approaches. Notice how I didn’t say Social Media should become a main business driver.

Good Luck Tracking ROI

It can be very tricky to confirm ROI with Social Media. There are more failures than successes with large spends on social media. Furthermore the media misrepresents the benefits by trying to connect one isolated success to all types of businesses. It just doesn’t work that way the majority of the time.

Branding Sells and People Expect You to Be Social

Branding is a major part of the online landscape. While social may not generate a lot of sales today’s online traffic is aware of what social is and have come to expect that companies will be part of the Social world. Websites that have no social presence can risk being viewed as not keeping with the times. Social Media can also help differentiate you from others. Social is a great place to show your brand personality and connect on a personal basis with customers.

Social is Just another Cost of Doing Business

Social Media has become just another cost of doing business. The smart and successful businesses find ways to tie social in with their main business drivers. All in all, branding helps sell. Look for low cost ways to brand your company every chance you get. Maybe that is just creating Facebook and Twitter profiles so your brand is present there in case people want to connect with you in that way.

SEO and Social – The Missing Connection?

So more Facebook likes will improve my rankings right? Wrong. There is no direct impact between Social and SEO. However … just as people expect you to be present on Social Platforms the Search Engines also expect that websites will have some form of social presence. They even created Google+ specifically for this purpose. Ultimately the Search Engines take clues from all around the web for where your business is active, being mentioned and has claimed profiles. The farther and deeper your reach across the web the more credible and established your business becomes.

What is your perspective on Social Media? Have you been successful with your Social endeavours? We’d love to hear your input – drop us an email at contact@1stonthelist.ca!

What is a Hashtag Anyways and What’s the Big Deal?

You may call it a pound sign but the next generation will likely only know it as a hashtag.

The Hashtag phenomenon is taking the internet by storm. Once used exclusively on Twitter to categorize topics more efficiently, today it has evolved into a global icon.  Search engines, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Google+ are all using the hashtag and tracking hashtags.

In today’s article we will take a closer look at why this little pound symbol is creating such a storm and discuss how you can start using hashtags in  your marketing campaigns and branding.

So what is a Hashtag?

Have you seen # littered throughout posts on social media? That’s a hashtag! Hashtags are a word or phrase prefixed with the number sign. Examples of popular hashtags are:

#android

#selfie

#giveaway

#dwts (dancing with the stars)

#tbt (“through back Thursday” – a hashtag used on Thursdays when people post a picture from their past)

You can visit http://www.hashtags.org/trending-on-twitter/ to see what hashtags are popular at any given time and to see a full directory or dictionary of existing hashtags.

What does the Hashtag Do?

Essentially the hashtag is used to identify or tag messages on a specific topic.

Conceived in 2007 by Chris Mesina to help organize the jumble of tweets on Twitter, the hashtag allowed users to create, find and engage in conversations relating a specific topic of interest in real time. By placing the (#) symbol in front of the keyword or phrase, the user or searcher then is linked to everything that involves the word.

Because the hashtag categorizes in real-time, it allows analytics to track what is “trending”, shared and getting talked about. It is this analytic potential that has industries racing to implement the hashtag into their marketing content and corporate branding.

Optimizing with the hashtag opens the door to audiences from multiple media platforms who share a common interest in the message you are sending.

Examples of how hashtags are used in real life

Here are three basic examples to get you thinking about how hashtags can be used.

1)    Events –  often conferences will assign a hashtag to the entire event (ex. #smxwest) or to individual sessions so that everyone in attendance can give their feedback, ask questions of the speaker in real time and so that people not in attendance can follow the events.

2)    Campaign Promotions – a restaurant or airline may create a hashtag for their guests to use to tag all their photos or stories about their experiences.

3)    Branding – many big and small brands create a branded hashtag (ex. #Target or #Chipotle).

Where can you use hashtags?

Hashtags are used across many social platforms including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Flickr
  • Tout
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Okurt
  • Friendfeed
  • And many more!

What do hashtags have to do with Web 3.0 (the “Semantic Web”)?

The hashtag is now firmly established as a linked data identifier in the online experience, and is the driving force behind the new web – semantic web or web 3.0. What does that mean?

Hashtags help search engines understand what is trending, who likes the topic, where a topic is most popular, when topics are most popular and even why a topic or brand is most popular… in real time. This helps in the analysis of people’s feelings and is a huge leap toward semantic analysis in the web environment.

In fact Google+ stream now assigns hashtags to posts automatically, says MarketingLand.

How do I create a Hashtag?

All it takes is # in front of a word and you have a viable hashtag.

Visit the official hashtag creator at hashtag.org. You can register your hashtag to claim it as part of your brand. You can also do a search for your hashtag on Twitter, G+, Instagram and other accounts by doing a search within their platform – or you can just search “#yourhashtag” on Google.

Remember that no one owns a hashtag and anyone can potentially attach ‘your’ hashtag to their own comments, opinions or pictures – whether it be the good, bad or ugly.

Hashtag Best Practices and Rules

The hashtag is based on simplicity and has a simple set of rules:

  • The best hashtags have shown to be short and to the point. Keeping it to a maximum length of 6 characters using only numbers and letters as the keyword tends to make the most impact.
  • Don’t use special characters, hyphens or dashes. This will just cut off the rest of your phrase similar to how a period divides sentences.
  • Don’t use spaces. If you are using two or more words, leave out the space. For example the hashtag for following a fundraiser would be #RunforLife as opposed to $ Run for Life.
  • Put words first, then use numbers to categorize recurring events. Hashtags like #2014Learning won’t get the recognition you want, whereas #Learning2014 will direct all traffic regarding 2014 learning trends to your posts.

How to make your hashtag worthwhile.

Give as much thought to your hashtag and its popularity as you do to your business name and marketing focus. Here are a few rules to follow that will make your hashtag experience pay.

  • Check if your hashtag is new or if it is trending at Search.Twitter.com or #hashtag.org. If you find an existing conversation that is not in the direction you want to go, then find something that is equally targeted but not as frequently used or is trending in the direction your want to go.
  • Avoid sentiment.  The public doesn’t like words like love or hate used to sell them on politics or trivia – many who have tried have failed. Always make sure there is really a following for the topic in the sense of the emotion you use.
  • Use your Brand or Industry keywords – Brands and popular industry terms do well in relatable traffic. Using Brand endorsements to trigger search user conversation is a great way to stimulate traffic. For instance, you have a sports jersey retail store and want to sell more product. Using #HockeyJerseys may not be actively searched, but with the NHL Playoffs in full swing, micro bloggers will jump into anything “hockey” and create massive conversations around your simple hashtag.
  • Be careful where you use your hashtags – Stay away from controversial hashtags to market product lines. Also be aware of hashtag hijacking. Have a backup plan to deal with offensive tweets or hashtags not going the way you planned.  

How to Harness the Hashtag Phenomenon

Hashtags have the ability to help marketers to make real time connections. The question is, how do you incorporate them into your marketing campaign? You cannot just sprinkle hashtags willy-nilly throughout your pages.

  1. How your followers use hashtags. You need to find out how people are using hashtags and what will prompt them to follow yours. Check out what is trending and brainstorm how you can target the keyword hashtags.
  2. Know when to post.  Twitter reports engagement for brands are 17% higher on weekends, yet only 19% of brands bother to utilize this huge potential.
  3. Get the right number of hashtags. Posts with one to two hashtags show a 21% higher engagement than those with none and a 17% drop in engagement with more than two hashtags.
  4. Ask for attention. Those who ask to be shared or retweeted, get – those who don’t get nothing. The statistics show a 12X increase in sharing and referral by simply asking for it.
  5. Get your content right first.  Produce quality, relevant content that will create followers. Make your blogs and site articles highly informative, entertaining and applicable to your hashtag.

The power of the hashtag is growing exponentially. Have you found a way to cash in?

If you would like to build a campaign using the hashtag to advance it, contact our experts by email at contact@1stonthelist.ca. We can help you define marketing goals and optimize your online outlets.

Why Social Media Isn’t Free

Social Media Fund Penny JarMany people think of marketing through Facebook or Twitter the next best thing since sliced bread.

After all, it’s FREE to sign up and start sharing, almost anyone can do it and there are millions of people just waiting to hear your message.

This may come across a little tongue and cheek but there are a lot of people who think this way. Many times business owners are willing to pass Social Media off to just anyone thinking it will be very inexpensive and generate out-of-this-world results.  Many people underestimate all of the costs and time required for Social Media.

A recent survey by Social Media Marketing University finds that more than half of social media marketing budgets are for staff compensation. What takes up all of their time?

  • Developing content
  • Strategy development
  • Posting content
  • Listening and monitoring
  • Measurement
  • Responding to fans and followers
  • Reporting results to leadership

This study is just another reminder that a well-run social media campaign that will actually help with branding and growing user engagement takes a lot of sweat equity. Social media shouldn’t be taken lightly or handed off to just anyone!

And it’s not getting any easier – nearly 75% of respondents in the above survey say that the time they spend on social media has increased over the last year. How much time? 64% of social marketers are spending at least 6 hours a week. With BC’s minimum wage set at $10.25 that would cost you $246 per month and nearly $3,000 per year to hire just anyone to manage your social media. Now, nearly 1 in 5 social marketers are spending more than 20 hours per week managing social media.

Nearly three quarters of respondents feel that based on the results they are getting from Social Media it has been worth their time and money.

What have your results with Social Media been? How do you use Social Media to engage with your customers? Do you run paid Facebook Ads as well? How do you manage all of your Social Profiles or what Social Platforms do you focus on?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – send us an email at contact@1stonthelist.com!

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Does Social Media Affect Website Rankings? Google’s Matt Cutts Explains

It’s a common question we are asked time and again by our clients.

Our opinion has always been that SEO and social media have correlation but one does not directly affect the other. We also believe that an experienced SEO has a completely different skill set than a Social Strategist meaning you shouldn’t assign both tasks to one person.

Recently Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) answered the question,

“Are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm? How much do they matter?”

Watch his video to find out how he explains the impact Social Media signals make on your organic rankings and how your social profiles affect ranking algorithms.

Verdict #1:
Likes and Followers aren’t part of the algorithm equation

Cutts starts out by saying that Twitter and Facebook are treated the same as any other page on the web. If Google’s robots can access and crawl the page then the page will be included in Search Results.

So if you type in your brand name followed by Facebook and you see your profile come up in Search results, then Google can crawl your social page. Congratulations!

However, Cutts says that Google does not do any special specific work to determine how many likes or followers you may have. To the best of his knowledge there are no signals like this currently in their web search ranking algorithms.  This means Google isn’t looking to see if you have 10 followers or 2,500 followers on Facebook and does not adjust how your website ranks in organic search results because of this.

Let’s recap: According to Cutts the Google algorithm places no weight on how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers a specific page can capture.

Verdict #2:
Google can’t always access Facebook or Twitter signals

He also says that just because there is a Facebook or Twitter signal pointing to your site that there is no guarantee that Google is able to access or follow the link.

Cutts says that in the past Google has been blocked from a social property for over a month at a time. As a result of this unknown Google does not do any special engineering to be able to be able to crawl big social properties such as Facebook. Cutts eludes to the fact that this is wasted time as Facebook can easily change something in their backend and Google’s special engineering would be useless.

Cutts also speaks to the point that many pages on social sites contain personal and time sensitive content that is marked for limited viewing only. For this reason Google is wary about reading social properties. Social profiles are always changing and because Google is sampling an imperfect web they are careful about protecting identity.

Verdict #3:
Ranks Do Not Equal Likes, Likes Do Not Equal Ranks

Cutts finally adds , “An awesome piece of content doesn’t rank well because it has a lot of Facebook likes, it ranks well because it’s awesome, and in turn it gets shared on Facebook a lot because it’s awesome.” This is not causation.

Key Takeaways About Social and SEO

  • Your social page must be open to public viewing to be accessed and crawled by Google. If the public can access your social networks and view the content on them then Google and other search engines can read and rank them too.
  • Based on Cutt’s information thinking that social media will improve your organic rankings is a flawed.
  • There is no need to give up on Social Media as it can have some big impact on your website traffic, brand  awareness and several other marketing benefits such as being a fast and cost effective way to let your customers know about news.

In the words of Cutts, “Build up your personal brand with Facebook and Twitter but don’t assume because there is a signal on Facebook or Twitter that Google can access it.”

Have questions about your organic rankings? Talk with one of our consultants today by calling 888-262-6687 or completing or quick contact form.

Be Socially Responsible- Know Your Customers’ Feelings Towards Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter

As recent study by Vision Critical  found that Pinterest is for creativity and satisfying a range of creative urges while Facebook is for communicating and connecting with others.

Facebook Pinterest Twitter Social Network According to Users

Pinterest for Business Marketing is about Sharing Creative Ideas

  • 80% agreed Pinterest is useful for ideas and projects.
  • 75% agreed it is easy to find things that interest them on Pinterest.
  • 64% agree it is inspiring to see what others pin.

So how should you use Pinterest for your business? Given the above statements post creative ideas, innovative ways to use your products and share great ideas others are pinning.

Facebook for Business Marketing is about Meaningful Connection

  • 69% say they like to see what their friends post
  • 63% agree that Facebook makes them feel connected to friends.

The fact that only 11% of people said they made a purchase because of Facebook should tell you to stop pushing your products, sales and promotions and start connecting with your followers. 32% of people say they like to see what their favorite brands post. Be a brand that adds relevant posts to interest your target market. And don’t post too often as 25% say they get overwhelmed by amount.

How to Use Twitter for Your Business

This survey does not give a lot of clear insight into how to use Twitter for your business as most responses are pretty neutral – neither positive or negative. The highest response rate was that 38% say they like to see what their favorite brands are posting. Continue sharing new stories, last minute promotions and anything else your target market will find valuable. After all, 16% of people say they make purchases thanks to Twitter (higher than Facebook) and 20% say they make smarter purchase decisions.

Do you agree with the statements used in the survey for each of the Social Networks in question? Does your social marketing strategy account for user behavior and feelings towards Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?

 

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The New Facebook Graph Search SEO Affect

A big announcement from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg flew under the radar here on our blog in January … but that doesn’t mean it is not important:

Now that we’ve read the first feedback and reviews from Graph Search Beta Testers it’s time to look at the opportunity of Graph Search, where we think Graph Search is going and what Graph Search means for businesses like yours. In this first article on Facebook Graph Search we will discuss:

  1. What is Facebook Graph Search?
  2. How does the Graph Search Engine work?
  3. Why use Graph Search on Facebook?
  4. How will Facebook Graph Search affect SEO?
  5. How do you use Facebook Graph Search to your advantage?
  6. Will Graph Search on Facebook overtake Google?

What is Facebook Graph Search?

On January 15 2013 CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new Graph Search.

This new social-driven search engine allows Facebook users to find people, pages and places through likes and shares of their Facebook friends, friends of friends and community.

Because Graph Search’s results are pulled from the searcher’s social connections this new search engine has the potential to deliver highly relevant and localized search results for its users compared to other Search Engines such as Google and Bing.

Hypothetically, this could impact the way people search on the web. Rather than switching over to Google to look for a new restaurant why not ask Facebook to help you find local restaurants; ones that your friends have been to?

How Does the Graph Search Engine Work?

Facebook Graph Search uses your social network’s history and information to provide you with the results that are most relevant to your network of friends. Here’s a sampling of searches Facebook is promoting to help showcase their new search capabilities:

  • “People who like cycling and are from my hometown”
  • “Photos before 1990”
  • “Photos I like”
  • “Photos of my friends”
  • “Music my friends like”
  • “Cities my family visited”
  • “Restaurants in London my friends have been to”

Here are a few highly interactive and graphical results to the above searches:

 

Why Use Graph Search on Facebook?

Facebook says that by using Graph Search you can:

  1. Explore your world through photos.
  2. Discover restaurants, music and more – all through people you know
  3. Find people who share your interests

In a recent article posted at Search Engine Land, SEO Manager Aaron Friedman summarized Facebook’s social search concept as follows:

“Social search is a means of uncovering information, to fill a knowledge gap taking into account crowd sourced information from your network, which contains information from a reputable source within your network, giving more of a credible touch to the content.”

How will Facebook’s Graph Search Affect SEO?

Based on our research so far we are predicting that Graph Search will add a new level of social interaction and connectivity to Facebook and elevate the importance of optimizing your presence on Facebook.

Because Graph Search results are based on likes, shares, and posts from Facebook user’s friends, your business needs to focus on interacting with real people on Facebook and creating content that generates social shares and likes. In a way you need to “optimize” your Facebook network for results, which can have a much different strategy and require a different skill set than optimizing your website.

6 Graph Search Tips for Business Owners

Here are six tips for business owners to get ready for Graph Search and using Graph Search to your SEO advantage.

1. Be On Your Facebook Game

Make sure your Facebook page is up to date with as much information as possible. Make sure that you are in the right category, have the correct URL and include all the data people might be searching for. If you have a location or local page make sure your address is up to date for when someone searches for a specific location.

2. Vamp Up Your Social Interaction

Focus on creating content that generates social shares and likes. Be interesting, valuable and engaging in some way, shape or form. There are already talks that engagement and viral rates will eventually be incorporated into the Graph Search algorithm too.

3. Attract the Right Fans and Know Your Brand Ambassadors

Facebook suggests that businesses attract the right fans to their page and give them a reason to interact with its content on an ongoing basis. One example that comes to mind is a local Vancouver radio station’s morning talk show. Most items of topic in their show are incorporated into their Facebook Page – polls, contests, videos, pictures and so on. Their fans have a real reason to interact with them on Facebook.

Experts are also suggesting building niche networks full of your brand ambassadors, industry networks and targeted channels who will likely promote you (through shares and likes) to their friends. There’s a good chance that these brand ambassadors are connected to other like-minded users. This strong network of influencers can help you in Facebook’s search results because the results are being based on social factors. For example, having “likes” from people with lots of friends on Facebook increases your ability to be shown for “pages my friends like” type searches.

4. Make It Even Easier to Connect to Facebook

Shares and likes are now more important than ever! Make sure that all of your content, products, descriptions, videos and other promotional materials have Facebook links to make it easier for viewers to Like and Share you with their friends.

5. Make Meaningful Connections With Other Brands

It is clear that in order to start appearing in Graph Search results you need to be well connected. Start reaching out to brands, organizations and associations connected with your business through Facebook.

6. Expect Future Improvements

Based on reviews by others who have used the Graph Search Facebook Beta model, search results seem to be a little skewed, non-useful and at times humorous. Most reviewers suggest that including status updates, image captions and other 3rd party apps will help improve search results on Facebook. If Facebook takes this advice and adds status updates, images and so on to its search algorithm we will be presented with even more opportunity to “optimize” our Facebook presence.

Other Ways to Use Graph Search
to Your Business Advantage

As we have discussed, Facebook search results are a combination of all the information created and/or shared by your business and the connections of the person doing the search, which could be friends, likes, check-ins and so on.

But up until now we have only focused on how to use Graph Search for your SEO Benefit; that is how Graph Search will help bring searchers to you.

Let’s now consider how businesses can use Graph Search to find others. Here are five ideas from Guest Post Labs that are quite intriguing to get you thinking of all the possibilities of Graph Search:

  1. Find customers or fans that checked into your location and ask them to write a review or offer them a coupon for their next visit.
  2. Find people with relationships with your brand and bounce new ideas off of them for feedback.
  3. Find talented people who like your company and recruit them to work for you.
  4. Find people who like a related product or service to yours and have them participate in a survey.
  5. Find photos taken from your location and ask for user permission to use on your website and other marketing materials.

So is Facebook Graph Search the New Google?

In wrapping things up we need to make the point that Facebook is not going head-to-head with Google on the search market.

They have gone a new direction and created their own type of search based on their strengths. Let’s face it; Facebook knows a lot more about each of us than many of our friends and family do. Facebook is leveraging everything they know about you to provide the best answers to your questions if users start to rely on their search tool more often.

At the end of the day there is still one major obstacle to overcome: Facebook search results do not include the entire web’s information (yet).

So far Facebook results are constrained to the likes, shares, photos and other data people have shared within Facebook. Generally speaking most people’s privacy settings are set to “everyone” so Facebook’s search results can often reach beyond personal networks and friends. Also, all public businesses, places and other pages are up for inclusion in results if well-connected.

Are you a Graph Search Beta tester? Are you a business trying to grasp how to optimize your Facebook presence and increase you connectivity? Are you a regular Facebook user and worried about your privacy with the new Graph Search?

 

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Google Plus Success or Failure?

Article Review: Plus One This: Proof That Google Plus Will Prevail

What’s your Google Plus opinion?

If you start some searches for Google Plus in Google the autocomplete function will bring up some interesting results such as:

Google Plus Dead
Google Plus Failure
Google Plus Quit
Google Plus sucks

After reading the Plus One This article published by Fast Company on January 7, 2013 and despite all the negative autocomplete phrases, if Google Plus was such a disaster like it seems 99% of people believe then:

  • Why didn’t Google shut down Google Plus (which they haven’t been afraid to do with other failing products)?
  • Why is there still such a big Google team working on the project?
  • Why is Google Plus being integrated with more and more Google products?

Key Takeaway About Google Plus

The key takeaway from the article is this:

Google Plus never was, and will never be, only about competing directly with Facebook.”

The key to understanding this statement, as the article states, is that we need to realize Google Plus wasn’t intended to be solely about competing head on with Facebook. Google Plus isn’t “just another social networking service where our friends join to share photos, status updates and messages.”

As the author of this article puts it, “Google Plus is Google’s version of Google.”

Google Plus Pros and Cons

Google Plus is all about building better search results.

If you thought Google already knew enough about you then Google Plus will go even further to provide highly customized and highly personalized results. It’s why Google is connecting Plus with YouTube, Maps, Images, Offers, Books and so on.

Consider this: There is no way Facebook will be able to compete with Google in search. If you need to look for something or find an answer you will use Google. Sometimes you will search for a person, band or company on Facebook but if you are looking for deeper information, you head over to Google.com or you use your browser’s Google search bar.

Now that Google Plus can capture more of your information (a lot of the same information you share on Facebook) Google will further dominate the search scene. As the writer puts it (and as we all understand in business) the best time to strengthen your lead is when you are already in first place and dominating your marketplace.

Google Plus Users Count –
Attracting New Accounts

So what about attracting new users to Google Plus?

Are you one of the people or businesses who think your Facebook page is already enough work to keep updated? That Facebook is the only place you need to be?

Google’s method of attracting new users is all about enticing or rewardingly forcing users to use Google Plus. The author highlights several areas we have been helping our clients integrate and use:

  1. Google Plus Authorship. All good bloggers out there know the benefits of Google Authorship. Authorship is all about getting your profile picture to show in Search Results beside your article. It’s about getting credit for what you write. How do you set up authorship? Create a Google Plus account.
  2. Google Places Listings. Recently we have been helping our clients integrate their traditional Google Places (Google Local/ Google Maps) listing into their Google Plus account. The new Google Plus account is much more user friendly and allows you to respond to reviews along with all the other capabilities of Google Plus. Are you a new local business and need a listing? You’ll need to create a Google Plus Business account.
  3. Reviews. Did you recently eat at a local restaurant with terrible service or do you want to recommend your company’s accountant because he helped you save thousands on taxes last year? To write a review on Google you will need a Google Plus account.

The common theme here is that you  need a Google Plus account. Whether you like it or not, Google Plus is still growing in momentum and Google has greater plans for the little + sign you are starting to see. In a nutshell, the article’s author sums up the Google strategy with a pinch of comedic relief:

Your buddy, “Hey have you heard about this one little thing?”
You: “Oh. My. God. That’s Awesome. That’s so Awesome. How do I get that?”
Your buddy: “Oh, you need to have a Google Plus Profile or it doesn’t work.”

So are you using Google Plus for personal or professional purposes?

In our last staff meeting we discussed this article and all agreed that Google has big plans for Plus and we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It made us recall a certain time (and not so many years ago) when we tried to tell our clients that Google was becoming more and more important. Many didn’t listen and were more concerned with Alta Vista and AOL. Really!

Begs us to ask the question: Who can stop the determination and innovation of Google?

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How to Improve Facebook EdgeRank And Get More Facebook Traffic

So you’ve made a Facebook page for your business, added your logo and inserted your company’s contact information…now what?

This is the step where many businesses get stuck.

Yes, we know that Facebook is a low cost and quick way to reach thousands – the last statistics show Facebook has over 900 million active users. But how can you maximize the exposure of your Facebook content in order to engage your fans?

This article will answer the questions:

  • What Is Facebook Edgerank?
  • Why Does Edgerank Matter?
  • How Can You Boost Your Edgerank?
  • What Other Tips Can Help Maximize Your Facebook Exposure?

If you are new to Facebook we recommend that you first read these tips on SEO for Facebook which is full of advice on how to promote your Facebook page.

What’s Your Facebook EdgeRank?

Facebook uses the EdgeRank scoring system to determine how often your content appears in your fan’s news feed.

Showing up in your fan’s news feed is important because most of your fans will not actively visit your Facebook page on their own. This means you need to add content to their news feed to remind them about you and to engage them with your content.

Unfortunately not all of your content gets shown on all of your fan’s walls at all times.

The Facebook newsfeed is always changing as fresh content gets posted by other friends and businesses. In essence you are competing with each of your fan’s friends, pages and other objects to end up on their news feed at the right time, where you will be noticed.

This is where EdgeRank comes into play. EdgeRank is an algorithm that tries to predict what individual users will want to see in their newsfeed based on three factors:

  1. Affinity – Fans that interact with your brand on Facebook on a regular basis have a higher affinity towards you; Facebook takes this as a cue to show you in their news feed more often.
  2. Weight – Different objects shared on Facebook carry different weights of importance; the weights of objects such as photos, links and comments can differ on an individual level as well. A person who browses photos often may have a heavier weight for photos.
  3. Time Decay – After your content is shared it starts to lose value over time; old news is no news.

How to Improve Your Facebook EdgeRank

If your EdgeRank essentially controls how often your customers see your content in their Facebook newsfeed you need to use some strategies to make your EdgeRank as good as possible.

Try these strategies for increasing your Facebook EdgeRank:

  • Engage your fans and get them to like, comment and share your posts in an effort to increase their Affinity towards you.
  • Improve Affinity by interacting with fans on an individual basis. Affinity is only one-way (the fan must visit your content) but if you comment on individual fan’s pictures or status updates they may comment back, thus boosting Affinity.
  • Use actions that carry a heavier Weight. Facebook doesn’t publish a list of how it views various actions but we can probably assume that comments, for example, carry a higher Weight than just a like because they require more effort and are more engaging. Many agree that videos, photos and links carry the heaviest Weight.
  • For important announcements (sales or specials) use a heavy Weight object such as a picture to help improve the chances of appearing in news feeds.
  • Try to actively engage users as Weights can accumulate. For example a post that gets 15 comments right away is more likely to appear in news feeds.
  • Post content throughout the week as to replace older content; this fresher content is more likely to appear at the top of fan’s news feeds. However do not do this at the expense of becoming too noisy and risking annoying your fans!
  • Try to post comments when your fans are most likely using Facebook to eliminate unnecessary time decay. One way to do this is to track the day and time of your posts along with impressions. Aim to post at the times that get the most impressions.

If your EdgeRank still doesn’t seem to improve, try overcoming the time decay factor by posting when others are not creating content. This reduces the number of people competing for spots in news feeds.

Maximize Your Business’ Facebook Exposure

Now that you know how to boost your EdgeRank here are some additional strategies to further increase your exposure on Facebook.

Geo-Target Your Facebook Posts

If it makes sense, try to geo-target your posts by city, state, province or country. If your content is specific to a particular area (for example only your Washington retail locations are having a sale) geo-target!

Keep Facebook Posts Short And Sweet

Generally, fewer words and short posts are best. This also stops you from becoming too self-promotional, which risks your fans “un-liking” you or thinking of your business as clutter in their news feed.

Pin and Highlight Important Facebook Posts

If you want to draw attention to specific posts on your wall you can use the Pin or Highlight option from the edit icon on the top right corner of the post:

Pin moves post to the top of your wall (select from pencil drop down menu).
Highlight expands your post to be stretch across your wall (star).

Stop Pesky Auto-Posting on Facebook

There are several apps you can use to automatically post to your Business page through Tumblr, Twitter and other social profiles. If you auto-post too often you run the risk of your audience getting annoyed and selecting to receive fewer updates from you.

Reaching Your End Goal
Activate User Engagement and Get Click-Throughs

For many businesses, Facebook is a way to lure fans to their latest blog post or a page on their website.

In order to engage your fans you need to appeal to their sense of curiosity. Lure them to click through with compelling titles.

For ideas of attractive titles that work check out the tabloid magazines the next time you are in line at the grocery store. Or head over to Yahoo and read a few of their headlines.

Both of these sources are great inspiration for sparking curiosity – it’s impossible not to pick up a tabloid magazine while waiting in line or to open up one Yahoo news story while checking your email.

Ultimately Have Fun with Edgerank and Build Your Brand

At the end of the day Facebook’s value for businesses lies in the ability of that business to engage their user and build their branding.

Don’t view Facebook as just another marketing tactic or a way to grow your SEO visibility. Your fans like you on Facebook because they want to hear from you, interact with you and share your products and services with their friends.

With this in mind, use Edgerank to your advantage and go forward and create engaging Facebook content  that gets your brand noticed and your fans talking about you.