Posts Tagged: facebook

It’s difficult to think back to a time when social media wasn’t in existence.  For many, MySpace was their first interaction with social media, and for a long time, it was the big game in town  (For an interesting look back at the social media timeline, click here).  Today, there are a vast array of ways to keep in touch with your friends, family, and total strangers on the other side of the world.

social media cubesBetween posts, feeds, tweets, +1s, and everything in between, there are so many options to let the world know about your business.  Often, it’s asked if social media actually plays an important role in a company’s online marketing campaign.

The simple answer is: YES!

There are two aspects to look at when it comes to social media within your business.  The first is the actual use of social media to connect with and keep in touch with your customers and clients.  The other is strictly for SEO purposes.

This post is going to focus on the SEO aspects and how it can benefit your company.

When it comes to ranking your site in Google, you have to consider that Google is becoming more and more sophisticated in determining what deserves to rank.  The idea of something going viral is simply the easiest explanation.  When something goes viral, traffic is increasing at the destination.  As traffic and on-page engagement increases, your ranking capabilities increase with it.

How does this work?  Google records a wealth of information about what is going on throughout the internet.  They know where you go, how long you spend there, and what you’re doing at almost all times.  Let’s look at two sites: Site A and Site B.  Both sites are almost identical to the point where one site would not have an advantage over the other for any reason.

Both sites utilize social media in exactly the same manner; however, Site A has a larger following and a better creative team.  Every post or tweet from Site A sends is sent to 1,000 followers while Site B only sends to 100.  Let’s suggest that each post only gets a 10% engagement of sending the followers directly to each site.  Once on the site, every user is greeted with a video about the site, a product, or a service.  Site A has a video that is 5 minutes long.  Site B’s video is only 1 minute long.

The stats are as follows:

Site A – 100 visitors to the site @ 5 minutes per visit
Site B – 10 visitors to the site @ 1 minute per visit

In Google’s eyes, strictly from an algorithmic point of view, which site appears to have the content that people are looking for?

And at the end of the day, Google just wants to display results based on what people are really looking for.  High traffic, high dwell time (time spent on a site), and a low bounce rate (bounce rate is how often people leave your site quickly after visiting) are all large factors when it comes to ranking a site.  It is indeed possible to rank a site based purely on social media.

Again – Is social media important?  In an SEO sense, absolutely.

Paid Advertising

What is Paid Advertising? (PPC)

PPC, or pay-per-click, is often utilized to get instant results with minimal effort; however, those results often come at a premium price depending on your targeted audience. In short, you are paying for advertisements to appear on websites or search engines and you pay every time someone clicks on your ad.

There are a few things you need to take into consideration before you run your first PPC campaign.

Target Audiences

Depending on your advertising platform, you have certain controls over who actually gets to see your advertisements. Most platforms follow a similar model as would be found with Google Adwords. In this model, you write an ad, decide what terms it should show up for, and then you place a bid. Your bid and keywords determine when, how often, and where your ads are going to show up.

facebook adsIf you are utilizing Facebook for your advertising needs, you get a completely different method of determining who gets to see your ad. From here, you get to decide the demographics of who gets to see your ads. Rather than using search terms, you get to tell Facebook to display your ad to males between the ages of 24 and 50 who live in the London, England and are teachers. Or you may cater your ads to women between the ages of 27 and 30 who live in the United States and earn more than $50,000/year.

These are the two most common forms of PPC. That’s not to say there aren’t other options out there, but most likely you’ll run into one of these two.

Obviously, there are times when you’ll want to use an Adwords style campaign over a Facebook campaign. If you are a local business trying to get in front of people actively searching for what you have to offer, then an Adwords PPC campaign would be more beneficial. If, on the other hand, you are trying to get your product in front of a large audience, then Facebook would be the better choice.

Associated Costs

When it comes to standard PPC, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. The costs are decided by your bids when you start your campaign. If you have a high bid, your ad will be shown more often. At the same time, you will be paying more per click than anyone else. You need to find that line where you are getting impressions (one impression is your ad being viewed one time) and paying minimal costs for every click. That can take some time and patience, though.

adwords pageYou do have another option, though. This option is known as CPM, or cost per thousand impressions (M = 1,000 in roman numerals). This is as simple as it sounds. You pay a set amount (again, based on your bid) every time your ad is viewed. If you have a bid of $5.00 CPM, you will pay about $5.00 for every 1,000 views of your ad. Simple enough.

This is really where you need to do some research into your product and decide which campaign would best suit you. You can run a CPM and get only 2 or 3 clicks. At that point, you may be better off moving over to PPC as the cost would then reflect the number of clicks. Of course, at that point, your ad may get better positioning resulting in you getting more clicks (and, of course, paying more). In which case, you may think you would have been better off with CPM. And it can go back and forth like that. That is why you need to watch your campaigns and adjust as needed.

The Ad and Your Landing Page

As with any form of advertising, if your ad is terrible, you won’t get anyone clicking on your ad either way. You need to make sure that your ad is eye-catching and draws your potential customers in.

At the same time, you need to evaluate your landing page, or the page the ad takes the user to when he or she clicks on your ad. There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to your landing page. Does it take too long to load? Is it interesting enough to keep someone’s attention? Does your ad reflect your landing page?

Split Tests

When you get into paid advertising, you need to make sure you can afford to run split tests. What this means is that you need to run several concurrent ads – and pay for them all.

What you want to do is set up multiple ads with multiple landing pages and run them all through CPM and PPC. Essnetially, you should have the following at a minimum:

  • Ad 1, Landing Page 1, PPC
  • Ad 1, Landing Page 1, CPM
  • Ad 1, Landing Page 2, PPC
  • Ad 1, Landing Page 2, CPM
  • Ad 2, Landing Page 1, PPC
  • Ad 2, Landing Page 1, CPM
  • Ad 2, Landing Page 2, PPC
  • Ad 2, Landing Page 2, CPM

With some monitoring, you can begin to whittle away the ads that aren’t doing so well and decide on one ad that has the strongest click-through rate while paying the least for those clicks.

Of course you don’t have to set up that many campaigns, but if you are looking to optimize your ROI, you would want to ensure that you are getting the most for your money.

Warning

Once your campaign is set and ready to go and it begins, your results are literally just what is being reported back to you. That sounds odd to say, I know. However, there literally is no proof that your ad is shown to those that you are requesting to have it shown to. You are taking the word of the advertising platform and you will have to live with that. I’m not saying that they flat out lie and run your CPM campaign by only showing your ad to 100 people and reporting it as 1,000 (though it could happen with bots regularly scouring the internet). I’m sure they are displaying accurate numbers, just maybe not to your exact specifications.

For a better understanding, check out this post regarding social media, and view the video about one-third of the way down. That video does a better job at explaining why paid advertising campaigns might not be as legitimate as we all wish they would be.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, there is a lot to consider when dealing with paid advertising. There are some people out there that absolutely crush it with paid advertising. Then again, there are way more out there that seem to find no luck with it.

It is still a very lucrative platform for getting your business out there in front of potential customers. And a lot of businesses utilize the services (see how much Google makes in advertising here). All I can say is monitor your campaigns like a hawk. Don’t start a campaign and just walk away or you might end up as just another contributor to the billions of dollars Google earns without you seeing anything back.

The Alternative

For those who have actually made it this far, you are probably wondering what the alternative is for paid advertising. If you want your business to be seen by those actively looking for your products and services, I will always tell you that SEO is the way to go.

With SEO, you more or less know what you’re getting in to. You are moving your business up towards the first spot in the search engines. Once there, you have the potential to earn more business than in any other position, including ad spaces.

The biggest problem with paid advertising is that your ad is clearly labeled as an advertisement. For many, that is an instant turn off as we are bombarded with ads everywhere we go.

Want to watch a 15-second YouTube video? You have to watch a 30-second ad first. You want to read an article on a news site? Let an overlay advertisement sit on your screen for 15 seconds first. We see ads everywhere.

When the average user is looking for your products, they want what they perceive as the recommendation from the search engine, not a paid advertisement.

I will always recommend SEO over paid advertising. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a lethal combination of the two. If you’re interested in SEO services, please fill out our Discovery Application and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Social media isn’t only important, it’s vital. For more than reason, if you’re business has no social presence, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. What you need to do is stop reading, go create at minimum a Facebook page and a Twitter account, then come back and find out why you need social media.

There are several reasons why you should invest heavily in social media to build an online presence. I don’t mean invest a large sum of money, but rather invest time and effort in connecting with your current and potential future customers. After all, they are likely spending a decent amount of time on these sites every day, anyway. You may as well become a part of their online lives. (read this article and this article for some surprising facts about social media usage)

alexa top 10 sites

Screenshot from alexa.com

If you take a look at the image to the right, you can see that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter hold 3 of the top 10 frequented sites around the world. If you were unaware of this, a light bulb should be going off in your head informing you that you need to have a presence on those sites, regardless of your business and what services and products you offer. Your customers are people. People use these sites heavily. You need to get in front of them.

Of course, actually getting your information to the people is a bit more tricky. Lucky for you, though, all three options provide advertising options. This is a quick method to get in front of the people who are most likely going to be interested in your products. Facebook probably has the most comprehensive advertising capabilities as far as hyper targeting your audience; however, there is still a lot of concern over whether or not your ads are actually being seen by your targeted audience. To see what I mean, check out the following video:

 

 

This video is almost a year old and Facebook has made changes since then, but from personal experience, you can still end up getting railroaded by Facebook and the clickfarms from around the world. If you have a large enough budget and a high ticket item or service, you may be able to offset the loss of advertising due to these clickfarms and bogus advertising, but at the end of the day, who really wants to throw money away?

At a minimum, you should be utilizing these services to connect with your customers. It doesn’t take much to ask your customers to like your business on Facebook or ask them if it’s ok to add you as a friend or contact. Most people wouldn’t be too bothered by it. This works in favor in multiple ways. First off, you start to build a following. With more likes, followers, or subscribers to your pages, the more authority you are seen to have. This can be important for how these social media sites actually rank your site if someone were to utilize their service to check out businesses that offer your products and services within your area.

On top of that, you can keep in touch with your customers. Depending on what you offer and how friendly you are with your customers, you can send them simple reminders that they need to renew a service or let them know a new product came out that they might be interested in. Even if you aren’t buddy-buddy with them, you can still post, tweet, or upload, and anyone following your business could end up seeing what you have to say.

You want to at least update once a week. What this tells your followers is that you are still here. They will see your name and they will remember you. If you can get them to engage, even better. You can hold contests (ask everyone to share an update and one person will be selected at random to win something of your choice), ask for feedback, or just talk about local happenings. People love to connect and if you spark their interest and they respond and engage, their actions will show for their friends to see (FREE ADVERTISING!).

– Note: If you hold a contest, check with the social media site you are engaging on as they have specific rules for contests and the last thing you want to do is find yourself in some legal trouble.

Beyond the customer engagement and benefits you’ll see on the social media sites, having a social media presence also helps with your search engine optimization. Once again, we go back to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter being 3 of the top 10 most frequented sites on the internet. Take a moment and think about what those sites are used for.

social media

Social media has a lot of buzzwords.

These sites are used for connecting and sharing. If you have a particularly good something to say, post, or tweet, you may experience something called “going viral”. Essentially, when something goes viral, it becomes overly popular on these social sites (and many others). What do you think it would do for your business if a post from your company page suddenly went viral? What if that post had a link back to your website? Not only would thousands of people see your post, but they would also have quick access to your website.

The chances of a post of yours going viral is slim, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. What we have to look at is a smaller scale. You don’t have to go viral, but if you have a post or a page that is popular enough, that is going to do wonders for your website and its rankings (assuming it has proper on-site SEO). Google and the other search engines can track social signals (shares, likes, retweets, etc.). If one site is suddenly getting a huge boost from social signals, what do you think Google is going to do? That’s right, they are going to boost your site higher in the search engine rankings.

Google wants to deliver the most comprehensive search engine to its users. They want you to find exactly what you are looking for when you use their search engine. This is a very complicated process, for sure; however, it’s getting easier thanks to social signals. The way Google’s algorithm is currently moving towards is focusing more on social signals than ever before. And why not? It makes perfect sense. If a site is experiencing a high volume of social signals, it is clearly popular and what people are looking for.

flying cars

The best flying car ever. This image is not actually important at all, but it’s still awesome.

For instance, let’s say a new prototype flying car was just designed. There is a video circulating online through all of the social media sites. It’s getting millions on views on YouTube, getting likes on Facebook, and getting retweets and favorites on Twitter (and everything else the other social media sites offer). This video is only 2 days old. Now, for the past 4 or 5 years, at the top of Google search for the term flying car has been a website that is mostly just a fan site of flying cars. It’s just a few simple drawings and some text. Nothing special. No social signals. After this video has received all of this attention, what is most likely to end up at that number 1 spot for the search term flying car? It’s going to be what everyone is currently liking, favoriting, and tweeting about.

Let’s get back to your business. If you have a local business, then you don’t necessarily need millions of views, likes, etc. You just don’t. If you had that, it would probably look suspicious anyway and Google would take notice. But if you engage with your customers on a regular basis and they respond, you could easily start to see a major boost to your rankings in Google.

In no way am I guaranteeing you will see positive movement in your rankings if you engage in social media. There are a lot of factors that are ultimately going to determine where you rank and for what terms, but if everything is in place, a good social media presence and engagement certainly isn’t going to hurt.

As always, if you are interested in discussing this further for your business and would like to schedule a consultation, please refer to our Discovery Application.

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