Social Optimiziation with Open Graph Protocol

We’ve previously talked about microformats like Schema.org, but what is there for social networking sites? Have you ever attempted to Like or share something on Facebook with strange titles or pictures showing up? You might not even get what you’re looking for unless you manually input that information and let’s face it, what customer is going to do that themselves? Such a thing does exist to help and it’s called The Open Graph protocol.

What is Open Graph?
This protocol allows developers to integrate their site into a “social graph”. Using specified markup, you can make any page on your site socially shareable by setting custom type (video, article etc.), title, meta description, contact information, and even address/location.

How do you implement it?
Open Graph supports simple markup data and it’s not really hard to apply. It’s really a matter of copying and pasting the right information. If you’re using WordPress, there are plugins that can generate this for you. It’s important to use the right code when using the markup on your website. As a rule of thumb, it’s important to test and check your work before going live or before you implement it on many pages, or even site wide. Check out this Facebook Tool which gives you feedback on a page where the code is added so that you can see any potential errors. It’s also helpful to check a live, working example such as Amazon or IMDb to see how they’re using the markup and replicate it on your site for maximum effectiveness.

Why is this important?
For e-commerce retailers, product pages could have unrelated or boring information when it shows up Liked or shared on Facebook and Google Plus. Having control of what shows up in your customers’ feed is important because you want to optimize for consumers, and not just have a default blurb of what the site pulls up. Moreover, using these tags means that you’re putting it in a language that search engines can easily read and it could help boost your rankings. You can also test it on 2 similar pages, one using the markup and one not and see what difference it makes for your particular product/service (in terms of comparing bounce rate, conversions, click through rate, etc). In other words, optimizing your site for social using Open Graph can only help as you’re making your site more search and social friendly.

Feel free to leave a comment or contact us if you have any questions about Open Graph or any other social media marketing strategies!

3 Missing Elements of Social Media Success

social media influence

comScore and Buddy Media Research recently released a report on the effectiveness of social promotions during this past 2011 retail holiday season. If you haven’t seen the 17 slide presentation yet, it’s time to take a look before planning your next social media campaign.

While the report analyzes bigger brands like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart, there are some important takeaways that you can apply to your small business. Take a look at this slide above. This is an important slide because it addresses many conceptions that business owners have about utilizing Facebook to promote their business. The immediate thought is to 1) Get Facebook Fans 2) Become successful. As we all know, success doesn’t come that easily. According to this slide, you can look at the missing process in three steps:

1) Cut-through – As your fan base grows, you’ll need to broadcast brand messages that are interesting so that they capture your customers’ attention. The importance of this step is that most Facebook users spend 27% of their time on their Newsfeed. Spread out your focus to include updates for your newsfeed, media updates (using photos and videos) as well as status updates.

2) Engagement – Your Facebook Page can’t truly gain exposure if it’s not being talked about. Comments and Likes are both very desirable forms of engagement. Don’t forget that these actions now also play a greater role in your search engine rankings! Interestingly enough, Mashable recently came out with in infographic that showed that “positive” updates are more likely to get Likes, while “negative” updates are more likely to get comments. See for yourself, here.

3) Amplification – Facebook Shares, reposts and even private messages are also intermediary ways to help reach your end goal of success. The best part about sharing on social media websites (especially on friends’ profiles) is that there is an extra component of trust and credibility when customers vouch for your product/service. These shares will come naturally and no coupon, newsletter or commercial can replace the value of word-of-mouth advertising.

Make sure to check out the report for yourself and see what other elements you can use or learn from for your next social media campaign!

Diaspora – Your Next Alternative to Social Networking?

Join Diaspora

Privacy concerns about Facebook and Google+ are growing. Just check out this infographic about Facebook security. As Facebook announced its new Timeline, many people feel that these features are too stalker-ish. Do you really need or want to know your friends’ timeline of events from the day that they were born? New privacy features enable all friends to see all your activity – this means your boss, client, mom, professor or whoever else you happen to be friends with. Although Mark Zuckerberg made it seem so good, this “frictionless sharing” is what a lot of people are afraid of. This problem also carries on over to Google+ accounts, which seems to made even more for public search than Facebook.

While Facebook and Google + seem to want you to open up more to the public, it’s hard to see how you can socialize AND keep your privacy. But the answer you’re looking for may come in the form of Diaspora. The selling point of this relatively new social network is that it is secure – you can share WHAT you want, with WHOM you want. Another great thing is that you own the pictures you upload. There’s none of this nonsense where you give the company consent to use your pictures however they please, ahem.. Twitpic.

I admit that I’ve had my Diaspora account for sometime, I haven’t been making full use of it. I’m pretty sure that my non-internet marketing friends and family are even aware of what Diaspora is. Which is part of their problem… some early reviews say that the profiles are too plain and that there needs to be more features. Also, Diaspora needs a helping hand when it comes to monetary funds and have been asking for donations to help further their project. Sometimes, simplicity is best and I’d like to see where Diaspora takes things.

What do you think? Are you worried about social networking privacy features of other mainstream sites and would you look into using alternatives like Diaspora?

How Will You Be Using Google Plus?

Facebook vs Google

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Value of a Facebook Fan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Thoughts on Social Media Marketing

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

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

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

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


Is the Twitter RT Irrelevant? by Joel Postman

Twitter Retweet

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

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


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

social media best practices

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

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

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

Posterous for Simplicity

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

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

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

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

Optimizing Your Facebook Posts (Part 2)


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

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

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

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

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

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

Optimizing Your Facebook Posts (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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