Facebook Verifies (Some) Pages & Profiles

What is it?
After many recent interface updates, Twitter has been accused of stealing profile ideas from Facebook. Now, the tables have turned as Facebook has announced Verified Pages and Profiles with a large followings of Fans. Some examples of people with verified accounts would be: celebrities, journalists, government officials, popular brands and businesses. Read more here.

Establishing authenticity
This process seems to be subjective and left completely up to Facebook, as users can’t actually request for their Page or Profile to be officially Verified. How convenient! You can however, report falsely Verified accounts. Just like with verified Twitter accounts, you can distinguish Facebook’s Verified accounts by a small blue check mark. This check mark will appear on Pages/Profiles and also in Graph Search results next to the name of the Page/Profile.

Good for business?
As a business or notable figure in an industry, Verified accounts will help brands stand out from other Fans, haters or spammers trying to cash in on using their business name. For example, many celebrity fan Pages will often have similar pictures and layouts to the authentic Page in order to gain more clicks and views. The theory is that Verified accounts will help push more Fans and customers to the real Page instead of an unofficial Page.

What’s in store for the future
For now, Verified accounts seem to offer the most benefits to big brands and celebrities. After all, they’re the ones spending the most on Facebook and making the most off Fans. Stay tuned by Liking the Emarketed Facebook Page and joining in on the conversation.

Infographic Time: Do Facebook Ads Work for You?

facebook and google ads

As a small business owner, it’s important to think about ROI as it applies to paid ads, even on Facebook. Take a look at some findings above and check out the full infographic by WordStream here.

Depending on your business, Facebook could be a great place to target new fans and potential customers. Although Facebook ad options do a great job of expanding your advertising reach, there are also complaints that could greatly impact a small business so that these ads don’t work so much to your advantage.

Some argue that is perhaps the only benefit of Facebook ads, the potential to reach such a great audience. But then again, that might be just enough to convince some to try out this form of social media advertising. Another benefit is having easy control of your ad budget with the option to run and test campaigns for $20 or even $10 at a time!

Here are some cons when dealing with Facebook ads:

– Extremely small and limited ad format – small pictures and limited text is never fun
– Difficulty with ad approval (check out: Advanced Facebook Ads: How to Beat Disapproval)
– Not enough ad targeting options
– Noise in users’ News Feed makes it harder for ads to be noticed
– Potential for appearing to be invasive and spam users

In Quarter 1 of 2012, Facebook made $1.06 billion in ads while the Google Display Network made $2.9 billion. As you can see, Facebook Ads will continue to grow and we can expect Facebook to continue to make it a better experience for both advertisers and users. Be sure to contact us with any questions about running a Facebook Ad campaign. There is nothing to big or small when it comes to these social media ads!

NPR Study: Best Local Stories for Facebook Engagement

Facebook engagement is important, especially around the holidays! Click on the picture above and see what NPR Digital services found in their experiment. It’s pretty self explanatory but the main point is that these wildly engaging stories often pull at the heart strings and put people in a good mood.

Nowadays, Facebook success is measured by more than just Likes. Thousands of Likes and zero engagement isn’t helpful for your business or customers. Instead of constantly self-promoting, it’s leaning towards a slightly different way to engage with fans: talk about subjects that are closely related to your brand.

Read more here:
5 Ways to Improve Your Facebook Engagement
Page publishing that drives engagement
The Real Value of Facebook Isn’t Your Likes or Fans
3 Ways To Get More Facebook Engagement By Using Photos

Share your favorite types of Facebook content and join us here!

Social Media Stats & Black Friday 2012

Every year, the frenzy of Black Friday grows and 2012 is no different. With people now camping outside stores and waiting up to a week before Friday to get deals, social media has become more ingrained into the culture of holiday shopping.

Why is Social Media Important?
Waiting in line after a big post-Thanksgiving meal is tough and customers must have something to do while they wait, right? This infographic shows that 57% of consumers plan to use social media sites for finding discounts; 51% will use it for reading reviews and 49% to get gift ideas. These numbers seem to be growing every year

And don’t forget about check-ins. Take a look at these stats by Foursquare from last year:

Whether checking in via Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can expect manic shoppers to post pictures of their loot.

The Shopping Experience
Many people who ridicule the idea of Black Friday argue that “deals” aren’t really worth the hassle…not to mention the potential headaches and injuries! Here are some other reasons shoppers are excited about shopping on Black Friday: sharing the experienced with a friend or family member, planning a strategy of what to get and where to go next, and participating in an annual tradition. Whatever the reasons may be, shoppers must have a good one to brave the Black Friday mayhem at malls and stores.

Avoiding Black Friday Altogether
Attention e-commerce businesses! This year, Cyber Monday is officially turning 7. The projected revenue from this year’s online shopping holiday is a staggering $1.42 billion. It’s also predicted that 60% of social media chatter will come from Facebook, 15% from Twitter and 5% from Pinterest.

But if masses of people or commercial stores aren’t your thing, Small Business Saturday might be right up your alley. This Saturday, millions of people are pledging to help local small businesses by shopping small and you can join too!

Are You Ready For Instagram Web Profile Pages?

How much does a hipster weigh? An instagram.

Now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk about Instagram’s new web profiles. As if Facebook and Pinterest weren’t enough… the world is now ready for a web version of Instagram. This move isn’t a surprise as Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion earlier this year.

instagram web profile

What does this mean for brands?
– Another platform to increase brand awareness and encourage relevant engagement (using #hashtags etc.)
– More flexibility in managing your profile because you’re not confined to editing everything on a smartphone screen
– Easily view content on mobile and desktop devices
– Potential for monetization in the future
– Showcase your brand’s content curation skills – especially helpful in creative fields like design and fashion/e-commerce

This is nothing but good news for businesses but it’s another story for consumers – it will take time to see how they react and engage. If you didn’t remember, iPhone fans cried afoul when Instagram was made available to Android devices earlier this year. Now, it’s safe to say that there will also be some people who aren’t happy that the once mobile-exclusive app is available to view on a regular desktop computer.

So, what do you think about this move for Instagram? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Why Do Social Shares Matter?

Social media marketing plays an important supporting role in more traditional online marketing campaigns. But if this isn’t a mystical cure-all, how does social sharing help your business? Let’s take a look at 4 benefits of active social participation and promotion:

Manage Your Brand Reputation: How do I rank for my business name? How do I rank for my own name? How do I rank for my name in Google images? These are a few questions that many people/businesses find themselves asking. Creating well-optimized social media profiles is the most effective way to rank for your personal or company name. Did you know even sites like Vimeo, Flickr and Slideshare can help? Check out a complete post (complete with infographic) on Search Engine Land.

Expand Audience Reach: Social networks now allow you to further expand your social reach. Facebook allows for mass promotions using contests and other Like-bait, while it still works great on personal outreach. As a recent post on HubSpot shows, 50% of Facebook fans actually prefer Brand Pages to the actual company website itself! Think if what you’ll be missing without a Page!

Reap Intangible Benefits: Being active on social media sites is all about building up trust and therein lies the grand potential. Sometimes, intangible benefits are great because it can be hard to put a dollar amount on goals such as “enhancing brand experience” and “improved customer response”. These are things that should be continuously worked on and social media can help your business vastly improve over time.

Relationship to Penguin/Panda?: Although strong social signals can’t make your site immune to Google algorithmic updates (such as Panda or Penguin), many believe there is a connection between sites that got hit and their social presence. Generally, it makes sense that sites that got penalized had very low or no social shares. And sites with quality content that didn’t focus on acquiring unnatural links is generally more shareable. You can use Google analytics or social tools like How Many Shares to check out your site versus competitors and see how things match up. Social shares are important metrics because it means that your content is interesting, relevant and most of all, trustworthy. This is natural behavior that is likely to be rewarded which makes it something you should think about, instead of just primarily focusing on links and anchor text.

These are just a few examples of why social media is becoming more important. It’s not a part of online marketing that you can just ignore now but something you should think about to work alongside your content strategy.

What’s in Store for QR Codes?

It’s been nearly a year since we last discussed QR codes. Do you think these quick response codes are living up to their high expectations?

Benefits
Back in 2011, analysts believed that QR codes were the next big thing because of their easy integration into social media campaigns. The objective was to engage in user experience and reward users as they were able to “unlock” something by scanning the code. For businesses, it is also user friendly as the URL associated with the code can be updated as often as you need.

Improved Technology
Mashable took a more pessimistic view on the staying power of QR codes. And they have good reason… scanning QR codes could also potentially put your personal information at risk, as it could allow full access to everything on your smart phone. Another example, did you know an “infected” QR code could download an app onto your phone that charges a monthly texting fee? But, as technology gets better and becomes more secure, users will be able to use QR codes without these worries.

Trending Upwards?
Despite the skepticism, the number of QR code scans has exploded during quarter two of this year. The top industries benefiting from these scans include toy, health/beauty, wireless and fast food restaurants. Online movie tickets, digital gift cards, even passports are all part of an expanding possibility with QR codes. Overall, the reviews on QR codes are mixed. The businesses that can efficiently benefit from them are niche which shows that this might be a marketing tool that’s not for everyone. Remember, just because it’s out there doesn’t mean that you have to use it! It’s best to pick, test and choose what’s right for your business instead of just relying on general industry trends.

Google + Local: What Does it Mean?

Why The Sudden Change?
Get ready to say goodbye to Google Places and hello to Google + Local. This latest Google update is a push towards further integrating Google + into search engine results. And as you guessed, it’s a push to help local businesses become more connected to their customers through their Page via promotions and reviews.

Zagat Reviews
For all the restaurant owners out there, Google + Local will be integrating Zagat reviews. While the thought of more reviews and scoring sounds scary, the positive side is that there are different scores for food, atmosphere and service so that it isn’t all lumped into one rating on a “normal” point scale. (Remember, Google acquired Zagat in September 2011, so it’s no surprise that it’s being used!)

SEO Benefits
Of course, this update can’t be announced without benefits for search engine optimization. The great potential here is that Google+ Local pages will be indexed by search engines. Did you know that Google Places pages weren’t? This will give business owners a greater voice that gives tangible benefits via SERPs.

Time to Get Serious About Social
“With one listing, your business can now be found across Google search, maps, mobile and Google+, and your customers can easily recommend your business to their friends, or tell the world about it with a review.”

If this isn’t enough incentive for you to create a Google + business page, we don’t know what is!

Video Marketing for Your Business

There’s no better way to describe your brand than capturing it with video marketing. Although SEO content has the magic touch, video is the only way to bring your brand personality to life and engage customers in a way that words can’t.

Marketing your website through video is about making a more personal connection with the customer. This is a crucial point where they can learn more about what you have to offer and decide to buy from you, learn more or leave. Most small businesses are using social media but video is a channel that is under utilized. Don’t you want to get ahead of the game?

Nowadays, people are more interested in consuming video content online. According to comScore stats,  the average person watched approximately 15.9 hours of online video per month (in May). That’s a lot of content! And top sources include YouTube and Facebook, where you can make your video channel completely accessible!

And of course, the best thing about videos is that they can be SEO optimized. If your video ranks well for certain terms, you can take advantage of top and first page result rankings if there is few or no competition in your niche. Video results also stand out amongst text for website results when people search for keywords.

Check out these helpful resources if you’re interested:

- Why Your Site Needs Video
Small Business News: Video Marketing Guide
4 Inspiring Small Business Video Successes
Online Video Offers Low-Cost Marketing For Your Company

So, what are you waiting for? Contact us today about video marketing for your small business!

Case Studies: Groupon & Foursquare for Businesses

Last month, we learned how Groupon is beneficial for businesses. Today, let’s take a look at some real life examples of how Groupon and Foursquare can be used to bring in new customers:


Cafe 50’s Uses Groupon
The concept of discounted dining is not new. Restaurant.com has been around for much longer than Groupon but it lacks a social and “cool” aspect of Groupon deals.

This weekend, I ate at Café 50’s for the first time after seeing a Groupon. This kitschy 50’s themed eatery has fairly good Yelp reviews and two locations in Los Angeles. After a yummy breakfast, the owner thanked us for coming and told us how much he loved Groupon because it was bringing him in so much business. How much exactly? He revealed that within 24 hours, nearly 4,000 people had purchased a Groupon! That number is pretty amazing to me for a local business. It’s also the kind of restaurant that is good for groups and families so I’m sure that they’ll be looking forward to more customers through word of mouth and online reviews.


Checking into Dodger Stadium with Foursquare
This weekend was full of new things as I checked into Dodger Stadium for the first time using Foursquare. I even earned a “swarm badge”, which means that I checked into a venue where 50+ others have also checked in. Foursquare badges and mayorships provide customers with a fun way to show their loyalty and encourage them to explore new venues. I also saw that fans checking in using Foursquare could also save 25% on their next visit! Groupons and Foursquare is great for restaurants, retailers and venues because they provide incentive. It’s a new way to invite people who wouldn’t normally visit your business.

Of course, there are downsides to Groupon and Foursquare if businesses believe that they could lose money (especially for service provides or small businesses who are not equipped to handle the volume). If your business is interested in Foursquare or Groupon, make sure to read the conditions carefully.