What We Can Learn from the Death of Facebook’s Sponsored Results

Farewell, Facebook Sponsored Results… we barely knew you. Although these ads were first launched in August 2012, Facebook is decided to pull the plug. In an official statement from Facebook:

In keeping with the goal of streamlining our ad products, starting in July, advertisers will no longer be able to buy sponsored results. We’ve seen that most marketers were buying sponsored results to advertise their apps and games, and we already offer mobile app install ads and page post link ads on desktop to achieve these same goals.

From the very start, there were strong supporters and opponents of having ads in searches. Some said that the ads were destined to fail, while some businesses saw small success from early campaigns. Here are a few things we can learn from Facebook’s efforts:

The Need to Monetize
Like their archenemy, Google, Facebook’ success is based on advertising. Although Facebook is free to use, users can expect some degree of advertising as the price of using the social networking site. The debate comes when asking the question when is there too much advertising? Facebook has seemed to have answered that question because not only were Sponsored Results killing the user experience, but they were failing to monetize these ads effectively.

Listen to Customers
Users were already complaining about inundated with regular Facebook ads. It’s another thing to take that next step and begin to integrate these sponsored advertisements into their social feed and search results.

Advertisers (aka the money makers) were also failing to see the right amount of ROI on Facebook Ads. And this doesn’t just go for small businesses. Big companies like GM have openly commented about how Facebook Ads weren’t a right fit for their marketing mix.

Testing is Important
Facebook’s next step involves developing new and better formats for ads so that they are fully able to take advantage of the new Graph Search. Another reason Facebook’s Sponsored Results didn’t work well as its other ads is that it wasn’t targeted to each specific user but rather, what they happened to type in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Without trying, you’ll never know what you can achieve. This isn’t a post to toot Facebook’s horn but rather, a takeaway for the complicated world of paid ads. Facebook took a risk with Sponsored Results but knew when to end the ads because they weren’t working out for users or businesses. The key is knowing when to stop and move on to something bigger and better. And as Albert Einstein once said, “You never fail until you stop trying”.

Announcing a Phone for Facebook

Is the world really ready for a Facebook Phone? On April 4, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a phone solely dedicated to the social network. Can this phone compete with all the other smartphones currently out there. We shall see very soon. Check out this parody to see what naysayers think about the Facebook phone.

With users already complaining about layout changes and privacy issues with the new Graph Search, is this phone really going to help with Facebook’s reputation and/or stock prices? Users have always seemed to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Let’s take a look:

Distraction – Just imagine it: Facebook Home will revolve around people, instead of applications. How convenient, or should I say distracting. Check out this productivity study from 2012, where it was found that if students checked Facebook just once during the 15-minute study period, they were worse students!

Updates and Changes – Although Facebook Home won’t feature ads just yet, that could someday (soon) become a reality. The new Facebook phone will be touted for constant new updates but is this really a selling point when users are already complaining about interface changes and ads in their feed? For now, monthly updates are in the works.

Privacy – In a sense, it will be like giving Facebook full access to your phone. While this is exciting for a handful of people, I’m guessing that most people won’t be too thrilled. Permissions, data collection, and chat monitoring are just a few privacy concerns.

If you’re really interested and would like a sneak peek, Facebook Home will be available as a free download on Google’s Play Store on April 12, 2013. Although it will will work only on a handful on Android phones. Also, for your Saturday entertainment, make sure to check out: Mark Zuckerberg’s (alleged) embarrassing childhood Angelfire website!

Showing Twitter Love this Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day. While you’re off being romantic today, don’t forget about showing some Twitter love! Here’s some inspiration for all you lovers out there:

Photo apps: Instagram is all the rage, but it’s not exactly Twitter-friendly… seeing that they’re owned by Facebook! Take a look at some alternatives including: Snapseed and Hipster.

Get visual: Looking to add some spice to your header image? Take a look at this gallery of creative photos to get some inspiration for your own profile.

Mind your manners: It’s not polite to spam your followers, constantly ask for new followers or ignore others who communicate with you. Apply the “Golden Rule and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

Take it off Twitter: Have you ever thought of embedded Tweets? This is a great way to continue the conversation, cultivate relationships and build credibility. The best part is that you’re directing followers to your website and developing relevant content.

See the bigger picture: Twitter isn’t just for fun and you should think of it as another element in your overall marketing plan. This also means not just relying on Twitter (or social media for that matter) to grow your business but to use it for its strengths.

Search Marketing Events to Look Forward to

WhatSearch Marketing Expo – SMX West (San Jose)
Highlights – Whether you’re a beginner or expert, this expo is perfect for you. It will feature 50 sessions on SEO, PPC, social media marketing, local/mobile search, landing page conversions and much more.
When – March 11-13, 2013

WhatSouth by Southwest
Highlights – Although this is typically known as a huge music and entertainment event, this has changed in the past few years. This year’s schedule includes: “Awe-Inspiring Web Typography You Can Do Now”, “How to Rank Better in Google & Bing”, “The Learn to Code Movement” and more.
When – March 8-17, 2013

WhatPubCon New Orleans 2013
Highlights – Located in the Big Easy this year’s con will feature “top speakers, cutting-edge sessions, and social media nightlife, featuring a vast variety of tracks and strong lineup of major industry exhibitors.”
When – April 22 – 25, 2013

WhatBlueGlass X in Los Angeles
Highlights – This very limited engagement of only 175 attendees will include speakers like: Andrew Shotland, Brian Clark, Ian Lurie, Neil Patel, and Joanna Lord… to name a few!
When – May 21 – 22, 2013


What - The Internship
Highlights - Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson star as two unemployed salesmen who are able to score a coveted internship at Google.
When - June 7, 2013

What - Content Marketing World 2013
Highlights - Speakers include: Jonathan Mildenhall (VP, Global Advertising Strategy and Content Excellence at The Coca-Cola Company) and Jay Baer.
When - September 9 – 12, 2013

What - Conversion Conference Boston 2013
Highlights – 2 whole days focused on website optimization, digital marketing and analytics, with sessions on: website usability and design conversion across different platforms and more.
When - September 30 – October 1, 2013

What search marketing related events are you attending or looking forward to this year?

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!

5 Things Nerdist Industries Can Teach You About Marketing Your Business

What began 4 years ago as a blog by Chris Hardwick has transformed into the giant that is known as Nerdist Industries. The site is pretty much a one-stop-shop for nerds on all things pop culture. In recent news, Legendary Entertainment has acquired Nerdist (read more about that here.) So, just exactly how did one comedian’s idea blossom into an acquisition of a major production company? This is no small feat and certainly not an overnight success. Find out how Nerdist has become so successful and what your business can learn:

nerdist

1) Find a niche and go for it: Even within the “nerd culture”, there are different types of people and interests. Things usually associated with the word “nerd” include video games, computers and technology. But in fact, Nerdist has expanded on that limited mindset to also include: movies, music, food, comedy and even sex/health.

If you look at it compared to marketing, it’s the same way. Marketing is a very general term and there are so many different areas to expand on: traditional, email, newsletters, viral, direct mail, print, online, etc. Being a generalist is helpful but being a specialist can make your business stand out.

2) Appreciate your fans/customers: Nerdist provides free content via podcasts, articles and video clips. In a world where everything has a price tag, it’s nice to see something made with passion be put out for free for fans to consume. It’s also not surprising to see the hosts/comedians also respond to fans by comments or through Tweets. This personal touch makes fans feel more connected to the community and more likely to attend live shows.

Nowadays, social media provides a channel for companies to showcase the human side of their business. Personal interaction is crucial for repeat customers and to help establish a trustworthy reputation. As for giving things away, the Freemium model works well for many businesses, especially when it comes to digital goods.

3) Enlist the help of your friends: What makes Nerdist podcasts so great? When comedians invite their friends, of course! These conversations provide an inside look into the industry on a personal level that can’t be found anywhere else. And not to sound superficial, but it all ties back to promoting yourself but not at an in-your-face kind of way. After all, this is a business and there is money to be made. For example, in Doug Benson’s dining podcast, each episode focuses on a local eatery such as the Grilled Cheese Truck and the Let’s Be Frank hot dog cart. This is a great form of promotion that is interesting and relevant to foodies and comedy fans alike.

Cross promotion is a great way to gain exposure in a different audience… especially if it’s closely related. As a small business owner, there’s great opportunity when you combine efforts with friends or other local businesses. Bringing on others will help with networking in the industry and it will also force your business put out better services/products.

4) Make your branding memorable: Part of what makes Nerdist so recognizable is its consistent branding. Even though there are over 20 different podcasts, each of them still feels like they belong to the Nerdist family. Part of finding your individual voice in the crowd also means personalizing it, even if it is with a sign off catch phrase like “Enjoy your burrito” or “Keep it crispy”.

Does your business have a consistent look and feel? Branding is an important part of effective reputation management and building a credible repertoire. Whether you’re a small business or a large company, it’s important that consumers find your brand and logo memorable so that they keep you in mind for their future business needs.

5) Work hard and don’t lose sight of the big picture: Not just any comedian (or anyone, for that matter) can create a unique business model as Nerdist. Many people even question how Nerdist can even monetize the free content that they’re putting out but believe it, they are making it happen. This passion and desire for hard work didn’t just come from anywhere. After all, Chris could have been a washed-up former MTV host turned alcoholic if he didn’t turn his personal and professional life around.

There is no quick short cut to success and Nerdist is a perfect example of that. If you want your business to run like a well-oiled machine, the only way to do it is to get down and dirty and do it yourself. But no matter how much effort you put into things, remember to never lose sight of your integrity and remember why you’re in business in the first place!

The Power of Social Media in the 2012 Summer Olympics

Last night’s Summer Olympics closing ceremony was a wonderful way to close out the historic sporting events. The United States had the most wins with a total of 104 medals – while China and Great Britain were close behind.

Throughout the games and even throughout the closing ceremony, it was hard to escape the power of social media. Let’s take a look at some ways this is changing the way the games are presented and watched nowadays:

Consumption – There’s no doubt about it, fans and athletes alike love social media. It’s estimated that there were over 50 million tweets related to the Olympics. Rabid Ryan Lochte fans celebrated with the signature #JEAH hashtag, while gymnast Gabby Douglas gained over half a million new Twitter followers in just under 2 weeks. This year’s games were unlike any other because social media really has provided a channel for fans all over the world to be more connected to each other and their favorite athletes. Wonder if ancient Greek athletes could ever imagine something like this!

Criticism – NBC was continuously bashed throughout the Olympics for their lackluster coverage of events. Check out the #NBCfail hashtag to see a sample of what fans are saying. Early on, Twitter suspended (and quickly unsuspended) the account of a journalist that tweeted the “private” email address of a network executive and urged fans to email him. Fans have proven to be extremely vocal and big networks can now instantaneously see what consumers are criticizing them for.

Consequences – A Greek and Swiss athlete were suspended from their respective teams for racist tweets. Imagine all the hard work and not being able to participate because of a tasteless remark. Of course, these remarks and “jokes” go against everything that the Olympic spirit stands for. The debate is whether athletes should be suspended for such behavior or if social media usage should be restricted/controlled in the first place. Racism and ignorance has and will always exist. But the immediacy of social media is changing how we see it because it makes that hatred more tangible and permanent.

The next Summer Olympics is set to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Until then social media consumption will only grow. Companies should to keep their eyes on what their next move is in order to effectively capitalize on all the potential. And athletes must think more carefully to what they broadcast to the world. The question is, what will they learn until then?

4 Visual Networks for Social Sharing

look at me

Are you tired of Pinterest yet? If you’re looking for other sites for visual sharing, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at these 4 picks and you’ll see why you can benefit from other, niche social networks:

1) Behance – This is a great place to showcase your online portfolio and organize collections. Use popular categories as you grow your profile for some awesome link juice. This site is an excellent, profession forum to review peers, show off and have some fun.

2) Snapguide – This site is like eHow (or similiar tutorial sites) …BUT it’s more visual appealing as pictures are front and center. Instead of relying on text that can be confusing/boring, you create guides using with chunks of text and easy to follow visuals. From “How to Get More Followers on Instagram” to “How to Keep Bananas Fresh Longer”, you’re sure to find a relevant category that you can contribute to.

3) Jux – When you visit Jux, the pictures literally take up your whole screen. Join to immerse yourself and share pictures, articles, slideshows, block quotes, videos and top 10 lists. This may seem like a lot but all these categories are based on big,beautiful pictures. Whereas sites like Pinterest can be overwhelming with endless pictures and thumbnails, Jux zeroes in by allowing you to only focus on one piece at a time.

4) Story Wheel – Instagram pictures, stories and nostalgia. What more is there to want? This site allows you to curate stories into neat little slideshows using your own pictures. Sometimes, words just aren’t necessary.

Whether you’re looking for more external link building resources, social media advertising inspiration, or just a place to connect online with peers, these sites are sure to be helpful. Let us know if you have any other favorite sites for sharing visuals!

While You Were Busy Complaining That SEO Is Dead…

Will marketing firms be gone before we know it? HOLD ON. Before you go on about how “SEO is dead”, here are 3 aspects of internet marketing that you should really be focused on:

Local CitationsGetlisted.org recently posted a tool showing the best citation sources by city. Interesting how this stuff all works! Besides the major ones, you’d better be familiar with: Manta, Citysearch, Superpages, and the LA Times if your business is in or near Los Angeles. Other credible citation sources include Dex Knows and Augusta.com. If you don’t think these sites are important, it’s time to seriously reconsider as Google takes signals from these major sites and takes them into account when ranking.

Social Signals – As SEO is no longer about “pleasing” search engines, SEO content has to be aimed at helping people. In fact, this has been the primary goal of search marketing for a long while now.  But it’s not just about coming up with useful content, which is why viral campaigns, infographics and video are being lauded for their share ability. The easier content can be shared, the more your business can benefit from social sites.

SEO Growth – The bottom line is that SEO is growing and becoming more integrated with other marketing strategies. Check out this infographic by Blue Caribu which shows that:
– There are roughly 863 million Google results for SEO, while social media has about 385 million.
– 2.24 million Americans search for SEO every month.
– Every second, 3.5 people look up SEO on Google.

If you aren’t entirely convinced, don’t look at it as if SEO is a dying breed (which it isn’t)… but as a segment of marketing that is ready to transform.

10 Social Media Tools You Might Not Know About

social media tools

It’s that time again! Another roundup of helpful social media tools because let’s face it, there can never be too well-equipped. The first day of summer is quickly approaching and that means that more people will be on vacation, which means one thing… more time spent on social media sites! Here is a list of some helpful tools that we’ve find most helpful this summer. Hopefully, these resources will help inspire, organize and analyze your social media accounts. Let us know if we missed any!

1 ) Boardreader – This “forum search engine” is the go-to tool if you’re looking for help keeping with tabs on your company/brand. Many customers still use forums and message boards for complaints, questions and comments. This is the perfect tool to help with reputation management and even consumer research.

2 ) CoTweet – CoTweet helps businesses of all sizes get more social by allowing you to engage, scale and measure your online marketing campaigns. This tool has been often compared to HootSuite but users feel the main difference is a clean design that targets corporate social media users.

3 ) EdgeRank Checker – What Klout was (originally) to Twitter, EdgeRank is to Facebook. EdgeRank Checker monitors factors that affects Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm and presents them in easy to read graphs. This tool helps you track affinity, weight and time decay in order to maximize your posts for the best exposure.

4 ) TheFancy – Are you already on Pinterest? As if you need another addiction, TheFancy is here to fill that need. You can collect and curate to your heart’s content, as this is the perfect place for brand marketing. Unlike Pinterest’s cluttered interface, TheFancy features a minimalist and sleek user interface. We can fancy that.

5 )Gremln – Who wouldn’t want a cute, little social media helper? Gremln helps you keep track of multiple social media accounts including: scheduling posts, reputation monitoring,  allowing you to schedule posts, monitor your reputation and analyze the response to your content. Did I mention that unlike other tools, Gremln can also keep track of LinkedIn and RSS feeds?

6 )MyCube -Discover, share and sell. MyCube is a place for bloggers, photographers, videographers (and other creatives) to sell their content. This site is definitely unique in that users will be able to directly share and sell their content.

7 ) Radian6 – Social listening – it’s what you must do nowadays in order to analyze your brand and consumers. This tool allows you to gather data that you can organize into conversation clouds or topic trends. From there, you can easily find negative, positive and even neutral customer feedback. Their goal is to help your company implement necessary changes in order to improve the consumer experience.

8 ) SiteTrail – This tool gives you a comprehensive look at any website. It’s the useful first step of an in-depth competitor analysis as it gives you analysis of keywords density, social mentions, SEO, traffic and visitors. Give this FREE tool a try, now!

9 ) uberVU – If you’re looking for enterprise-level “social media intelligence”, this is the tool for you. uberVU provides comprehensive reports on social media monitoring which can used internally or even shared with clients. The best part about this tool is that it provides consumer insight that can help you improve your products/services.

10 ) Woobox – Businesses are always looking for more Facebook Fans and that usually means running some type of relevant giveaway. This application makes it easy for Fans to enter. There are also incentive features and it even keeps track (and removes) individuals who enter and unLike your Page so that they’re no longer eligible. How convenient! If you’re looking to create a custom, professional tab, this application will make things a breeze.