Category Archives for "Facebook"

The Coming Facebook Snowflake Apocalypse

A couple of weeks ago, President Mark Zuckerberg announced ginormous changes to the Facebook news feed algorithm.

By the reaction, you’d have thought he announced a new Terms of Service that allows Facebook to take your first born.

People are flippin’ out about this change (basically Facebook is prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content in the News Feed).

A good friend of mine owns a company that manages social media campaigns for businesses. She’s been blasted with emails and phone calls from clients all wanting to know the same thing…

“What does this mean?”

Her answer (which is the right one by the way) is “I don’t know yet.”

But that doesn’t stop all sorts of so-shill media pseudo-experts from jumping on their high horses and ranting on about how this is the end of Fakebook, how this is gonna screw business owners, and making other hysterical claims.

Personally, I find it highly amusing to watch all these snowflakes whip each other up into frenzy and get their panties in a bunch over things they can’t control and, in reality, know little about.

But if we can melt the snowflakes away for a moment, I can tell you exactly what this Fakebook nonsense means for your business…

1. Marketing platforms, tactics, websites, etc. change.

All. The. Time.

When this happens, there are winners and there are losers.

The losers are the ones who cry and complain about the way things used to be… How the changes screwed them over… And how they want things to go back to the way they were.

The winners adapt.

2. If your marketing is built on platforms others control, then you are much more vulnerable when those platforms make changes.

If Fakebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. is the center of your marketing universe, your business is dangling off the edge of a cliff.

One slight jolt to the landscape and you’re going over and down… hard!

(Even moreso if you’re relying on their organic or “free” traffic. Paying for traffic is safer cuz these companies gotta make their shareholders happy.)

That’s why it’s so important to own and control your own marketing platform (i.e. your website, your email list).

When you use those as the primary means to communicate with/market to your tribe, you’re on much more stable ground.

Ninja Trick to Run Video Ads on Facebook

Want to run video ads on Facebook?

It’s a feature that Facebook makes directly available only to advertisers with big budgets…like spending 5 figures per month kind of big budgets.

That’s out of the question for most small business owners. If you’re on a tight budget, however, there’s a little known ninja trick you can use to run video ads on Facebook without breaking the bank.

This trick was brought to my attention by Jordan Wyatt over at Lantern Creek Productions, a video company in St Louis.

He made a video (below) which details exactly how you can set up video ads on Facebook.

It basically comes down to this:

  1. Upload a video to your Facebook page
  2. Give it a good title (the title will become the headline of your ad)
  3. In the FB advertising interface, choose the option that lets you promote a specific post and select the post that contains the video
  4. Activate your campaign and you’ve got a video ad!

Before I share the video, there’s a key point to understand…

Jordan shared the data from his video ad campaign with me and, as expected, the clickthrough rates (CTRs) for the video ads were pretty good for a Facebook campaign. Video ads are a great way to stand out from all the other things competing for a user’s attention on Facebook.

Keep in mind, however, these video ads don’t take people to a landing page. They just take them to the post with the video. That means you have to embed your call-to-action in your video/post.

Ultimately your advertising is about generating leads and sales, not CTRs. So, without having a landing page to place an opt-in form on, whitepaper download, etc., it’s your video’s job to let people know exactly what action you want them to take and why they should take it.

Okay, with that said, enjoy the video…

Why Building a List May Have Just Gotten Even More Important

Building a list of prospects and customers has always been one of the key pieces of a successful online marketing strategy.

No matter what happens to your search traffic, if you have the names and email addresses (and, even better yet, the phone numbers and physical addresses) of your clients and prospects, you can always go to them directly and leave Google out of the equation.

That’s an extremely powerful position to be in.

Well, if you have that list of email addresses and/or phone numbers, things may have just gotten even better for you.

Facebook announced that, starting this week, Facebook advertisers will be able to run ads that target their customers by either email address or phone number.

The way they describe it working is you can import a database of your contacts into Facebook. Facebook will match the information from your database with its user records (though supposedly they won’t have access to your data) so that you can run ads targeting those on your list if they’re on Facebook.

Using Facebook advertising to target those who have already Liked your brand on FB has long been an under-the-radar way of keeping your message in front of your customers and prospects. And it’s also pretty cheap to do. Often you can advertise to your own followers for only a few dollars per 1000 impressions.

Take Things Up a Level By Combining Your List With Facebook’s Targeting Options

The other cool thing about targeting your existing customers by phone number and/or email address is combining your list with the area where Facebook advertising really shines – the targeting options.

Instead of advertising to your entire list, you can target only women between 26 and 40. Or only married men 35 and older. Or only those will college degrees. Or only those who live in a specific geographic area.

With a big enough list, the sky’s the limit on how you can slice and dice it using Facebook’s targeting options.

A lot of people are knocking Facebook these days.

Yes, their stock price is in the toilet. Yes, their advertising program can be difficult to use. Yes, it’s difficult to track results.

But the Facebook advertising platform can still be effective, if you’re in the right market and know how to use it effectively. And if you’ve been building a list, this new feature provides some very intriguing possibilities.

The Holy Grail of Advertising?

I came across this incredibly fascinating article in MIT Technology Review titled “What Facebook Knows”.

It’s about Facebook’s internal “Data Science Team” that spends its time figuring out what helpful, useful, interesting information can be gleaned from all the data Facebook has compiled about its 900+ million users.

Most people don’t truly know how much information Facebook has about them. Not only does FB have access to the information we post in our Facebook profiles and time lines, but also tracks our activity on the web through the websites we visit and apps we use.

And a lot of this tracking can be done even if we don’t click the Like button on the site or app we’re using.

Yes, there is certainly a scary Big Brother aspect to all of this, but that’s not what this post is about. The scientist in me is fascinated by what can be learned from all this data and how the Data Science Team is combining math, programming and social science to “mine our data for insights that they hope will advance Facebook’s business and social science as well.”

They’ve figured out some pretty interesting things already such as…

  • The whole “6 degrees of separation” idea is wrong. It’s actually 4.
  • Developing a “gross national happiness” index that calculates the overall mood of a country based on Facebook activity by measuring key words or phrases that indicate positive or negative emotions.
  • While the information we share is strongly influenced by our close friends, the information we’re exposed to is much more strongly influenced by the collection of the more numerous, distant contacts we have.

Some of what this team is trying to do is show that this data can be useful as, for example, an accurate and cheap way to track social trends (providing useful data to economists and other researchers).

But, at the end of the day, Facebook has to make money to please their shareholders so there are certainly marketing/advertising implications involved in what this team is researching.

As a marketer interested in the potential of Facebook advertising campaigns, there were a few sentences about halfway through the article that jumped off the screen at me…

“The most valuable online ads today are those displayed alongside certain Web searches, because the searchers are expressing precisely what they want. This is one reason why Google’s revenue is 10 times Facebook’s. But Facebook might eventually be able to guess what people want or don’t want even before they realize it.”

Being able to predict the products and services you might be interested in before you even realize you have a need for them would certainly be a game changer in the world of advertising.

Could you imagine…

  • Baby product ads showing up before you’re ready to tell the world you’re expecting?
  • Ads for marriage counselors and divorce attorneys showing up for people who an algorithm indicates are going through marital difficulties?
  • When your stress levels are starting to peak, ads for massage therapists, vacation packages or chocolates popping up when you’re online?

There are certainly risks to having ads being perceived as too invasive and Big Brotherish as Target found out when sending ads to expectant mothers in their second trimester.

But there’s no doubt that being able to target products and services to prospects based on what their behavior patterns indicate they’d be receptive to is an incredibly powerful opportunity for marketers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you think this would be the Holy Grail of advertising or Big Brother at its creepiest?


Image courtesy of Dave Malkoff





Why Small Business Owners Shouldn’t Care About Facebook’s 900 Million Users

Yep, that’s right. Facebook has eclipsed the 900 million user mark and is well on its way to 1 Billion!

Even if 100 million or so of those are fakes or dupes, that’s still a lot of people!

The size of Facebook’s enormous user base is a number that gets thrown around a lot, especially by social media experts who like to use it as a way to convince businesses that Facebook is the place to be.

And while 900+ million is an impressive number, what does it really mean for the small local business owner?

Not much.

In fact, as a small business owner, you really shouldn’t care at all about that number.

However, there are some very intriguing numbers on Facebook that you should care about.

What are they?

Well, according to Facebook’s stats (as of August 2012), within 50 miles of St Louis, there are:

  • 44,800 men and women, 23 years old and up, who are small business owners (attention coaches, consultants, insurance agents, accountants, attorneys, etc.)
  • 15,400 men and women between 21 and 25 who are in college (want to get the word out about your new hot club or Happy Hour at your bar?)
  • 18,100 women between the ages of 18 and 45 who are engaged (good to know for wedding planners, florists, caterers, etc.)
  • 24,100 moms with kids between the ages of 0 and 15 years old (there are a whole host of small businesses that would like to target this group!)
  • 18,740 men and women 27 and older who are college grads and like luxury brands (do you market a high end product or service to the affluent?)

These are a few examples of the numbers that really matter to small businesses when it comes to Facebook. And they start to give you a picture of the true power of marketing there.

Facebook has the most complete and accurate demographic profile data available to advertisers.

It’s important to note that Facebook advertising is not for all businesses and has great challenges that come along with it. But if you know who your prospects are, Facebook paid advertising is an incredibly powerful way to reach them.


The Irony Of How I Got This KSDK-TV Interview On Facebook Advertising

Last week I got an unexpected email from local news anchor/reporter, Art Holliday from KSDK (St. Louis’ NBC affiliate).

He wanted to interview a local internet marketing expert for a story he was doing on Facebook Advertising. (While I much prefer to be behind cameras than of in front of them, I got over myself and agreed!)

So I went downtown to the KSDK newsroom but before Art started asking me questions, I asked him one… “How did you find me?”

His answer: “a Google Search”.

That answer perfectly highlights the challenge Facebook faces in trying to attract more advertisers and build up their advertising revenue to satisfy the Wall Street crowd.

Because when someone has a specific need they have to fill, if they have a problem they need solved, an itch they need scratched…they go to Google.

People are on Facebook to have fun, to be entertained, and to connect around things they’re passionate about. Advertisers that offer those things can do quite well with Facebook advertising. (Think restaurants, bars, musicians, fun / interesting events, or organizations that bring people together around a common good/passion.)

But people don’t go to Facebook to solve their problems, they go to Facebook to escape their problems.

And, when it comes down to it, most businesses are in the business of solving problems.

That’s the challenge of paid advertising on Facebook and is a big nut Facebook’s gonna to have to crack to explode advertising revenues and make shareholders happy.

If you’d like more of my latest insights on Facebook, Google and converting traffic into sales (no matter source the traffic comes from)…please sign up for The Click, my free new monthly online marketing newsletter.

Oh, and here’s the link to the video on KSDK of my interview or you can watch it here…

Where Do People Turn for Info About Their Local Community (Surprising Results?)

Found this interesting report put out by the Pew Research Center titled “How People Learn About Their Local Community“.

Among the interesting findings of particular interest to local business owners…

  • Internet rules for local restaurants and businesses. More adults (28{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}) rely on the Internet for information about restaurants and other local business than any other source. Newspapers are the 2nd preferred source (around 17{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}-18{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}) and Word of Mouth was 3rd (13{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e}).
  • 55{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of adults surveyed said that, at least occasionally, they get information about restaurants, clubs or bars from the Internet. That figure was 60{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} for “other local businesses”.
  • While social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were included in the above “Internet” category, they run a distant third to search engines and special topics sites (like Yelp and Craigslist) as a source people rely on for this information. For restaurants, only 2{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of respondents cited social media, compared to 21{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} for search engines and 9{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the special topics sites. For “other local businesses”, only 1{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} cited social media (21{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} for search engines and 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} for special topic sites).
  • Not surprisingly, the percentages of people who relied on the Internet for this information was much higher for respondents who were younger, wealthier and had lived in their city for a shorter period of time.
  • Print is not dead. Local newspapers are the #1 source people rely on for 11 of the 16 types of local information the research looked at.  (Though most of these topics are not followed by most people on a regular basis.)
Most people are looking for your local business on the Internet (though we here at Main Street Marketing Community have known that for a while!). However, don’t forget about newspapers. Especially if you’re targeting an older demographic, paying some attention to newspaper coverage/advertising may be worth your while (especially if your competition is ONLY focused on the Internet).



The Most Important Local Business Owners Should Know About Google’s New +1 Button

Google officially announced its answer to the Facebook Like button yesterday, the +1 button.

This button will appear next to the organic search listings, next to the pay per click ads as well as on websites that choose to add the +1 button to them.

Here are a few screenshots from Google that show what it will look like in the organic rankings (notice the +1 button next to the listing’s title and then, under the listing, how many people +1′d the site and/or specific people in your social network who +1′d it)…

Why should you care?

Because +1 can affect where you rank in the search engines.

How big an effect, time will only tell. (It will likely make only a very small difference in the short term, but become much more of a factor in the future.)

This +1 button seems ripe for abuse (how many people can you find in India, the Philippines, on even on Craigslist, etc. to click on your site’s +1 button for a few cents each?) and it will be interesting to see how it evolves over time.

For now, it’s just important to understand that it’s out there and that social media is becoming more and more of a factor in where your business ranks on Google.

Oh, and when you start seeing the +1 button pop up the next time you’re on Google, be sure to click it for your website (and it probably wouldn’t hurt to have your clients and friends do the same thing!)