Is Facebook the New Google?

According to Parse.ly data, Facebook is now the top referral source to news websites – surpassing long-time referral giant Google. In July, 43 percent of the traffic to the media sites surveyed came Is Facebook the New Google from Facebook clicks, while just 38 percent came from Google. While just one genre of websites was surveyed (news media), the study is very telling of a bigger trend: people are gathering more and more information through social media.

This shift is important for all businesses to acknowledge and understand, especially small ones who have always had a distinct marketing advantage through social media. Some important points to note:

Word-of-mouth is alive and well. Google’s algorithm has always been based on sites having more credence when they are clicked on more, or referenced through linking on another site. This is word-of-mouth referring in an abstract way – being told what is the most relevant to you based on the largest group of people or third-party sites.

Facebook is different because it is inherently more personal. The links that you see and click on are from people you actually know. When someone posts a link or product on Facebook, it is an instant recommendation (and one that you can click on immediately).

For things like news stories, it is a fast way to spread information that bypasses the typical Google algorithm wait. Small businesses that may not normally make the cut when it comes to that coveted first page of Google search may get a lot of attention from a single Facebook post from a fan.

Search results alone aren’t enough. Google does a good job showing searchers what a link is really all about before sending them to it, but it does leave some things lacking. The biggest of these? A personal connection between that site and the searcher.

Facebook has an advantage because when a person sees a link posted from a friend, there is generally some commentary that explains why the reader should care. Even business pages posting their own links, or sponsoring them, can add just a little bit of content to make those posts more engaging, and clickable.

People value convenience. I can’t believe that I’m even implying that typing in a search term and waiting a millisecond for results is in any way an inconvenience, but with the instant gratification of technology, it makes sense. It is why people are willing to give up some privacy in order to receive the best deals, or customized health data.

People are on Facebook anyway – from computers at work, to tablets at home, to smartphones everywhere else. Having links right in the feed that are relevant actually IS more convenient than looking something up on a totally different site.

Google and Facebook provide different services, of course, but when it comes to instantaneously being referred to articles, products or businesses that impact your real life, Facebook does have an advantage. Small businesses need to be sure that they have a strong presence that is both brand centric and convenient.

What advantages for businesses do you think Facebook has over Google?

Understand Your Audience With Social Media Monitoring

Social Media Monitoring

Companies all over the world have been harnessing the power of social media in order to build brand awareness and grow their businesses. They do this through relaying information about new products and services, or communicating with their customers by soliciting feedback or responding to issues/complaints. However, if these are the only ways your organization is using tools such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., you are overlooking a huge opportunity: social networking sites can also be used in order to gain valuable information on your current and future consumers.

Why?

Any marketing expert will tell you that understanding your audience is the key to effective sales. If your target market is girls between the ages of 12 and 15, and your product has a price tag of $300+, you’re going to have a major problem. Using tools in order to monitor your brand’s followers can help you gain valuable insights into your consumers. This information can be used in a number of ways, from developing new product lines to finding new venues for advertising.

How?

Now that you know some of the potential benefits of using this tool, how do you put it into practice? Essentially you want to monitor the activity of your current or potential customers as they use social networking sites, and then in terms of what is most useful to you. One way to do this is to hone in on your company’s followers on social channels. Even if they’re not discussing your brand, or communicating with your company directly, they are still putting out crucial data about their values and interests. Take note of things that come up frequently across the board. You can also gain intelligence on the strength of your brand, how positively or negatively followers feel about it, and how influential those communications are.

Then What?

After you gain some insight into trends among consumers, test out some advertising methods. One of the best things about selling via these networks is that you can quickly and efficiently test keywords in order to identify what’s gaining traction, so don’t be afraid to get creative. Once you find keywords that generate sufficient results, you can begin to invest more in those avenues. In addition to testing marketing locations, you can also use this material on consumer commonalities to create new ad copy. For example, if you’ve found out that the people who buy your brand’s dog food are also interested in green initiatives, this can help you develop new and more effective advertising.

. Check out the messages put out by anyone in the community who has some interest in your field, or is contributing to the conversation. By using these and other strategies in audience monitoring, you’ll begin to see improvements in your marketing goals across the board.

The Instagram equation: Art + Science = More Followers

 

The Instagram Equation

Oh how things on Instagram have changed. Much of the advice I shared here last year, besides the obvious practice of daily engagement with new members of your audience, doesn’t hold value today. I’m not backtracking, I’d like to think of it more as adapting because it’s not as if what I suggested was wrong… it’s just that Instagram moved the cheese on us. But fear not, your retired IG Superhero is hot on the trail of cheddar and ready to share a few tasty morsels with you!

The equation, though, is always changing. And while solving it can be a bit tricky, there’s more than one solution to grow your Instagram account.

There are a number of different solutions to the problem. Before we even get too much further, something needs to be established. What do YOU want Instagram to do for you and what do you want to do for Instagram? Me…? It’s become more about sharing stories and expressing my thoughts through pictures than the followers and being instafamous. Just take a quick moment and find out if you’re bringing something to the table.

Art Trumps Science

Being Instafamous isn’t just about the art, there’s also an underlying science of attracting followers which comes into play. Seriously, there’s a top secret instagram algorithm. Though, to set the right expectations, I will say Instagram places a much higher emphasis on creating good Original content. IG pages who only repost OPP #otherpeoplespictures are a dime or dozen.

If you can’t take a good selfie or aren’t willing to capture the beauty in nature or don’t have much of a creative passion in any capacity, then I’d recommend sticking with Twitter & Facebook. If you think you’re dedicated enough to the art part of the equation, read on.

3 “facts” about getting more followers on Instagram.

While these Instagram tips probably are fact, they’re *technically* hypotheses based on my experience, observations, and reports of mythical activity which I’m just masquerading as proven scientific truths. But they’re definitely not myths!

1) 1 like from an instafamous account has further audience reaching effects than 100, maybe even 1000, likes from average accounts. Back when I was running my #supergram contest, I heard multiple instances of substantial account growth WITHIN MOMENTS after participants posts received likes from my contest co-hosts and myself.

The Biggest jump I saw screenshot proof of was from my instafriend who gained 69 followers and saw a spike in activity to the tune of hundreds of likes within 15 minutes of the color queen @kardinalmelon liking his post.

A good follow up piece will be how to get their attention… it can be tricky. For now, I’d say be persistent and genuine with praise of their works. I also notice spike in activity when certain friends swing by and engage on my posts.

2) Instagram now suggests followers after you follow someone with a 4 figure follower count the only problem is I haven’t quite figured out a blueprint on how to ensure an account would be linked to another. But for experiments sake, I changed my “name” from “Tony Bennett” to “A Pure Michigan Fall showcase” and sure enough, I’m often one of the 3 suggested after someone follows @puremichigan.

By the looks of it, the algorithm is largely based on geographic location, so think about adding it to you bio or play with it a little to see if you can link yourself to a fast growing account.

3) It’s easier to get videos to “go viral”. Another unscientific truth, as I don’t have a written from Instagram stating “videos are more likely to appear on the “explore” page than images”. But I’m noticing a phenomena of video heavy accounts growing at a more rapid pace than photo pages with similar content.

I see at least 30-50 new followers whenever I post a video. However, on the flip side, my videos hardly ever get as many likes as the pictures do. It’s all relative, though, because more followers will lead to more likes on everything.

Don’t go fake – slow is better than shallow

Lastly, I’ve seen a growing number of folks go the route of buying fake followers. In theory, especially on instagram where perception is most definitely reality, it’s not the worst idea if done reasonably. No, I’m not advocating it but human nature says people are more likely to follow accounts with big numbers.

With that being said; it’s so easy to spot a fraud on Instagram that it’s not worth getting a bad rep over it. If you want to win over those key accounts, you need legit activity. Having 100k+ followers with only a few hundred likes on Instagram will stick out like a sore thumb.

Tony Bennett Instagram

My growth this year has been slower than the past two, but I’m rather optimistic that I’m on the right path. I’ve still managed to amass an additional 17,000 followers in the last 4 months after stagnating in the first half of the year using the philosophies discussed above.

It’s tempting to go get the fake cheese wiz and pad my stats… but I find the real stuff to be far more rewarding. Hope you found my facts to be helpful. Do you have any success stories to share? Make sure to comment with your instagram tag readers can check you out. I’m @tony.bennett, hope to see you around the gram!