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?

What the “Second Screen” Translates to for Small Businesses

 

Think about the way you watched television five years ago. You probably sat on the couch, snack nearby, focused on the program in front of you. A technologically-savvy person could choose a program from the DVR to watch and then fast forward through any commercials or boring portions

Compare those habits to the way you consume television and movie content now. When you sit down to relax, you What the Second Screen Translates to for Small Businesseslikely have a smartphone or tablet in front of you and scroll through your social media accounts or search Google while you watch. There are probably other times where the TV or movie content you are consuming isn’t even happening on a television set at all, but is streaming through a mobile device.

This consumer behavior that is defined as the “second screen” is turning the marketing world on its head. Eight-eight percent of consumers are looking at mobile devices while watching TV, and Millennials often skip TV altogether and watch streaming content on smartphones or tablets.

ZenithOptimedia predicts that television watching will peak in 2015 before beginning a decline for the first time ever the following year.

It used to be that networks had to compete just with each other for consumer attention; now the entire internet is a competitor. So why should people outside of traditional TV marketing really care? The answer is simple: the second screen trend is indicative of a bigger shift in consumer expectations. Some of the lessons for small business owners include to always:

Provide convenience. Make it really easy for consumers to find information on you and your business. If they have to spend too much time searching, they will move on. Consumers have become accustomed to having everything they need literally at their fingertips and small businesses must adjust with mobile friendly sites, updated search engine listings, and a strong social media presence.

Be engaging. Just as consumers are no longer content to just sit still and watch TV, they aren’t attracted by small business brands that are flat. It is not enough to be online – you must find ways to be interactive with your target base. That includes posting social media content that will prompt discussion, and not just lie flat, and being sure to include visuals like videos, photos and infographics. Make people want to engage with your small business by providing content that facilitates it.

Look for new ways to deliver content. Even if your business has been around for a decade or more, you should always look for new ways to reach your target audience. Do some research into which social networks work best in your industry (perhaps Pinterest isn’t a good fit, but Instagram is) and have your website updated annually. It never hurts to try a new marketing avenue. You never know – it may end up being a revenue stream you had never considered before.

As consumer behavior changes, so do the expectations. Remember to look for ways to be part of the latest trends while keeping your message on point.

3 Ways Health Data Will Impact All Marketers

The popularity of smartphones means that businesses are gaining increasing insight into what consumers want – and exactly when and where. Location-based technology allows anyone with a smart device to find the nearest3 Ways Health Data Will Impact All Marketers restaurant, or shoe store, or coffee shop, or even individual items in a particular aisle of a store. People who use fitness or health applications can track their activity levels and other important wellness factors.

Of course, as the prevalence of location-based data rises, so do privacy concerns. Though consumers are certainly warming up to this type of data sharing, there is an overarching fear about what it all means in the grand scope of consumer privacy. This is especially true when it comes to health data. When consumers are tracked in this realm, does it cross the strict lines of privacy that lawmakers have tried so hard to protect through legislation like HIPAA laws?

It’s an interesting debate, certainly. On one hand, better health tracking benefits patients and can save time in the event of an emergency. On the other hand, health data has always been closely guarded because it can lead to things like discrimination.

But what does it all mean for everyone else? What can all marketers understand better about consumers, based on the health data debate? Why should non-health related apps and services pay attention to what happens with the information allowed in health technology? Here are just a few reasons that what happens with consumer privacy regarding health data will impact everyone else:

  • Consumers will become more aware. As the health tracking debate comes to the public surface, consumers who knew very little about how their smart devices track them will start to learn more. They may not like what they learn – and it could spell trouble for marketers in the future.
  • Consumers will expect more. Think of all the things your smartphone already does for you: gives you instant internet access, reads you your texts and emails, reminds you when it is your mom’s birthday or when you need to make an important phone call for work. As each part of our lives gets connected to smart applications, we expect more intuitive measures from everything else. This mentality will be heightened even more if health apps are fully integrated in what we use our phones to do.
  • Consumers will look elsewhere. As the laws in the U.S. are put in place to provide privacy protection on health apps, consumers will learn more about how data is protected in other countries. Expect issues like the right to be forgotten online to surface with more vocal support from the general public.

Overall the adoption of health apps will lift the mobile technology industry by mainstreaming a necessary area into smartphone usage. It’s important for all marketers to understand the implications of health-based apps and what the laws end up looking like surrounding them, because it will impact consumer behavior and expectations.

What do you think the laws should be when it comes to health tracking?