According to Hitwise, Facebook just became more popular than Google Search.
become the most visited website for the week. Facebook.com recently reached the #1 ranking on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day as well as the weekend of March 6th and 7th. The market share of visits to Facebook.com increased 185% last week as compared to the same week in 2009, while visits to Google.com increased 9% during the same time frame. Together Facebook.com and Google.com accounted for 14% of all US Internet visits last week
Not sure of HitWises methodology – why aren’t they comparing all Google’s web functions, including Maps and Mail? – but good on Facebook! For a site that didn’t exist in 2003, that is quite some achievement.
What does this mean for the future of search marketing?
Given the lock-in for return visits, it’s unsurprising that Facebook might receive more visits than a search engine. However, the most important aspect of different channels, as far as a web marketer is concerned, is: does the traffic convert to cash at some point?
Social Media Marketing, like SEO, is a tatic. However, if the tactic don’t translate into more business, then it’s a waste of time. Whatever channel you use, it is important to establish KPIs – key performance indicators – that measure the effectiveness of your tactics, and directly relate to the success of you business.
For example, one of the KPIs often mentioned in SMM is volume metrics, such as number of followers, subscribers etc. If we were to relate this metric back to our business objectives, we’d ask how does having a higher number of followers, or people claiming to be followers, result in more business? How many of those followers are really engaging with you? Or are they, literally, just making up the numbers?
I’ve seen social media companies fudge this aspect. Some play around with the term ROI, changing the “I” from “investment” to “influence”, or to “interest”, and use the number of followers as evidence of the level of interest in a clients services or brand.
The bottom line is the golden KPI. It can become blurred in bigger organizations, but for the little guy, it is crucial.
Volume Metrics Can Be Deceiving
Search marketers know that the volume game can be an illusion when it comes to making money.
“Jokes” may be a very popular keyword term, but it’s not making people any money because there is no commercial intent. “Second mortgages” is not a particularly popular term in terms of volume, but is lucrative as it has clear commercial intent. A high position for second mortgages in search rankings will make you money.
Conversely, how difficult would it be to get buzz around the term “second mortgages” via social media? Sure, with some inventive twisting and disguising of the true message it could be done, but really, it’s pushing water uphill. The social environment isn’t really suited to such a message.
Choose The Right Environment
The two channels are like apples and oranges.
Different environments work for different messages. Social media is great for generating awareness, getting people talking, and when integrated with an SEO strategy can be a great way of getting links. Primarily, it’s a brand strategy. However, because it is a social environment, there is less tolerance of overt commercial activity that in direct channels.
Typical social media measurements include:
- Business outcomes – can you link the campaign to specific interactions, such as sales?
- Influencer Reach – how many influencers picked up on your message and spread it?
- Audience Reach – how many visitors saw your message? Link this metric to…
- Engagement – how many of those people who saw you message contacted you, or took a desired action?
Conversely, SEO isn’t much use for building brand awareness or encouraging people to talk about your message. The environment is similar to direct marketing. It is well suited to direct response and commercial activity, as the intent of the user can be determined, and if that intent is commercial, then people welcome commercial messages.
What Is Your Business
Hanging out and being cool on Facebook isn’t a business
Business on the web typically falls into one of nine groups. Which is yours?
- Brokerage – bringing buyers and sellers together
- Advertising – displaying/selling advertising
- Infomediary – run programs such as ad networks
- Merchant – sell stuff
- Manufacturer (Direct) – make and sell stuff
- Affiliate – sell other peoples stuff and take a commission
- Community – leverage your community to sell something else
- Subscription – sell content/training on an on-going basis
- Utility – pay as you go usage
Decide which business you are in. When deciding on marketing and advertising tactics, ask yourself which environment is best suited to developing your business, then develop KPIs that support that business. You key KPI should be the bottom line – either this activity returns more money than you spend, or it doesn’t.
Filed under: Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing
Google announced via Twitter this week, that public status updates from Facebook are now included in the search engine’s real-time search feature. That means the largest social network in the world is getting play in Google’s real-time search alongside Twitter, MySpace, and others, and these real-time results are often featured prominently on the first page of search results for the hottest queries.
Apparently only updates from Facebook PAGES are indexed, and according to Danny Sullivan, that includes links, status updates, photos, videos shared by page owners (not comments made by the fans). Any Facebook update (from regular user profiles) can be shared publicly, so I wonder why these aren’t being pulled. Results from Twitter and other places aren’t only from branded sources.
This seems to indicate that brands should be getting a good amount of play for Facebook appearances in Google’s real-time search results, and possibly in the real-time search results in general (due to Facebook’s huge user-base). Right now, Facebook isn’t dominating the results, but that is bound to change with it being the largest (by far) social network on the web.
A lot of brands who don’t have Facebook pages in place are likely going to consider this a new reason to create one. Here are some tips for making a good one and promoting it.
This should also lead to Facebook Pages getting more fans, due to the increased exposure. Beware, however, that running a promotion on your Facebook Page may cost you ten thousand dollars, because Facebook’s policy guidelines indicate that you must get written approval from a Facebook account rep. In order to get one of those, you must spend that much in advertising, according to Eric Eldon of Inside Facebook.
Now Google’s real-time search results include (as listed by Sullivan) Facebook, MySpace, Twiter, Google Buzz, FriendFeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca, TwitArmy, Google News links, Google Blog Search links, new web pages, and freshly updated pages. At this point, Google generally only shows the real-time results for newsy/trending topics.
Note: At the Online Marketing Summit out in San Diego, WebProNews talked about a different kind of real-time search that involves local businesses, with RateItAll president Lawrence Coburn. It’s not local search as you would traditionally think of it, but it involves location, which one might consider a new kind of query.
Facebook wants to keep users on Facebook. So far, they are doing a pretty good job of that. More and more people are spending more of their online time on Facebook, not to mention, spending more time connected to the web in general (at least partially due to rising use of smartphones).
How much time do you spend on Facebook in a month? A week? Let us know.
Facebook recently made it a point to show users how to use the social network to keep up with the news. Users can simply become fans of their favorite news organizations’ pages (feel free to include ours in your mix), and group them in a “news” list just as they would create a group for friends or co-workers. The bottom line is; spending more time on Facebook getting news headlines is spending more time on Facebook period. There is also talk of Facebook working on its own web email service. Again, more time spent on Facebook.
One way Facebook could capture even more of its users’ time, is if it introduced a “blog” tab. Facebook currently has a “notes” tab, and quite a few people do use this. It’s a similar concept, but what if it was given more prominence and renamed “blog?” A blog tab might keep Facebook users even longer. First of all, the users blogging with it would obviously be sticking around to write their posts. In addition, their friends and fans would be sticking around longer to read those posts, which would generally be much longer and require more time than the average status update.
Would more people become bloggers?
I suspect that the word “notes” doesn’t quite resonate the same as the word blog in the minds of many Facebook users, although for all intents and purposes, the feature operates like a blog. You can post longer-form content for your friends and fans to see, and they can comment on it, while it all remains in tact in one spot for future reference. Not only could the addition of a “blog” tab keep Facebook users around longer, but it could have a significant impact on the Blogosphere. Simply calling it a blog and having it available right from any user’s profile page might just inspire.
Is social media killing blogs?
No, but it’s hard to say that use of sites like Facebook and Twitter (and now Google Buzz) don’t lend to less blog posts being created. If nothing else, it’s simply a time issue. It is easy to push out a quick status update if you have something to say. It’s easier than blogging. For longer-form content, blogs are generally the better option, which is one reason they are still alive and well. But if Facebook had a blog tab, the social network could cut into the Blogosphere even more, given its huge userbase, while establishing itself as a go-to place for blogging (another area in which Facebook could compete with Google, I might add. Don’t forget that Google owns Blogger).
If Facebook did this, it is very unlikely that all current bloggers would immediately go running there to do their blogging, but Facebook users who may not already be blogging may find the urge to do so when that tab is right in front of their faces. And frankly, I’m confident many current bloggers would go running there. Facebook is a powerful tool for building an audience or expanding upon one.
It works on MySpace. Look at director Eli Roth’s blog, for example. He gets a lot of engagement there (although he hasn’t updated in several months). Facebook is another animal altogether, and its growth is unprecedented. Just look at Facebook’s latest round of stats.
Facebook is frequently adding and changing features, as any user can certainly attest (for better or for worse). It is not hard to imagine them doing something like this. For the record, the company has made no mention of going such a route, to my knowledge. There are currently ways to blog within and around Facebook if you look hard enough, but if Facebook made blogging a focal point, I think it could take off, and perhaps lend to the concept of Facebook as a news source, and even add greatly to the Blogosphere by encouraging more blogging.
Should Facebook Have a blog tab? Would you use it? Share your thoughts.
Original Article: By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Joseph Andrew Stack intentionally flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. He appeared to have left a rant at EmbeddedArt.com before he did it, but the site has since been taken offline, and replaced with the following message:
This website has been taken offline due to the sensitive nature of the events that transpired in Texas this morning and in compliance with a request from the FBI. To see an archived version of the original letter, please go here: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0218102stack1.html. Please visit our forum if you wish to discuss anything related to this incident: Texas crash pilot left suicide note on Web site – embeddedart.com.
T35 Hosting – www.T35.com
Stack has already had a Facebook Fan Group set up in his “honor” by people admiring what he has done. At the time of this writing, it already has over 160 fans. Some on the page are praising what he did, while others are calling him and his fans names. Social media at its finest.
On an interesting side note, Google doesn’t appear to be displaying its real-time search results for “Austin” or “Texas”. I just find this slightly odd, being how it is one of the day’s biggest news stories. To be fair, the results do show up for queries like “IRS”, “plane”, and “crash”. This shows another example of where the feature still has some room for improvement.
As the Olympics get underway, fans have a lot of options to engage online. Many popular sites on the web are involved in a variety of ways.
Google allows you to take a virtual tour of the Olympics in 3D. They recently released updates in Google Earth’s 3D Buildings layer, which showcase Olympic venues (54 buildings). Models range from downtown event centers to ski lifts and spectator bleachers. The Official site for the Olympics uses the models itself.
Vectoral Elevation has “an interactive artwork” that allows users to direct light beams and transform Vancouver’s skyline until the end of the month using a custom interface built on Google Earth and Map APIs. It lets users design big light sculptures by directing 20 robotic searchlights located around English Bay.
Google has also taken Street View to Olympics country:
Microsoft launched a new Bing Maps application that pulls photos from Flickr, associates them with Bing Maps Streetside photos, and overlays them stretching the photo to form fit where in the world it belongs. The app is currently available in Vancouver (among several other places).
Bing actually has a Winter Olympics-specific Maps app as well. “In coordination with NBCOlympics.com, get up to the minute information about the 2010 Winter Olympics in everything from venues to news,” says Bing’s Chris Pendleton. “Click the Venues bar on the left to see the different venues where the events are taking place. Click the Medal Count bar to see every country mapped out with the number of bronze, silver and gold medals awarded to the respective country. Click the Winter Games News and Blogs to get the latest information about the Winter Olympic Games from news sources and bloggers on site. Finally, check out the Winter Games Tweets which filters information from our Twitter Maps application specific to the Olympics.” Bing talks about more Vancouver apps that feature Bing Maps here.
Bing is also giving its home page some Olympics love. It will be updating it with various photos from the events. “And while we’ll show some winners, this won’t be the standard parade of medalists,” says Bing’s Stephanie Horstmanshof. “We’re out to show the great moments from the games: the alpine skier from Ghana, the debut of Ski Cross as an Olympic event, anything to do with curling—all with the stunning imagery that you’ve come to expect on the Bing homepage.”
More ways that Bing and MSN are involved in the Olympics are discussed here.
Yahoo has a games-dedicated site, as well as a new Olympic mobile site at m.yahoo.com/olympics. This will provide coverage with live results, upcoming events, medal counts, photos, news, commentary, etc.
Yahoo also has a Yahoo Sports Olympics Coverage app for My Yahoo, that gives you more such information.
On Yahoo’s Flickr, the IOC, the official governing body of the Olympics, has set up their official Olympic photo group for people to share their photos of the events and of Vancouver.
The IOC also has an official Olympic Games Page on Facebook. “Through the page, you can stay updated on activities and events at the Games, while sharing your own stories about what the Olympics mean to you,” says Alex Huot, head of social media for the IOC. “You’ll even be able to stay updated on future games even after this year’s Winter Olympics end.”
Alex also encourages people to use Facebook to become a fan of athletes and Olympics teams, play the Vancouver 2010 Official Minigame, and share photos.
Twitter has a list of verified athletes from the Olympics who will be tweeting. Fans will of course be tweeting non-stop about things that happen at the Olympics throughout the events.
These are just a few of many ways fans of the Olympics can engage with the events on the web. How are you planning on staying connected?