Many argue that users of social media channels have no interest in connecting with companies while they are spending time within their social networks. Recent data from emarketer and comSore make a good argument against this thought.
Social media is not a fad. It is a change in the way that people are communicating. Whether using a desktop, laptop, Smartphone, etc. people are accessing social networks on a regular basis. In 2010 about 127 million people (57% of all US Internet users) will use a social network at least once a month, according to emarketer. This is estimated to grow to two-thirds of internet users by 2014.
In addition, 33% of Facebook users have connected with brands on Facebook.
Online retailers have the ability to offer coupons, promote new products, encourage customer reviews, etc., and are thriving in social media. Those companies that have not yet ventured into social media marketing are realizing that they are falling behind and are letting the potential of social media marketing pass them by. Emarketer estimates that 9 out of 10 companies are planning to build a presence in Facebook during 2010. Some might think that these companies are just jumping on the bandwagon. While that may be true, it’s a smart choice. ComSore data shows that users who spend time on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, spend more money online than those who are not engaged in social networks. If you have an online store, why would you not want to be in social media to put your brand in front of these individuals?
This data may also coincide with the growth of social networks. Channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. are no longer just for teenagers. The fastest growing age groups are adults, and not necessarily younger adults. This leads to more people using these channels who have a bit more disposable income than the average teenager.
While social media is extremely important for online retailers, it will not replace the importance of search engines. Social media is great for awareness and creating a positive brand image, but when someone is really looking to research a product, they will turn to search engines. Social media does not replace search. They each have their own place in the buying cycle and enable companies to reach customers and an interested audience in different ways.
On April 21, 2010 Facebook expanded its presence across the web through the Open Graph protocol. This Open Graph enables any website to be a part of Facebook’s social environment without having a Facebook company page. So if you are a business owner and don’t currently have a Facebook company page, but want to have a presence on Facebook, you can now do just that.
You may have recently seen Recommend or Like buttons on some website’s pages. With these buttons, users can easily share the website’s page with their friends on Facebook. Below are examples of these buttons and how they may look:
You may see some sites that have these buttons with a bit more personalization. For example, it may show how many of your friends Like or Recommend the same content (when you are logged into Facebook) while viewing the page. If you are not logged into Facebook, you will simply see the number of people who Like or Recommended the page. You can choose whether you want to have Like or Recommend text within the button, but these are often used for different types of content. For example, you wouldn’t really want to “like” an article about a natural disaster, but you may choose to recommend that article instead.
When someone Likes or Recommends a page, that page is pushed to the user’s Facebook news feed allowing their friends to see, and a link will be included back to the original page. In addition, your content can be included within the search results on Facebook and in user profiles. As the administrator or “admin” of the page, you will have access to Facebook’s new Insights for Your Domain. These new insights will provide you with detailed information about how users share and interact with your content.
So how do you get your website’ to be part of Facebook? First you need to make sure that you tell Facebook specific information about your page. This is done by adding tags to your pages, following Facebook’s Open Graph protocol. The buttons will need to be installed on the page as well.
Facebook has and will continue to make changes that will further enhance the capabilities for marketers. This is just one step toward integrating any type of web content into Facebook and making Facebook more prominent throughout the entire web.
It is often that I get a question about why a company should bid on branding keywords when they rank well organically for those terms. While we have covered this topic in the past, it is always good to revisit common questions or concerns.
First, if you have a lot of competition online and don’t bid on your branding terms, you’re opening the door for competitors to bid on your branding and have a compelling ad sitting right next to your organic listing (that is if your website ranks for your brand when searched, which I hope is the case).
If there is a lot of search volume for your branding terms, imagine how many visitors you would be able to get if you had an additional presence (your ad) on the search engine results page along with your organic listing? Bidding on these keywords can certainly help you to capitalize on the volume of searchers. There are numerous tools available to determine approximate search volumes for keywords, including branding terms.
One thing that has always held true with paid search is that you have the ability to offer a tailored message, and test that message over time. Through your paid search ads, you are able to try different calls to action to determine the most effective message for your searchers. You are also able to drive visitors to specific landing pages from your ads, which can be different pages than those that rank organically for the same terms (often your homepage ranks for these keywords).
Search is evolving, and the results can be personalized based on users’ search history, and even more recently, real-time results are being incorporated into organic listings. What does this mean for your online marketing? Having paid listings can help to reserve your spot prominently on the search results pages for your company’s name.
Lastly, there are many steps in buying cycles depending on your industry. It is common to see that once searchers have completed their research, they will revisit their company or brand of choice, often by searching for that brand or company’s name. When you have a presence both organically and within the sponsored listings, you are able to ensure even more visibility for your company with a tailored message than if you were to just rely on your organic listing. Branding keywords are also typically not expensive, and therefore, through your branding keywords you are able to capture those searchers when they are ready to buy at a lower cost.
So the next time that you are debating whether or not you should bid on your branding keywords, consider the points above.