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March 18 2011

Sponsored Stories – Facebook Using Your Content for Ads

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Facebook has been a great marketing tool for quite some time through their Company Pages as well as through their advertising. Now, there is a new advertising opportunity called Sponsored Stories.  A Sponsored Story is essentially an action taken by a Facebook user that a company has promoted or sponsored.  These types of actions can include Page likes, interaction with apps, check-ins, posts to pages, etc. These stories will show up on the right hand side when logged into Facebook.  An example of a Sponsored Story is below.

One importing thing to note is that the Sponsored Stories will follow your privacy settings. This means that you will only see Sponsored Stories containing content that would normally show up in your News Feed; content posted by your friends.  In addition, a Sponsored Story that features your content will never be shown to someone who’s not a friend. The idea behind this is that when your connections are interacting with a page, checking in to a location or using an app, it’s likely that you may want to do the same or will discover new actions that your friends are taking. Another point that is important to note is that you can’t avoid being sponsored in a story. You also can’t opt out of seeing Sponsored Stories.

From the advertiser’s perspective, you are not able to control the messaging; it’s a matter of what people post in their News Feed, and whether or not you as an advertiser choose to promote that type of content. Sponsored Stories are, however, a great way to leverage and promote the viral marketing that Facebook already offers.  While Sponsored Stories will only be shown to you when one of your friends is featured in them, they help to better expose actions in News Feeds (Page likes, interactions with apps, etc). This provides more visibility for these types of actions, which would typically become buried in a News Feed over time.

March 1 2011

Social Media’s Role in Disaster Relief

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Social media has proven to be an excellent marketing tool for companies, but the greater power social media becomes undoubtedly apparent at certain times.  One of those times is now, as many of us woke up Tuesday morning to the devastating news that an earthquake rattled the lives of those in Christchurch, NZ.  Although we’ve only been aware of this natural disaster for a short period of time, social media has enabled victims to share their situation with family, friends and loved ones.  The speed at which social media helps to organize aid for victims is extraordinary.  Members of organizations monitor social media channels just as individuals do. As a result, they can quickly be alerted to where their efforts are most needed.

Organizations have rapidly jumped to provide assistance and distribute information surrounding the earthquake. Google has showed support by powering a People Finder in addition to setting up a Crisis Response page, which feeds in news and information from various locations. With real-time sites available such as Twitter, a moment doesn’t go by where information cannot be shared around the world in an instant.  Individuals and organizations on Twitter are tweeting ways to donate, emergency phone numbers to call, tentative plans to open up airports, photos and videos of the damage, etc.

For those around the world trying to stay up on the latest news from Christchurch, it certainly isn’t difficult. If you are a social media fan, your channel of choice already has news which you can follow, whether it is YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google News, etc. 

Even though many of us use social media for marketing or promotional opportunities within our businesses on a daily basis, we shouldn’t forget how social media has altered communication, especially in times need.

February 23 2011

Google’s Social Search Update

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Every time I write a post about a Google search update, it is always focused around things Google is doing to improve the way users can find relevant content quickly and easily.  This post is no different.  Just a few days ago, Google began rolling out an update that is taking social search  to a new level. There have been many updates over the last few years in an effort to unite social and search, and we can only assume many more updates will come with the growing popularity of social media. 

With this most recent update, if you are logged into your Google Account you may begin to see listings shared by your connections within the organic search results. (In the past, data from social connections was limited to the bottom of the search results.) These new social listings will be denoted with an additional line added to the listing, telling you which of your connections shared the link. As the image found in this Search Engine Land post shows, the listings from social connections are often given a higher importance.

This seems to make sense in that if one of your friends has shared a link related to your specific search term, you would likely be more interested in that link instead of one that does not have an “endorsement” by a friend or connection.  Keep in mind that any listings as a result of this social search update will be specific to you (as your connections are going to be different than the next person looking for something similar). Google has access to tons of information on the web and these social search results can be pulled from your connections on sites such as Twitter, Flickr, FriendFeed, Picasa, Gmail, your Google Contacts, etc.

Other things to keep in mind are that you must have your social accounts connected to your Google Account.  If you don’t link your social accounts in any way to your Google account, or if you are not logged in to your Google Account, you will not see these social search listings.  Google will even assist you in connecting your social accounts if they find accounts that are specific to you (such as through the same usernames, etc). This way you can then easily link them to your Google Account.

There is a way to currently see who you are connected to through Google’s social circle page.  You can build these connections by associating your social accounts with your Google Account as mentioned above.  It will be interesting to see how this change to search results influenced by social media will evolve over time.

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