Facebook Graph Search – It’s all about the ads

During a press event on January 15, 2013, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced their latest product, called Graph Search. The product is in very early beta right now, and many people, including me, have gained access by requesting it on the Introducing Graph Search page on Facebook.

What is Graph Search?

Facebook says you can use Graph Search to find more of the people, photos, places and interests you’re looking for through your friends and connections. After about a week of testing, I can confirm this is true. I have spent hours testing a variety of searches, trying to figure out both how business owners can optimize their pages to rank higher in Graph Search and how they can use it to find prospects.

Graph Search has the potential to change the search game, and eventually they will turn it into a revenue generating product to keep their investors happy. In the meantime, though, take a look at the new layout of the top blue bar once you enable Graph Search.

Facebook Graph Search

What do you notice?

Where it says “Search for people, places and things” is the new search box. It’s a very different look than the traditional empty white box, and may not be obvious to the average user at first. Clicking in this area drops down a few suggested searches, such as my friends, photos of my friends, and restaurants nearby.

Facebook Graph Search and ads

What else do you notice, though?

All the notification and navigation icons and links have moved to the far right side, directly above the ads on the right side of the page, and exactly the same width.

Coincidence? I say no.

When we go to Facebook on the web, our eyes are drawn to the red notification icons. By moving them directly above the ads, they are drawing our eyes toward those ads, which will lead to more clicks for advertisers. It’s working because I never paid any attention to Facebook ads before I got Graph Search. Now I’m noticing more ads than ever!

Am I right?

My friend Jonathan Brewer thinks so.

Jonathan Brewer Facebook Graph Search

Social Media Failure by Super Bowl Advertisers

Super Bowl XLVI

I admit that as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings I wasn’t very excited about the Super Bowl game this year. However, as a fan of social media marketing, I was excited about the commercials. As the game started, I decided to stay away from the social media sites, and instead started a spreadsheet so I could take notes as I watched the commercials.

What I Expected

Prior to the game, I was anticipating the Super Bowl ads to be heavy on hashtags and promotion of the Twitter and Facebook pages of the advertisers. Articles like this one on CanadianBusiness.com - Super Bowl advertising will be heavy on hashtags - had me giddy with excitement prior to the appearance of the first ad.

Unfortunately, although I was happy with the outcome of the game, I was disappointed with the poor implementation of social in the ads. 

The Results

By my count, I saw 89 ads between the start and finish of the game, and only six of them included hashtags. Things got off to a good start, as the first two ads from Bud Light Platinum and Audi both included hashtags (#MakeItPlatinum and #SoLongVampires).

The next few ads didn’t include any hashtags or any mentions of Facebook or Twitter, but all hope was not lost. Through the first eight ads, I saw four hashtags, including a second use of #MakeItPlatinum for Bud Light Platinum, and #BetterWay in the Best Buy ad. Up to that point, there still wasn’t any inclusion of a Facebook or Twitter logo or URL, but I was happy with the fact that 50% of the ads had hashtags.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. After getting off to a quick start, I didn’t see any more hashtags until #WhatWorks was incorporated into ad #20 from GE, and the first mention of a Facebook page came at the end of ad #24 for Dr. Seuss’ The Loraxhttp://facebook.com/TheLoraxMovie. The sixth and final hashtag was #BeckhamForHM, which was shown in the 27th ad for H&M’s Beckham Bodywear.

By my final count, there were 89 ads shown, and only 14 of them included social media elements – a disappointing 15%.

Shazam

The surprise of the Super Bowl commercials for me was the incorporation of the mobile music-tagging app Shazam. I saw the Shazam logo in six different ads. The intent was for viewers to fire up the Shazam app on their mobile phones in order to recognize the audio in the ad, which took them to giveaways and other additional content.

Unfortunately, there were no clear instructions for viewers, and with many ads running only 30 seconds, I’m not sure how it was possible to see the logo, pull our your mobile phone, start the app, and tag the audio in time to get the link. I’m sure it worked for those who were prepared, but I wasn’t, so I was not able to test it.

What Does it Mean?

How can you use this information? I think the lesson learned is that most of the Super Bowl advertisers failed to take advantage of a huge opportunity. By excluding hashtags from their ads, they:

  1. didn’t account for the desire of social media savvy viewers to discuss their ads with the convenience of a hashtag, which would have allowed them to easily view all of the tweets from other viewers about the ads
  2. made it more difficult to track the mentions of their ads for reporting out to their stakeholders

Of course, social media savvy viewers are also very crafty. Following the M&Ms ad, twitter users took it upon themselves to create a hashtag to include in their discussion of the ad. Check out #SoItsThatKindOfParty to see what they’ve been saying. In this case, it worked out for M&Ms, but it could have been a disaster if users were offended by the ad and started tweeting something like #NakedCandyFail.

According to my calculations, almost 60% of the commercials included a link to the company website or a microsite. I understand the desire for traffic to your company’s website, but this is 2012, and people want to talk about your ad and your product during and following the big game. I’m very surprised that there were only 8 ads that displayed a Facebook and/or Twitter URL or logo, encouraging viewers to engage with the brand and continue the conversation online.

Regarding Shazam, although it was a good idea, it’s important to educate the viewers regarding the fact that the Shazam logo is a call-to-action. This may have been done in the days and weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but if so, it wasn’t done well, because I had no idea it was even happening until after the game when I saw tweets about it.

What do you think?

Did the Super Bowl advertisers miss a huge opportunity to engage with their viewers? Please discuss in the comments below.

Image by stephen_d_luke

12 Ways to Get People to Like Your Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Like buttonEvery day on my job as a social media administrator, our insurance agents ask me how to get more people to like their Facebook pages. Here are a few of my most common answers.

#1: Share quality content

If you post and share interesting, engaging, and quality content, you’ll keep the followers you have, they’ll share it with their friends, and those friends may also become fans. What is quality content? Everything you post should be entertaining and/or informative, and should compel your fans to either post a comment or click like. These interactions by your fans will contribute to a higher EdgeRank, which will improve the visibility of your posts in their news feeds.

#2: Put a link in your email signature

You send emails to customers and prospects every day. Put a call to action such as Like Us on Facebook in your default email signature, and turn it into a hyperlink that goes directly to your page. This simple addition to your email signature will help build awareness that you have a Facebook page and will bring new fans to your page.

#3: Email your customer database

Email your customer database, announcing that you are on Facebook and asking them to like your page. Most customers who have an email address probably have a Facebook profile too. They should ALL be fans of your page! Don’t over-do it, though. One request is enough, because if you ask too often, you risk annoying them and having your emails reported as spam.

#4: Tell EVERYONE you are on Facebook

This is effective for contacts you make in-person and by telephone. Ask if they are on Facebook, and if so, ask them to like your page. Don’t forget to tell them how to find you on Facebook. Your page name should be unique enough that it is easy to find through Facebook or Google search.

#5: Claim your Facebook vanity URL

You bought a domain name for your website to make it easy to fine. You should do the same for your Facebook page. The good news is that a Facebook vanity URL is FREE! Once your page has 25 fans, you can claim a custom vanity URL for the page here: http://www.facebook.com/username/

#6: Put your vanity URL on your business card

Telling people how to search for your page is good, but handing them a card with your Facebook vanity URL is even better. Make it as easy as possible for people to find your page, and you’ll reap the benefits of an increased fan count.

#7: Post a link on your personal profile

Post a link to your fan page as a status update on your personal profile, and include a request to your friends to like your page. Then have your husband or wife post the link… and your kids… and your employees. Then ask your Facebook friends to post the link too. You get the picture.

#8: Create a Find us on Facebook window cling

Attach a Find Us on Facebook window cling to the door of your office. Everyone who walks in your office should be aware that your business has a page on Facebook.

#9: Add a link to your website, newsletter, etc

Add a Find un on Facebook link to your company website, your email newsletter, etc. By now, you should be getting the idea that you need to post your Facebook link with a call to action EVERYWHERE that people will find you online and in every communication you send to your customers and prospects.

#10: Post frequently, but not too frequently

My recommendation is to post something on your page 1-2 times per week. Every week. No exceptions. Post too much, and you risk annoying people and having them either ignore your posts or unlike your page. Post too little, and your EdgeRank will suffer, your posts won’t appear in people’s news feeds, and they’ll forget about you.

#11: Mix it up

Photos tend to get the most engagement, but a good question can get a lot of replies too. Remember – entertain and inform, and mix it up. Found some great information on an industry blog? Share it on your page. Found an informative or funny (and appropriate) YouTube video? Share it. Then reply to people’s comments. Thank them when they say something nice. Answer when they ask questions. Your interaction is just as important as that of your fans.

#12: Your turn

How do you attract fans to your Facebook fan page?

Please share your tips in the comments, and I’ll use the best ones in a future blog post.

Socialnomics: About as Exciting as a Two Year Old Dog

ROI of Social MediaErik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business (affiliate link), has uploaded the third version of his highly popular and viral Social Media Revolution video.

I have to admit that I was excited about this discovery… at first.

If you haven’t seen the video, check it out here, and then continue reading.

If you can’t see the video, click here or view on YouTube.

If you’re into social media marketing as much as I am, it’s easy to fall in love with a video that includes phrases like these:

  • Social Media is about Relationships
  • Social Media is about People
  • Social Media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the web
  • If Facebook were a country, it’d be the world’s 3rd largest
  • The Ford Explorer launch on Facebook generated more traffic than a Super Bowl ad
  • The ROI of Social Media is Your Business Will Still Exist in 5 years

The one that bothers me, however, is this:

  • Socialnomics is here to stay

Socialnomics was first published in August of 2009, almost two years ago. Considering the rate of change in the social media world, that’s like having a two year old dog and comparing it to a two year old child. It might as well be a 14 year old book!

Although Qualman has cleverly incorporated many of the images in the video into an iPad screen, making the video feel relevant for 2011, it has actually become somewhat irrelevant, and the stats are becoming outdated.

I think it’s time to stop re-producing this video every year, and time for Erik to write a new book.

Do you agree, or do you think I’m crazy? I’d love to hear what you think.

Nobody Cares That You’re at the Gas Station

Facebook Foursquare TwitterThere’s a time and a place for a well timed and placed cross-post, but things are getting out of hand and people are starting to abuse the practice to the point of being annoying.

First, let’s start with a definition. Chris Brogan, in his June 2009 post A Simple Presence Framework, defined outposts as “places of presence that you maintain for interaction and promotion purposes.” He recommend four sites to use for outposts: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

The popular location-based service, Foursquare, was probably missing from Chris’ list either because the site hadn’t gone mainstream yet, or he just didn’t see the site as a legitimate outpost. If the latter is the case, then I agree with him.

Much of my frustration comes from people who cross-post all of their Foursquare check-ins on Facebook, Twitter or both. Like I said, a well timed, and very occasional, cross-post is fine, but most of the time your Facebook friends and Twitter followers just don’t care that you’re at the gas station, the grocery store or the laundromat.

I’ve only seen one friend cross-post a useful Foursquare check-in. He was having dinner at a local restaurant, checked in on Foursquare and cross-posted it to Facebook. Normally, that would annoy the hell out of me, but not this time. He also included a note that he was there for Restaurant Week, and he included a link to more information.

I’ve abandoned Foursquare, so if he hadn’t cross-posted that check-in to Facebook, I might not have known about Restaurant Week, and might have missed some great deals on some great food at our local restaurants.

The other thing that’s been getting on my nerves is the people who cross-post every tweet to their Facebook profile. With all the @mentions and #hashtags that people use on Twitter, many of these posts are just out of context on Facebook.

The point here is to know your audience and the purpose of your various outposts. Don’t automatically post every Foursquare check-in to Facebook and/or Twitter. Try putting some thought into each check-in, deciding if your friends and followers will actually care where you are every minute of the day. I know I don’t.

Are you a chronic cross-poster? Do you think I’m way off base? I’d love to hear your comments either way.

Oh, and if you like what you see here, please use the Like, Share and/or Retweet buttons below to share the love.

Thanks!

Image by Laughing Squid

Free Cheesecake on your Fake Birthday

Happy Birthday CandlesSocial networks are a powerful thing on April Fools’ Day. I decided to prank my Facebook friends by changing my birthday to April 1st. Yeah, I know it’s lame, but the Social Poser in me just couldn’t resist.

As expected, several of my friends saw the birthday notification and posted their “Happy Birthday” greetings on my wall. The best part is that many didn’t read the messages from the others who were on to me, noting that my birthday was actually a few months ago, and still posted their greetings!

It doesn’t end there, though.

I decided to carry my birthday over to April 2nd because one day just wasn’t enough, and a local friend, Tony Rodriguez from Mad City Ads, posted on my Facebook wall AND on Twitter! Here’s the nice birthday greeting he left for me on Twitter.

MadCityAds Birthday Greeting on Twitter

You can’t beat friends like that.

Here’s where things get really good, though, and if you’re the owner of a local business, this is where you really need to start paying attention. A local restaurant that I’ve never even heard of, Fish Tales Food & Spirits (@FishTalesLakeWI on Twitter) saw Tony’s tweet, and tweeted the following:

FishTales Tweet

How about that? This local business is monitoring Twitter for tweets in the local area with the word “birthday” in them and offering free cheesecake to people on their birthday! I replied promptly to tell them I was impressed. No, I didn’t take them up on the free cheesecake since it really wasn’t my birthday, bit I did promise to visit their restaurant.

How can you find new customers by being creative with Twitter search and following up on what you find?

Image by Rob J Brooks

Social Media and Marketing Don’t Mix

CALL ME 867-5309In a recent post on Content-for-biz, Mary Klest opened with this insightful question and statement:

“If people saw your website in a museum 100 years from now what would they infer from it? If your website is only about products and where to call, you may be missing an opportunity to influence your customers and industry.”

Although the post was titled “Keep Your B2B Web Content Current & Long Lasting,” we can extend the concepts to B2C and sites beyond your company website, such as social media sites.

As a social media administrator for an insurance company, one of my responsibilities is to monitor the activities of our agents on social networks. It’s frustrating when I see agents posting “I SELL LIFE INSURANCE. CALL ME! 608-555-1212″ on Facebook and Twitter. Occasionally, I’ll Tweet a response like “@agent Please let me know how many phone calls you got from your 15 Twitter followers after posting your phone number.”

It’s frustrating because these are business people. Do they really believe anyone wants to read tweets or posts reminding everyone they have something to sell and they are waiting by the phone for a call?

In my experience, business owners and brands who are just getting started with social media and social networking tend to think of it as another way to advertise their products and services. They don’t know how to engage their fans and followers, so they resort to talking about themselves and their products. Take it from a guy who follows a lot of brands and local businesses on both Facebook and Twitterthe ones that are advertising rather than engaging are the first ones I remove from my feed. I will not allow them clutter my feed with their self-serving advertisements.

This point is illustrated perfectly by Dave Awl in his guest post on socialmedia.biz:

“Don’t advertise—engage! People come to Facebook to socialize, to be entertained, and to get useful information, but almost nobody comes for the deliberate purpose of being advertised to. To reach people on Facebook, you need to grab their attention by giving them something they need.”

I’m constantly preaching about engagement to business owners, trying to shift their thinking from being all about themselves to being all about their fans and followers. Engagement and constant connection are what keep people coming back for more, not constant self-promotion.

I think the problem lies in the concept of “social media marketing.” To be successful with your social media efforts, I would urge you to eliminate the marketing, and focus on the social.

What examples have you observed of businesses selfishly broadcasting their message at the expense of engagement with their fans and followers?