The Blog

Archive for August 30, 2012

Brands: Advertising vs. Social Engagement

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the weeks since Facebook’s IPO, the Zuckerberg-lead social network has been under intense scrutiny, with many expressing doubts as to the financial viability of Facebook’s revenue model, especially with regard to its advertising service. GM pulled their Facebook marketing campaign, and music industry e-commerce startup Limited Run made an impact with their claim that 80% of the clicks for their Facebook ads were made by bots (although the jury is still out on the accuracy of that complaint). A study from the Advertising Research Council claimed that “blank” ads with no content were performing only 0.1% less well than regular ads.

While this news is not good for Facebook’s future revenue, and businesses should think hard before spending their advertising budgets on Facebook’s paid ad platform, the real value of Facebook and social media generally was never through paid ads anyway. The true virtue of social media is not that it increases short-term conversion rates, but that it allows brands to build engagement and foster a community that can have a significant impact on revenue over the medium and long term. In this area, the future of Facebook is much more robust, and the indications are that social media proper, rather than paid ads on social media, are an excellent target for marketers.

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What is Content Marketing?

Customers are Ignoring You

Customers are Ignoring You (Photo credit: ronploof)

It’s becoming increasingly clear that traditional advertising is not creating the levels of engagement that marketers might hope for. Consumers are conditioned to barely see banner advertising — assuming they haven’t installed an ad-blocker — and they are very sensitive and averse to content which they perceive to be biased towards selling. Content marketing is an alternative or complementary marketing method that aims to generate conversions in the long term by fostering brand loyalty and awareness, and demonstrating competence within a particular niche.

Content marketing is simply providing content, be it text, audio, video, or even apps, that is of value to  clients and customers. Content marketing makes businesses into publishers. This blog post is an example of content marketing.

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Google’s June/July Algorithm Updates

Google didn’t release their usual algorithm update news last month, so this week we have a plethora of juicy updates to look at. As with the trend in recent months, Google have been concentrating on tidying up the SERP page, improving their detection of high-quality content (Panda), and enabling better information to be made available on the search page rather than having to click through to the results.

 

Results Page Changes

Clustering
One of the bugbears that’s been bothering the SEO community in recent weeks has been the way that many of the top results for searches have been from the same domains. In the worst cases, a search can result in almost all the results being from the same site. Google have made three improvements to their site clustering algorithms to hopefully improve the diversity of search results.

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See What Googlebot Sees: Fetch As Google.

Web Crawler

Attribution: Thomas Shahan

A couple of weeks ago we looked at negative SEO and what you can do to protect your site. One of the techniques we mentioned was hacking. Competitors, upon gaining access to a site, may alter the content or add malware to pages in the hope that Google will delist or penalize a site. Hackers may also simply attempt to use a site to spread their malware without any particular intentions regarding SEO.

We gave a number of suggestions for dealing such an intrusion, but often, after having received a warning from Google, it can be difficult to determine exactly what the Googlebot crawler is seeing. Hackers are adept at making a site appear perfectly normal to those who go directly to a page, while serving malware or undesirable keywords and hidden links to search engine crawlers and those who arrive at a site from a search engine. What you see when you visit a site is not necessarily what Googlebot is seeing.

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Social Proof Works: Here’s Why.

One of the major psychological foundations for the purported effectiveness of social media marketing is social proof. The idea is fairly simple: people are more likely to find a product or service appealing if there is evidence that other people find it desirable. Robert B. Cialdini, in his very popular Influence: Science and Practice, describes social proof as

an important means that people use to decide what to believe or how to act in a situation by looking at what other people are believing or doing.

We’re social animals, and signals from our peers as to the desirability of particular objects has a significant influence on whether we want them too. In social networking, this principle is put into practice through the pursuit of “likes” or “+1s”, and through an active pursuit of conspicuous evidence of engagement and approval for products and brands among consumers.

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