Facebook is the New Google

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Much of the discussion throughout the Web industry this week has revolved around Thursday’s announcement of Google Instant, the revolutionary new feature that has many business owners wondering about the future of search engine marketing in particular and Internet advertising as a whole. There was some other news, however, that Google may have hoped you missed, as it shifts the marketing conversation from search to social – specifically, away from Google and directly on to Facebook.

New data from comScore has revealed that time spent on Facebook in the U.S. during the month of August surpassed the time spent on Google sites for the first time in history. That includes all of Google’s properties – as in YouTube, Gmail, Google Buzz, the whole lot of them. This adds to the momentum sparked by a similar report from Hitwise back in March, when Facebook became the most visited site in the U.S. for the first time in its short but meteoric history.

Of course these are significant milestones for any company, but what do they mean for the future of the industry? Will looking for content on search engines be overtaken by the sharing of content on social networks? Or, according to the statistics, has that happened already?

Because of these milestones and Facebook’s growing base of more than 500 million active users, it may be time to take another look at how your business is utilizing the social network. We will review some of the different ways that companies can leverage the enormous popularity of Facebook – and also be on the lookout for the feature article 500 Million Ways to Earn from Facebook in the upcoming November issue of Website Magazine.

Facebook Pages
If your business doesn’t have a presence on the site yet, drop everything you’re doing and go set up a Facebook Page. If you already have a Facebook Page for your business, perhaps you could be getting a little more out of it. Some of the basic rules of thumb include the following:

•    Set goals for your Facebook page and monitor your progress
•    Make your page interesting and informative, and update it as often as you can
•    Promote your Facebook page on your business website and elsewhere; add a Find us on Facebook button wherever you can
•    Reward your Facebook Fans with discounts and special promotions
•    Create a Facebook user group that will be of interest/useful to your audience
•    Join other Facebook user groups that pertain to your industry or niche
•    Take advantage of Facebook’s tools; track your success with Facebook analytics

Facebook Places
Facebook unveiled its location-based check-in service last month with the announcement of Places, an enormous word-of-mouth marketing opportunity for businesses and brands. Businesses can add a Facebook Place to their Facebook Page, or the two can be combined. The result of either option is getting your company’s address, map, phone number and other data in front of Facebook’s massive user network and giving them a way to share the information with friends.

Facebook Places is also built directly into the advertising platform, and registered businesses can target their ads with very specific information such as location. Ads can be bought on a pay-per-click basis, and more information is below.

Facebook Ads
Facebook will generate about half of the projected $1.68 billion spent on U.S. advertising on social networks this year, and some companies are said to be spending about $20,000 per day advertising on the site. If you are yet doing so for your own business, it might be worth investigating. Below are some tips to help you get started:

•    Be as specific as possible with your keywords and demographic selections
•    Use compelling images, titles and copy in your ads
•    Make your ads as interactive and engaging as you can
•    Frequently update and refresh the images and copy for better results
•    Be vigilant about testing your ads and monitoring the results
•    Bid high to get your ads approved faster by Facebook
•    Start with CPC ads if you have a very small budget, otherwise CPM is the better bet
•    Use Facebook Ads Manager, which can be downloaded and installed on Firefox

Whether it is through a paid advertising campaign or some basic social media marketing, using Facebook’s incredible platform to help grow your business should by now be a strategy used in some capacity by every Web professional.

 
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26 comments

Atlanta Real Estate 09-10-2010 4:02 PM

I keep hearing this kind of stuff and keep not getting it.

Google is attempting to be a searchable index of the entire web. (nobody flame me, this is a very short description)

How is/does/shall Facebook offer anything that compares to this?

I mean, really.

When I'm researching something, I don't care about what some yahoo has put up in his facebook site.

Plus, what percantage of facebook is made up of teens and pre-teens? And when will they lose interest and abandon their facebook accounts?

Custom Facebook Fan Page 09-10-2010 4:23 PM

Love the article. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook today is actually not teens, but rather those 50+. Facebook is fast becoming a critical marketing medium, and wholeheartedly agree businesses need to discern how to leverage it's power!

RandallG 09-10-2010 4:39 PM

But how does facebook advertising results compare to google search results?

WilliamJ 09-10-2010 4:58 PM

The only meaningful thing about this article headline is to gain interest. Google and Facebook are two totally different services. I tend to agree with Atlanta Real Estate's post. I think that social networking is a bubble that will burst or at least morph into something that's much more private and controlled than the current Facebook genre. The growth of Facebook has resulted hugely from a herd mentality. At some point, that 50+ group is not going to want all of their private information, photos etc. posted on the net. This thought quickly bubbles to the surface as soon as the novelty of the service wears off.

AndrewR 09-10-2010 6:03 PM

I understand the intent of this article regarding the extensive user base Facebook has developed. My major issue with Facebook is it's extremely limited search capability.

I have difficulty finding links that I've posted on my own wall, much less investigating other users' material. When will this situation improve ??

MikeC 09-10-2010 6:25 PM

Dont want to disagree with all of what you said but honestlly a LARGE part of face book is comprised of 25-40 year old people. Maybe conent is not what it could be yet but it is coming and a Pay per click platform it is awesome with Gender specific/age specific Job specific metrics built in. Google CPC is out of control price wise this is a small business bonza of advertising.

ReidP 09-10-2010 11:02 PM

This is a good article... It gets you thinking. I really liked everyone's comments so far, there are very interesting points of view here.

I'm adding to the conversation a couple more thoughts:

1)  People use Facebook to waste time. Yes, there are a half a billion people using Facebook, but so many of them are "killing" time and keeping "tabs" on friends. If you are advertising on FB, you can call it success if you have an ad click through rate of less than 1%.

The point is that so many people on there have a completely different agenda than when they search on Google. (think answers [Google] compared to Facebook [Do I dare write connection?])

2)  Attention. How many times do you refresh your news feed in one sitting on FB? I have almost 1000 friends and every time I check my newsfeed, I view updates from maybe 50-75 people. It's the same people too. I find that to be very boring and lame. I even FB messaged 50 friends who I don't know in person to "connect" with and got 5 replies.

There is something really off about "Connecting" on FB and I think it is so because attention spans are almost nonexistent.

Ghillie Suit 09-12-2010 1:44 AM

I doubt its the new google.  It's not a search engine and people don't use it that way.

AndreaT 09-12-2010 6:00 AM

As a small business person myself, we update daily because we are an ecommerce site. But there are a big pecentage of 'brochureware' sites because that is all they really need. For example, do you really think that a law office needs to blog? Or a pool cleaner? No, they need a 'yellow page' ad that people can use to find a phone number and directions to their office if needed. They find there customers other ways than through changes to the site.

DaleE 09-13-2010 8:22 AM

The fact that people spend more time on Facebook seems to be irrelevant. . .as ReidP pointed out people jump on Facebook to waste time.  (Farmville, Mob Wars, Status updates etc)

I'm interested in some real statistics that show the people are driving revenue through Facebook. Especially outside of retail sales.  Are the ads driving revenue?  Creating more leads or customers?  Do people who are wasting time on Facebook really take the time to look for goods and services or are they just friends of their favorite Brands hoping to get a coupon? Do people really want to buy things through Facebook (again outside of niche retail products)

I don't want to bury my head in the sand and miss an opportunity, but nothing has convinced me yet that there is real hard ROI in Facebook.  Am I crazy?

JoanneF 09-13-2010 8:44 AM

@ Ken @ Ghillie Suit Clothing - No, FB is not a search engine, but login to your account and look at the very top of the page. It doesn't matter if you're on your profile page, viewing your news feed, playing a game or where you're at, there is a "Search" field at the top of the page. Unfortunately, most end users don't understand (and really don't care) about the difference between FB and Google and if they're already logged in to FB, the odds they're going to "search" using FB search field increase exponentially. If you search on FB, notice that it returns Google search results in addition to FB pages and people. Because of this, it's even more likely that the next time a non-search savvy end user wants to find something, they won't bother opening a new tab or browser window, but may just opt to search "within" FB.

@Atlanta Real Estate - Have you checked out FB demographics lately? You might want to do a little research before tossing them in with MySpace. The average FB users is not a teen, tween or even young adult, but rather is right around age 50. There's some good data out there, you just have to have an open mind and look for it. :)

As with everything, time will tell, but I strongly encourage my clients to have and maintain a FB page and will continue to do so.

JoanneF 09-13-2010 8:46 AM

@DaleE - Facebook does a stellar job with their PPC program and I've had clients who've seen success and clients who've bagged it after a month or so. It really does depend on what type of business your in and how much you're willing to spend on (Facebook) PPC.

Brian 09-13-2010 9:23 AM

I don't understand the headline. I've attempted, on numerous occasions, to search for content on Facebook only to be disappointed every time. When I'm looking for solid information I turn to Google and I don't see this changing any time soon.

However, I realize selling magazines and acquiring taffic is pretty important for publications to sell advertising, and a headline like this will always do the trick. WM got me.

AndyL 09-13-2010 3:15 PM

One of the comments nailed it; users of FB have zero attention spans and I know I use it to kill time because most of the content is inane drivel posted by others killing time (kinda like Twitter: “just got out of bed”, “ I need to use the bathroom”, “my cat just puked up a  furball”).  

Today, unless you connect to specific FB-type pages dealing with content you are looking for, what worth does it have?   I don’t compare FB with any search engine as I don’t even remotely use them the same way.

In several years when the attention-deficit generation gets power, FB will have more credibility and relevance because that is where they will all live their lives rather than go out and experience the real thing.  It will be MUCH easier to hide behind an online persona that never gets real scrutiny and these kids don’t just suffer from an attention deficit today, they are also social misfits with zero couth and manners; just listen to their mouths or better yet, read their FB pages!!

KevinC 09-13-2010 6:50 PM

Interestign artilce.  BUT, BUT, as always everyone gets all giddy over the massive # of Facebook members.  And now the TIME spent on Facebook. BUT, guess what?   NOO NE has yet figured out HOW to CONVERT those 500 million users on Facebook. Facebook users are NOT in "Consumer Mode".   NOT like they are when seraching in Google.   ANd, for this eof you who have NOT done your own facebook AD testing, trust me, the results are Horrible.      So, until Facebook figures a way to get these "socializers" into a Consumer nimdset, the stats we keep hearing about is all HYPE.  Only those Peddling social media marketing services wil of course idsagree.

MARCO KIRCHNER 09-13-2010 11:22 PM

Facebook, the world's largest social network, announced in July 2010, that it had 500 million users around the world. The company has grown at a meteoric pace, doubling in size since 2009 and pushing international competitors aside. Its policies, more than those of any other company, are helping to define standards for privacy in the Internet age.

The company, founded in 2004 by a Harvard sophomore, Mark Zuckerberg, began life catering first to Harvard students and then to all high school and college students. It has since evolved into a broadly popular online destination used by both teenagers and adults of all ages. In country after country, Facebook is cementing itself as the leader and often displacing other social networks, much as it outflanked MySpace in the United States.

Webiste:  sourceofbusiness.ning.com    

Market Subset 09-17-2010 9:07 PM

These are great news for advertisers, as Google keep rising there Adwords rates. It is good to know they know have some serious and powerful competitor. Watch out Google!

KimberlyD 09-25-2010 5:09 PM

Facebook is a front-end for data collection.  This data is being collected into gigantic data warehouses to fuel direct marketing and advertising campaigns.  THAT is how Facebook will make money, a lot of it...it's not that Facebook itself is a great platform for advertising, though it might become that as well eventually.

Google guesses at what will interest you, based on your search terms and what it sees in your Gmail (along with other nifty communication tools they offer you for "Free").  Facebook gets its info straight from what you give it.

Privacy, personal information...such quaint 20th century notions   :(

brandnooz 10-03-2011 7:29 PM

It isn't yet, but it can be very soon.

What if you can find everything you want in Facebook?

Where would be the need for Google ( for the majority? )

What I mean is:

Recommendations > Backlinks

Facebook Marketing 12-13-2011 11:27 AM

I am sure we can not ignore facebook to strategical long term business operations, but I don't really believe Facebook is that much of a threat to Google but to a limited extent.

web design company 03-03-2012 3:12 AM

It's been a while since Google launced Googel + but still..not working out.

Roof 03-03-2012 3:15 AM

Facebook is giving quite a tough time to it's competitors. Google is having hard time braking into this industry. They have tried several products but no luck yet. For some reason they are not able to retain folks on Google + for social activities.

virginia home health care 03-19-2012 1:55 PM

Facebook is really making big time news.

virginia home health care 03-19-2012 1:56 PM

I am sure their profits are soaring as advertisers are targeting their customers with laser minded advertisement.

Cna Schools in Virginia 10-18-2012 12:24 PM

I don't Facebook is able to match the power of google.

Cna Schools in Virginia 10-18-2012 12:42 PM

Facebook has lost plenty of value.

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