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.
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 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 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.