As part of Facebook’s Q2 2015 announcement, CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that the platform was now facilitating 1.5 billion searches per day, and that they’d indexed more than 2 trillion posts.
1.5 billion queries every day is a huge amount of search activity, and an opportunity that can’t be ignored.
Now, you’d expect, of course, that a lot of those searches would be for people’s names – the actual percentage of searches that are for people as opposed to businesses or products would have an impact on how big a revenue opportunity search could provide. But Facebook’s clearly sees potential – back in June, as part of Facebook’s annual stockholder meeting, Zuckerberg made specific note of search within the context of their future opportunities:
“Over a five year period, some of the newer initiatives that we’re working on I think will start to not only become very large communities in their own right – and some already are – but some of these new initiatives will also start to contribute meaningfully to our overall business, so I’m thinking about new apps that we’re working on like Messenger and Whatsapp, which, I think you could say are pretty meaningful communities at this point, with Whatsapp more than a billion people and Messenger is around 900 million people, but we’re really just getting started working on the business side of those. We think video is going to be a huge opportunity, same thing with search, and Instagram is really just starting to grow meaningfully as a business as well.”
As noted, this is within the context of Facebook’s five year growth strategy – they look at their developments in three different time horizons: three years, five years and ten years. That means search is not their key focus right now, but it is an area they’re working on, and it’s up there among their biggest projects.
Given this, the prediction that search is going to become a bigger focus for Facebook is less of an assumption and more about what they’ve clearly stated – search is an area in which they see great opportunity.
And then, in July this year, Zuckerberg noted that they’re now seeing more than two billion searches on the platform every day - a 33% increase in within 12 months.
And that’s with, really, only a minor search upgrade in the period – the search changes announced back in October 2015 aimed to show people more trending conversations and trends, along with posts from friends.
Given this growth, which has come without any significant push, it’s not hard to see why Facebook’s would be working to better facilitate such activity – but then, as noted, the next question is whether that search activity can actually be monetized and provide both a new revenue stream for Facebook and business opportunities for advertisers.
So what are people using Facebook search for?
Searching for Answers
While we don’t have access to a full listing of Facebook search trends, we do have some indicators of what Facebook users are likely searching for, aside from people’s names.
In December last year, Facebook quietly rolled out a desktop-only Professional Services feature which enables users to find services and service providers in their area.
When you visit to the Professional Services tab, you’re shown a listing based on your location – look up ‘Plumbers’ for example and it’ll show you all the Facebook-listed plumbers in your region (or ‘movie theaters’ as shown in the above example).
And while there’s been no major push on the tool, it does suggest that Facebook's working to better facilitate user activity, that on-platform search volume has suggested that this is an option they could, or should, provide and that may prove valuable. Of course, it could just be that Facebook's looking for new avenues to boost the value of the platform with businesses, but either way, this is a search behavior they’ve actively sought to either facilitate or promote, which likely gives you some idea of their thinking on search potential.
Just last month, Facebook launched their new ‘Marketplace’ tab to better align with user behavior.
According to Facebook, more than 450 million users visit buy, swap and sell groups on Facebook every month - more than 25% of their total user base. Now this isn’t search, as such, but it does, again, underline what Facebook search could be used for, and by facilitating this, Facebook can both generate more search activity (as the Marketplace tab has its own search function) while also learning more about search trends and behaviors within this element of the platform experience.
And another new element introduced last month also works in line with search trends and behaviors.
At the end of October, Facebook introduced their new recommendations and events tools.
Recommendations works to help users get advice from friends by turning their questions into call-outs for responses, helping to find the best matches for your query based on advice from the people you know and care about. This is search, but not as we know it – it utilizes Facebook’s unique strengths, in personal connections, to fuel better answers, which could actually provide more relevant and helpful responses than Google in many respects.
Events, meanwhile, has been re-vamped to show you more contextually relevant event matches, based on what friends are doing and where things are happening.
Again, it puts a new spin on search, using Facebook’s vast collection of user networks and advanced algorithms to highlight better matches. And what’s more, Facebook's learning more from both of these features, working out what your friends recommend, what factors they specifically make note of, what other groups recommend the same queries.
Eventually, through tools like this, Facebook’s search algorithm will be able to make more informed recommendations based on the activity of you and your friends - it’ll learn what they’re most likely to recommend and will be able to do it automatically. This is how Facebook could provide a new element to search. It’s not there yet, but this is how Facebook could challenge Google.
It seems a stretch on the face of it, but when you look at the detail, it actually makes perfect sense.
So maybe, over time, Facebook could make something more out of search, maybe they could update their search processes and improve these add-on search functions and maybe, one day, challenge Google. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon, right?
Here’s the thing – in their most recent earnings announcement, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner noted that the platform's close to reaching peak ad load within the News Feed, the level of ads it can show to users without becoming an annoyance. and that this will likely impact on revenue performance moving forward.
The market did not like this – despite Facebook posting a huge profit and showing positive growth in all key areas, Facebook shares dropped in after hours trading.
Facebook obviously wants to avoid this, and as such, they’re going to need to look for alternate sources of revenue. Instagram is one, that’ll bring in more over time, monetizing live-stream content with ads will be another, but given the focus on alternate revenue streams, search all also likely get pushed forward.
How could Facebook monetize search? First off, Facebook would need to concentrate on optimizing their search functions so they’re getting as many people using search as possible – Facebook Product Designer Justin Stahl published a post on Medium earlier this week which outlined how the platform’s working to simplify and improve search to boost its utility.
Once more people are using search, Facebook can then start to deliver better options and highlight more relevant brand matches, using algorithms and location data to highlight search results that are both highly rated, based on Page ratings and user feedback, and contextually relevant, based on input from your personal connections.
And when people are using search more readily, Facebook could approach search ads in the same way Google does – sidebar matches for comparison and paid, sponsored ad slots that show up high for each query. They could offer the same for marketplace listings – you’ll show up top of the list for a fee – and events as well. There’s a heap of ways Facebook could utilize search for profit, both immediate, by offering on-page real-estate, and expanded, by utilizing search data to improve their matches. It’s hard to put a potential dollar value on this, but Google generated $52 billion from search ads in 2015. Taking even a portion of that amount would be huge – and Facebook is very clearly positioned to do just that.
Given the various statements and announcements from Facebook, it’s clear that search is going to become a bigger priority at some stage - it’s really just a matter of when they decide to push it harder and bring out new tools and options to make it more appealing to both users and advertisers.
As noted, I expect we’ll see movement on this in 2017. It won’t make Facebook an immediate challenger for Google in search, but given the revenue potential, it doesn’t have to be to make it worth their while.
In order to build upon and improve your social media marketing results, you first need to conduct an audit of your current state. Here are some key tips on conducting a social media audit, by Alora Kelley
Whether you’re working with a new client or doing a yearly analysis of your own social media channels, conducting a social media audit and coming to an actionable conclusion can be tough. For starters, you might be wondering which metrics are the most important, or how to get through all of your data.
Here are a few tips to keep you on track.
1. Go In with an Open Mind
If you’re looking to prove certain metrics right or wrong or tell a specific story, you may find yourself ignoring data that tells a stronger tale. Because of this, it can be helpful to tackle an audit in two parts: Have one team member pull and aggregate the data into a usable format, and have another start the analysis. This keeps one person from having tunnel vision and getting stuck on the minutia.
2. Plan Check-Ins
This is very important, particularly if the conclusions you are coming to about the success of your social channels aren’t positive. Check in with clients or team members so they're not taken aback by the results or feel attacked if their role has not contributed to social success. The point of an audit is to find a starting place and continue to move forward, regardless of the success of current strategies. While you may not be on par with your competitor or aspirational pages, there's always something you're doing well comparative to the rest of your page. Be sure to highlight the positives as well as the negatives you've made in strategy.
3. Stay Focused in the Present and Past Happenings
When conducting an audit, it can be easy to get sucked into thinking: “Okay, we aren’t doing this right, so here’s what we should do instead.” You need to paint the full picture of what is or isn’t successful before you can make informed strategy decisions. Once your audit is complete, you can take the next steps forward to build a strategic future plan.
Bonus Tip: Don’t sweat a mistake in one small post. If it’s not a pattern, pull back and see if that little thing impacts the bigger picture. If it doesn’t, drop it. Completing an audit can be difficult, but keeping your mind open and trying to stay focused on the bigger picture will make the process go more smoothly.
It turns out that neuroscience can come in very handy when putting together a marketing campaign - the next time you’re choosing whether your marketing campaign is better served by a collection of blogs posts, an infographic, or an online quiz, look no further than the human brain for your answer.
Our brains process different types of content in different ways, whether it’s written text, visual images, graphic animations, or interactive content. Did you know that it takes your brain about 1/10th of a second to interpret and understand visual content? Some types of content are faster for us to take in, while other types stick more easily in our memories.
This infographic below dives into the science behind how the brain processes various forms of content. For marketers, this knowledge is key - understanding the way the brain engages with content can drive your decisions about what types of content to produce, depending on your campaign goals.
Social media provides marketers with a whole new way to share their brand messages, with advanced tools and options that enable you to not only hone your outreach efforts, but to also get a better understanding of who the people you're trying to reach are and what they're interested in. But social is also different from the traditional marketing approach, something many still fail to realize. Many brands still see social as another broadcast opportunity, another way to reach as many people as possible by shouting your message from as many platforms as you can.
But it just doesn't work like that.
The fundamental difference between social media marketing and traditional outreach platforms (like TV, radio and magazines) is that social media is 'social'. And while broadcast is still an important element - more people hearing your message increases the opportunity to build connections - the 'social' element is also crucial to your overall success.
The brands that broadcast, and fail to communicate - or more importantly, listen - via social, are simply not maximizing the opportunity that the medium provides, and in doing so, they're also limiting their outreach. And as more and more noise floods our various media platforms, the brands that are able to attune their message to their customer needs, and communicate directly with them, are the ones that are poised to win out.
Underlining this, LookBookHQ have created this new infographic which provides an overview of the current media landscape, and how consumers are being flooded with information, making it increasingly difficult for brands to cut through - even with access to more options to do so. The amount of noise underlines the importance of tuning your marketing messages into the specific niches and audience segments of most relevance to your products and services, and creating better connections with your audience through social connectivity and responsive options.
1. Run Targeted Contests
I’ve seen and worked with brands running contests on Facebook for years and it works. It works wonders. The challenge is: If you give away an iPad, Macbook Pro or new hoverboard – it’s very possible that the people who enter your contest will consist of everyone and anyone. If you want to grow your following, you want to ensure that the followers you’re acquiring are relevant and potential customers. So make sure the prize you’re giving away is high quality and aligned with the interests of your audience.
2. Content Curation
It’s easy to spend hours looking for content to share on social media. Content curation is the act of sifting through the noise to find the signal. The best content curators understand that content curation isn't about content aggregation. It's not about sharing for the sake of sharing - it's about finding content that will educate your audience and in most cases, uncovering content that your audience hadn't come across before.
3. Tweet Optimization
Thread your tweets back to one another so your old tweets show up in a users timeline. Rather than letting old tweets disappear, reply back to your older tweet, remove the @mention that Twitter auto develops and upon pressing send – the tweets will link up.
4. Paid Advertising
There’s no question that paid media works best on Facebook. If you have the budget, invest in spending some cash on acquiring followers who have interests that line up with your page.
5. Cross Marketing & Promotion
Tell people on one channel that you’re also on another channel. Share it via your Facebook Page and even your Snapchat account. You’ll be surprised by the amount of people who follow you on one channel but not another. On Snapchat (and now Twitter) you can easily access your personal QR code which can be distributed on other networks.
A successful marketer knows how to read people. We used to have to put together elaborate buyer personas and market to people who fit into those molds. However, with the rise of social media, and the increasing number of people from all demographics using various social media platforms, we can now create content and programming based on real people.
Prior to social media, marketing tactics were more widespread. We could put together a great promotion and send it out to a wide variety of stores, or place an ad in a newspaper where hundreds of people would see it, or even put up a billboard. That was how we used to reach people, broadcasting en masse, in hopes that we would reach both our current customers and potential new clients.
But in the modern landscape, that method is less effective. Today, we need to personalize content to each person, and market to that one person. Consumers today are not just smarter to the ways of marketing, but they're suffering from marketing fatigue. Even if a great ad comes across them, they might tune it out without even meaning to – there are simply too many messages being thrown out there on too many mediums.
So, how does a brand break through that? If people are tuning out ads without even knowing they’re doing it, how can we ensure our messaging won’t get tuned out also?
It's a lot easier than many marketing folks realize, and while it takes more work to market with personalization, it will help to ensure your messages are landing where they need to be.
1. Know Who You Are Talking To
This goes a bit deeper than simply saying “know your target audience.” You need to get more specific in your head with who IN your target audience you are speaking to.
For example, my target audience for a brand I work with might be men and women, ages 18-40 who live in Southern California. Sounds pretty specific, right? Yet it’s not specific enough. I need to delve deeper and start listening to what segmented groups of that audience are saying about my brand, what their buying habits are, and how I can reach them before they even realize my brand can enhance their life.
2. Relate Your Messaging to “Me”
We're all consumers at some point in our day, of a variety of different products. What makes you choose one brand over another? For me, I'll choose a brand that makes the most sense for my life.
As a marketer, I need to reach you and show you how my brand can seamlessly fit into your life, and how much easier or better your life will then be due to using, eating or drinking my brand.
What questions are being asked by the people you're trying to reach and how can your product or service answer those questions? Those answers need to be provided in your content and messaging.
3. Where Can I Find My Audience, and in What Format?
Not only does the content I create need to be relevant, but it also needs to land in the right spot for “each” person.
I'm pretty vocal about my love for Twitter - some people don’t use Twitter and prefer to use Facebook. If the person I’m trying to reach prefers to receive their messaging on one platform, my personal preferences matter none – theirs do. How “you” want to receive content needs to be a marketer’s main focus.
Emails have employed this idea since inception – how many times have you signed up for an email subscription and been asked if you prefer messages in HTML or plain text? That is an example of personalization. Today, people consume content in more ways than simply plain text – does your target audience prefer infographics? Blogs? Do they attend Twitter chats for the information they seek?
4. Don’t Be Creepy
Personalization, when done right, is smooth.
You don’t want to personalize too far down - to the point that people feel like their privacy is being invaded. You can personalize content and strategies without it seeming like you've been listening in on people’s private conversations. Social listening doesn't mean stalking.
Undoubtedly, personalized content marketing takes much longer than any marketing of the past. However, what happens to the very best content ever produced in the history of man when it’s not seen? Did it really exist? If you're taking the time and spending the money to put out marketing messaging, it only follows that you want those efforts to pay off.
There's more data to be found and more ways to have real conversations with your target consumer than ever. Understand who those people are so you can develop relevant content for them that's then delivered at the right time, in the right format and where they are best able to benefit from it.
So what do your customers really want on social media – and what annoys them or turns them off? To find out, Sprout Social recently conducted a survey of more than 1,000 people to get their thoughts on various aspects of branded social media content. And while the survey pool is relatively small, some compelling trends did emerge from the data, which are worth noting for those looking to maximize their company’s social media presence.
First off, respondents indicated that the most annoying thing brands do on social is still over-promote.
It’s been said many times before, but social media is not a broadcast platform, it’s a conversation medium best suited to two-way interaction, as opposed to blasting out ads. Yes, social platforms have massive reach, but you can’t ignore the ‘social’ element, and you can’t approach it like other media options. Paid ads are a different story, but your social content, on balance, should not be overly promotional. Sprout’s findings once again underline why,
Other annoyances include:
Conversely, Sprout also asked consumers why they follow brands on social, with ‘Interested in their product/service’ coming out on top.
People are also following brands to hear about promotions and incentives, while some are also following along simply to be entertained. That, too, is an important consideration, particularly when you’re looking to build your brand presence. Gaining followers is one thing, but connecting with your audience, getting engaged followers, is far more powerful. If you’re able to entertain them and better align them to your brand and offerings, that will significantly increase the chances of that person going on to become a paying customer.
And worth noting too, in the reasons people unfollow, ‘Information not relevant’ was the second biggest issue. It’s important to be entertaining, to provide reasons why people would want to follow your brand, like promotions and incentives. But also, those messages need to be contextually relevant.
Sprout also found that a staggering 75% of respondents had made a purchase because of something they saw on social media.
If you needed further proof as to the value of social media marketing, there it is. With more and more people active on social platforms every day, it’s become a key consideration channel, a key element in the purchase process.
Sprout also found that the majority of people are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social media.
The findings basically reinforce the playbook for content marketing – provide your audience with contextually relevant, entertaining content, along with some promotions and special offers, and they’ll be increasingly likely to buy from you. The challenge, of course, lies in community understanding, in ensuring you’re delivering content that is relevant and that helps reinforce your brand. But Sprout’s data shows that if you do the research and are able to become that key source that people follow, there’s a much greater chance of them moving to the next stage of the purchase cycle.
There’s a range of other data points in Sprout’s full report, including industry-specific breakdowns and further insights – it’s worth reading if you get a chance.
Top 16 Most Effective Search Engine Optimization Tips [Infographic] SEO is a dynamic industry which requires keen observation and consideration in any kind of on-page changes, off-page activities or link-building strategies. Marketers are always looking at ways to beef up their SEO plans and boost traffic, while on the other hand, search engines are getting smarter and smarter every day. The below Infographic, curated and designed by Dilate Digital, takes into account the “Top 16 effective Search Engine Optimization tips” recommended by Ahrefs
According to Ahrefs research, the most important factor for an optimized website is site layout and architecture, which contains well-researched and relevant keywords with proper title tags, meta descriptions, header tags and vice-versa.
Website design must also fulfil the requirements of user-experience and search engine friendliness. To track your website performance and bugs, Google's Search Console is your best option, while to understand traffic changes, landing page performance and other SEO elements; Google Analytics plays a vital role. Other factors that need to be considered are, content optimization and website speed (both for desktop and smart phone users), image optimization, link building, social media, Google Penalty recovery, content promotion and General SEO tips and advices. Take a look at the key elements identified below.