Facebook In Big Trouble – What You Need to Know Now

Top 10 things Facebook Doesn’t Want You to Know

There have been some pretty massive stories coming out about Facebook, the 2016 election, and your data. Below are some big reasons why this is trouble for Facebook and why this may spell trouble for your advertising. Let’s start with the top-line information:

  1. Facebook provided detailed data on 50 million users to a company called Cambridge Analytica.
    1. Cambridge Analytica was created by Steve Bannon who was the campaign manager for Trump in 2016.
    2. The harvested the data by using polls and digital surveys for the information and used it in order to impact the 2016 election, send out false news stories, and sway public opinion.
    3. Read more at Vox for a very simplified and detailed version.
      1. There is a LOT more on Cambridge Analytica and you can read additional details at CNBC.
  2. According to multiple reports…Facebook has known about the data issue and the possibility of personal privacy issues for 2 years [at least].
  3. Facebook’s stock has taken a massive hit of over 60 billion over the last few days.
  4. Additionally, it is being reported and acknowledged [by Facebook] that they are tracking phone calls and text messages by users. The massive privacy and data issues are crushing Facebook stocks and users are shutting down accounts over these issues.
  5. Facebook is selling your data for profit and you’ve digitally signed your digital life away so they can do exactly that.
  6. Facebook content isn’t very trustworthy. Less than 6% of surveyed users trust the content created by unknown brands. Excellent article by Marketingweek and the ‘fake news effect‘.
  7. 4 out of 5 ads are ignored on Facebook.
  8. According to Pew, the majority of Facebook users go there to socialize, catch up with family and friends…not to buy or be sold anything.
  9. Social media is the least converting channel of all top primary conversion pathways.
  10. Facebook changed their algorithm [2018] to show content that is more family friendly, friend-friendly and based on YOUR likes and dislikes versus big advertisers.

So what does all of this mean? Well, for those that follow Searchology…not much. We already know how to use social media the right way. We know that a healthy social media mix is important to reaching out and informing our audience. But from a higher perspective, this will force major social platforms to change how they are treating our data and what they do with our information.

This could spell TROUBLE for your brand and company if you rely too heavily on social media to get the word out or achieve peak awareness. A careful mix of content, information, clarity, and honesty are the primary needs of all social media users. Fill that gap…win social media. Yes, nearly 50% of Internet users are getting their news from social…however, we are reaching a point where promoted stories will be ignored, brands will be switched off, and ‘friends’ will be unfollowed as well.

Watch this space, dear readers. Watch closely. No reason for panic…but every reason to use critical thinking moving forward.


Why You Have Social Media All Wrong

[excerpt from my upcoming Ebook: The Truth About Digital Marketing (a working title)]

Just about everyone I’ve ever talked to about digital A&M always throws in the importance of social media. Business owners, industry professionals, and laypersons seem to believe that social media is the solution to all of their digital marketing needs. I kindly submit; everything you know about social media is wrong. Before you click away…consider the notion that social media is not an all-encompassing concept, rather it is a multi-tiered channel of communication.

Additionally, social media is not a high producing digital channel. It does not produce a significant supply of website traffic nor does it produce high conversion rates. I have been in digital marketing and advertising for over a decade now…and was working in the industry when social started to rear its head in 2006-2007. The reality is, social media, as a general channel, converts well below 1% while other channels like paid, direct, referral, and email are much higher [Average between these channels is around 2.5%]. Moreover, social signals and their importance/impact on your SEO and website are very nominal. And play little role in your overall success if a ‘share’ action isn’t taken.

With some of these number in mind, it is paramount to your business goals to take a deep breath and let us all put social media in the right place. Communication, branding, listening posts, marketing, and publication. Most certainly NOT conversion and a primary traffic source.

I break down the concept of social media into five primary segments. Social media communication. Social media listening. Social media A&M. Branding and brand reputation. And social media publication.  Each portion should be treated as a collective and individually. In doing so, less work will lead to better experiences for both your business, social communities, and would-be visitors.

Social media communication is simply that. How you communicate with your audience on the various platforms. The individuals who have opted to join your group, cause, or business want to hear from you. They want to engage with your brand. They are not on social media to buy anything or to be sold your newest trinket. They want insights, information, and unique content that they cannot get anywhere else. Provide these things to your audience and you will gain more authority within your group and have a much better opportunity to spread your message far and wide. Continue to be self-promotional and you will eventually find your hard earned audience turning their collective backs. In short; unique, high-quality, relevant content will help you engage and communicate.

Social media listening give you, the brand/company, the opportunity to listen to your audience. Much of business and corporate communication is one way. We are speaking and messaging our clients and customers but we are not actively listening to their ideas, thoughts, complaints, and compliments. Therefore, active listening and contemplative responding is key to a successful social media endeavor.

 Social media A&M is the active practice of advertising and marketing within various social platforms. Yes, it is paid inclusion. Yes, it can be very intrusive. And yes, 4 out of every Facebook ads are ignored. And yes, MySpace went out of fashion due to too many ads and poor content. Marketing and advertising on these platforms are best for brand awareness but not so much for conversions. The good news is they are very cost effective for a CPV [cost per visitor] standpoint.

Branding and brand management is critical in the age of big data and in light of public demand for corporate transparency. Leverage social media networks to take over your brand name and mitigate future negative comments, features, and commentary. Without question there is a social component here and one you and your company should not ignore.

Social media publication is one of the most important aspects of all social media efforts. What you publish and what social media outlets you publish on matter. If your business target is B2B your best publication option is on your site [of course] and on LinkedIn. If your target is B2C in nature, Facebook may be your best shot. Of course, mixing it up and sending out high quality content is the name of the SEO game more than the nature of social media. However, the two work hand in hand depending on how good the content is. Truly unique and excellent articles can have a very far reaching impact [consider ‘going viral’] and can produce excellent website referral traffic.

I encourage you, dear reader, to reconsider how you are approaching social media. It is a challenging endeavor and careful consideration should be given to how much time, effort, money, and ideation is need prior to diving in. More importantly, understanding the different areas of social media can help you make smarter decisions and work more efficiently. At the end of it all, digital marketing and social media is not about working harder…but smarter.

The SEO Evolution

Search engine optimization has evolved…and quickly

Search engine optimization used to be a pretty easy process. Write killer content, ensure website use-ability, check your meta data, build links and the rest should come naturally. This of course is the very simple version of old school SEO. Times have changed and they have changed forever.

I’ve long said that search engine optimization is NOT about attaining top position for desired keywords but how well your website does it’s job. Top ranking and higher keyword rank will come as a result. From a client perspective this idea helped to manage expectation and from the Searchology perspective this helped to downplay the importance of ‘first place always wins’.

Roughly 70% of all visitors click on natural search results and 25% click on paid search adverts. The remainder click on other opportunities. However, search engines are no longer the only place to find what you are looking for.

Facebook now has over 800 million users…Twitter recently hit over 500 million users. Social media is on the tip of every online marketer and every company is attempting to get in the arena.

The SEO Evolution

SEO is no longer about the best practices…it is no longer about on-page efforts alone. The advent of social media has changed everything for better or worse. SEO professionals must know more, track more and understand more than ever before. SEO experts must embrace social media but need to understand some psychology and communication tactics as well.

It is hard to say when social media became important…I would venture to say it would be the first forum, first blog and the ability to communicate with the publisher of such content. SEO is about communication now and how well you listen to what is going on with your visitors, audience and how well you respond.

Social media optimization is now a critical component to all SEO efforts. Social profiles, communication channels and  their translation into loyal visitors and brand advocates. SEO and social media is now SEO-social.

Social media is not about ROI as much as SEO is…but now that the two are inexorably combined at the hip…it is no longer just about the money. It is about relationships and how well you can develop those relationships online. With 203 million Americans online…you have a choice. Evolve your SEO to jive with your social media optimization or perish.

Social Media Optimization – Is it really worth it?

There is so much talk, blogs and articles flying around about social media optimization and social media. According to some of my sources, social media optimizaiton has been around for about two years or so. I first read about social media optimization from Rohit Bhargava’s blog on the subject of SMO. The online marketing industry moves so fast it can become a full time job just to keep up with it all. Social media added a whole new dynamic to an already complicated and challenging online environment.

I believe that social media is way overblown and too much is being made out of a small splash in the marketing ocean. Let me be clear; there are huge benefits to using social media channels in the right way. If your business model requires new leads on a weekly, daily or monthly basis…don’t waste your time, money and energy diving into the social media clown car. Social media should be used as a way to open the doors of communication between your company and your consumers\markets.

In addition, social media should be used to generate brand awareness and encourage brand-company-consumer interaction. In a recent study by Group M Search [social media report], consumers exposed to pay per click and a solid brand strategy on social media sites, showed searches seeking the same product brands by 2.8 time more than if just exposed to pay per click alone. This means that social media did provide a lift to brand term searches and product searches. Further, the study suggests searching individuals exposed to brands on social media sites were, “far more likely to search for brand and product-related terms.”

The researchers may be pushing the sale a little to hard, however, it is not hard to imagine the old marketing adage…first to mind is first to the pocket book [or something to this effect].  Much like running banner ads…the ads do in fact provide a lift to brand terms and product related terms. All of this may seem like I am in the middle of a real big fat contradiction.

Nope. Another study compiled by Knowledge Networks suggests that 83% of 13 to 54 year old individuals use social media channels. Less than 5% rely on social media outlets as aids in buying decisions [in any of 9 product\service categories] and only 16% said they would be more likely to buy from advertisers on such sites. Knowledge Networks points out that individuals are using social networks to be social with friends and family not to be friendly with brands.

So what does this all mean? Is social media optimization really worth it? In a word, no. If you are seeking to promote your brand and encourage some type of interaction or offer another outlet for consumers to reach you…social media is totally worth it. Brands and companies need to regain trust of consumers, more than ever. Offering a new way to reach out to a service provider or brand can help build trust and brand but not sales.

Social media is not only about MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter. There is a lot more to it. Just keep it all in perspective and hold on to your check book. Use social media to reach out and communicate not to sell or prospect. Use social media to get your brand out there…not to offer the next big sale…use social media as a way to build your credibility not to increase your bottom line. Consumers have enough ads bombarding them on a daily basis and I can assure you, if you push your genuine imitation ostrich leather wallets where they socialize…they will shut you out. Imagine if you were out to dinner with friends and a man comes up to you and starts a sales pitch for insurance…would you give him the time of day…no, you would not.

Advertising online is now permission based. Visitors do not have to interact with your ads or your social sites. If you provide useful information that really helps or provide excellent conversation…the opportunity to win new users and visitors will increase. If Knowledge Networks is correct [and I believe they are] social media is a tool for communication, sharing ideas, providing sounding boards for clients and consumers. It is not a tool to use and abuse.