Digital Prof: Thoughts on Digital Marketing

In which I provide my thoughts on the digital marketing field; from upcoming strategic and tactical opportunities to identifying challenges and limitations of outreach.

Facebook Troubles: Low Earnings, Fake Users, & Click Fraud

As anyone with an eye on marketing or the stock market could tell you, Facebook has recently been facing stormy waters.  Between losing a major advertiser, dealing with the IPO fallout, and news that approximately 8.7% of all Facebook accounts are fake; Facebook now has to contend with reports that paid traffic from Facebook may be delivering astonomically high levels of fruadulent traffic.  

While reports vary, I’ve heard theories of what the cause could be that run from clickbots to bored users to accidental click levels.  Regardless of the true cause, the claims of inefficiency, coupled with the recent loss of GM as an advertiser, speak to a true weakness in Facebook’s advertising platform.

In my current role as a lead generation specialist in a direct response industry, these stories certainly give me pause when I think about giving Facebook ads a larger role in the name acquisition toolbox.

Bottom line: By all means, give Facebook (and Facebook ads) a shot.  I’ve heard strong success stories that counter these arguments, so it certainly isn’t impossible to succeed.  

However, I would advise caution - use multiple analytics methods to track your website traffic, and be sure that you’ve  got your KPI metrics in mind well before you begin.  These practices, while beneficial wherever you advertise, will ensure that you can keep a careful eye on Facebook traffic to suss out problems like these before they become monetary losses.

Microsoft Ads Attempt to Capitalize on Google Privacy Backlash

It’s an easy shot, but who didn’t see this coming?  I certainly expected it.  Particularly as Google has ramped up their efforts to inform all consumers about the changes (from emails in your inbox to a welcome screen with info, not to mention press, I’m sure at this point, most users are now aware of the changes), I’ve been expecting Bing to start making more noise.

A PageLever study showed that only 3 percent to 7.5 percent of Facebook fans actually see your posts. Rather than focusing on how many likes your page has, focus on quality relevant content and moving the engagement up.

—Another great quote this morning!  This one is from a pretty good article about what not to do in social media.  But, being biased, we mostly read it as a strong case for engagement above just accumulating followers of your owned media (5 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make in Social Media Marketing). (via analyticisms)

(via analyticisms)

With mobile Internet usage expected to soon surpass desktop, nearly all media consumption is bound to soon be mobile. As a result, contexts will shift ever more fluidly.

—A thought-provoking quote from this article about the importance of context and content relevance in online marketing: Why Relevance Rules Digital Marketing. (via analyticisms)

(via analyticisms)

This is an interesting application of Twitter data - I’d love to see how transportation systems respond.
smarterplanet:

Could Twitter Help Us Create Smarter Transit Routes?
“Traditional city maps visualize just one aspect of urban design—the city’s intended structure, full stop. But add in a layer that visualizes how people actually use the city, and then the map becomes much more interesting. Eric Fischer did exactly that when he used Twitter’s API to collect tens of thousands of geotagged tweets and map them onto the streets of New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay area. The maps amount to something close to adesire path on a macro scale: The maps show where our buses and subways should be, if they conformed to the way we actually move and live.”
via studio630:

This is an interesting application of Twitter data - I’d love to see how transportation systems respond.

smarterplanet:

Could Twitter Help Us Create Smarter Transit Routes?

“Traditional city maps visualize just one aspect of urban design—the city’s intended structure, full stop. But add in a layer that visualizes how people actually use the city, and then the map becomes much more interesting. Eric Fischer did exactly that when he used Twitter’s API to collect tens of thousands of geotagged tweets and map them onto the streets of New YorkChicago, and the San Francisco Bay area. The maps amount to something close to adesire path on a macro scale: The maps show where our buses and subways should be, if they conformed to the way we actually move and live.”

via studio630:

Google Announces Privacy Changes Across Products; Users Can’t Opt Oout

The Web giant announced Tuesday that it plans to follow the activities of users across nearly all of its ubiquitous sites, including YouTube, Gmail and its leading search engine.  For detailed information, please read the full article.  My assumption is that this has a two-fold purpose; it will aid Google in ad targeting for business, and will help them provide more personalized search results/offerings for Google+.  

For our purposes, I want to examine what this will mean for digital marketing.  I see this as a good development, if consumers react as I suspect.  Consumers are increasingly vigilant about privacy, and for a large number of users, I expect to see more logging-out behavior. 

SEO

Ever since the (not provided) debacle launched with Google Analytics, there has been a deluge of webmasters and search marketers flooding the forums with complaints about the lack of information.  If users react to this news by more frequently signing out of Google, then these marketers will be very happy, as this should mean fewer (not provided) keywords will be visiting their sites.  This will make all the search marketers I know very happy.

Social

I also anticipate that when users log out of Google more frequently, this will slow down the active adoption of Google+.  While sign up rates are high for Google+, most users within my circles are limited users, if they use it at all.  And considering that one of the top reasons people leave Facebook is due to privacy concerns, this limits the advantage that Google (supposedly) offered.

PPC

This is the one area where I see the biggest impact, assuming users DO NOT move to a system where they more frequently log out of Google.  The massive amounts of data will allow Google to more closely target ads to consumers who are likely to respond to them.  As I’m sure all marketers are aware, this is pure digital marketing gold. 

Search Market Share

A less likely, but still possible situation, is that Bing will take advantage of consumer uproar to switch users to Bing.  This coincides nicely with their “ing” campaign as well.  With enough of a push in mainstream media, I could see Bing growing their market share slightly this quarter. 

Really, it’s too early to tell what will happen with this new, non-opt out privacy policy of Google’s.  But I’ll be keeping an wary eye on it.

The Growth Of Social Media - Infographic

dm2studios:

Media_httpwwwsearchen_mqnpj via huffingtonpost.com

A new study suggests half of all American adults are now on social networks. In fact, out of American adults who use the Internet, Pew found that nearly two-thirds use social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Search Engine Journal agrees social media is here to stay, despite some dismissing it as a fad…

(via socialintel)

Google Finally Rewarding Creative SEO?

I was very excited to see this article in my news feed earlier today.  But once I dug into it, I was couldn’t feel anything but a bit of a let-down.  Or rather, that the title was mis-leading.  Since Google Panda, we have of course seen greater influence from content creation, honest online reputation management/pr, and social media signals.  

However, in my mind, and in my actions (as well as those of many of my colleagues), this has been a successful tactic for many years.  Similar to branding and brand positioning, when we, as marketers, focus on the authentic, actionable, and distinctive characteristics of our products and websites, the result is a strong online presence that is rewarded with strong positioning and visibility. 

So to label this a “creative” approach seems a bit overblown.  I won’t argue with the recommended action items for how to approach SEO, since the tactics recommended make perfect sense.  I just disagree with the presentation.

Takeaway: When you’re engaging in SEO (and marketing overall), it is essential that you are taking an authentic approach that differentiates your website in the search engines.  A quality website that provides valuable content and encourages sharing will understandably be given an advantage over time, if not immediately.

12 Tools to Measure Social Influence (Maybe)

checkify:

Social media influence is a bit like oxygen – we “know” it’s there and we know in some sense that it is essential for “life” if we’re in marketing, advertising or public relations, but can we capture it in a jar and observe it? No. Well, at least not entirely.

Any number of tools – freely available on the Web – purport to tell us our overall social media influence or at least a slice of it (a la Twitter).

While none is perfect or complete yet, using a combination of them can prove useful.

Here then is a roundup of tools that measure influence in the social web:

Broad social web tools

Klout: Klout currently track a user’s Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Foursquare activity. It is reportedly looking at Google+ integration. From the Klout blog: “We think you are influential. Klout isn’t about figuring out who is on the ‘A-list.’ We believe that every person who creates content has influence. Our mission is to help every individual understand and leverage their influence.”

PeerIndex: How PeerIndex describes what it measures: “PeerIndex: a measure of your online social capital. Topic fingerprint: a snapshot of what you talk about. Topic resonance: how much other people find what you share valuable. Comparisons: compare yourself to your friends and peers. “

Twentyfeet: What Twentyfeet says it offers: “Aggregated stats in one place. Your overview of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, bit.ly, Google Analytics, Myspace and more. See how your key performance indicators develop over time. We nudge you when your metrics change significantly.”

Empire Avenue: From the home page: “Invest your social capital in people and brands for free using virtual currency” and “Engage and expand your social networks, and learn how to use social media more effectively.” Whether a virtual stock exchange and virtual currency truly relates to social standing is still hotly debated on the web.

WhoSay: This invite-only service says this about itself: “WhoSay is a service that helps artists, athletes and iconic personalities connect with their fans. When you see someone posting via WhoSay, you’ll know that it’s real, authentic messages, photos and videos coming from your favorite people…. As a fan, you may arrive at your favorite artist’s, athlete’s or personality’s WhoSay page by visiting their existing social media sites.” In other words, just being here means you likely have influence.

PostRank : This service says it “tracks where and how users engage, and what they pay attention to — in real-time.” PostRank says it measures user activity, “the most accurate indicator of the relevance and influence of a site, story, or author.” By using Postrank, in a sense, you’re advertising your social popularity so brands can connect with you.

Influencer Exchange: Appinions: From the website: “For any user defined topic, brand or issue, the Influencer Exchange helps you discover, identify, engage and monitor the leading influencers. Leveraging the power of opinions, the Influencer Exchange embraces the Web, social media, forums and news articles to provide a comprehensive view of the influencer landscape.”

Twitter tools

Tweetlevel: From the How To Use page: “TweetLevel is a purpose built tool for PR and marketing to help ensure brands use Twitter effectively.” From the About page: “This tool will be in permanent beta as we seek to continually improve its functionality based upon your feedback. Even though we believe that it goes a great way to understand and quantify the varying importance of different people’s usage of Twitter, by no means whatsoever do we believe we have fully solved the ‘influence’ problem.”

Twitalyzer: Twitalyzer looks at who is in your social network and, mostly for a variety of fees will give you data across at more than 25 metrics. From the site’s Benchmarks page: “Twitalyzer’s Benchmark report allows you to generate ranked lists of Twitter users based on their stated location and the tags that have been applied to their profile.”

TweetGrader (formerly TwitterGrader): A site that allows users to see how they compare to hundreds of thousands of other Twitter users, see how they rank in their geographic area, track Follower history and a Quick Follower Check to see if another Twitter user is following you.

Twitaholic: “How’s this work? Our Twit-tastic robots scan Twitter a few times a day to determine who’s the biggest twit.” Enter your Twitter account name to get your ranking on Twitter (by followers) and by location. This site also encourages you to click through to Twitter Counter.

Twitter Counter: From the site: “Twitter Counter provides statistics of Twitter usage and tracks over 14 million users and counting.” Once you’ve entered your Twitter name you can compare your states with two other users.

(Source: socialmediatoday.com)

How Aware Are We of Social Media Advertising?

eMarketer reports that advertisers are becoming more aware and interested in Social Media Advertising.  However, sites that are less well known or older are lagging in both awareness and rating, while Facebook and Twitter dominate the field.

This data is not a true measure of awareness, however; but more a measure of willingness to launch an advertising campaign on a particular social network.  This can be a result of the lack of knowledge of the effectiveness of targeting, the tendency to lead to conversion, the cost of advertising, and other features that are more complex than this article and chart can demonstrate.  

For example, Zynga is a popular social gaming platform, and might offer an extended reach - but I have not heard how well they are able to target their ads, or any real statistics on performance.  I hear often about how Facebook and Twitter ads work, and strategies for improving performance.

Additionally, as with all advertising, my product or brand will influence what platforms I am willing to attach my brand to.  The products that I would advertise heavily on LinkedIn are different than the products I would advertise on Twitter.  While overlaps in market do exist, it becomes a matter of choosing the right site.

Personally, however, I think the key barrier to getting social advertisers to utilize social platforms like Meebo, Zynga, and Gowalla will be overcoming the data / familiarity barrier.  I know that many people are using Facebook and Twitter, and can provide recommendations on how to budget for these platforms, what to advertise, and whether they are even worthwhile to begin with.

Takeaway: If you are looking to become more deeply involved (or become involved, period) with social media advertising, take some time to explore all your options.  One benefit to a smaller or less proven network may be a lower cost, which if coupled with a successful campaign can really boost your ROI.  Make sure your network allows you to really target your audience, and plan your introductory ads carefully to maximize your impact.