Google released their +1 button for websites back in June, and since that time webmasters have eagerly been adopting the new social sharing button. Despite a fairly low user response when compared to Twitter or Facebook, Google has seen adoption of the button on more than a million websites. Those sites get more than 4 billion total daily views.

Now that button is even more valuable. Google has added two key features: sharing on Google+ and “+snippets.”

It’s been expected for some time that Google would be integrating the +1 button with their social network. Now we’re seeing exactly the form and function of that integration. Users who +1 a page will now see a “share” option when they hover over the +1 button. This allows them to share a link to the site, their commentary on it, and a snippet from the page with a few easy clicks.

+Snippets is the excerpt from your site that’s shared by default. Along with the new social sharing, Google is now allowing webmasters to customize their snippet. The rich markup to do so can be checked on, but the key attributes are the itemtype tag added to the <body>, the itemprop=”name” option to provide the snippet title, the itemprop=”image” option to provide the snippet thumbnail, and the itemprop=”description” option to provide the text pulled into the snippet.

Webmasters would be wise to both encourage visitors to share through the +1 button and to ensure that the snippet shows the images and text that best serve your site.

[Sources include: The Official Google Blog]

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google +1 Button Adds Snippet and Sharing Features

Those who’ve been involved in search engine optimization for any real duration know that there’s no one Google algorithm to keep up with. In addition to having a couple world-breaking changes per year (Google Instant and Panda being the most recent), there are constant minor changes that change how search works. However, Google recently discussed how those many minor changes are created, tested, and implemented. Knowing this process will help you gauge exactly how seriously to take different types of changes.

The Google Process

Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, was among several engineers who discussed how ideas become realities for the Google algorithm. “While an improvement to the algorithm may start with a creative idea, it always goes through a process of rigorous scientific testing,” said Singhal.

A group of Googlers known as “ranking engineers” come up with theories on why certain search types aren’t performing ideally. Each “reasonable idea” is tested with a group of trained raters. Those raters are shown the altered results side-by-side with the standard results, and asked which one is better.

From there, Google spreads the test to a small cut of the public. That experimental group sees the content in an isolated sandbox. An analyst then looks at the feedback and behavior of those users. The analyst compiles and brings the data to a “launch evaluation meeting,” where the engineers decide whether the change should become a permanent part of the search experience.

Each idea is based on improving the user experience, but not every idea actually shows a positive user impact; while over 500 changes were made last year, over 20,000 experiments were conducted in that same time period. The key takeaway is that, while it’s a good idea to pay attention to experiments, only a small cut will every become a part of the standard – and, with 500 changes a year, even those alterations are subject to reversal.

[Sources include: The Official Google Blog]

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google Discusses Their Algorithm Change Process

The CSS3 Speech module is now in last call state. The journey for making accessible web standards has come far from WCAG guidelines, SSML (Speech Synthesis Markup Language ) now arriving at CSS Speech.The CSS Speech Module is based on the concept of the Aural Box Model for content to be rendered in speech form. It is a counterpart to the visual box model for visual presentation of content.

Do you ever wonder why some traffic makes you money and other traffic doesn’t? The answer is so obvious that it’s a proverb: Not all traffic is created equal.

Let’s take that old saying apart to see if it can deliver a return on investment for you. Let’s look into why some traffic makes money and everything else is a waste of server resources.

By the end of this brief guide you will know how to tease short- and long-term sales prospects out of your traffic reports. You’ll have a better idea of what your prime visitors are thinking, a better shot at converting them, a better map for finding more visitors just like them.

Understand The Searcher’s Needs

It’s no wonder that referral traffic from a celebrity site doesn’t want to fill out an auto-loan application. Similarly, I’m not surprised that someone searching “buy pink sandals” spends money on pink sandals.

It’s often easy to forget that there is actually a person sitting on the other side of the screen as you look at your analytics. When you’re thumbing through your keywords, take a deep dive into what that person wants to accomplish.

I know that sometimes search queries can be incoherent (take, for example, “apple mesh cats”) but what the person needs is often pretty clear. If you dig through your keywords you’ll probably find that most of them have some sort of consumer intent attached to them.

Two Key Types of Consumer Intent

Consumer intent can be the backbone of conversion. If you look at the big picture, people searching online are trying to do one of two things.

They either want to be entertained or they want to solve a current or future problem. Sure there are outliers, but these are the main two.

So, if our goal is to increase sales, we want to take a good look at problem-solvers because they’re the ones spending money.

Those Solving Current Problems

In your keyword report, find words that point to different stages of awareness of a problem. Now, awareness is a whole different topic, but suffice it to say that people searching for “buy” or “review” are very likely to be spending money in the near future.

These visitors have a current problem, understand the problem and are ready to solve it.

Get these people to your sales page in the fewest possible steps. Identify where they’re coming from, and find keywords with similar intent.

Then there are those who are just researching a product, service or industry, and they come from all over the place. They may come in with on your branded keywords or from long-tail terms. They’re the ones you want to cultivate as future buyers.

These people aren’t ready to commit, so an order page is not relevant to them. Ideally, you want to drive these visitors to a page that educates them about their problem and, incidentally, which shows them how your product solves said problem.

If you’re smart, you will persuade the researchers to accept a special offer in return for their E-mail address. That’s how you get a more captive audience, one that you can further educate about the problem and your solution.

Don’t Overlook Consumer Intent

Sure, consumer intent sounds like commonsense. It is. That’s why even seasoned pros need to be reminded not to take it for granted. Forget the audience, forget the business.

Nothing converts better than an intimate knowledge of your audience’s motivation. The traffic you understand is far more valuable than any other traffic. Look at your keywords. Learn from them what your potential buyers need at this instant. Educate researchers, and close with buyers.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Know Your Customer — Know Their Keywords

Big news today from the BlueGlass camp! We’ve secured Jeremy “ShoeMoney” Schoemaker to the speaker lineup for BlueGlass TPA!

Jeremy will be sitting on the “Blog & News Optimization: How Publishers Can Dominate Google & Beyond” Panel with Brian Clark of Copyblogger and discussing killer techniques for bloggers & publishers to build traffic, links and BUSINESS via their content strategies.

Image via TopRank's Flick Account

I really cannot think of two people who I would rather have on this panel, and am entirely stoked about this. With BlueGlass Conferences our mission it to stack sessions & panels with Keynote Worthy speakers — and this lineup equals MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! (SEJ will be covering the show too because we are a BlueGlass TPA Partner!)

In addition to ShoeMoney & Copyblogger, our BlueGlass TPA lineup also includes :

BlueGlass TPA is September 26th & 27th in Tampa, FL — and there are a limited amount of seats left. REGISTER TODAY!

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

ShoeMoney Added to the BlueGlass TPA Lineup

Posted by Paul Rogers

I find link prospecting to be one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of link building. In order to build and maintain a natural link profile for your website, your prospecting activity needs to cover a wide range of opportunities and generate the right targets and leads for your project/campaign. So prospecting is usually pretty easy to start off with – run a few Google searches and you’ve got yourself a set of content-rich websites within your target industry. However, once you’ve gone through this initial list, you realise the challenge that you’re faced with.

Here are some of the things we do at GPMD to generate a broader set of quality prospects. Using these practices, we’re able to identify a huge selection of relevant, high quality blogs and industry websites within different sectors.

Tip 1: Advanced search queries

Advanced search queries are our starting point. They’re quick, easy to use and they are great for finding opportunities for guest blogging, collaboration projects, sponsorship etc.

Examples of advanced search queries:

Inurl Search (Dental inurl:blog / Dental blog

These search queries will filter websites with your preferred domain extension or search term within its URL. The above examples will return dental blogs and dental blogs based in the UK.

Exact Phrase Search (Dental “Guest post” / Dental “Write for us”)

These queries (using speech marks to find the exact text) are ideal for finding websites that are either looking for guest bloggers or accept guest blog posts. The above examples will return dental websites that accept guest posts and dental websites that are looking for writers.

Intitle Search (Dental Intitle:Guest Post – Dental Intitle: Advertise)

Searching for specific content within the title helps to filter the pages that are most relevant and also find opportunities by searching for advertising or guest posting opportunities. The above examples will return dental websites that accept guest posts and dental websites with advertising opportunities.

Wildcard Search (Dental “Guest *” blog)

Using the wildcard (*) filters results that contain the exact words within your query and an additional word in the position of the wildcard. The above query will return dental blogs that feature “guest post”, “guest writer”, “guest blog” etc within their content or title (with the second word in place of the wildcard).

Using more than one of these strings within the same search will help to further refine the results and provide very specific prospects for you to use to build links.

Example Query
Example of a query that could be used for finding guest blogging opportunities for a dental website.

Tip 2: Use Twitter tools to find niche bloggers

Building relationships on Twitter is a great way of generating opportunities. By regularly talking to bloggers within your industry, you’re developing an outreach that could be utilised for product launches, obtaining reviews, guest blogging and much more.

Follower Wonk:

Follower Wonk is a great tool that allows you to search through Twitter bios, helping you to identify targets for building relationships or just approaching for link-building.

Follower Wonk

Example: If you’re looking to obtain links from dental blogs, you could search for dental blog, dentist blog, dentistry blog and so on. You can then filter the results and order by the available metrics to help find the most suitable people.


Topsy is a very useful tool that lets you search the social web (including blogs). You could search for your brand, niche keyword or web address, find the people who’re talking about you or your industry and then get in touch (and hopefully get a link from their blog). You could also search for guest blogging opportunities using things like ‘guest blog dentistry’ and then approach the website owner/blogger.

These are just a couple of examples, there are literally thousands more tools that can help you find link building opportunities.



Tip 3: Look at blogroll and directory links

BlogrollWhen you find a really good blog that you would like a link from, don’t just contact them and wait for a reply! You should be looking for a links page or a blogroll to find other similar bloggers that could also provide a good link to your website. It is important to remember that not all good blogs are optimised for search, making a lot of them really hard to find – unless you use these kinds of techniques.

Also, when you’re looking down at your competitors’ links from directories like (not a real website), you could be finding a few new opportunities. Chances are that you’ve already looked through your competitors’ links, but you might find different websites that you haven’t analysed within these directories, some of which may have some good ideas/links that you could emulate for your website.

Tip 4: Reverse image search

I often hear people moaning about how some blog or website has used one of their images in a post or article – without realising that this is a great opportunity to obtain a really good link! If you come across another website using your image, send them a polite email, compliment their content and website, and just ask if they can add a link to your website as the source of the image. This link-building technique is natural and free – which is why optimising your images and making them freely available is a great way of generating these opportunities. You can search for your web address in Google’s new-look image search feature or, both will help you to find where your images are being used.

TinEye Reverse Image Search

Tip 5: Use PPC advertising to find advertising opportunities

Running a short-term, low cost PPC campaign is a great way to find link building opportunities. Once your PPC ad is live on lots of related blogs, you can contact the blogger, mention your advert and suggest that you look at other options.

I would recommend complimenting the blog content and asking to submit a few guest posts about your experience within your industry. Then, once you have obtained a number of links, simply turn off the adwords campaign.

Tip 6: Use BuzzStream

I started using BuzzStream (a link-building CRM tool) around three months ago, with the intention of streamlining my link building process, and it has saved me a huge amount of time! BuzzStream does actually have a feature designed to identify link prospects, but I haven’t really used it, I am more interested in the BuzzMarker and the BuzzBox.

The BuzzMarker is placed on your bookmark toolbar and it pulls in a huge amount of data with one simple click. This data includes whois information, social media accounts, contact details and even data from key SEO metrics (including SEOmoz data). All of this is then available within the CRM system itself and can be added too or edited at any point.

You can also BCC the BuzzBox email address into emails that you’re sending to prospects, which will then automatically add the emails into the CRM.

BuzzStream CRM

Tip 7: Ask questions

Once you have built a relationship (or link) with a blogger or industry professional, why don’t you ask them which blogs and news websites they follow? This is a great way of identifying websites that you may not have reached or found otherwise and it will take very little time. If the blogger is a friend of connection of the person who recommended it, you then also have an angle to start contact with.

Tip 8: Use what’s already out there

Competitor Analysis:

Looking at the links that your competitors have will provide opportunities and inspiration, but there is a limit to the number of links that you can get. Once you have found new opportunities from your competitors, why don’t you look at their links, and then links going to their links and so on? If you’re looking at relevant websites, chances are they will have some good links that you can look to emulate.

Old linkbait:

If you’re looking to implement an idea or even just get some quick links, looking at what has been done before is a really good place to start.

For example, if you’re looking to write a list of the top 50 most influential bloggers in your industry, have a look at those who are featured on the list and check if they link back to the website. If they do link back, they could be an easy win. Also, as your version will be the latest one, it’s probably worth contacting the people linking to the previous version and asking them to link to your new release.

Tip 9: Utilise existing relationships

If you’re involved within your industry, chances are that you know people that have contacts that have blogs. Well, now is the time to pull in that favour and get the introduction.

If you know people, or know people that know people, make sure you take advantage of the situation, as I can guarantee that your competitors will be doing it.

These links are simple, natural and are difficult for competitors to copy.

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One of the most basic lessons that I learned in marketing was to make things as simple as possible for visitors. See those buttons below? Look pretty familiar, right? Whether you call them buttons, icons or badges, these interactive elements that social sites provide make voting or sharing dead simple.

(Social itself isn’t so simple, so here are some tips you should know about it.)

Typically, sites either go the route of creating their own custom-designed social buttons or they add in the interactive social widgets that look like this:

While there is no right or wrong way to incorporate social media, I prefer using these interactive buttons for the following reasons.

Instantly Share

One of the strongest cases for using these buttons is that a visitor isn’t removed from the page when he or she clicks. You act within the page or a popup.

Many of these buttons (Facebook Like, Google’s +1 and StumbleUpon) allow for instant voting, something that custom icons cannot do. Even the Facebook Share button and Twitter’s Tweet button keep people on the same page while they can perform the share in a popup. Simply put, these buttons save visitors’ time and keep them on your site.

Instantly Follow

Not only can you share, you can follow. Whether it is Twitter’s Follow button or Facebook’s Like button for your Facebook fan page, interactive buttons can connect companies and fans off-site instantly. One of my pet peeves are links that say “click to Like us on Facebook” or “click to follow us on Twitter” only to send me to (and leave me at) my Facebook or Twitter page. Make it easy for your audience to connect by using the vendor badges.

Gauge Content Quality

Interactive buttons also show vote and share totals, which is one factor that people can use to quickly decide what content to look at. Big numbers show popularity and, often, trustworthiness.
For example, if I have time to read only one article over at CopyBlogger, I might take a look at the descriptions, and make my choice based on user votes (as shown on the social badges):

So I might check out “The Most Dangerous Threat…” and save the other article for later. This is true for features and functions including extensions and downloads.

They’re Uniform

Visitors know what’s going to happen when they click on vendor buttons. They’re going to “like” content, “tweet” an article, or ” +1″ something, and that’s all.

Custom social buttons too often leave people unsure of what will happen. Will they be taken to your company’s Facebook page? Will they be sent to Tweet via TweetMeme?

My Favorite Buttons For Any Site

I like buttons that are interactive and have many options to choose from. Here is a short list of buttons that could work for any site:

Google +1
: This button now syncs with Google+, making it even more powerful.

Twitter’s Tweet: 
This allows for customization to gain more visibility for your Twitter accounts as well.

Facebook Like: This is a very versatile button that can be customizable to your liking.

Twitter’s Follow: 
Great for getting visitors to follow you on Twitter in one click.

: If you have engaging content on your site, this button can make social bookmarking simple for people who use StumbleUpon.

So, that’s why I love interactive buttons! They are simple, powerful and familiar. You might even use them here to “like” or share my post!

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Don’t Re-Invent Social-Media Buttons. Please!

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

Article marketing is mostly a scam. Well, wait… some types of article marketing are really scammy. Guest blogging, legitimate article sharing, and similar tactics are great and sustainable linkbuilding practices, but making up terrible article content and passing it off as something people should read or link to is both bad for users and bad for long-term SEO. This week, Rand discusses some of the reasons article marketing is so nefarious and some alternatives that are more user-friendly. Have any alternatives or tactics you’re fond of? Let us know in the comments below!


Video Transcription

Howdy SEOmoz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking about one of the scummiest, lowdownest, dirtiest, ugliest, messiest, nastiest, no goodnesst things of all in the SEO world, it is called article marketing.

Now, there are some good, authentic, legitimate forms of article marketing. They’re usually called guest blogging or guest authorship, guest writing. What article marketing has come to mean in the field that we are in is something just sickeningly awful. So what I want to do today is talk about it a little bit. You can probably feel some of my pain. Then, we can get into it in the comments and talk more. I know one of the issues, too, is that some folks have success with this, especially early on in their careers, and then think, oh, this is how I can do SEO. I can just do article marketing.

Let me first, for those of you who aren’t familiar, walk you through how article marketing or article spinning, article republishing is done. Basically, we have our friend here. I don’t know, let’s call him Fred. Fred is clacking away on his keyboard. He’s like, "Oh, you know what? I am going to make a useless, fairly painful to read, crap article about why cats are the best pets, and in that article I am going to link back to pages on my site that are about cat ownership or cat food or whatever it is that I am trying to rank for. Those links are going to pass me some nice juice. They’ll go over to my website. That’ll be real nice there." But instead of just publishing on my site, I might publish it on my site, but I am also going to either take it with me and submit it to a bunch of article directories, article portals, article resource sites, sometimes they’re called article publishers. They have all sorts of different names – article portals or something like that sometimes.

Or even better, I’m going to use the article spinning robot software that I downloaded which will go and submit it to all these different article sites for me. By the way, one of the great features of it is it bypasses the CAPTCHA by reading it or they have special arrangements and it only cost me $299. How can I go wrong? My god! It sounds like an amazing deal. Who wouldn’t want to spin their article with Article Spinning Robot 5000 for $300? What a . . . sure, that’s totally going to work.

So, once you get your article published up on all these different sites, the goal is, the idea is that hopefully when I search Google for why cats are the best pets, I see hundreds of different results. Oh, look at all these article sites that I submitted to, they’re all getting indexed, and that must mean they’re passing link juice back to me, and hey some of these article sites have a nice home page PageRank, maybe a 4 or a 5 or even 3. Super exciting. Clearly going to be incredibly valuable and useful for my SEO practices. So the goal is I am going to get these hundreds of sites that are all linking back to me with the anchor text that I have optimized from my article and that’s going to help me rank.

You know what the problem is? The thing that sucks about this is that sometimes it works. In fact, sometimes it works for months at a time or even a year or two at a time.

I was just in New York. I was speaking at an affiliate conference event, and there were some people in the room. One of the people there asked me, she said, "You know, Rand, I do a lot of article marketing, and I am wondering, instead of writing unique content pieces, entirely unique, I heard that Google only duplicate content checks the first and the last paragraph. So can I just leave the middle paragraphs the same and produce hundreds of different articles, send them out to all the different sites? Because usually the editors, they don’t even have editors or they are crappy. They don’t review anything. So, if the first paragraph is unique, they usually accept the article and I can get them reposted. Do you think that will work well?"

I don’t even know how to tell you what’s wrong with your frame of mind when you ask these questions. It’s incredibly frustrating. I tried to be very empathetic and explain, hey, search engines use these Markov chain analyses, they can detect duplicate content, very similar content pretty easily, and these sites tend to be very low quality anyway. She’s sort of like, "Well, okay. I hear you, but I did get my rankings up quite a bit when I used the article spinner." It’s sort of like, yeah, the problem with all of this stuff, with low quality tactics like this is that sometimes they work in the short term and you have to decide whether it is worth the risks.

Let’s talk about a few of those. First off, does Google really want to count those links? Is that what search engineers feel like are going to provide the best results? When I search for something in Google and they say, "Ah, well, you know what, looks like Rand’s article on white cats are the best pets, that’s been spun on 300 article sites, so he must be the very best resource in the whole world on that topic." Can you possibly imagine a Googler thinking that way? So, instead they’re going to be writing algorithms to try and prevent this stuff from working. They do all the time. Some of them fall out of favor. You can see they’ll sometimes publicly lose their PageRank, or they won’t but they’ll lose their ability to pass link juice, or the sites will be completely penalized and they won’t rank anywhere in the top 5 or 10 results and your site won’t rank anywhere. One day Google just wakes up, does an algorithm change. You wake up in the morning, and boom, all your rankings are gone. You’re way down in the penalty box. You go, "What did I do wrong? I’ve been a good article spinner. How could they do this to me?"

Another big risk is the duplicate content side. If you’ve submitting any content that you’d actually like to rank for, it’s going to be pretty tough because some of these article sites are going to claim it’s their own. They’re going to earn links to their site more than you’re able to earn links to your site. You might be penalized and they stay unpenalized, meaning that they’re going to essentially cannibalize the traffic that you could have earned. If you are writing anything really good, you should be wanting to put it on one of two sites – your own 90% of the time, or maybe 10% of the time on a guest posting on another blog, on another website, on a content site, that has great reach, great reputation, that’s going to earn you some trust and authority, not just from the links you’re going to get. That’s not the goal. The goal is to get readership and trust over to your site from real people who enjoy that content.

Of course, the content itself. Most of the time when people are talking about doing article marketing or article spinning, they’re talking about the worst quality, lowest junk crap. As you can see with updates like Panda and Big Daddy and Vince a little bit, Google is just getting so much smarter about content analysis, and they’re able to determine what matters in a block of text and what actual people like. They use user and usage data to do this now. Trying to game that system with low quality junk is not going to get you very far.

Finally, the thing that I think people forget about the most is they’ll spend weeks or months, hours and hours on end, trying to spin the right things and find the right directories and getting their articles submitted here and generating some junky crap over there. I think to myself, imagine, imagine if you were doing something authentic. Imagine if you were doing real high quality SEO and inbound marketing. Imagine if instead of doing that, you got 50 more Twitter followers that day and you shared a bunch of good stuff and you wrote one guest post that maybe only went to one site, but that link lasted for the next 10 years. Imagine what you’ve lost when you spend time doing this kind of crap.

So, are there some alternatives? I was talking to some people at the affiliate show about the alternatives they are using. They’re like, "Yeah, you know, when article marketing stopped working for me, I went with some directory link submission stuff. Then I tried some do follow commenting, and that seemed to work all right." They are sort of like, "Oh, you know, maybe some nofollow comments. That could work as well. It seems like sometimes nofollow comments do work. I’ll do some reciprocal link exchanges." No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Just no. Okay.

How about you try something, anything real? Real and useful. If you think that you can manipulate the search engines or that search engine optimization, that the practice of improving your rankings and gaining traffic is going to be done through this kind of stuff, you’re living a decade ago man. This is not going to work. One of the worst parts about this is that when you do this, the impression you create on users, on visitors who do find you, even if you manage to win . . . let’s imagine that you got your content up to number one using article spinning and article robots and article marketing. Good for you. Imagine what’s going to happen when I come to your site, I visit, and I am, like, "God, this is totally junky." Then I see a bunch of nofollow comment spam that you’ve left on the Web, and I see the articles of low quality that you’ve submitted everywhere. What am I going to think about your brand? How is your conversion rate possibly going to match up to the high rankings that you’ve achieved? If it doesn’t, why are you even bothering? Isn’t it so much easier to get 100 visitors and convert 10 of them than to get 10,000 visitors and convert 1 out of 1,000? It always is.

So, I really want to suggest it’s not that article marketing is evil. This isn’t a moral thing. This is about wasting your time and energy as a marketer and doing things that just detract from our profession.

I hope that you will avoid the classic forms of article marketing and consider some real authentic alternatives. I certainly hope that you’ll join me again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by

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After months of speculation, Facebook has finally announced the date of its annual developer conference, f8.

The fourth edition of the conference will take place Sept. 22 in San Francisco. “This all day event with Facebook engineers and product teams will feature keynotes and session tracks that highlight our new tools along with best practices for developers and partners building the next generation of social experiences,” the company said in its email invitation.

The all-day conference is where Facebook typically launches its biggest products and initiatives. It launched the Facebook Platform at its first f8 in 2007, unveiled Facebook Connect in 2008 and launched the Like button and the Facebook Open Graph in 2010.

What will Facebook announce at this year’s f8? Mashable will be there to cover the major news from the world’s largest social network.

More About: f8, f8 2011, facebook, facebook platform

For more Dev & Design coverage:

According to my unofficial poll, Dennis Yu, CEO of BlitzLocal led the best session overall at the Online Marketing Summit at San Francisco last week.

The most critical success factor for businesses on Facebook, according to Dennis? Engagement rates.

When your best fans love you they’ll be your greatest advocates, thus leveraging fans to be your unpaid advertisers.

Treat Facebook communication like a dinner party, not SEO. You wouldn’t try to hardsell a product to someone you just met at a social event, so don’t try it on social media.

Be sure to reward the people who praise you, particularly the influencers – a reward can range in simplicity from a note of appreciation to a free product.

Why Your Facebook Engagement Rates are Low…

  1. Your contests might suck. For example, contests for winning an iPad will likely turn out to be short-sighted for companies that aren’t directly involved with iPads. People outside of your target demographic will flock just for a chance to win and won’t stick around to engage in the community.
  2. You’re operating during the wrong hours. The most active hours for Domino’s Pizza are around 8pm, but the work day is typically 9-5. You need to schedule hours so you have admins working at peak times, similar to radio adverts.
  3. You aren’t interacting often enough. You should reply to social network shoutouts in the same timeframe that you would take to answer a call. You wouldn’t take three days to answer your phone, so why take three days to answer a comment on your Facebook Page? The language-learning software company Rosetta Stone sets a very impressive example, utilizing their call center employees to also answer social media questions in real-time. Call staff have dedicated Facebook profiles.

Targeting Tips

  • Use the fan’s image to target ads at their friends (friends of fan targeting)
  • Small business can micro target = huge advantage
  • Quote: “B2B is the most awesome thing on Facebook, because you can target where they work.”

The Key Takeaways

Your employees are your best resources to manage your business’ social networks. A good example is the midwest department store chain Gordmans, which made Facebook page admins of all their store managers. Personally, if I had a question I’d rather hear from the manager of my local store than some corporate drone far away.

Throughout the session was emphasis on high quality fans, superfans or influential fans, whichever you want to call them. The idea is to seek out the people who like and interact with your brand and test out their social influence. If it’s high, you’ll want to really reward them with bonus material, coupons, free goodies, whatever. If you create a mutually beneficial relationship with influential fans they will spread the love, answer questions for other members, and all around make your world a little easier, one superfan at a time.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Best Conference Session Award: Mastering Facebook Marketing #OMSSF