Liking ladders: what’s the point?

liking_laddersThere’s no doubting that Facebook liking ladders remain a huge thing for some marketers. They’re all over my newsfeed and it’s very hard to ignore them. Many people want instant numbers of fans to like their Facebook pages and subsequently setting up a liking ladder may seem like a good bet in the short term.

Liking ladders are essentially a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back’ concept, encouraging people to like each other’s Facebook pages and share interests.

Now that’s great until you decide to make your first post on your page and all of a sudden you begin to lose fans because they aren’t really interested in what you have to say – it’s not a true representation of your social presence.

In some cases you will be fortunate enough to retain some of your fans, but there will also be some that decide to hide your posts rather than remove your page altogether. It’s arguable that hiding your posts is just as bad as removing your page altogether, as do numbers really matter if they can’t even see what you post?

Facebook isn’t a fan of the concept either. Some users who like too many pages are warned and then blocked for consistent violation.

Liking ladders can also be a lot of effort for very little reward. You may spend a whole afternoon liking hundreds of other industry pages in the hope that you’ll gain a batch of new fans yourself. It can be very frustrating to see you’ve wasted three or four hours gaining only a dozen new followers.

So what’s the best way to gain fans?

Put simply, you need to interact with like-minded pages where like-minded people hang out. Post genuine comments and link to your fan page. Maybe even consider a prize giveaway to entice people over to like you page as part of a competition. It may cost you a little bit initially to source a prize but marketing costs money!

But nothing comes easy, even in the world of online marketing. You need to put the ground work in. Talk with your fans and they will talk back. By interacting and having conversations with people on a daily basis you will be subconsciously marketing your brand and increasing the likelihood of Facebook fans visiting your site and buying your products.

By talking you get to know your fans better and you can soon refine your messaging and incentives to suit your demographic  – it really works, trust me!

Facebook Graph Search unveiled to North American users

Almost half-a-year after Facebook introduced its Graph Search as a more natural, real-time search function for the world’s largest social network, the giant is set to release the fully-functioning tool to its English-speaking users in the United States this month.

In a bold move to challenge the existing traditional search engines such as Google and Bing, Facebook has reiterated its belief that Graph Search is a more natural, accurate way to answer questions users have on a daily basis.

Since its introduction in Beta form, millions of users have provided feedback on Graph Search, which is said to be the ‘third pillar’ of Facebook’s ecosystem and is set to keep them at the forefront of the social media game for many years to come.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, confirmed Graph Search was a long term project and that it would take time to truly refine the service.

“Indexing all this content and making it so you can retrieve instantaneously is a really hard problem we’ve been working on for a while,” he said.

“It’s going to take years to map out the graph and everything that’s out there.”

Although there are no immediate plans to introduce adverts on Graph Search, early indications suggest that Facebook could eventually sell ads targeted to users’ search queries within the graph, resulting in a highly lucrative business around search ads tailored to real-time interests and leisure activities.

However, in its current model, Graph Search is somewhat limited in scope, focusing on the four main activities or connections on Face book – people, photos, places, and interests. It is hoped topics, wall posts and wall comments will eventually make their way into the graph to provide a unique and personalised search experience for everyone.

In terms of a mobile Graph Search functionality, Facebook admits it is currently struggling to bring the product to a mobile channel, but insists it is “working on getting mobile Graph Search ready”.

The increasing battle between Instagram and Vine

1368439_vintage_cameraLast week Facebook announced a new way to share 15-second videos on Instagram, which was previously a solely photo-sharing service. However, recent statistics have found its rival network, Vine has almost doubled in popularity in the last two months.

New figures from Unruly Media have found the number of tweets containing a six-second looping video using Vine’s service have risen almost two-fold over the previous eight weeks.

If further proof were needed to underline the increasing battle between Instagram and Vine for the world’s video users, you only need to look at the most recent iTunes Chart of free apps, with Vine ranked #7 and Instagram closely following in #8 position.

Additional data from Unruly Media found the average number of tweets containing a Vine link had risen from five every second during April to nine every second in the first three weeks of June.

Meanwhile, a recent post on the Instagram blog indicated that “within the first eight hours of launching Video on Instagram, the community shared over a year’s worth of footage”.

With over five million clips uploaded in the video-sharing feature’s first day, and dozens of famous stars already taking to the service – namely Madonna, Snoop Dogg and chef, Jamie Oliver – it is clearly a growing phenomenon.

Brands and digital agencies looking to make the most of the surge in Vine activity can optimise and analyse the success of their own Vine campaigns using a social video product set, launched by Unruly Media this month, which evaluates for share ability and effectiveness.

Sarah Wood, COO and co-founder of Unruly Media, said: “Vine and other platforms, most recently, Instagram, are leading a revolution in social video sharing.

“Mobile video consumption tripled in 2012; video is the fastest growing ad format worldwide and Vine is changing the social video landscape, six seconds at a time.

“Advertisers can get ahead of the competition, grow their social footprint and extend their mobile reach by including Vine as part of an always-on content marketing strategy.”

#Hashtags on #Facebook? You’d better believe it…

Last week Facebook announced it would be implementing hashtags into its social network, empowering its members to use the original Twitter function within status updates and wall posts.

What was once an infuriating habit for many Facebook users to include hashtags unnecessarily in status updates has now become an interesting new way of discovering content.

What can Facebook hashtags do?

  • Search for a specific hashtag from within your search bar
  • Click on hashtags that originate on other services, including Instagram
  • Compose posts directly from the hashtag feed and search results

Facebook itself insists hashtags will fulfil an important requirement of organising public discussions occurring simultaneously across its social network:

“During primetime television alone, there are between 88 and 100 million Americans engaged on Facebook – roughly a Super Bowl-sized audience every single night.

“The recent “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones, received over 1.5 million mentions on Facebook, representing a significant portion of the 5.2 million people who watched the show.

“And this year’s Oscars buzz reached an all-time high on Facebook with over 66.5 million interactions. To date, there has not been a simple way to see the larger view of what’s happening or what people are talking about.”

For those somewhat on the fence about recent developments, the chaps at Facebook-studio.com believe users and businesses should embrace Facebook hashtags as an extension of marketing campaigns that use hashtags across other social channels:

“If you are already using hashtags in an advertising campaign through other channels, you can amplify these campaigns by including your hashtags in Facebook advertising.

“The same creative best practices on Facebook still apply – compelling copy and photography that is in the brand voice works best.

“Any hashtags that you use on other platforms that are connected to your Facebook page will be automatically clickable and searchable on Facebook.”

So where do you stand on Facebook hashtags? Friend or foe? Let us know!

Is paid social advertising the way forward?

A new report published by Kenshoo Social found that marketers most satisfied with their social efforts are happiest with the results they achieve from paid social advertising, as opposed to organic tactics.

More than one-in-three social media advertisers are dissatisfied with their results from both paid and organic social media strategies. Although organic posting on branded pages is the most popular social media tactic (73 per cent of respondents), it would appear it is not the most successful move.

Within Kenshoo Social’s study, called “The Key to Successful Social Advertising”, we find out the strategies and tactics used by marketers in the United States whose companies are forking out six-figure sums per annum on social advertising.

Only around half of all respondents (56 per cent) intimated they bought ads on social networks, however, these were the marketers who were most pleased with their results.

Those who were most satisfied with their paid social advertising efforts revealed their top three tactics included paying to promote content on general social networks, paying to promote trends on microblogs such as Twitter and Tumblr, and purchasing ads on general networks.

In terms of social network advertising, almost two-thirds (60 per cent) of respondents confirmed they use ad rotation, with only 35 per cent of large social media advertisers considering granular audience demographic targeting.

Back in April, forecasts from media analysts suggested that social ad revenues in the United States alone would soar to a whopping $11bn by 2017. Mobile local ad revenue is forecast to experience a whopping 49.3 per cent growth rate in the next four years, as brands and small businesses seek to gain more local penetration to consumers.

It is said  that native  and display ad revenue on social networks will be on the rise, with social display ad units continuing to outdo native advertising. However, the revenue gap between the two is sure to close as social networks refine their offerings.

Jed Williams, director of consulting and senior analyst for BIA/Kelsey, said: “Native social formats, including video, and mobile-social advertising will be the principal market growth drivers.”

Social media fast attracting the older generation

The number of social media users amongst the British adult population is on the increase, according to new Ofcom figures.

The recent release of statistics from the independent body found that almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK-based adults now have at least one social media profile on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This is a five per cent increase on just one year ago. Meanwhile half of all adults also revealed they check their profiles at least once a day.

Ofcom has attributed the increase to a host of ‘baby boomers’, with new families resulting in the proportion of 55 to 64-year-olds owning a social media profile increasing from 24 to 35 per cent in the last 12 months in a bid to keep in touch with new grandchildren.

Arguably the most obvious statistic from Ofcom’s report was that social networking is almost endemic within 16 to 24-year-olds, with 92 per cent of young adults owning at least one social media profile.

Although the older generation are increasingly becoming enchanted by the new world of social media, it is the youngsters who still boast the wider social circles, with an average of 352 friend connections in comparison with just 126 for users aged over-45.

The report, which was designed as an annual survey to ascertain general attitudes to media, also found that the average time we spend online continues to increase exponentially. We each spend on average 17 hours a week online, up from 15 hours in the 2011 survey.

Despite the increasing demand for social networks from the older generation, there appears to be a need for networks to improve their overall transparency. Ofcom’s report found that although social usage was significantly up, Britons are now less likely to trust what they read on their Facebook walls and Twitter timelines.

Almost half (43 per cent) of those surveyed confirmed they could not trust what they read on social networks, a figure up from 35 per cent 12 months previous.

With the over 55’s increasingly interacting with social media, it is a new demographic for businesses to target in a bid to refine and improve conversion rates.

Fancy Facebooking a celebrity? Pay up to £11 for the privilege!

tom_daley_SEOmersFacebook has moved to cash in on its many users that seek to contact their favourite celebrities by charging them up to £11 to send private messages to the most influential sporting, political and film personalities.

It currently costs a basic rate of 71p in order for Facebook users to send a message to less well-known figures that do not have a veritable army of followers watching and reading their every move.

Facebook has confirmed the experiment in the UK, which has been rolled out to 36 countries following an initial trial in the United States. However, the network insists it is not yet sure whether the feature will be rolled out globally across its network after this initial Beta phase.

A Facebook spokeswoman said: “It is being tested among a very small percentage of users.

“There is no set timescale. It depends on what happens, what feedback we get as to whether it is rolled out nationally.

“We are testing a number of price points in the UK and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance. This is still a test and these prices are not set in stone.”

For the vast majority of UK-based Facebook users they will not be affected by the trial. Those who are involved in the Beta phase can expect to see fee scale ranges from £10.68 to message the likes of Olympic diving sensation, Tom Daley, to 71p to chat to comedic duo, Miranda Hart and Bill Bailey.

The initial reasoning behind the charging feature for Facebook messaging was to inhibit the spamming of famous people, with paid-for messages going directly into their inbox as opposed to being placed in the “other” folder.

Iain Mackenzie, a spokesman for Facebook Europe, insisted users should not confuse the charging feature as a barometer for the most popular celebrities on the network.

He added: “There’s not a sliding scale based on fame. You can’t infer someone’s level of ‘celebrity’ from the numbers.”

Following the revelations of this latest Beta phase; the Guardian conducted a survey which asked its readers if they would be prepared to fork out upwards of £10 in which to send a direct message to their favourite celebrities. Tellingly, only four per cent confirmed they would be interested, as Facebook prepares for another backlash from many who view this as yet another controversial revenue stream.

Image: davesandford (flickr)

Small Twitter advertisers gain parity with the big guns

Twitter has finally delivered equality to its advertising system after announcing that small, self-serving advertisers now have direct access to the same “advanced” dashboard as the largest spenders on the social network.

Smaller spenders also now have the opportunity to target ads using exactly the same options as big brands. Until now, the highest spending advertisers had a monopoly over new targeting options including the following:

  • pinpointing users with the same interests as followers of @usernames”
  • based on an ever-expanding list of over 350 interest categories
  • based on specific mobile and desktop devices and platforms
  • based on gender

Prior to Twitter’s amendments to its advertising system, smaller spenders previously had only a limited range of targeting options available within their basic ad dashboard.

Smaller advertisers can now switch to the “advanced” dashboard; but be warned that this is a permanent decision when made – once you select the advanced option it is impossible to return to the basic mode.

In order to make an informed decision, Twitter has devised a comparison chart to weigh up the pros and cons and decide which dashboard is a better fit for your day-to-day advertising needs.

The advanced dashboard understandably offers greater flexibility to drill down deeper and view analytics without the need for any minimum spend.

Many advertisers will undoubtedly wish to upgrade; it is certainly a step in the right direction for those wishing to refine who they target their products and services. However, it is wise to give self-serve advertisers the option to use it or not; simply because it may be more powerful and complex than some need.

At present Twitter’s self-service advertising platform is only available by invitation to firms based in the United States, with global expansion likely later in the year.