Facebook changes news feed again; may have huge impact for marketers

Just when Facebook was starting to make things easier for marketers to get their content seen on people’s news feeds they’re changing the algorithm again.

A blog post from earlier today announced changes to the news feed that are on the way, and it’s pretty clear they could have huge implications for marketers. The changes are:

  1. Multiple posts from the same publisher will now be allowed one after another if the user doesn’t have much other content.
  2. Content posted directly by “friends you care about, such as photos, videos, status updates or links” will be higher up in News Feed. They also say, “If you like to read news or interact with posts from pages you care about, you will still see that content in News Feed.”
  3. Stories about people’s friends liking or commenting on a post will appear lower down in news feed or not at all.

The first change shouldn’t impact too many marketers significantly since most Facebook users have enough content to fill their timelines, although it may give a slight boost to those who post frequently.The second two, however, sound like they will make it much harder for marketers to get into your news feed.

Facebook has always had a struggle to make the news feed interesting enough that users still want to go to the site, while at the same time incorporating enough paid and marketing content that they turn a profit. Only time will tell for sure what these changes will mean, but it does sound like getting content into people’s news feeds will be much harder before too long. Which might make news feeds more interesting for users, but will almost certainly result in more revenue for Facebook as companies realize it is easier to just pay for sponsored posts that force their way into the news feed.

Time to get off Facebook?

Not entirely sure I agree, but definitely some thought provoking discoveries and some good info to know about how Facebook uses your personal info:

Facebook has always been slightly worse than all the other tech companies with dodgy privacy records, but now, it’s in it’s own league. Getting off isn’t just necessary to protect yourself, it’s necessary to protect your friends and family too. This could be the point of no return — but it’s not too late to take back control.

 

Facebook revenue continues to grow

Second quarter results show the company still has piles of money, and users.

Facebook released their 2014 second quarter results today and they show that the company’s user base and finances are still shockingly strong. Some of the highlights:

  • 829 million daily active users for June 2014, up 19% from 2013
  • Mobile use increased 39% over the past year
  • Facebook claims 1.32 billion monthly active users as of June30, up 14% from last year

With the steady stream of very strong numbers out of Facebook it’s easy to forget that just two short years ago the Facebook IPO was described as a confusing “debacle” – and worse – in a number of media outlets. Clearly Facebook’s strategy of focusing on mobile is paying off in spades.

In fact, earlier this week Facebook developers revealed more details of how they plan to drill down to device-level targeting to improve mobile app ad performance even further.

What’s even more surprising is that some analysts are suggesting that next quarter’s results could push the company over the $3 billion mark.

Not bad for a site that started as an easy way for a few college kids to stay in touch when they left campus.

Is social media right for marketing your small business?

Social Media for small business
Tips for social media marketing, and the many different ways social media can be used to promote small / midsized businesses (SMBs), can be found in almost endless numbers on an incredibly wide variety of websites. But there’s one crucial tip most small businesses won’t see – and that they should consider before any of the others; namely, is social media right for you at all?

Marketing budgets for SMBs have always been tight, and human resources to manage these dollars are becoming even more scarce. So while there are clearly great opportunities for small and medium businesses to use social media to market themselves, it’s equally clear that social media isn’t for everyone.

Should you be using social media to promote your small / medium business?

1. Does your business have something to say?

This is not a minor or flippant point. Some people enjoy their work, sell great products and love promoting their company, but just don’t have a lot to say about their business. For any number of reasons you might not feel you have anything interesting to say – and you need to know that up front, before you set up social media channels that will sit dormant. The only thing worse than not using social media is setting up social media accounts and signing up followers, but then not using these accounts regularly.

2. Can you take part in a conversation about your industry?

So maybe you don’t think you have anything to say up front. Maybe instead there are people already talking about your industry where you could jump in and add your insights. Just be sure you actually have some insights to add, and that you won’t just be jumping in to the conversation to explicitly sell your product or service.

3. Do you have someone in your business who has the time?

Many SMBs have one person doing all their marketing, and generally that person will have other responsibilities as well. So while social media generally doesn’t have any explicit costs, if this person is working on social media they won’t be able to spend as much time on their other responsibilities – which might take them away from advertising, keeping the website up-to-date, developing printed materials and so on.

4. Do you have someone in your business who can do the talking?

To successfully use social media, you have to have someone who is comfortable using the technology, or at least be willing to learn, and who can be counted upon to always convey the image you want for your business.

5. Are you willing to commit?

For all its tremendous value, social media is still not a quick fix. There are some absolutely excellent opportunities for SMBs in social media, but it takes time to develop relationships and build social media channels. You may not see results right off the bat, but if you’ve addressed all the questions above and are willing to commit to social media for the long term, you’ll see the significant benefits these tools can bring your company.

Why I chose HootSuite for my social media work.

HootSuite Certified Professional Feature with Brian MulawkaHootSuite University recently posted a ‘Featured Certified Professional’ article where they talked to me about my experiences using their platform and going through their certification program. You can read the full item here, but since then a number of people have asked me why I chose HootSuite over other platforms in the first place.

I both monitor social media and create and publish social media content for my clients, and quite simply I’ve never found another platform that allows me to do so much all in one place.

And to be completely honest, price is another huge factor. The free version of HootSuite is incredibly powerful, and for just $9.99 the pro version has most of the features I use. The only other costs are for custom analytics, but I’ll come back to that. So basically you’re looking at a free or almost free social media dashboard where you can monitor all your social media in one place.

Key benefits of HootSuite

Here are a few more of the key features that sold me:

  1. New apps allow for streams to monitor Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare, Reddit, and even RSS feeds. That means not having to jump around from place to place to monitor social media across platforms – and the app directory keeps growing so there are always new apps for whatever social media tool you may want to incorporate..
  2. Building organizations and teams in the platform allows groups to work together effectively and be very nimble in responding to people.
  3. The analytics are really solid. The included statistic package gives a quick view of what is working and what isn’t, and the enhanced package, while a little pricey, delivers very sophisticated and customized reports.
  4. The publishing scheduler is very handy. Being able to line up social media in advance and see what you will be publishing at a glance is a very powerful way to ensure you are consistently putting out fresh content.
  5. The mobile apps for iPhone, iPads and Android devices mean you can take this on the road. Admittedly the Android apps still seem like they need some polish, but the mobile apps do take the streams you set up and for the most part transfer them right to your mobile devices (some apps don’t seem to carry over to mobile).

So until I find something else that combines all these powerful tool into one, and for such a ridiculously low price, I’ll be sticking with HootSuite.

Google being crafty to push Google Plus

You have to give the folks over at Google credit. They might have been slow out of the blocks launching their social media site Google+, but they’re doing everything they can to make sure it takes off now – and not everyone is pleased about it.

On Thursday Google CEO Larry Page laid out his company’s earnings picture, and at the same time bragged that Google+ has more than 90 million registered users. That’s more than twice the 40 million users Google reported in October.

Were very excited about the growth weve had, and weve certainly seen a tremendous number of people added every day, Page said during the presentation.

It took Facebook almost four years to reach the 90 million user mark, but at the same time Facebook now boasts over 800 regular users. So Google Plus has a long way to go to catch up – which is where the creative tactics come in.

Since launching the social network last June, Page said they’ve added on average one new feature every day. Clearly they are working hard to make the service worth using, and trying to drive up the number of users by offering a valuable service.

But as IT Gawker noticed, now new Google users who sign up for any Google property are also required to sign up for Gmail and Google+ at the same time. Want access to Google Docs? You’re a member of Google Plus.

And while it might be possible to overlook forcing one free account on people who sign up for any Google account, messing with Google’s search results is more worrisome.

The folks over at Search Engine Land took an in-depth look at just how far Google is going to inject Google plus results in the results of your standard search. As the article points out, this can be a fairly useful feature – but it is interesting that other social media results appear to be taking a back seat to Google+ results.

Clearly Google is a serious player in the social media marketplace, and clearly their efforts to expand the user base of Google Plus are working. What will be interesting to see is just how far they can push these efforts without irritating potential users and driving them away.

Is app convergence the next major tech trend?

I stumbled across two, unrelated services that seem to be harbingers of one of the biggest tech trends in the next few years.

Digsby - social media and communications convergence

Digsby – social media and communications convergence

The first is an app called Digsby that is a handy little tool that looks a lot like a standard instant messenger (IM) interface. What makes it unique is the fact that it integrates MSN Messenger, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo and others. I’ve seen that much before, but this great little tool also monitors social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. It even allows you to monitor Gmail, Hotmail and other email accounts – including standard pop3 or imap accounts.

I’ve got accounts set up on most of these services, so people can pretty much reach me any way they want, now. Surprisingly, despite all this, my best efforts, and my abrasive personality, I still have people who want to call me. For that, I’ve got a home phone, a business phone, a personal cell phone and a work cell.

Which is where Google Voice comes in. With the new GV service you get one local number that you can answer on any of those phones. The service is still in development, but early reviews are suggesting that, aside from a few bugs, it works pretty much as advertised.

The staggered and uneven transition from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter – even among those who aren’t especially tech savvy – makes a pretty good case for these kinds of convergence apps. More and more services are being made available, quite often for free, and people seem more inclined than ever to give them a try.

But they’re not all moving to the same place, or at the same pace. So while I might be on Facebook, I’ve left behind friends at MySpace – and some colleagues on LinkedIn may still not be using Twitter.

As more services emerge offering slightly different features, the number of accounts and websites that I need (want, I suppose) to monitor is growing. The ability to communicate regardless of the sites and tools my friends and colleagues use is a very attractive one.

The next big thing? Maybe.

A very handy group of tools and services? Definitely.

Google+ ‘Circles’ its killer new feature?

Google+ CirclesAside from a cleaner interface with no games and ads, the differences between Facebook and Google+ are not all that significant. Except for Google’s ‘circles’.

Google+ is set up so that when you add ‘friends’ you also assign them to one or more ‘circles’. That means you can categorize people into friends, family, colleagues, people you don’t know but still want to follow and so on.

It’s a mildly handy feature, until you want to post something that you don’t want everyone to see. Some of the most obvious applications:

  • teachers who want to be friends with their students but keep their private life quiet
  • coaches who are friends with the kids they coach but who also want to keep their private life seperate
  • kids (or adults) who want to post items for their friends to see but not their parents
  • anyone who wants to converse with their colleagues from work, but not share everything with them

These are just a few of the ways this great feature could be the ‘killer’ feature that catapults Google+ into the mainstream very quickly.