Facebook’s ‘Subscribe’ Feature a Boon For Your Content Strategy

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Thu, Oct 06, 2011 @ 12:00 PM

Facebook Subscribe ButtonThe introduction of Facebook’s subscribe feature in weeks past seemed at first to be a simple return volley to counter Google+’s asymmetrical user relationships, it does stand alone in one important factor:  Facebook’s established user base.

Technical discussions aside, the only reason that businesses care about Facebook, Google+ or any other social media in the first place is that they’re effective means for communicating with customers.  By adding the ability to subscribe to an individual or organization’s feed without entering into a more intimate relationship, Facebook, like Twitter and Google+ before it, is allowing businesses on its network to adopt a more traditional, broadcast-style content strategy. 

Allowing users to consume content through subscriptions empowers individual users to use Facebook for more than just socializing.  Ever wonder why Twitter became mass media’s favorite channel to the internet seemingly overnight?  The one-to-many, broadcast-style method of content distribution now enabled by subscriptions is more familiar to both businesses and users.  It simply fits most business' existing content strategies better than most social media.

While this won’t majorly change to the way the average user interacts with Facebook, it shows that Facebook is getting more serious about its relationship with businesses, especially content publishers.  If your digital content strategy includes blogging (which anyone’s should right now), the subscribe feature gives you easier access than ever to Facebook’s 800 million active users. 

After subscribing to some of my favorite blogs and thought-leaders’ profiles in Facebook, I’ve begun simultaneously using Facebook as a content aggregator like Google Reader and a social network.  I log into Facebook for the updates from friends and family, but quickly find myself reading formal articles and posts from the headlines appearing between new pictures of my niece and football smack talk. 

So what does this mean for your content strategy?  Your business’ blog posts can now get exposure every time your subscribers log into Facebook.  And since 400 million people log into Facebook at least once a day, your odds of gaining traffic, and generating more leads are looking pretty good.

If your company isn’t blogging, start now.  Deep, original content is now requisite for top Google rankings.  If you’re blogging, but not publishing to Facebook, create an account and encourage your readers to subscribe.  Setup is easy and the traffic available is rivaled only by Google.

However, publishing to Facebook is only half the battle.  Likes and visits to your blog are great, but they don’t generate revenue.  You’ve got to keep track of what Facebook activity is impacting your bottom line to ensure your work is worthwhile.  And while Facebook’s native Insights application can certainly help, it doesn’t always give you the whole picture.  At M.Y. Edge, we recommend using third party social media analytics solutions to connect your Facebook activity to your revenues.  The right tool for the job depends on your goals, reach, and budget.

To help businesses get the most out of social media marketing, we’ve researched the top social media analytics platforms on the market and distilled their strengths and weaknesses in our 2011 Social Media Analytics Review.  Download the guide for free!

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As Facebook’s proven with its latest updates, it’s serious about becoming a better tool for businesses and social users alike.  And as long as it continues to be the world’s social platform of choice, it will be an effective outlet for your organization’s content.

Tags: Content Strategy, Social Media, Blogging, Facebook

How Will Facebook's Updates Impact Your Social Media Strategy?

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 @ 03:35 PM

Xzibit FacebookAnother day, another much-maligned Facebook interface update.  But before you run off to post an obligatory "OMG WTF Facebook!" comment, why don't we take a look at what they've done, and the underlying reasons why they've done it?  Because, believe it or not, the point of these changes is not to frustrate you or give you yet another reason to contemplate leaving Facebook.

Firstly, there's a good case to be made that theseFacebook Recommends changes are in response to Google+'s stradling the personal social networking of Facebook and the interest oriented, one-way following of Twitter.  Facebook, it seems, wants to move users outside of their social circle by encouraging them to 'subscribe' to notable people like Pete Cashmore of Mashable or Bradley Horowitz of Google in my case.  These recommendations appear below the new, eye-catching ticker that updates in real time.  Is it a coincidence that Facebook started recommending these 'subscriptions' almost concurrently with its shiny new (sort of) Lists feature?  Does this remind you of anything we've seen before?

Speaking of the ticker, by simultaneously providing you with updates of all content in real-time and a more curated and prioritized look at what's going on across your social graph and among the pages you follow in the main feed, Facebook is further blending social content with broadcast business and informational content. This benefits Facebook by eliminating the need to switch your feed between the Top Stories and All Stories by providing both feeds to the end user at the same time.  Less channel surfing between feeds means that a higher likelihood that you'll see and interact with posts from content pages and ads, which makes Facebook a more attractive platform for businesses.

The placement of the ticker is no coincidence.  Previously, random event updates and picture thumbnails never provided a compelling or particularly eye-catching reason to pay attention to the right column, but with the ticker showing users what's happening right now, Facebook is drawing attention there, right above sponsored stories and ads, and the suggested subsciption box.  It's a better use of the space, and will no doubt get more users to see sponsored content, another win for Facebook.  Do you think they'll start feeding sponsored content into the ticker?

Overall, it seems that these most recent updates to the Facebook interface was implemented with an eye on Google+'s initial advantages, especially for business use.  But as Mr. Cashmore himself posted on Google+ today, this feature copying will be par for the course as each network vies for social media supremacy.

What do you think of the new Facebook interface, features, and Google+'s counterpunch?  Do these updates change Facebook's role your social media strategy?

Tags: Social Media, Facebook, Google+, Social Media Strategy

+1 for Business: Google+ Streamlines Social Media Marketing

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Mon, Jul 18, 2011 @ 01:13 PM

Google +1I tweeted last week that Google+ is already a “digital darling” mere days after its release into the wild, and based on the buzz coming from the press (no pun intended), I’m not the only one who thinks so.

After spending some time playing around in my own Google+ account, I’ve started to see why friends, co-workers and the media are swarming what I’ve heard some skeptics refer to as a “just another Facebook.” While at first glance, it bears more than a striking resemblance to Facebook, leading many to herald it as the ‘Facebook Killer’ or at least debate its status as such, my experiences with Google+ indicate that it’s far more than a simple Facebook competitor. In fact, as others have posited, perhaps Google+ is a bigger threat to Twitter than it is to Facebook.

Google+ adopts the same asymmetrical user relationship as Twitter (one user can follow another’s content without the other reciprocating) while granting users richer social networking features to rival Facebook. Google+ is just as useful for broadcasting content as it is for maintaining personal relationships. The parallels between traditional broadcast media and Twitter and the familiarity with how to take advantage of them are no doubt a major reason why businesses swarmed to the channel in the first place. And while Facebook has implemented similar broadcasting features with its news feed and later with dedicated Facebook Pages, Google+ allows you to broadcast to your existing social network without needing to direct friends to an entirely separate page, making it easier to leverage for marketing purposes.

While Google is hardly doing something revolutionary by combining the best features  of Facebook and Twitter, the centrality of Cirlces in Google+’s functionality provides users with a much more intuitive method of filtering their streams and publishing content for specific social subsets than either rival service does. By allowing users to segment their social network any way they wish, and using those segments as the basis for networking and publishing, Google+ elegantly navigating the privacy minefield that Facebook has seemingly hobbled through for years.

Everything Google+ brings to the table is good news for businesses. While Google is only supporting formal business accounts on an extremely limited basis at the moment, Google+’s asymmetrical relationships mean that marketers will be able to easily apply their Twitter strategy to Google+ while having their content displayed in-line with more socially oriented content to the end user. 

The mechanics of Circles allow businesses to segment their followers based on their level of engagement, tailoring content more appropriately to prospects and customers by their position in the funnel.  Additionally, independent contractors, small business owners, and other individuals wishing to leverage their personal social networks for business purposes can post promotional content to the appropriate connections without spamming social connections. 

Meanwhile, integration between Google+ and Google’s bread and butter search is inevitable, granting businesses more results page real estate as content posted through a business page appears alongside organic listings. Google needs only to integrate its suite of other business tools (AdWords + social targeting, product feeds and Checkout within business pages, etc.) with these already-apparent strengths to make Google+ an even more powerful marketing asset.

What we’re seeing with Google+ is a refinement of the social channel; taking the real-time broadcasting power of Twitter, combining it with the compelling social features of Facebook, and using them to augment Google’s already superior search capabilities. With social networking, content aggregation and sharing features making it easier for users to find the content most relevant to them, Google+ may have finally cracked the social search code, which is good news for users and businesses alike.

If you’re considering marketing your business or non-profit organization via Google+, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or any other social channels, our consultants can help you to choose the right channel, craft a sound strategy, build your following, and monitor your progress. If you’d like professional advice on any or all of these crucial steps in social media marketing fill out the Free Consultation form to the right and we’ll contact you, free of charge, to answer all your questions and put you on the road to social marketing success!

Tags: Social Media, Facebook, Google+, Search, Advertising, Integration, Twitter