Evolve CommunicationsDigital Strategy

Posts Categorized: Digital Strategy

Who Says You Can’t Buy Friends?

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Recently, more than a few people have taken up the position that it’s a bad idea to “buy friends” on Facebook. And by “buy friends,” we mean to advertise to get people to “Like” your business page. Sure, it sounds icky, and seems to fly in the face of everything social media stands for: engagement, interaction, dialogue, etc.

Some reasons cited for not buying friends include:

  • Companies that help you buy friends are all spammy
  • Having fans that don’t interact can hurt your Edgerank
  • It’s better to earn fans than buy them
  • People you buy will never be as engaged with your page as people who find you organically

Are there companies out there who are “doing it wrong,” by buying friends? Sure. Are there some less-than-credible companies who are providing less-than-reliable Facebook advertising services? You bet!

Does that mean it’s a completely worthless medium? Absolutely not. In fact, when wielded properly, buying ads on Facebook can give a page a much-needed boost faster and more efficiently than simply growing connections with people organically.

Take, for example, American Estate Jewelry (full disclosure: AEJ is a former Evolve client). When we started working with this company, they had about 35 fans. Through a highly targeted campaign, we proudly boosted this to just over 1,000 in about two months for a relatively low investment. Today, well after the advertising campaigns ended, the fan page has more than 1,300 fans–the last 250 or so being won organically.

More importantly, engagement during the campaigns grew very rapidly, and keeps growing. We went from virtually no interaction, to several likes and comments per post every day (on average). This is clearly a case of advertising driving the initial introduction, with engagement produced through–you guessed it–relevant content.

The point here is that engagement levels change over time, which also means that Edgerank (Facebook’s method for determining what makes it to users’ individual walls), shifts over time. Like Google search engine results pages, Edgerank is not static! In terms of “buying friends,” having individual fans who are not closely connected to your brand might result in fewer Facebook feed impressions in the short run. But in the long run, as the business provides more relevant content on a more frequent basis, the more likely it is that those “bought” fans will see it.

For example, check out Nutella (not a client, but still one of our favorites!). Nutella has more than 11 million fans. In terms of engagement, though, roughly 2,000 – 10,000 individuals respond to any given post (likes and comments). Even if 20,000 people engage, that’s still only .18 percent of the total fanbase.

In case you couldn’t tell, we’re big believers in social media advertising. Why? Well, as Erik Qualman put it, “In the future we will no longer search for products and services; rather they will find us via social media.” There is no other medium currently available that allows marketers to target individuals the way Facebook does.

Our job as marketers is to help the products and services we represent find the right customers. The future of advertising, in many ways, is Facebook. As marketers, we need to be objective about our recommendations–but also recognize opportunities (for ourselves and our clients) to experiment a little.

We also need to recognize that buying fans (or any form of advertising for that matter) isn’t the be-all end-all of Facebook marketing. Instead, we should look at it as a small push down what could be a very steep hill.

 
Photo credit: Yes!Online


Five Ideas to Socialize Your Ad Campaign

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As we mentioned previously, baking social into everything you do is essential these days. But how do you actually do that? It needs to be more than simply building a website or presences on social networks. The days of build it and they will come are long gone, and quite frankly, have lost their novelty.

We believe the best way to do this is to create full, immersive experiences that live in both the real and virtual world. Here are a few tactics that Evolve helps agencies with:

  • Create social personas–make the people in your ads come alive as fictional characters on Twitter
  • Bring your campaign to life, literally–breath life into your concepts and have them play out in a public area. If it’s really interesting, people will capture it with images and video and post it to their social networks.
  • Buy Social ads–drive engagement with Facebook ads that allow you to finely tune your targeting. Or try promoted tweets. Why not, right?
  • Don’t just be a resource, be a connector–introduce people who need each other, online or hold an event
  • Create a mobile social game–mobile phones allow us to do so much, including letting us connect with people, places and things, in real time. Create a game that gets people out and connecting socially–with each other, with the real world, with your campaign.

It’s true that social media is best conquered as a program, and not a flash in the bucket. That said, these tactics can help you ad social aspects to your already creative and fun campaign.
 


How to Sell Search Engine Optimization

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NOTE: This is the fourth segment in our “How to Sell Series.” You can read other segments here.

So you’ve built your client a whiz-bang website. It looks great, captures visitor contact information to add to email lists, moves potential customers along the sales funnel and drives branding. But how are you driving traffic to it?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), of course. SEO is the process by which a website is optimized for certain keywords so that they appear higher in the search engine results.

Theoretically, agencies should be selling SEO services with every single website they build (unless, of course, the client doesn’t want their site to be found by search engines–and there are some out there). Yet, budgets being what they are, some clients choose to forgo SEO. Here are some tips to help agencies convince clients it’s worth the extra expense.

Basic beginnings of an SEO program

Oftentimes, when a client doesn’ t have budget to support a true SEO initiative, the agency will assure them that the site is built with “best practices,” in mind, meaning that the site architecture is built with searches in mind, that the copy is readable by both humans and search engines, etc. While that is sometimes the case (and sometimes not), the only true way to take advantage of SEO is to start with keyword research and analysis. By researching relevant keywords (in addition to those the client supplies), an agency will have a solid foundation to create the AI and start creating content.

For written content, the copy must be written in a way that balances what the search engines want and what visitors need. Fortunately, with the ever-increasingly sophistication of search engines, these are quickly becoming one and the same. It’s worthwhile to invest time and energy into copywriting that serves all those purposes simultaneously. And not all copywriters do this. For non-text content (images, video, etc.), it’s essential to properly tag them, as they are virtually invisible to search engines.

Taking these first steps are the basic steps that should be taken for all sites, and should be required. However, additional steps are needed for an SEO program to truly have an impact on the bottom line.

Kick SEO up a notch

One thing that all search engines love is fresh content. Once the SEO basics have been implemented, it’s essential to continue to keep site content new, relevant and interesting, and the easiest way to achieve this is blogging. The more you blog, the fresher the content, the bigger the impact on the site’s traffic.

But posting new content doesn’t always have to blogging. It could be video. It could be a podcast. It could be images that are regularly updated (just make sure any non-text content is properly tagged, so the search engines can find it).

The SEO Coup de Grace

If on-page optimization efforts are like a target for search engines to send traffic to, then inbound links are like arrows pointing the way. Inbound links back to a site tell search engines that what the information on the site is valuable, and this is particularly true when an inbound link contains relevant keywords.

There are many ways to obtain inbound links. Website and business directories are a great place to start, as search engines sometimes use these to help their indexing. Directory listings are also a more affordable way to garner inbound links.

More time-intensive methods can include blogger outreach and online community engagement (i.e. social networking), and social bookmarking. In each of these instances, it’s important to understand that the company is participating in a community with the goal of generating links back to its site. The key, of course, is participation, and not spamming. That means posting relevant information, and not just the client’s latest blog post. It also often can lead to relationship development, which in our opinion, is a key goal of participating in social media.

The bottom line is this: Building things is nice. Building things that people find useful is better. And building things that can be found (and then used) is best.