Will brands ditch Facebook in 2014?

stacks of 100 bills

Facebook is playing games with your timeline. This has always been the case, as timelines don’t work like Twitter feeds where you see every Tweet in real time from the people you follow. But anyone who has created a Page on Facebook and built a follower base is now realizing that most followers no longer see their Page updates. Facebook is manipulating its algorithm so that only a small percentage of page updates are seen by followers. Then of course, they prompt you to pay Facebook so that more of your followers will see the update.

Facebook wants revenues, and in many ways that has resulted in Facebook finally jumping the shark for brands, bloggers and publishers. If you’ve spent time and money building your Facebook following, you have to be upset by this. What’s the point of taking the time to update a Facebook page if only a handful of followers will see it?

This article explains the dilemma for Facebook and cites this post from a blogger and author about her frustrations with Facebook.

We’ve experienced the same thing with our sites. We’ve methodically built a Facebook following the right way, doing it organically. But posts that were seen by 500 people are now only seen by less than 100 people. The bottom line is that Facebook will not be a source of online or mobile traffic unless you pay Facebook. Sorry, but as Mark Cuban explained, Facebook will no longer be the top social media priority for brands when there are other options out there that don’t limit which followers can see posts.

Facebook will still be important simply from a branding point of view. Brands have to have a Facebook presence these days due to the size of the network, as consumers will seek out a brand’s Facebook page sometimes in lieu of a brand’s website. So having a presence with excellent content and regular updates will still be important. But now it probably makes more sense to update a brand’s Facebook page only once or twice a week with excellent content that conveys the brand message as opposed to daily updates. Think of it as an organic billboard for the brand. But unless you’re willing to spend big dollars, you’re better off moving away from Facebook for specific promotions or as a way to drive consumers to your page. Brands can cuts costs by shifting away from Facebook and building Facebook followers towards services like Twitter where the efforts to drive engagement are rewarded.

These developments present an ominous problem for Facebook. We’ve clearly moved well beyond Mark Zuckerberg’s original vision of creating something “cool” that people will want to use. And that’s understandable as Facebook is now a public company and needs to drive revenues. Of course selling out was inevitable. But have they gone too far? The tradeoff between the user experience and the blatant push to get brands, publishers and bloggers to pay up so that users who “Liked” their pages can actually see updates has become obvious to everyone using the system, and the Facebook brand will suffer. When I post something to our accounts, and then see only a handful of our followers will see the post unless we pay up, I begin to resent the brand. Facebook becomes a typical, blood-sucking corporation as opposed to a cool service that lets users see updates from Pages they decided to follow. It’s now a racket.

In the short term, this strategy is working. Facebook’s revenues are booming as they have gamed the system they have created. But we’ve seen before that things can change quickly in today’s world as new technologies disrupt the status quo. Young people have already abondoned Facebook because that’s where their parents can monitor them. Sure, they’ll probably come back when they go off to college and want to keep in touch with friends. But Facebook is now alienating the entire blogosphere. Bloggers and publishers are already being squeezed by decling advertising revenues. They don’t have the budget to pay for visits, so they’ll move away from Facebook if there’s no benefit to building a follower base. Brands that do have budget will also see diminishing returns for building a follower base, so at some point they will shift their social media budgets.

It’s difficult to bet against Facebook, and this column has nothing to do with Facebook’s stock. It has to do with the company’s product, and the obvious fact that Facebook is manipulating its service to drive revenues as opposed to improving the user experience. At some point, this will probably catch up to them.

Twitter has successful IPO

Twitter’s IPO went very smoothly, unlike the rocky debut experienced by Facebook shares. The stock closed at $44.90 per share, up considerably from the $26 IPO price. Twitter founders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams also made out nicely, as they agreed to lockup agreements in lieu of selling shares through the IPO. Both are billionaires on paper.

Now we’ll see if Twitter can now live up to this IPO hype. It’s an incredible services, but its revenue and profit numbers are much smaller than those of Google and Facebook when those companies went public. We’ll see what kinds of revenue-generating projects they are willing to consider, and whether users will have a problem with any of them.

Twitter keeps screwing with my email notification settings

Twitter email notification abuse screen shot

I hate it when awesome social media services like Twitter get so big that they become desperate to drive more growth. It’s one thing to keep improving the user experience, but it’s quite another to manipulate settings in a lame attempt to drive more engagement.

Twitter keeps messing with my email notifications across my various business accounts. I don’t want my email inbox flooded with useless email notifications from Twitter, so I shut them all off. But the folks at Twitter keep adding more reasons to send you an email, like “Someone shares a Tweet with me” and “Someone from my address book joins Twitter.” Naturally, their default option is to have the box checked, so even if you wipe all the email options clean in your settings, Twitter keeps adding new reasons and then checking them so you get more emails.

Enough. Please stop. This is just ridiculous. Please add an option at the top that let’s me tell you I never want to receive any emails from Twitter.

Parents holding Facebook back

Would you invite your parents to a party you’re having with your friends? Probably not, unless you’re maybe 35.

This reality helps explain why teens and college kids are spending less time on Facebook – their parents are there as well. This is obviously very bad for Facebook, which is having all sorts of problems since it went public.

I remember hearing teens I know tell me how they use Facebook less and have moved to new options like Twitter. They didn’t mention their parents, but the reason was obvious.

It’s not the only issue of course. Social media has made some teens much more careful about who they have around when they do stuff like smoke and drink, as everyone now has a camera on their phone. The times they are a changin’!!

5 Ways that Social Media Changed Marketing Strategies Forever

Social media has forever changed the way that many businesses conduct marketing campaigns. In fact, it has changed how many companies perceive marketing in general. How? There are a number of ways but below are the top 5 ways that social media marketing has affected strategies that businesses choose to promote their products and services.

1. Social media has definitely affected the way that companies deal with their target audience. Because of social media, you can better understand what your audience wants and learn about these wants in real-time. Facebook and Twitter give you instant access to people in the here and now. You can find out what they want and give it to them all in just a few moments time.
2. You also have a direct link to your audience now. You can effectively cut out the middle man and deal with your customers on a more personal level. This allows for more straightforward conversations and enables your audience to be more honest with you about their needs.
3. Because you have the ability for real-time conversation, you also have the ability to measure your company’s progress much better. You can control your conversations and react instantly, giving your customers a more positive overall experience with your business.
4. It goes without saying that social media enables you to enjoy different strategies with regards to advertising. It also enables you to engage your customers and allow them to be part of the conversation. You are no longer speaking to them – you are now speaking with them. Community engagement is crucial when it comes to overall business success.
5. You can now influence your customers as an expert in your field. Through blogs and other social media interaction, you can provide your customers with information that they need. You have changed from a business owner to an influencer and expert which will tell your customers that you are serious about your business and know how to help them to solve their issues.

This article was written by Custard Media, the UK’s leading social media marketing agency.

Erin Andrews and the perils of Twitter for celebrities

Erin Andrews of ESPN talks to a reporter as she arrives for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, April 30, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT)

Erin Andrews has advice for celebrities who decide to use Twitter. Andrews has a huge following, and she explains how famous people need to have thick skin to handle all of the tough comments thrown their way.

“There’s so many great things you can do with Twitter: get a message out; try to help people in need. I think the biggest thing you have to know with Twitter, and anything else from a blog to a newspaper, is that you just have to have a thick skin,” she said during a media luncheon for the 25th season of GameDay in New York last week. “You just have to let it roll off. You can maybe cry about it privately with your family. Talk about it by yourself. But you just can’t respond. It’s too dangerous.”

Tweet at your own risk.

Shaq retires on Twitter: #thismeansnothing

Jeff Morgan isn’t too impressed with Shaq’s Twitter announcement that he’ll retire.

Shortly after the announcement – a 15 second video clip in which a cheery Shaquille said “I’m about to retire. Love you.” – the tech blogosphere lit up, thrilled that such a mainstream event had been announced over the web. Some said it “proves the power of Twitter.” But how? Perhaps the only thing bigger than Shaquille O’Neal’s physical form is his online presence. He has nearly 4 million followers on Twitter and 2 million Facebook fans. His real world celebrity status still exists on the internet – what is so powerful about that?

Check out the entire article. In the end, Shaq was hyping a new service called Tout which let’s you upload 15 second video clips and send them out on Twitter. It was really just a PR stunt, and in that sense it worked!

Maintaining a Successful Twitter Campaign

twitter tweet

Is Twitter a good fit for you?

Some time ago, I did an article on deciding if Twitter is a good fit . While it’s a simple concept, it’s really something you should take a hard look at before you decide to jump on the social bandwagon. There is a great deal of work involved in developing a successful twitter presence, and before you dive into that amount of work, you should make sure you and twitter are a good match.

I Need to Tweet, now what?

I wrote a rather thorough article on running a successful twitter campaign, but the basic ideas are:

  • Post things that are of general interest to your readership.
  • Space your posts out so that you don’t fire them all off at once.
  • Make your posts when the internet is most active.

    The problem is that it’s very time consuming to do the above. Luckily, there is a tool called “Pluggio” that does all of the above for you.

    Make your way to the links above for the full story on how to maximize your twitte coverage while minimizing your effort.

Bloggers pitching products

The shift from old media to new media is accelerating, and now more companies are using bloggers to help deliver their brand messages. Here’s an interesting example from Vaseline.

If you’ve been complaining about dry skin on the Internet, Vaseline may have heard you. With winter just around the corner, the brand is announcing a new advertising campaign for its Vaseline Intensive Rescue skin cream product, sold by Unilever. The campaign represents the first time Vaseline has used crowdsourcing to find product spokeswomen.

“The core of the idea here is to find women where they talk about this problem,” Anne Jensen, the senior brand building director for beauty care in the Unilever personal care division, said of the company’s decision to the scour the Web looking for women who were talking about their dry skin.

Vaseline worked with the New York office of the agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty on the campaign to restage the brand with things like new packaging and product improvements and to find women bloggers who could represent the campaign.

“Most Vaseline campaigns are rooted in real stories by real people. That’s what makes it authentic,” said Ashley Bekton, group business director at Bartle Bogle.

The agency worked with a subcontractor to crawl the Internet for conversations around words like “dry skin,” “lotions” and “skin issues,” and to scan blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for conversations people were having about those topics.

The company ended up selecting three bloggers who will write about their experiences and be spokespersons for the brand. Interesting stuff.

At least the approach is methodical. Some companies think they can hire a couple of interns to run Twitter and Facebook and all will be well . . .

Kevin Smith is an online god

You know Kevin Smith as a very successful movie director, despite the recent box office disappointments. He’s also become quite a force online, with a huge Twitter account and a very popular podcast – called the SModcast.

Wired recently caught up with Smith and he gave them a very funny interview in which he discussed his social media popularity.

Wired: But online, you can do just that, right? You seem to have amped up your Web presence since that movie.

Smith: Oh, I’m online all the time now. I’m not an outdoorsy type. Everything I do that’s not related to filmmaking or child-rearing or trying to fuck my wife is online. The medium of Twitter is built for me. I recently did a 24-hour tweetathon, and people asked me how I did it. I said, “The only difference between this and my normal regimen is that I let you know I was doing it.” I have 1.6 million followers—this army of people who think like me. There aren’t enough of us to invade a whole country, but we could probably take Quebec.

Wired: They’re numerous enough to put a book-length collection of your blog posts on best-seller lists and fill auditoriums to see you talk about whatever pops into your head.

Smith: Yeah, I used Twitter to sell out Carnegie Hall. My dream is to never have to take a real job again. If my next movie bombs and nobody ever gives me another dollar to make more, I wouldn’t care. I don’t need to do it anymore. I was never convinced that the film thing would last anyway. It just made me interesting enough to have a Web site.

Smith also discussed the tweetathon recently with Will Harris on Bullz-Eye.com.

I thought it was awesome. I’ve been training for it for, like, 15 years, though. We’ve been on the web since 1995, so I guess that’s actually 14 years. But I was ready. I was always curious, because I’ve spent hours upon hours on the web answering questions over the years, but the one that I’d never done was do it for 24 hours straight. I was kind of curious: “Can I pull it off?” And, alas, I could. (Laughs) It’s a mean feat. It’s not like someday my kid’s gonna be standing over my grave, and somebody’s gonna hang her a folded flag and say, “You know what? This is ‘cause he did 24 hours straight on Twitter.” But it’s just one of those little personal victories, like, “I wonder if I can do this.” And I did it. A stupid goal, but I accomplished it. Life’s all about…for me, at least…having very stupid achievable goals. That way, you always feel like a winner.

This interview also goes into great detail regarding Smith’s Smodcasts. The guy really gets this stuff.

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