Sam Harrelson

Facebook Marketing and Why EdgeRank Matters

Fantastic post from Copyblogger on where we stand (as of Dec 2012 since Facebook is constantly changing things up) on Facebook and its paid marketing platform…

The State of Facebook: What’s Working Now | Copyblogger: “Facebook constantly changes. Not all of those changes work the way they’re supposed to. And the user experience may not be the same from page to page.

Everyone’s audience is different, and responds to different types of content. So watch your own statistics, try different things, and track your results. The magic formula is creating the good content and engaging updates that your audience craves.”

In all of our work with Facebook and various marketing campaigns, the one rule we keep trying to communicate to our clients is that Facebook alone is not a silver bullet to more conversions, signups, sales or engagement. Real success is tied to a customized program with clear goals (we call this “discovery marketing” when tied to SEO, paid search and perhaps an email newsletter).

Facebook uses an in-house formula called EdgeRank to figure out how to display posts (sponsored and organic) on users’ timelines. This is an insanely important algorithm much like Google’s constantly evolving PageRank equation that it uses to serve up search results and many other facets of its umbrella service.

EdgeRank, however, is a visible equation. Unlike PageRank, we know exactly plays into Facebook’s algorithm. And it ain’t pretty for most folks.

The reason so many business owners and marketing DIY’ers fail at Facebook Ads (or don’t have the wherewithal to climb the learning curve) is the affinity score (represented by Ue above).

What is affinity exactly? That depends on the context of course. Here, affinity refers to how often a person interacts or engages (shares, likes, clicks, etc) your content in the past. That affinity score determines the rest of the equation. Affinity determines the next steps of weight and time decay in the setup.

How do you raise your affinity score to increase engagement?

Short answer is you don’t.

You start with compelling content geared at the right audiences and find the right balance of visual content, audio content, text content and ad buying decisions.

It’s a little moneyball, a little algebra and a lot of sticktoitiveness.

However, like all social media marketing, it’s doable.

And it’s exciting and organic.

And that’s what we do. Our goal is to buy wins.




Zappos Spends Up to $70k a Day on Facebook Ads

Wow…

https://twitter.com/DrewConrad/status/276407485198381056




Affiliate Site Twitter Profile Pages

If you’re using Twitter in conjunction with your other social media marketing plans for your affiliate site, don’t forget the important aspect of the design of your Twitter Profile page.

TheNextWeb has a nice practical guide for points to consider when doing so (it’s aimed at brand marketing folks, but still applicable for performance marketers)…

Tips for Twitter Brand Pages: “The header image can be used to direct the user’s attention to a specific item on the page, as was the case in HP’s example, or it can be used to promote an engaging marketing plan, as Staples did, with a competition. Using the header image as nothing more than a banner advert, as both McDonald’s and Coca-Cola did, wound up getting the least attention from viewers.”

Word of caution here… unlike Facebook Fan Pages or even Google+ pages, Twitter Profile pages area mixed bag. Yes, they are somewhat customizable and the new embedded media feature helps the look/feel. However, up to 1/2 (depending on whose numbers you trust) of Twitter users access the service via mobile or apps. I’d venture to posit (strongly) that most “power” users that are desirable for many niches are these types of app users (I rarey go to the main Twitter page and most of my network is similar).

So, design and test but don’t fret if you don’t see the type of interaction you do with a Facebook Fan page etc. Twitter, unlike Facebook, has lots of meaning in the message.




What is the Job of Social Logins on Your Site?

I wish Craig would have included his sources for which research he cites here…

Should You Use Social Login’s?: “Wondering  which social logins are the most popular option among users? Well, according to research, 42 percent of social logins use Facebook while the remaining alternatives are fairly equally distributed among Yahoo, Paypal, Google and others. If you can only select one form of social login…make it Facebook.”

Regardless, if you’re going to use social plugins for commenting, subscriptions, engagement, sharing etc on your site, I would hesitate to decide on just one to elevate unless you do your own careful research and heuristics on your actual site(s).

For instance, I have sites that receive the majority of their “social” traffic from Facebook and I have sites that receive virtually all of their social traffic from sites like Reddit and Twitter.

All traffic is not good traffic. Having passive visitors from Facebook that have nothing to do with performance marketing is grand, but doesn’t do much for the bandwidth costs of this site. Similarly, passive Twitter or search traffic that arrives at one of my niche book sites doesn’t do much for me (beyond pageview ego petting) compared to the Facebook or Amazon search traffic that supports and livens those sites.

So, as always, remember that your site is doing a job for people. Figure out what that job is for people and offer them the service that you would want if you were hiring your site to do a job for your mother. Limit their choices, walk them through the process, do friendly follow up and make them want to refer you and come back (as Jangro reminds us, make them yours).

Check your stats and see where the bulk of that traffic might be coming from and why and then decide if you want to elevate a social login (which you definitely should) service on your site.




More on Like-Jacking and Quality Traffic

Last week I posted about the rise of “Like-Jacking” on Facebook and why digital literacy is so important. The WSJ covers the issue this morning as well…

Spam Finds a New Target – WSJ.com: “A common social-spam attack on Facebook, known as “like-jacking,” involves duping users into clicking on an image that looks as if a friend has clicked the “Like” button, recommending it.”

When I first got my start in the online marketing world, I worked at an email marketing firm that helped spark the “Free iPod” phenomenon in exchange for just an email address and zip code. It was amazingly profitable and I soon learned why. People want freebies.

However, the quality of traffic was terrible and the lists were sold and resold so many times that any value they might have had were soon distilled into the ether.

The same holds true for Facebook Likes and retweets today and the growing realization that all traffic is not good traffic (especially traffic derived from passive social traffic that is unqualified and not valuable).




Why Freemiums Aren’t the Future Path

Interesting piece by Tac Anderson on the concept of Path as an Upstream Social Network (USN below) compared to traditional networks like Twitter and Facebook which he terms Downstream Social Networks (DSN below) and how USN’s could affect the engagement of marketers with lucrative data-rich networks:

What Path Teaches Us About The Future of Social Networks | @NewCommBiz: “Lets assume for a minute that as social networking evolves the social graph is filled with private USN and more open, commercial DSN. And what if most of those USN didn’t allow brands and advertising in? (Most of them will but humor me for a minute.) If marketeers and brands want to reach people inside their private USN, they need to be brought in by the members of those networks. Brands need to create experiences worth talking and sharing. A small example is when I shared my new Star Wars Moleskine I was going to be using on Path. You can see the reactions I got on Path as well as those I got on Instagram. Both of those went to Twitter and received their own reactions there.”

Basically, he ponders what if these Downstream Social Networks could thrive with a fermium model where brands and ads weren’t allowed to participate.

I’m not certain this will ever happen for a couple of reasons.

1) Social networks, unlike apps, don’t necessarily proliferate based on individual user experiences. Freemiums work on iPhone apps or even cloud based services that are more single user in nature. Social networks are, by their nature, commons that we don’t have complete control over and we’re more willing to make compromises on design, ads and privacy (hence Facebook).

2) The data-based nature of social networks is so lucrative that even new networks that are beautifully designed and based on the idea of limits (150 friends only, limited sharing etc) will certainly find more and better funding by relying on brands and marketers to subsidize the costs of running a network.

Path (and Facebook) can and should do all they can to encourage marketers to think above the “All Traffic is Good Traffic” blasting approach that many marketers use to get passive and relatively unqualified (and thereby low quality) traffic to their sites/offers/links and think towards better engagement based on some qualitative value in the exchange.

However, freemiums aren’t in our future for social networking.

This may all sound like it has more to do with brand advertisers than direct or affiliate marketers, but I’d argue affiliate marketing has the most to gain from the idea of interacting in these rich spaces of real human interactions and frictionless sharing.




Facebook Like-Jacking and Need for Digital Literacy

Interesting:

Criminals Used Affiliate Marketing Sites in Majority of Facebook Scams in 2011: The vast majority, or nearly 74 percent, of Facebook attacks in 2011 were designed to lead users to fraudulent marketing affiliate and survey sites, the report found.

Affiliate marketing was a “rich source” of income for scammers, according to Amir Lev, CTO of Commtouch.

First, it’s interesting to me that the writer focuses so much on how easy it is for scammers and “criminals” (a conviction is needed to be a criminal… just saying) to use the medium of what he broadly labels as affiliate marketing. The piece focuses more on survey type deals that were so popular with the “free iPod” craze of 2003-4 in the pre-CANSPAM era.

It’s pretty easy for the legitimate businesses he sources as being defrauded to check their logs and any affiliate manager or OPM worth their salt will catch this kind of scam traffic, especially if they are dealing with the lead based side of things in the CPA and lead gen areas.

The real heart of the piece should be about the need for better digital literacy among users of spaces like Facebook (especially if they are browsing on a Windows machine with IE6 or 7).

Cue Wayne Porter

“For criminals, it was not enough to just trick users, as criminals need to make sure the attacks spread and continue to trap other people, Commtouch said. They were most likely to trick users into sharing the links almost half the time, but also tricked users into copy-pasting malicious code to trigger a cross-site scripting attack or downloading malware. Rogue applications and “like-jacking”—which employs a malicious script on the page to convert any mouse clicks on the page as a “like” that is also visible to other users—were employed in about a third of the scams.

“In 48 percent of the cases, unwitting users themselves are responsible for distributing the undesirable content by clicking on ‘like’ or ‘share’ buttons,” according to Commtouch.”

It’s fascinating to me that many of the conversations Wayne and I were having back in 2008 about a future of social-engineered badware that would find virility through good-willed sharing are coming true in 2011 and even more so into 2012.

At the root of the issue isn’t affiliate marketing or how easy it is to scam businesses. Businesses have failsafes and checks in place to catch these things (ideally). Instead, we need to have more savvy users who realize the implications of sharing or liking a suspect link or article or site.

This sort of manipulation of otherwise trusting, naive or uninformed users of the web will only intensify as more people go on the web with mobiles and tablets in the coming five years.




AIM Mail Widgets: Webmail Finally Growing Up

I logged into my AIM mail account today. That’s not something I do frequently. However, if these new widgets I found waiting for me are any indication of future development, I may be giving AIM (how about AOL Mail?) a second look.

aim widgets.jpg

AOL is famous for having been a walled-garden portal in the past. However, as I wrote last week, AOL is really on the ball with the whole spirit of the open web by introducing ways to bring in content from such places (competitors?) as Yahoo Mail, GMail, Twitter, Facebook, etc on the main AOL homepage, which does millions of impressions every month.

And the results from this newfound embracing of openness are more engagement, more pageviews and more attention. AOL is on to something.

With these new widgets in AIM mail, you can integrate Yahoo Mail, contacts, AIM, AOL Finance, Mapquest, etc within your inbox. GMail has this same feature with its Labs platform, so it’s good to see competition there. The trick with AIM is that they are bringing in properties from outside the AOL universe (unless the AIM Mail team knows something about a Yahoo/AOL deal that we don’t). Nifty.

However, my main question is if this is a sign of the future? Will you eventually be able to update Twitter or your Facebook status (or send Facebook messages) within AIM or AOL mail as you can on the AOL home page? If so, that will be very compelling. Will I ditch GMail for AIM even if that happens? Perhaps not, but I will definitely take a second look at my AOL/AIM mail.

It’s time for web-based email clients to grow up and become platforms instead of proprietary gardens of in-house developers. I’m glad to see AOL is helping to make that happen.




How Not to Do B2B Marketing on Facebook

 

I’m sure Michelle is a nice person, but pitches like this (blasted out to a number of people) on social networks don’t work and only result in unfriending and avoidance.  I’m getting more and more of these on Facebook lately and they are much more annoying than “vampire bites” or “Funwall notices”…

pitchfail

“Hi!

We’ve launched a brand new FREE perfume/cologne club today. Please check it out as you can now try before you buy with ScentByMe.

Click here:

http://www.xxx.xxx

Also, forward to your friends who would like to be scent-sational!

Michelle”

Again, I’m not picking on Michelle, but people need to realize that these sorts of failpitches only damage your program.  If you’re going to pitch me like this on Facebook/Twitter/Flickr/etc, at least get to know me (so then I can tell you where to go after you pitch me like that).

As someone said on our social media marketing panel at Affiliate Summit in February, you wouldn’t walk into a dinner party where you didn’t know everyone and start pitching your Tupperware.  Apply that to social networks and oh the places you’ll go.  

 




Leveraging Social Media in Affiliate Marketing

samspeaking2.jpg

I’m doing a solo presentation on the Sunday of https://www.fusionquest.com/cgi-bin/main/hotlinks.cgi?aflt=afc1&client=affsumAffiliate Summit East in Boston about how to use “social” media in the context affiliate marketing.

My opening line is “you probably know of and maybe use Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, FriendFeed, Google Reader and Ning, but you are probably using them wrong if you’re connecting them with your affiliate program…”

I’ve got a rough sketch of how the rest of the hour will go, but I’d like to make sure I cover the bases you’d like covered. So, comment (or email, call, twitter, etc) below and let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like to hear about using social media in an affiliate program.

Affiliate Summit East 2008 Agenda: “Leveraging Social Media
Location: Harborview Ballroom 1
Time: 1:30pm-2:30pm

(This Session is Open to Full Conference Pass Holders Only)
This session helps affiliate marketers, networks and merchants recognize the power of adapting and adopting social media platforms into their programs for increased traffic, conversions and profit.

* Sam Harrelson, Director of Performance Marketing, Motive Interactive”

For instance, I’ve got close to 2,500 people following me on Twitter and the platform provides a nice stream of passive and active traffic (when Twitter is up). However, I don’t just throw affiliate or even site links up to get that traffic. There are very specific and practical steps that you can take to be a productive part of a community like Twitter and still derive benefits.

So, let me know what you’d like to hear…