Facebook

The 2013 Social Rich Media Benchmark Report

 

A new Social Media benchmarking report has compared 2000 Facebook posts, which had exposure on more than 2 billion impressions, from companies to determine the most effective combination of types of posts (updates, questions, polls), those that are sponsored vs organic and those with and without imagery.

As a quick excerpt, I’ve extracted one of the key slides, which demonstrates Paid vs Organic engagement across multiple post types. It’s interesting to see the ‘discovery’ nature of Social media coming through pretty strongly here. In notes, photos and offers – consumers are more than happy to engage with Paid posts from company’s (which they may or may not be following).

Paid vs organic engagement rate by post type - Facebook.

Paid vs organic engagement rate by post type – Facebook.

Download the full report, free, here.

 

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I also run a Google+ page, check out Digital Optimisation Reports for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.

 

 

“To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like”

Facebook ads

Facebook’s plea for more information to show you target ads.

OK, I’ll admit it, I’m curious. Very curious. I’ve hidden plenty of Facebook ads in my time. From FOREX trading companies to pregnancy advice (not sure how that one got there), all the way through to ‘win an iPad!!!’ I’ve blocked it all. And every time I do it Facebook makes an almost pitiful plea, to help them make more money from my personal information. If you’ve ever hidden an ad, or advertiser, from the right handside of your Facebook feed, you too will invariably have seen the words “To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like.”

Googling around, it seems not many people have actually gone through with it. The typical response I’ve seen in a few places is:

“To help us show you better ads, tell us what you like”… “I’d like no ads”. Funny. But it’d be less funny if Facebook started charging a monthly fee for access, so let’s assume that ads are going to be around for a while.

There are a few things about Facebook’s request that are interesting to me:

– Aside from my belief the click through rate on this must be staggeringly low, I can’t imagine that the completion rate is even worth talking about.

– Is this the worst or the best timed message on the internet? Sure the user has just hidden ads which annoyed them, but Facebook are offering the user the chance to not be so annoyed in the future – I honestly can’t decide if it’s genius or folly.

– What’s in it for me? As the consumer who will – post completion – just be shown more ads which hopefully are more relevant, what benefit am I really deriving from this exchange of time vs. ads?

– What’s in it for me part 2 – When Facebook are already making record profits, where’s the incentive to provide more information to help them make even more money?

Going where (probably) no one has gone before.

So what happens when you click on the link? What does Facebook ask? What don’t they know about me already that they need to know to show me even more relevant ads? Well there was only one way to find out.

I’ve clicked so you don’t have to.

The first thing you see is the screenshot below – the recommended pages.

Facebook recommended pages

Facebook recommended pages

I have to admit as first stages go, this was a bit underwhelming. I was expecting some sort of uber ‘let’s get to know you portal‘. Instead it’s just the typical ‘click on some pages we think you may or may not like, that are already pretty popular‘. Another part of the experience that makes this underwhelming is that Facebook aren’t really wanting to know me, they just want to be able to categorise and filter me based on existing parameters.

Note the language too “Get updates from your favourite businesses and brands.” OK, but not all updates from ‘my favourite’ businesses are advertising, and as a user I’ve just told Facebook I’m willing to give them more info about me to give me a better advertising experience. C’mon Facebook, this is your chance – ask me anything, let’s sit down and have a good ol’ chinwag!

Never the less, and putting all disappointment aside, I clicked on a random selection of pages and bravely ploughed on to step two. But….

Disappointingly short, and a missed opportunity.

Disappointingly short, and a missed opportunity.

OK, so that’s it. I’m actually really disappointed. Granted I don’t think that Facebook’s request for more information is particularly great – especially given that the general public probably couldn’t care less if Facebook make more money from more targeted advertising or not (except for the stock holders) – but this just feels like such a huge own goal… such a missed opportunity. If Facebook are going to go to the trouble of giving users the opportunity tell them more information to hopefully have a chance of seeing marginally less annoying ads at least do it better.

Yes the participation rates are probably incredibly low for this section of the website, but for those people who care, and are actually are willing to give Facebook more information for this purpose I can’t believe it just takes people to the ‘recommended pages’ link which is accessible at all times in a user’s page anyway.

So there you have it. It’s not a link to be scared of, but it doesn’t appear to be worth doing anyway, because in all probability the chance of you clicking on ‘Like’ for a page about George Takei, the local pizzeria, or some movie you may like and seeing less ads for baldness cures, FOREX trading systems or ‘local sexy singles in your area’ are really slim.

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Check out Digital Optimisation Reports on Google+ for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.

The new opportunities in the new Gmail

It’s been just a few weeks since the new Gmail inbox has been rolled out globally. And some have already declared it to be “the best thing to happen to email since the oldGmail“, and appropriately that ‘best thing’ has been spearheaded by the team at Gmail. Already in the short time it’s been live, MailChimp’s analysts have said they’ve seen a drop in open rates, however others, such as the team at Hubspot and ExactTarget have said they’ve either seen minimal or no impact at all to open rates.

what is the new New Gmail ?

Why the change and how does the new Gmail inbox work?
The Gmail team have taken Google’s 300 year plan ‘to sort the world’s information’ and applied it to what the Gmail team clearly recognised as a problem. And, what is that problem? It’s two fold.

First is that with additional storage comes additional lethargy to deleting old emails, this creates bulk and completely un-required weight to your email account.

The second problem is that relatively low value communications such as Facebook notifications of a friend tagging you in a picture of sushi and Sale reminders from that store you’ve never quite managed to get around to unsubscribing from, sit directly alongside and even get in the way of your really valuable information such as flight reminders, hotel confirmations, meeting requests and other tangibly valuable communications.

The primary change you immediately notice is that Gmail is now pre-sorted. Pre-sorting is based on a users history, frequency of contact and engagement, as well as who the sender is. Users no longer need to use the filters and folders on the left hand side which they  may have been carefully crafting over the last couple of years and most importantly for the changes are likely to mean a reduction in searching through potentially thousands of old emails for that one that was saved because it was important.

Check out this explanatory video from the Gmail team for a short overview.

How many tabs can I have?
At this stage it appears users can have up to 5 tabs, and three come turned on as standard. The five tabs are:
Primary (default) – What users will see by default when logging in. Featuring comms from people you know, and starred messages.
Social (default) – All social sites are sorted in here – twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram etc
Promotions (default) – Where most marketers emails will now go. Sales, promotions, and information from companies.
Updates – notifications and service updates (changes to twitter terms of service or Google’s Play store etc)
Forums – updates from forums and online communities.

“We do much more than promotions…I want to be in the primary tab!”


Getting into the Primary tab
Reading the list above some email marketers may have just experienced a cold sweat, exclaiming ‘Promotions! We do much more than promotions, my email is important, I want to be in the primary tab!’

The good news is this, if you’re making genuinely content rich valuable emails then chances are you’re already on your way to getting into the primary tab. There are two known ways of getting into the primary tab:

– Your email subscribers can drag your email from the Promotions tab and into the Primary tab.

– Google continues to learn and those email subscribers who have higher frequency engagement will increase the likelihood of your email being assigned to the primary tab naturally by Google.

Avoid being spammy. I haven’t been able to find anything concrete about this, but if the updates to SEO (as evidenced by Penguin) is any guide, being spammy is a big no-no and could result in being penalised at some point down the track. Requesting  your users  physically move your email to the primary tab is one such example. It feels cheap and it’s a fairly obvious ‘gaming the system’ mentality that I’m sure Google have already considered how to tackle. Additionally, if you’re only going to get your subscriber base to do something, it should be spent on asking them to do something much more useful like engaging with the content and products you’ve lovingly laid out in the email.

The consistent theme for Email, Social, SEO
Email marketers have been content focused for much longer than old-School SEO’s and to some degree Social media managers. Email databases live and die on the quality of content delivered. Even for those who know this fundamental truth it’s still important to step back and think more broadly about what this change means for email and Social and SEO.

These changes represent a fundamental shift in not just the role content plays, but ups the level and importance in the quality of it. Once again Google is pushing a better experience, and as marketers we can’t sit on our laurels and churn out ‘Top 10’ lists, Infographics and ‘How to’s’. This is consistent with the Penguin changes to SEO, and the basis of Social Media.

Summary
The new Gmail is better for users, sorting what Google knows is important without hiding what you’ve signed up for. The opportunity for your business to stand out is more than ever reliant on your content strategy and strong engagement. Getting content right, and integrating it into Social and SEO objectives gives you the best chance of your email thriving.

 

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Check out Digital Optimisation Reports on Google+ for the latest analysis and studies of best practice Digital marketing and optimisation from around the world.

Is Microsoft about to dump Bing?

A piece out of Business Insider today, by Matt Rosoff argues that maybe Microsoft is giving up on Bing. It’s a quirky question, businesses of this size don’t usually give up on products that are growing like Bing is. But nontheless Matt has some decent points, as below.

microsoft bing

Earlier today, Google and Mozilla renewed their deal to make Google the default search engine in the Firefoxbrowser for another three years.

This seems like Microsoft passed up a great opportunity to get more traffic to Bing. Right now, Firefox has about 25% market share and is used by more than 400 million people. According to Comscore, about 75% of the searches conducted from Firefox go to Google. (Users can manually select Bing or another search engine, but most don’t.)

Last year, Google paid Mozilla about $103 million for the right to be the default search engine. (That’s 84% of the Mozilla Foundation’s total $123 million, as per its 2010 financial statement, which were released in October — PDF here.)

That’s chump change for Microsoft. Even if the deal was much more expensive this time around as both companies bid up the price, Microsoft blinked first. Why?

Microsoft had no comment, but here’s one possibility: Microsoft has already reached its market share goal with Bing and is tightening the wallet to bring expenses under control.

The evidence:

  • Microsoft decreased Bing’s marketing spend last quarter. The Online group’s operating loss decreased for the first time in ages last quarter. That’s partly because sales and marketing expenses for the Online group dropped 25% last quarter (compared with the year-ago quarter). That’s a big shift from the previous four quarters, where sales and marketing expenses for Online rose 5% from the previous year.
  • It’s letting Bing talent migrate. Back in April, a former Bing engineer wrote that Microsoft was no longer spending big bucks to retain the best talent — instead, it was paying “far below market rates.” This year, two top Bing leaders — Satya Nadella and Yusuf Mehdi — took jobs elsewhere at Microsoft, suggesting that they saw more opportunity elsewhere (or that Steve Ballmer wanted to shift top talent away from Bing).

While Matt’s points are well argued he fails to address the fundamentals about why destop oriented browser based search may not be as appealing now, for Bing’s future. Businesses don’t make decisions like the size and scale of this one based on today’s conditions, they make them based on at least a 5 to 10 year window.

I’m not entirely convinced Microsoft is giving up on Bing at all. It could be that they’re recognising that desktop based browsers aren’t going as important in the future as it’s going to be – with the rise of mobile and tablet devices and growing search volumes, and it is because of Firefox that more people are willing to check out other browsers like Chrome, Opera etc.

It’s also worth considering that Google gave up it’s Twitter access a few years ago now, but no one seriously suggested that Google wasn’t taking search seriously. I wonder if they’re regetting that decision now?

Finally, it’s worth considering which search engine picked up exclusive access to Twitter, and also has exclusive access to Facebook – yep, that’d be Bing. Social Search – the seamless integration of arguably the world’s two largest Social media platforms and search data will be invaluable for both customer experience and algorithmic learning.

Perhaps it’s not that Microsoft didn’t want Firefox, perhaps it’s that they just think they don’t need it as much – because in the next few years social media sites are going to become even more important desinations than they are today and less people will use Search to get there.

Why doesn’t Facebook optimise their signed out pages?

With all the talk about Google+ and its potential impact on Facebook, there is little disagreement amongst many industry observers that Facebook needs to up its game a bit.

But why wait for Google+ to put on the pressure?  Even basic things, like sign out pages offer huge opportunities for mobile, tablet and other product and service adoption. In-fact Twitter and Linkedin have been doing something similar, but independent from each other, for over a year now.

Namely, they’ve been using their ‘signed out’ pages as ways of driving one final message: mobile and tablets apps and integration. It might sound like a small thing, but when you consider how many tens of millions of users each social network has, and how many times per day, week and month sign out pages would be seen globally, the reason for not using it to push a message is drowned out. The ability to push one last message during the customer experience before they leave is invaluable. Not using it for a purpose, other than to directly sign back in – as Facebook uses it – seems like a lost opportunity.

Even at just 1 percent of Facebook’s approximately 500 million users, seeing the ‘logout’ page everyday that’d equal 35 million page views per week, or 140 million pageviews over a four week period. That’d mean Facebook’s logout page alone would receive more/rival traffic volumes than even the largest media websites.

Three screenshots of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin’s pages a user goes to once signed out, are below.

Twitter – signed out page

Twitter.com sign out screen

Linkedin – signed out page

Linkedin sign out screen

Facebook – signed out page

Facebook sign out screen

UPDATE, as per a question: So just how many pages could Facebook’s ‘logout’ page be serving each day, week or month?

Back of the envelope guesstimate using fairly conservative numbers:
500 million users, minus 20% of completely non-active accounts = 400 million users.
30% of 400 million users use the site on any given day: 120 million users.
Of 120 million daily users:
@ 30% log out every day: 40 million pages served a day, 240 million ‘logout’ pages every week.
@ 20% log out every day: 24 million pages served a day, 168 million ‘logout’ pages every week.
@ 10% log out every day: 12 million pages served a day, 84 million ‘logout’ pages every week.

It is indeed a pity they’re not using it more effectively.