Saturday, July 26, 2014

Facebook, Socialbility, & Organic Reach

Most website owners understand that social media is a mandatory element of any worthwhile online marketing campaign. Sadly, though, a great majority of so called "social media campaigns" misunderstand the basic essence of social media: sociability.

If you're marketing your business online, you would do well to consider this basic fact. Social media is not about talking to your customers. Social media is about sociability, connection, and interactivity--in other words, talking with your customers.

On a deeper level, social media marketing shares a similar goal with organic SEO: connecting customers with the precise products and/or services they're looking for. Most successful social media campaigns manage this connection by gracefully adding a personal dynamic to the conversation.

Many large companies employ professional tweeters, for example, to quickly respond to customer's tweets. The sad inverse of this dynamic is the small business owner who has set up a Facebook or Twitter account only to let it lie dormant for months or years.

This latter situation is similar to a website that has not been optimized for search engines. As Alex Stepman, the owner of Stepmans PC says, "You might be surprised to hear that many websites are merely high-priced business cards."

Why? Not all website developers build search engine-friendly sites—and if your site cannot be easily discovered by search engines, it is essentially invisible.

If you do have a search engine friendly-site, though, you should take the effort to create a successful social media campaign. If not, you might be missing a significant portion of your potential traffic.

Just yesterday, Danny Wong of Shareaholic reported some staggering numbers about Facebook:

"Easily the largest social network, Facebook commands the most clout among marketers and publishers hungry for referrals. Well-positioned for world domination, Facebook now drives nearly a quarter (23.39%) of overall traffic to sites and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Over the last year, its “share of traffic” has skyrocketed, up 150.49% (14.05 percentage points) from 9.34% in June 2013."

The equation is simple: if you're not connecting on Facebook you might be missing up to a quarter of all your possible traffic!

So what does successful connection look like?

Well, in the past year the dynamics of the Facebook algorithm have changed dramatically. Late last year, Facebook made the bold move of taking away the organic reach of page posts--meaning, simply, that brands could no longer simply post to their own page and expect a significant amount of traffic.
Instead, Facebook expected brands to pay for increased exposure.

In this case, again, the situation is analogous to organic SEO. For organic SEO, a true "organic" visitor is the result of a natural search: a browser typing a word or phrase into Google, say, and finding a certain website among the listed results. On Facebook, this scenario was a bit different, but still "organic": a brand's posts simply showed up on its follower's time-lines. 

On Google, the higher your website appears on the rankings the more visibility you will have, and this is why certain websites pay for visibility with ads or banners or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns. But a paid result is the opposite of organic, and it is often not what a browser is looking for--even though it appears on the first page of a search engine's results.

Unfortunately, Facebook has decided to follow Google's lead with paid advertising: to get real exposure on Facebook now, a brand must pay.

But that is not the only option! If you embrace the essence of social media, you might not have to pay a dime for a successful social media campaign. The key, of course, is sociability.

As Chris Crum of WebProNews wrote just yesterday:

"You may not get very far in the New Feed with the things you post on your own Facebook Page (at least without paying for it), but it would seem that you should still be doing everything you can to encourage users to share your content on the social network from your website and any other means possible."

Your best bet for encouraging others to share your content is to reciprocate. Share other's content. Converse with your followers. Be a part of the conversation! After all, as we wrote before, "SEO is About Creating Connections."