Facebook Pages is officially targeting Social Media Marketing Platforms for a Take Down

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Facebook is at it again, taking another shot at business pages by destroying your Social DNA. In recent past, Facebook has messed around with its new algorithm to make it more difficult for business pages to build their EdgeRank or Social DNA. The latest blow comes in the form of two new rules which will take down your content development and marketing efforts. In its latest post on the changes, Facebook engineers has doubled down on two critical factors that make up your EdgeRank.

EdgeRank

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Like-baiting

“Like-baiting” is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive.

People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we survey people and ask them to rate the quality of these stories, they report that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares. Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about.

The improvement we are making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.

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Frequently Circulated Content

People and Pages on Facebook frequently reshare great content, but people tell us there are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again.  We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them.  We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.

What’s clear now is that Facebook is clearly on the war path with Content Marketing Platforms such as Hootsuite, Buffer and a host of Social Media Marketing platforms which are taking away advertising dollars away from Facebook. If you post often, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will get featured. And if for some reason the same picture gets shared, chances are it won’t be shown.

Where is my Social DNA dude?

For Facebook Pages,  your Social DNA or EdgeRank needs these two the most. First, let’s examine Like-baiting. This is what makes your content relevant where you can reach out to an organic audience. People who have never heard of you will hear of you from their friends who repost and comment on your content.

Your content is worth sharing, that sounds cool but Facebook doesn’t want that anymore. Instead, any form of Like-baiting will be taken down in the Newsfeed Algorithm. Regardless of what they tell you that your Pages post are safe, there is no denying that Facebook’s new newsfeed content algorithm will affect you. First, what is a genuine post and what is not? Can the new algorithm decide on such a difference? If you were a bakery making a new line of cakes and wanted your audience to like them, would that constitute like-baiting? What about a Pages contest that ask you to like and share it with your friends? Is this illegal now?

Here, your social engagement will be nullified and there is no Content Marketing platform in the world that will save you from this. Good content gets shared. Engaging content gets commented on. Now that this is out the window for you, Facebook wants you to promote your newsfeed content for a better reach with $$$!

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spamming a popular post is possibly the only way you can get someone to notice

Frequently Curated Content is probably the best way to go viral. Different people who like your video will post in their own language. This localized type of sharing is what creates a bigger reach for content. Sometimes people repeat the content that you posted because Facebook has HIDDEN it from the newsfeed! Your friends never saw what you posted earlier and for that, it messes with the content newsfeed to ensure the same content won’t get seen unless of course you boost the post. This also means Facebook is demanding that you promote your post in your newsfeed by paying for it to be seen!

Facebook is all about Money

Social Media Marketing platforms are now taking a severe hit. Sad but true, you have no choice but to ante up on those Facebook credits just to stay ahead of the game. Even services like Hootsuite will be taken down a few notches. What use is your content marketing and management efforts when the Facebook Newsfeed algorithm doesn’t play nice with your content? You can share something that doesn’t show up on your fan’s timelines and even if you do, there is a good chance that it will be limited to just a handful of fans and not the broader fan base. Facebook does not tell you your organic reach per post.

Facebook has come out to say they recognize the big brand names. So if you have a smaller competing brand, chance are you don’t stand a chance. A big brand can throw a hundred thousand into a campaign and you miserly $100 isn’t going to get you a comment. The reach of an average Business Page post is in the ballpark of 8%. This means only 8 out of 100 people will see your post. The numbers go up once you ante up by paying Facebook to promote that post you made. More money means more fans will see the post.

What Brands does the Facebook Algorithm recognizes?

Based on current observations, the brands that enjoy a wider reach will be those like Musicians, bands, long dead book authors and team sports. Facebook prioritizes newsfeed items based on your hobbies and interest. As a new brand owner, you won’t enjoy these privileges.

Social engagement cost time and money. Content development cost money too. But now with Facebook jumping queue and coming to you with an outstretched hand asking for some dough, will you be able to turn them down?

What it Means for You?

Less casual posting, more money into content development. Save your ammo for the best content to post instead of just staying within eyeball reach. Create an online strategy for engagement to build and audience and , have a budget for Facebook promotions because you are going to need it! Set aside a few hundred dollars at least. US$300 is a good start and see where it goes. If that fails to make a dent, chances are you’re better off with Twitter, Pinterest, G+ and Instagram.

Remember that getting a LIKE for you Page isn’t going to generate a dime in ROI. That’s overly optimistic. You need to feed this repeatedly with each post. The budget for each content posted and the ballpark should be US$8 for those with 1,000 and up to US$50 for 5,000 fans or followers. This is the burn rate you have to live with. When you promote a post, Facebook determines this rate automatically and tells you to double down on those credit card details. There are no returns for this sort of investments except to build your fan base. A paid reach has a higher chance of success for any content that elicits a response from your followers.

Build up your EdgeRank or Social DNA from there and as you reach the optimum goal of say 10,000 fans. Having a bigger fan base is far too expensive to support unless you got plenty of money in the bank for Zuckerberg Inc. This means you need to develop loyal customers to your service quickly with each post and not carpet bomb the newsfeed with curated content. Curated content has very little room to outmaneuver the newsfeed algorithm. Once people see these and don’t react to it, your content will be wasted, this also creates bad Social DNA. You need to have reactions and comments in all your post to get a boosted EdgeRank. All this takes time and you can’t waste it on curated content. If you are going to put money into developing engaging content, do it with conviction. Those cheap stunts are not going to return any eyeballs and with the clock ticking on the time decay algorithm, chances are the post will be forgotten.

Online businesses advertising their latest wares on Facebook pages will have to pay up to get the newsfeed noticed. You can get around this by asking your followers and fans to subscribe to your Twitter or Instagram feed for updates. Reward them for following you. Facebook alone isn’t viable anymore.

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What Makes up your Social DNA on Facebook, the EdgeRank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Video revises Copyright Algorithm

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No more messing around with those songs and videos which you have spliced from movies. Facebook is at it again, this time taking on copyrighted videos and songs posted by users to the social media site.

It won’t affect you as long as you don’t post a song/movie/video via manual uploading. This means that if you spliced that cute video of your kid playing in the garden to the tune of Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel, chances it will be rejected if you tried to upload it directly to Facebook servers. Apparently this also applies to Brands whose commercial contain copyrighted songs that are uploaded to Facebook directly.

What Does this mean for Content Developers?

Well, it won’t hurt the large brands as much. They can appeal the decision via the link provided once any sort of copyrighted songs and videos are detected.

fbcopyWhat’s amazing about this detection algorithm is that it taps a huge database of music and video signatures and you can’t possibly bypass this. No more free rides for you baby! That’s what Facebook is saying but more importantly, it hopes to avoid any possible lawsuits from copyright owners. Those affected by this new ruling would be those who fall in the following categories.

Fan Page Owners: you can’t post short clips of movies or video taken directly from copyrighted material

Business Page Owners: Who use copyrighted music in background video clips

Personal Pages: You can splice and cut your own music video by adding copyrighted music

No Way Out

You can still link a video from a third source like Vimeo or YouTube without them asking for it to be removed so that’s about all the bandwidth you can have for now. Facebook seems to want original content, in the same way YouTube wants original content. This means you gotta get more crafty with your content development. Maybe even resort to using local music that isn’t copyrighted.

What’s more, Facebook hopes to save on those gazillions of megabytes in storage once you stop uploading anything remotely copyrighted. Sounds like a good idea for now but let’s see how far it is headed.

DMCA Takedown

With other video sharing sites, the applicable laws pertaining to DMCA will suffice. Say that an offending video or music has been used on a YouTube post, it is up to the copyright owner to launch a complaint. Failing that it stays up. Copyright owners are loath to use DMCA as it means a full time division has to be set up to police the Internet. So many of the stuff shared on YouTube stays there until someone discovers it. But not with Facebook. They don’t need a DMCA complaint filed against you to take you down. They do it the moment they detect a copyright infringement with an algorithm database.

So if you happen to have a video to share with friends, please remember to avoid using Facebook. That’s the best way to stay kosher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responsive Web Design for Mobile

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I want a website! I don’t want one that SUCK! What Should I do?

In the old days, at least during my time, the only option to show off your website was to create one on a web host with code. Then came desktop programs like Pagemill from Adobe that sort of help iron out the rough edges but that was no guarantee it would not suck! The problem back then was browser compatibility (it is still the problem now but to a lesser extent). The only way to bypass that was to use Adobe Flash (hence its popularity).

Since Adobe has scaled back on its support for Flash, it has become a veritable nightmare for browsers as a new breed of surfers emerge to take its place. These new breed of web surfers are now referred to as mobile web traffic.

Mobile Web took off in a big way in the 21st century. Data has to be transmitted and understood by devices with a peculiar set of protocols. In its day, WAP and Docomo’s i-Mode were highly popular and due to limited bandwidth on mobile, TCP/IP standard didn’t enter mainstream until much later in the late 90s thanks in part to EDGE/3G services giving you much faster data access.  I won’t bore you with the details but responsive web design in the old days meant that you had to put up a WAP site along with your standard website. I-mode in  was only happening in a handful of countries before it died prematurely in the hands of the iPhone. The iPhone in particular spearheaded the rapid demise of all other mobile protocols.

Now, why would you want to put up a website to meet the demands of both desktop web surfers as well as mobile surfers? Good question. According to Gartner and Cisco’s report, the dominant traffic of the Internet future will be from mobile devices!

  • The Gartner Institute is projecting over one billion smartphones and media tablets will be sold globally by 2015
  • Global mobile data traffic grew 70 percent in 2012
  • In 2012, mobile data traffic was nearly twelve times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000
  • Mobile network connection speeds more than doubled in 2012
  • Average smartphone usage grew 81 percent in 2012
Gartner statistics on mobiles and tablets

Responsive Web Design

It sounds like a big term that only geeks can understand but really, it  just means you gotta have a website that scales to size to meet the needs of a mobile experience.

Using Adobe Flash isn’t kosher anymore, largely thanks to Adobe abandoning its support for the mobile platform by saying it can’t be done. So let’s not go there.
There are ways to create a mobile/desktop site without much worry if you care to spend some money. Or if you prefer, use a CMS/blog platform such as WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr and a host of other CMS platforms like Weebly and Squarespace. There are just too many to mention. You can create blog sites, corporate sites and even e-commerce sites that are responsive to all devices using these platforms. Some are more user friendly than others so you gotta know what you want before you begin.
For example, not all CMS platforms support e-commerce engines. This is pretty tricky and hosting as to be secure enough for you to use. All e-commerce sites will be targeted for hacking at some stage so choose well.
Developing your own RWD Site without CMS
 
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This is the golden question everyone is asking. Can I not use a CMS host and create my own site? Of course you can. If you care to ante up on one of those web tools, I suppose you can do anything. Some takes more work than others and this is probably the only leg work you need to do. You can use something like TOweb, a site creation program that basically allows you create everything you need for a website but it doesn’t support blogging. Download it, install it and run it. It’s not very intuitive but if you want complete control, you have to learn the ropes. Move a ahead a bit more and you’ll have HTML5 compliant building tools such as Tumult Hype.
This is a drag and drop experience and with all the content ready at your disposal, it should be quite easy to build a site up within a day. However, the e-commerce part might be a bit more tricky so keep your eyes peeled for things you don’t understand. Whereas Tumult Hype is not for the uninitiated, it has many powerful features to create everything from interactive elements to multi-touch support but to fully utilize its power, you need to know how to code.
From Website to Mobile App
Yes, this can be done too if you are wondering why no one seem to mention about it. That’s because it takes a bit of tinkering. First, there are several Mobile App Builder platforms available online, just Google the reviews up and you’d get an idea on what I mean. Those which are free to use are pretty basic, and you need to also pay for the App to go live on a store. So far, only Blackberry doesn’t charge anything for listing a mobile app. It cost US$19 for the Windows store to US$99 for the Apple store. So please remember that the freebies are not free when you decide to list your app.
responsive-design-mobile-web-mobile-apps-you-pick-the-strategyHow does the Mobile App Maker Work?
First, your content is your key. If you already have a standalone website that is not hosted on a CMS platform, you need to find out if the App Builder of your choice is able to support it. If not, you could choose an App builder that takes your feed manually with RSS.
All app builders are made to have some form of intelligence. They might not be able to play a game of chess with you but they sure as hell know what is a content feed when they see one. From here, you can add maps with bells and whistles like video and flickr photo feeds.
Paying to use a platform is normal, if you don’t pay, expect an advertising banner to be displayed on your mobile app. This is not a good way to start if you are running your own business.

Enabling Responsive Web Display for WordPress

This is much easier to tackle if you are running the latest WP on your site. Just do the following:-

Go to your DASHBOARD > APPEARANCE > enable MOBILE

MobileTheme

You can customize those options if you like and see how it goes. But beyond this, it’s not going to cost you anything else. Older versions of WordPress would take quite a fair bit of juggling with extensions, where a third party extension is used to enable mobile device viewing.

You’d be surprised how it looks in the end as the theme you use can be highly responsive to mobile displays to the point you can’t tell the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website.

Multi-Touch is not Included

You are bound to arrive at this point asking, what is the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website if you can’t visually tell the difference? Well here are some pointers to remember :

  • Native mobile apps might display content in a similar way but on a native mobile app, multi-touch actions are supported.
  • Mobile websites do not support the fancy transitions you often see on native Mobile apps. You need to code in HTML5 and use Javascript to have that capability. This requires coding knowledge.
  • Native apps are hand coded. They do not use templates or themes, thus making them feel more unique to the end user and is totally Greek to the uninitiated who try to code one from scratch.
  • Native mobile apps support for Social Media is seamless. The app can integrates more tightly with your content and social media feeds.

Remember how to Deliver your Content

Content matters. If you have lots to share, then you should put more thought into it but first know how often you are going to update it. If you are going to have lots of updates and plenty of content to share to engage your customers or fans, then it is better to start off with a CMS system with RWD enabled for your site. A mobile app is sort of a calling card these days even though they carry the same content as your website. You need to find out if you really need a mobile app to begin with.

Your content strategy should be sound. Customers are not going to download and install your app if all you do are annual updates.

Think for a moment, if all you are producing is vintage vinegar, and you don’t have much to share, then having a mobile app would be a waste of time. Even your Twitter feed will be empty until you have a fresh batch to announce for delivery.

Content has to be original and engaging and not just brochure-ware. The term brochure-ware is just that, a company brochure that has been regurgitated into an online form—which in this case would be your mobile app.

Don’t just create another mobile app just cause you think it is cool. Have a defined content strategy in place before you do as this is a very time consuming process. Content has to be curated or developed and if you don’t have the time to do it, then you have to engage people with the right expertise to help you.

Having a budget before you proceed is very helpful. Sort of like having an advertising budget, you carve out a part of that advertising budget to support SMO and SEO activities. Failing to do that will cost you even more time and money….and customers when you take them for granted.

How to create Awesome Content to boost your Google Authorship

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Gunning for a top rank on Google search? Have you started building your content credibility with Google’s authorship program? Haven’t? Better get cracking now before it is too late.

In the past, anyone can pen some nonsense and share that to the world. This hasn’t changed of course but what is written has. According to the latest Hummingbird SEO metrics, long form content is more important than those 100 words rants you post on Facebook.

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To ensure that the long piece of text is rightly attributed to you, Google changed the Hummingbird metrics to weigh in on WHO is providing the content. This is where Google Authorship comes in to diss you down if all you ever post are rants about your mother.

This whole authorship thingy might sound really complicated but it isn’t. All you have to do is to create an active G+ profile and link that to all your blogs. That’s it!

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What makes for an active G+ profile is simple. Make sure you fill in all the information about yourself, with a picture and a list of stuff you do. Think of the G+ profile as your link-in calling card to everything you do on the web.

Creating Content for Inbound Marketing

I hate to say this but what your fifth grade teacher said about being able to write well is probably more true today than ever before. Google SEO and Facebook SEO is different. For Google, it is a text type search engine whereas Facebook places more importance on sharing visual things like pictures and video.

I won’t touch on pictures and video as this requires more skill and dexterity to produce. What I will tell you is that text based content is really much easier to start with but you have to be truthful about the first thing that comes to you, that is…are you able to write something decent that can be understood by humankind.

I have seen in my career many failures with people often bearing college degrees, Masters and PhDs who can’t write a line interesting enough to be shared. This is no fault of yours of course, you can write a thesis like a text book and people will never read them except maybe for your college professor.

Text content only needs to fulfil two things.

  • Interesting and informative writing
  • Entertaining and witty writing

How not to be your Boring English Teacher

Remember the time when you were in school, you flipped those school text books and fell asleep reading it? They will come across as really informative but dull to read. Your teacher’s job is to make sure you learn it and he or she has to make it sound interesting enough for you to pick it up. So remember this golden rule…

Informative articles  may not be interesting, if you want to offer great content you have to make it Informative and Interesting at the same time for it to be any use to people reading it.

This is a talent that you may not have and it is best to admit it before you embark on the journey to gain world wide authorship rankings. There is absolutely nothing wrong if you decide to hire a writer to do this for you. Just make sure this is kosher with the writer as they sometimes write for many people and will reuse bits of what they have given you.

Google will not fault you on informative content, as facts are facts and there is not need to fictionalise content to meet Hummingbird metrics. How you choose your words to explain the content matters.

The Art of Making Stuff Interesting

If you are knowledgeable, then this would be pretty easy.

Give examples based on everyday facts to things that people can relate to!

People often give dimensions and measurements in numbers, this is fine but you should also give it a dimension that people can relate to, like the size of two football pitches, or the length of a candy bar.

Write about your own experiences with the subject matter!

Your own experiences to validate a point is crucial to making that yours and no one can steal this from you. Those ‘epiphany’ moments makes for great writing and this can help others relate to what you are talking about.

How to Be Entertaining as a Writer

To me, this is perhaps the most difficult thing when you’re not up to it. Everyone has their bad days so if you are asked to write something entertaining, it better be on a good day. There are some rules to follow which will be helpful:-

Ante up on that Thesaurus and increase your Vocabulary

You need words, lots of it, to throw at would be readers to keep them nimble. Language is used to communicate but sometimes we tend to have different words to describe similar situations. Having a vocabulary the size of a Blue Whale will help somewhat to conquering the authorship world.

Be Visual and Graphic about your Experiences

Your sense of observation is important when writing about first hand experiences. It’s like a painting. You fill it with color which then allows your eyes to dance with it. Color, smell, touch all give a visual account of what you are experiencing.

Exaggerate the facts to be witty

I have discovered that comedians, when using their punch lines often resort to exaggeration as means to be funny and witty. Just look up all the comedians and instead of enjoying the stand up action, analyse what they say and the words they use. Ask yourself why the punch line was so good. Once you get an idea on how to do this, sprinkle it around your writing. Bear in mind that you don’t need to be funny at every paragraph, otherwise it will read like a nonsensical feature.

Poke fun at Cliches and Social Norms

There are a lot of cliches that are cultural and you don’t have to resort to anything derogatory. Political cliches work best, racial ones only alienate your readers. Humans are creatures of habit. They take a dump every morning, have coffee and read the morning news. This in itself is a good cliche for everyday humor.

What Google Authorship Does for You

Online credibility. That’s the one thing that ties you to the SEO. If you take credit for all you have written, and people find it useful, they will start to share it.

By taking credit for what you write, you are in fact protecting your turf as a writer. No one can take that away from you even if they steal your article. Once Google has built a depositary of your work, they will rank your contributions higher on the search results. In time, you will become an authority on what you write about.

How to Protect any Written Content?

This is a trick I learnt from the folks at Google. If you want to catch someone copying your content, well first select a very unique sentence from your written content and paste that into Google Alerts. Once the search engine comes across this sentence, it will send you a notification to your Gmail account. Simple.

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Some sites will give you credit while others will steal wholesale from you. It’s up to you to file a DMCA complaint. That said, it’s never easy to get a take down as long as the offending site lies outside of the US. But to me, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that Google Authorship knows that the written piece came from you and for that alone, it will thumb down the offending site in search engine results.

The Dark Art of Gaining Followers

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How do you gain followers on Social Media? I mean I need this to show off my site and, how the heck does it work? Do I need to put up a Selfie?

Ever heard of a vanity license plate for a car? Well in the Internet World, gaining busloads of followers does the same thing for you. It is a magnet of sorts to tell people that you have arrived.

That said, social media license plates are really not that difficult to get, at least not legally. Now, gaining followers is not that difficult. There are millions if not thousands of accounts in social media that are positively fake. They exist only for one reason, to be your follower.

Why is it difficult to find Genuine Followers

Social apathy or plain laziness is probably the answer you are looking for and you’re spot on. People who think that the Internet world is full of would be social activist are so wrong footed that it would even be fatal to take up line dancing.

Surfers are often very indolent people. They sit back, give their two cents worth if they really have the time for a comment and flip to the nearest porn or Internet channel for a daily dose of Entertainment.

Content Creation for Baiting Followers

I have said before in my earlier post, you need to create engaging content to win over followers and the content should fall into TWO categories.

  • It has to be useful to the follower. This can be useful bits of information on how to reuse cat litter for garden decoration to ways to tune your car into a Porsche for as little as $1.95.
  • Content must be entertaining. Yes, smart, funny, witty stuff are tops…even beautiful naked women or men can be entertaining if you posed correctly.

Once you have this, just rinse and repeat. You are bound to find followers who appreciate your nuggets of wisdom or entertainment.

How Not to gain Followers

The first rule is not to promise people things you can’t deliver. Like a snake oil sales man trying to sell a broken record, do not offer freebies and stuff when you sincerely can’t even get your own paws on.

Nor should you promise them home remedies or DIY tips that don’t work, like how to tune their car into a Porsche for as little as $1.95.

But I need a Vanity License Plate!

If you sincerely must have that busload of followers, you can do this. Buy those followers. A thousand followers on Instagram will cost you roughly US$13. For twitter, it cost only US$40 for 2,000 followers. Now, that sound like a steal but remember that this is temporary. Some stick around for a month, others for a full year. It really depends on the people who run the business.

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Followers are only worth their weight in salt. And that’s might cheap to have if all you need is a vanity license plate. You could buy hundreds of thousands of followers if you could afford it but seriously, who the damn cares if all you sell online are geriatric diapers? Would Barack Obama or Sarah Palin be jealous of you if you did have more followers than they did?

How the HELL did it all disappear?

If you care to check your followers, some are real, some are not. Most of the time, you’d find how the hell did those ‘bought’ followers ended up following you for a brief time and in the process, had unfollowed you as graciously as they followed you. There is a distinction between a fake and a real one based on the fact that one is a living person with that account, the other is a virtual doppelgänger of an online creation.

The fake followers are easy to spot. They have no activity except may one picture posted in the last century. I am pretty sure it is easy to register fake followers by the hundreds or thousands if you care to use a unique username that has yet to be used.

The real followers are a dumb found. How could they sign up to follow you? Well in case you didn’t know. There are sites out there that promise you free followers with one caveat, they get to use your login and password credentials.

You see, some web sites that SELL followers also have a weapon, they call it a ” running train” where people hop on board to get free followers. The onus is on you who join for free. They get to control your Instagram or Twitter password and login. Once they have this, they start messing up the system by using your profile to follow a paying customer and they to follow you back. It works a little bit like incest. You join a big family to have social media copulations.

The sites that charge you money to gain followers are in fact, running a sister or brother site that gains the passwords and logins for free in return for more followers. The sign up server runs automatically with dedicated APIs that run scripts to follow and unfollow people at the opportune time.

This is also why all the free-follow sites ask you for your password and login the moment they join. It’s their way of making money off you while you gain just more followers. Imagine if they had a thousand people sign up every day, and another thousand who buys followers from them, you’d have 1,998 free followers a day.

Worst Kept Secrets ?

To get found out that you are using fake or paid followers is nothing new. Mitt Romney was judged to have done it during his campaign but I seriously don’t really care.

Paid followers do not necessarily translate to your bottom line even if you only sell quality online Eskimo porn. It might give you some credibility at some point but if all you ever post are ugly selfies of yourself, well then, there is going to be trouble later down the line.

In a virtual world, everyone is entitled to mask their real intentions. Creating good content can take too much effort if all you need to boost your public image is a load of would be followers. Buying them seems like a nice option. That, is entirely up to you.

Social Media Marketing for Noobs

It doesn’t take a lot to know that the English speaking world has only a few social media properties which make any sense, or cents if you care to invest your time and money in the hope of a return. Contrary to popular belief, it is not as complicated as it seems though many social media management platforms like to think so.

These can be put in their place with the following infographic. Easy to understand and sans the usual sales talk you hear from Internet Marketeers.

Social-infographic1Social Media marketing, what’s that all about? Good Question.

There are a sizeable number of them that claims to be the be all and end all management tool but I beg to differ. They all allow you to manage your social media connections, and from the chart alone you’d get a good idea on what’s how there in the Anglophone world.

Even though Facebook is localised to suit many non-English countries, there exist a huge community of social media platforms that is out of bounds of this chart. For example in Japan and China, Facebook is a non-connector. And those two countries make up the first and third largest online consumers in the world by revenue generated online. They consume everything from games, online content to e-commerce to downloadable porn.

What’s more, Japan has it’s own social network that are targeted at their own native market. Facebook to them is just an afterthought. Then you have China, where Facebook is…banned.

Internet Marketing for Social Media

Almost all Social Media Management sites casually forget to mention that you need to have engaging and useful content on hand before you start any Internet marketing. WTF? You mean I can’t pose a selfie to get the ball rolling? Not unless you’re an up and coming porn star.

Making awesome content takes talent, but none of the Internet Marketing agencies will tell you this upfront. You could of course do it on your own by using one of the many social media marketing tools. Just look up Buffer, Hootsuite, Oktopost, Zoniz or marketmesuite, all of them want your money at some point so be forewarned.

These social media marketing and management tools are aimed at different consumers but somehow, when you look at them closely, they all seem to offer a cookie cutter type social media marketing solution. They give you the freedom to schedule post, manage your Facebook Page and get all the statistics associated with it but none of them tell you how to make awesome content for your social media feed. They all assume you already know how to create awesome content in the first place. However there is a way out, you can always curate your content from various other sources. This is by far the cheapest option if you don’t mind sitting around the whole day looking for stuff on the Web or Internet. It is a very labor intensive workout so remember to make a big pot of coffee before you start.

Checklist for Content Development

To make things easier for you. Just consider the following:-

  • Can you write decent copy in English? And by this I don’t mean ‘SMS text’  with emoticons.
  • Can you take a decent photo that people will often admire? And I am not referring to pictures of food or selfies you post daily on Instagram.
  • Can you stage and capture a decent video clip for sharing? By this I don’t mean those borderline porn clips you share with your girlfriend or boyfriend on Snapchat.

If you happen to answer ‘no’ to all of these, please get help coz you are gonna need it. How much you are willing to spend depends on you. There are cheap and super cheap content developers. I hear that a 15 second Bollywood video production cost you only $1.95, so if that’s your budget, go for it. But be forewarned, you get what you paid for.

The Low Down on Social Media Marketing

The start and end point for all your awesome content is always the same. You want to bait as much traffic as you can. This is the basis of all Internet Marketing strategies.

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Once you have your content settled, then it’s time to hit the social media circle. Post, cross-post and cross link all your content with the various social media networks. Which to choose? I leave it to you.

I have designed the simplest diagram I can think of for Noobs. There is a more complex one that I will share on a later date. So get cracking on those awesome content!

Expedia Gets taken down by Hummingbird!

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I am shocked that the Wallstreet Journal has published a report that Expedia.com could have been the target of Negative SEO. This is pure rubbish. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why Expedia’s SEO ranking fell off a cliff on Google searches. Just tick off what you don’t see on the home page and you’ll know how poorly designed the site is.

Epic Page Optimization Failure

The landing page itself is not SEO friendly. No Site Map, just pure sales links. No quality inbound or outbound links. The Page SEO is fucked. Just look at the damn page and tell me that there is useful content in there somewhere which will be of use to users? Nothing!

To make matters worst, Google Hummingbird zeroes in on content optimization and penalizes pure sales sites. I have said in an earlier post that Hummingbird is designed to take down pure sales sites and Expedia is one that was designed in the 90s with no SEO sense.

Sales, sales and more sales. That’s all the home page is screaming. No wonder they got taken down a few notches.

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Massive Content Failure

There is no content. Ok, I found a some content buried in the “Things to Do” topic but trust me, that’s not content. It is pure sales talk. The tone that it is written in is a third person, describing what you can do. It could have been written by a man with a gun held to his head. Who knows?

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Useful Content is not about giving the facts, it’s about experiences, especially in this case where travel is concerned. They could have at least featured something written by a customer or blogger. But they didn’t. Content to Expedia is a waste of time so here’s another few notches taken down for that.

Total Social Media Failure

sharingHere is something else I noticed. The lack of Social Media engagement. Sure, you have a Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and G+ button that LEADS to your sales pitches. There is no content there except that it screams Promotions! Sales and Marketing pitches. Again no content to share with fellow users. 

Social Media accounts are used to generate more sales. So here you give  Google credit for taking it down a few more notches.

Failure to Engage Users

Just look at the “Things to do” topic and you’ll also see that there is no user comments or inputs. That is pretty fucked up. The site has no qualms about asking you to put down your money but makes no attempt in getting any feedback on the promotions they have. Here Google pummels Expedia down with a right hook and sinker. The result? You get to be on the THIRD page of the search baby!

Negative SEO is over hyped

Before Hummingbird, Google will send out warning emails to site users who have very poor inbound links. That’s to stop people from exploiting a loophole in the algorithm where they suspect a site has been paying other sites just to put a link to them to boost their rankings.

In a Negative SEO scenario, a competing or rival business can put up poor links to your site to take your SEO ranking down. To me, this is totally irrational and far-fetched as the competition is better off using Black Hat techniques to BOOST their own ranking over yours in keyword SEO during the Penguin and Panda era. Unless your rival in business has got an axe to grind with you, they are better off using their money to increase their rankings than to take you down.

Negative SEO in Expedia’s could have been attributed to poor sales sites designed by incompetent Expedia staff to boost their own web traffic. No content type sites are purely to blame and for that, Expedia’s got plenty of them.

Was Negative SEO to blame for Expedia’s Failure?

Several blogs mentioned that there were some old sites set up by Expedia’s many divisions to boost their rankings and this could have resulted in a Negative SEO hit. This is plausible but these pundits fail to realize that Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm is designed to take down content unfriendly sites.

This is by far the most telling result of Expedia’s failure in its SEO optimization. So what should be done to improve rankings?

Get more travel related content by tying up with travel bloggers and content providers

Each should be written in a first person narrative that provides useful travel information instead of the usual brochureware associated with it. For the money you make off booking, having a travel blog to help your travelers isn’t all that difficult. It cost Expedia loose change just to get original content. Why it hasn’t been done? Well maybe their team doesn’t know how important content is in the Hummingbird age.

Optimize the Home Page to provide Travel Content

Everywhere in the world, national tourist offices will offer you quality content on selected destinations. By integrating the content with travel information, you get to boost your SEO rankings. Bear in mind that national and government-funded tour offices do not offer sales pitches. They offer you seasonal or festive content and all you need to do is work with them to promote a destination.

Revisit Home Page Optimization 

Create quality inbound links. Tie up with travel content entities such as travel magazines and websites to create quality inbound links. Branding is important to Expedia and it should tie up with content providers and pay for these content to be featured on their site. Nothing is free in this world. Once you have content, you will have  comments, and social sharing. These engagements will definitely boost your SEO ranking.

The Cheapest Alternative for Not giving a Fuck

Expedia as a multi billion dollar business entity that can afford to pay for a top level listing on ANY Google search result. This is what Google wants Expedia to realize. You don’t become a multi-billion dollar company and hope that the poor excuse for a website gets top level listing for free.

Expedia can set aside a multi million dollar budget just to advertise alone, and still see positive results without even bothering with content optimization. If Expedia doesn’t give a fuck about content, then advertising for click-thru search results is the best way to go.

Battle of the Titans

Lastly, it is unfortunate that Expedia has become Google’s target. I see this purely as a battle for business by two industry titans. Google owns the search engine space, Expedia owns the travel booking space. Google is discreetly telling Expedia that it wants its fair share of the pie by making it known that Google searches can and will affect Expedia’s stock price. If Expedia can afford to take this hit, well, good for them. If doesn’t, then its time to recognize which turf you are on.

Facebook Pages: The New Algorithm Punches below the Belt

 

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Facebook announced its Facebook for Business in Dec 2013 and within months, a new algorithm was introduced and it doesn’t look good for content marketing.

Techcrunch published an article on how Facebook has been destroying your pages newsfeed with its new algorithm. Apparently, they have the facts right but haven’t gone far enough to tell Zuckerberg in his face that he’s given you free heroin and asking for payment later. The problem is that the organic reach has been affected.

Organic reach: The number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed or on your Page, including people who saw it from a story shared by a friend when they liked, commented on or shared your post, answered a question or responded to an event

It is true that Facebook has been tweaking its algorithm for Pages newsfeed. Your fans don’t get to see any of those feeds anymore than they see Santa these days and there is good reason for it. The chart above illustrates this problem quite clearly.

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Social DNA is important now in the eyes of Facebook. Small businesses who have invested in a Free page will now have to ante up to get their post featured on their fan’s pages. Social DNA is determine by how often people like and share your post. If it’s not up to mark, it won’t be featured. Social DNA isn’t about having regular newsfeed post but rather on the quality of the post. And this can be determined by the number of comments and shares you get on a post.

Now let me point out to you that in the past Facebook Pages are free to set up. Any SMB (small medium business) with a limited budget to promote their brand are welcome to sign up. Then they asked you to spend money to get ‘likes’ for your new business page. Sounds fair so you put down your 20 dollars and in no time get a thousand likes. And with these likes, you basically have a following of sorts each time you post some news to your Page in the hope that your likes will translate to sales. The more post you put up then the more likes, shares and comments you will get and this is what social DNA is all about.

Enter the Social Media Management Systems and Agencies

Facebook pages is a huge business. So huge that you now have Social Media Management Agencies as well as Social Media Management Systems which you can sign up for to manage your Facebook Page. The agencies offer everything you need to boost your social rankings, and these are full fledge digital agencies that deal specifically with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, G+, etc, etc, on your behalf. The SMM Systems like Hootsuite and Buffer offer you dashboard control of all your social media accounts. And fo course, you have to pay for everything.

I bet Zuckerberg was walking on the beach somewhere in California when a beach ball hit him on the head to give him that idea. Why the fuck are you paying SMM Agencies and Systems when I can virtually make you lick my heels? So he came out with this newsfeed algorithm to take business away from SMM Systems and SMM Agencies.

Acquired Targeting….

Your social presence has a DNA which engages the reader. So when it gets big enough, well, it’s time you have to pay for your post to be featured. Facebook just made your subscription to those SMM tools totally redundant. I have remarked in some of my previous post that Social Media Marketing is as over rated as a Woody Allen movie. They do the same thing that SMM system tools do. Post by post, they are suppose to generate traffic  These SMM tools and agencies are at best, web traffic pimps. They promise you better management of your content on social media but with the new algorithm for your business page in place, your post aren’t going to get featured anyway!

Take a moment to understand how a newsfeed post gets featured.

  • How popular (Liked, commented on, shared, clicked) are the post creator’s past posts with everyone
  • How popular is this post with everyone who has already seen it
  • How popular have the post creator’s past posts been with the viewer
  • Does the type of post (status update, photo, video, link) match what types have been popular with the viewer in the past
  • How recently was the post published

This is why Content Development matters. You need to formulate a bullet proof strategy to start with before you start marketing your post online. What’s more, using a SMM service is no guarantee of getting traffic to your page if you don’t start paying Zuckerberg and company.

Tipping Point for Paid Reach

Your content strategy is to get people to notice, share and comment on your post to get results. This means that your audience must like and share the post with their friends to stay relevant. Once this happens often enough, you get a boost in your Social DNA. You can’t escape the fact that you have to pay to get your post featured and once you do, make sure you have the juicy content that people are looking for.

This is a tough act to follow because small businesses have limited budgets to spend on a promotion, and if you don’t have something attractive to be shared, like maybe the One Dollar Hooker special if you happen to run a brothel, then you’re out of luck.

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Your Facebook audience may not be inundated with news feed post from friends. But Facebook isn’t letting this go. They want your money. All the crap you hear about Facebook keeping the newsfeed algorithm trim and healthy is just another excuse to charge business owners money to feed their bottom line revenue. The average Facebook user has less than 300 friends. In fact, Scientist have proven that we can only keep 150 people on a list. The rest are fair game. How many  pages does the average Facebook user likes anyway? It’s only 40. Seriously, do you think that all 40 brands will post to your time line newsfeed everyday of the week? This is what Facebook is saying right now about the new algorithm. Keep it trim and snappy. Sorry bud, no free rides if you’re a growing business.

How much you are willing to spend to boost your post reach is up to you. You could rack up thousands on your credit card if you are not too careful. So don’t go crazy with the plastic. Plan your content strategy first before jumping onto the Fan page bandwagon.