Tactical Value: Regardless of platform, regardless of the focus of your social content and conversations, regardless of your business or interest type as a publisher, “Caption This” promos and campaigns are the highest performing social content/ engagement on the web. Add them to your editorial calendar yesterday.
As a caveat, if you’re a small business owner, I am hand delivering a 70% competitive advantage on facebook.
Over the last four years, I’ve received much flack for my use of social media, both in form and function. Most of it, I own. I do not keep my messaging open ended. I talk about and promote highly contentious content, often rife with profanity. I don’t blow sunshine up people’s asses unless it is deserved. But for those in marketing and technology that still talk to me, the chief inquisition from new professionals in social media that ask for suggested tools or entrepereneurs launching new social products:
“I don’t get it. You suggest I use/I develop [social media publishing platform de jure], and yet you don’t use it yourself. What gives?”
Check it out for yourself or just take my word for it: While my companies have accounts, pages, etc., I do not publish as a company; I publish as an individual. When I do publish, I almost always publish on platform, or “from web.” I rarely use third-party services. If and when I do use third-party tools, it is from a mobile app owned by the social network, or I am testing the API call and/or the UI/UX of the tool to get a better understanding of where the market is going, who is doing what, when, where, how and why. Testing an API call is telling: The test confirms or changes your assumption about the developer’s intended use of the network. But I digress.
There is a method to my madness.
EdgeRank: What It Is and What the Calculation Is Missing
The super smart folks at EdgeRank Checker recently tested and studied how the use of third-party publishing tools affected Facebook EdgeRank. (If you’re unfamiliar with what “EdgeRank” is, it’s a proprietary measure of a brands’ social engagement with consumers on facebook.) The published study confirmed a widely held hypothesis for people that monitor this stuff: Using third-party publishing tools hurts, inhibits, and otherwise decreases engagement. By 70%.
Allyson Kapin wrote a great follow up post at Care2frogloop. The post generated some great comments. It’s a conversation worth checking out. (HT to Bryan Person of LiveWorld for retweeting Allyson’s link (ironically enough via Hootsuite.)
I’ve believe the commonly held formula for measuring Facebook EdgeRank (Affinity X Weight X Time Decay) is flawed; it does not account for the publisher’s (in this case, a brand’s) time on site (until now?)… Proximity… In Product… On Platform.
What You See is What You Get
Some secrets to facebook are pretty obvious. Some of the world’s brightest and most technologically savvy people clock into work at facebook every day. The API’s suck? It’s for a reason. Tunneling through via an API is not a comprehensive use of the product/property. The APi wasn’t designed for you.
If you’ve ever sold or heard a pitch on a social advertising product or display product, what does the pitch always open with? Users. In Product. On Platform. Time on Site.
The same applies for other networks, too (not exclusive to social networks, though it could be argued that any community on the internet is in an antic sense a social network.)
By way of analogy, I own a retail storefront. Let’s call it “facebook.” Who is more valuable to me? On-property visitors or those that send proxies or correspondence or call? I can directly engage with the on-property visitors. I can answer questions, and with direct one-to-one answers, promote additional activity, services and products. I can also monitor behavior, directly. I can learn from each and every experience in order to serve and make the experience better. Direct communication is exchange. Exchange is conversion.
The inverse principle applies to third-party publishing on facebook. Facebook’s preference is for users (any user, regardless if they are acting on behalf of a brand) in product, on platform. Facebook serves over 1/4th of all display advertising on the internet, and at over 30% margin to boot. This is their billion dollar cash cow which will no doubt make the inevitable IPO very attractive to investors. Facebook cannot and will not serve ads to a third-party tool.Why give away the margin? Why possibly compromise the experience that facebook cannot control?
Also consider facebook’s transition to iframes. Within seconds, a brand (even the Mom and Pop shop down the road) has the ability to clone web pages and pull them directly into a fan page. I am betting facebook will develop or acquire a merchant platform (written in html5,) thus bringing the point of sale directly into the facebook experience. Colleagues and I might be working on this as I write.
This, in my opinion, is by and large why Google has not opened the Google+ API and are not in a hurry to do so… they want users in product, on platform. In an effort to truly reach critical mass, it is absolutely necessary in order for Google to compete for mindshare, marketshare and local advertising dollars. Google can push user numbers (largely acquired and onboarded via gmail) via a press release to Mashable all day long, but how many of those users are in the Google+ product, on platform?
My golfing buddy, friend and goto colleague for all things paid search, Matt Kelly of Paid Search Geeks and I discussed PPC numbers a couple of months ago. Based on his paid search campaigns, facebook not withstanding, Matt’s clients get the best conversion ratio and return on paid search investment from ads displayed in gmail. Again, if a user is in product, on platform, ad delivery can be targeted, monitored, optimized, and controlled. Completely different experience and result in an email client. But email marketing is a different subject altogether.
The examples are endless; the point is singular: Marketers and advertisers should use networks and channels the way they were designed to be used. It’s a win for the network which ultimately is a win for you. And believe me when I tell you that in product, on platform has its benefits. 70% is a good start.
- Posting to Facebook: The Truth about Third Party Applications (adage.com)
- Secret Whitelist Protects Top Facebook Page Management Tools From Engagement-Reducing Post Consolidation (insidefacebook.com)
- Social Networks and the New Challenge for Ranking in Search (searchenginepeople.com)
- How do Facebook’s basic stats stack up against Twitter? (thenextweb.com)
- Study: Auto-Posting to Facebook Decreases Likes and Comments by 70% (insidefacebook.com)
- Understanding EdgeRank in Facebook: great podcast (allisterfrost.com)