Monthly Archives

September 2011

Money Can’t Buy You Love, But It Can Buy You Like: A Look at Facebook Fan Sellers

By | Analytics, Social Media | 5 Comments

Facebook fansLet’s face it, whether you like it or not (no pun intended), if you’re trying to compete for eyeballs in today’s digital space, it’s likely that Facebook likes matter to you. If you are a private person with a personal blog you’re pushing to Facebook and sharing with your network, then likes are one way you know that people read your blog and enjoy what you have to say there.

Facebook likes definitely matter to your bottom line if you are managing a Facebook Page for your organization. Your Facebook Page serves as a very public point of engagement for your brand, possibly as a tool for testing the market with new ideas about your product or service, a place for fielding kudos and complaints and connecting with your existing and future customers. Your Facebook Page exists to help you become and remain relevant to your market.

There’s solid data out there suggesting that we really care about what our friends (and really, anyone we find relatable) think about products and services we’re considering. According to a recent survey,  84% of of respondents said that online reviews influenced their purchasing behavior. This is significant because in our rapidly evolving information economy a small fry competitor can come from behind and beat us to the punch if they are better at engaging the people who should be our customers with compelling, like-able content.

And so likes matter because they send a signal about the value of your content and help you attract new fans. They function like a visual “word of mouth” since they are visible to your Page’s fans’ friends and acquaintances who automatically become part of your Facebook Page’s extended network and more likely to visit your Page.

The attraction of the Facebook “chain reaction effect”

But forget mere likes by your friends and their friends and simple, modest WOM. The story out there (I would like to see some data – if you have it, please send it my way!) is that at 1,000 likes something magical happens. This phenomenon called the “chain reaction effect” kicks in and causes likes to generate more likes until your Facebook Page gathers some serious like momentum.

What’s the chain reaction effect? When a person likes your page, it will be posted on their profile and sometimes in their friend’s news feed. When this happens, more often than not their friend will check out your Facebook page and will “like” it as well.

The bottom line here (if I haven’t made my point already) is that with Facebook at 800 million active users, likes have become the social currency and the proxy for actual value for a large number of netizens, including a solid percentage of your current and future customers if you do business in the United States of America. Some recent statistics indicate that 90% of all people go online to buy or make purchasing decisions and nearly 42% of individuals have Facebook accounts.

Cashing in on the like market

Given the high value of being like-able, it was just a matter of time before some enterprising individual figured out that there was money to be made here by selling likes for your Page. Call me naive, but I was not aware of the existence of this “seedy underbelly” of the Facebook like world. Sure, we all have heard about “Black Hat” SEO techniques that involve buying shady links from doubtful sources as a way to boost a site’s rank in search engine results. (And as we posted here and also on our website, we don’t play that way – we believe in honest links and earned rank, not gimmicks that can hurt you in Google search listings.) So the first time I came across an instance of peddling likes for dollars – on a nifty little website called Fiverr, I don’t recommend going there unless you have an hour to kill, it’s quite addictive – I was surprised (well, for about a minute). But it makes perfect sense. And so I decided to investigate and check out what’s “out there” in the world of like peddlers. Here’s my brief report from the field.

Disclaimer: None of the sites I list below have been vetted by us or anyone we know. I found them the “old school” way, I Googled buy facebook fans. So if you choose to partake, it’s caveat emptor, baby. And just to be clear, I don’t recommend you do this, but neither do I explicitly recommend against it. Buying “fans” feels vaguely dirty to me (it makes me want to take a shower), but hey, it’s not illegal, and apparently a booming business. All of Confluence’s likes are earned thanks to the awesome content we share as well as asking our friends to like our page lest we un-friend them… kidding! But yeah, we did ask our network to like our page.

Where you can buy likes for your Facebook Page

The following list of “lucky” 7 is organized from most expensive to least expensive. One thing that’s obvious is that all of the the like sellers are “wholesalers”. The business of Facebook likes is mostly about quantity, not quality – although a few of the companies differentiate between “untargeted” (and therefore less expensive) and “targeted” likes. The idea is to trigger that desirable “chain reaction” which supposedly starts at 1,000 fans, so forget likes by the dozen. The lowest number offered was 500 and so I standardized to cost/1000 “untargeted” fans for the purpose of the comparison.

1. FanBullet.com: Fan Bullet promises to get your fans… fast! Their price per 1,000 is $69.95. They also will sell you Twitter and YouTube followers and even offer Bundled Deals.

2. LikesandFollowers.com: Like their name implies, these guys also sell Twitter followers and all manner of other followers. They suggest clients start at 1,000 fans, since “Buying 1,000 or more fans usually kick starts the chain reaction effect”. Their price for 1000 is $69, guaranteed in 1-2 days – that’s under 7 cents per like. They offer plans up to $499 for 20,000 (yes!) fans.

3. 100sFBfans: This company specializes in Facebook fans, no other followers can be bought here. But they do offer 1000 Facebook fans for a mere $67. That ‘s less than 7 pennies per like!

4. Fan Page Hookup: (Who came up with that name?) These guys to go even lower: $57 for 1000 fans. That brings your cost-per-like (new metric – CPL?) to under 6 pennies. Nice. In all fairness, fan peddling is not their only business. They also design Facebook landing pages.

6. Bulkfans: (Oh, why bother pretending, it’s about quantity, not quality… Buy Fans in Bulk, much like any other commodity) Bulkfans’ angle is all on international fans. They don’t just go low on cost, they go high on speed. They promise 1000 fans for $55 in 3-5 days! And they offer plans.

6. fbfanshop: fbfanshop is an Australia-based outfit offering 1,000 fans for $25 (their “Bronze Fan Package”). They’re up on the latest as they now also offer Google Services, meaning they’ll sell you Google +1 votes along with your Facebook likes.

7. Fiverr: You can’t go any lower than Fiverr in your quest to buy likes. Dozens of individuals on there are pimping their Facebook “friends” for a mere $5 for anything ranging from a few dozen to nearly 5,000 likes. It’s crazy cheap digital love. They don’t guarantee results, but hey, there are some very happy people on there who vouch for the effectiveness of this approach. One of my personal favorites on there is Daytona, who offers to use her “Hooter Girl powers” to get likes for you page from her nearly 5,000 “very hungry, eager and responsive friends” who “are ready to jump” at her signal and like your page. So, if your product or service is likely to appeal to a fan of a Hooter Girl  – do you sell action figures, video games or adult entertainment – then Daytona may be able to help you.

OK, so should you buy your Facebook fans?

At this point with no data to prove or disprove my point, all I can offer is my gut-feeling based opinion spruced up with some common sense. Take it as you want.

Since the fans you buy (provided they’re actually real people, not bots) are not likely to be selected based on their interest in your product or service, why would you want them? What business wants a bunch of likes from people who are not likely to ever be customers? And doesn’t adding all those “fake” fans muddy the waters by hiding the true indicators for how well your content is working at attracting and retaining customers? Buying likes takes away the reason for having good content on your Facebook Page. But if you don’t care to engage with your actual customers, why bother having a Facebook Page at all? So I personally plan to stay away from buying Facebook fans. I hope that the content we create attracts the right, targeted clients.

If you disagree, please respond. I don’t mind being proven wrong. Maybe in your line of business buying likes makes sense? So if you choose to proceed and buy likes through any of these sites, please report back. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Photo Credit: Reuters

Give us a call if you want to talk about ways to grow your social media fan or follower base naturally or if you want to talk about search engine optimization, paid search, conversion funnel optimization or other digital tactics.

virtual office phone

A Systematic Approach for Creating Engaging Facebook Content

By | Content Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Image: Facebook login page - Confluence Digital blogRecently I have spent some time reviewing different sources of “How To’s” and “Tips” for creating Facebook Page content that would engage existing fans and attract new ones.

One of my favorite tips is #7 from Guy Kawasaki’s 12 Pillars of EnchantmentAlways be photographing. Guy has got it right when he remarks that Facebook is a photo economy. What catches your eye is typically an image, not the accompanying text. But once you look, you may read, and even “Like”. So using compelling images is critical to success on Facebook (probably even more now with the unveiling of the new layout that has added to the visual chaos).

But a list of tips – even good ones like Guy’s – does not amount to a practical solution for day to day content creation for your Facebook Page. So I took all those useful tips and combined them to develop my own methodology for easy, systematic Facebook content creation. I thought it may be useful and decided to share it with our readers and fans.

The Facebook Content Strategy Albums approach to content strategy planning

The approach is simple and useful; if Facebook it’s a picture economy, then plan your content around images!  For example, below are some bullet-points on content categories for Facebook that I got from HubSpot’s awesome e-book called 100 Inbound Marketing Content Ideas.

  • Community Ideas – E.g. Reaching out to fans asking them what they would like to see in your next blog post or webinar
  • Community Opinion – E.g. Reaching out to fans through questions to get their opinion on something
  • How To’s & Tips – E.g. Blog posts that contain How To’s & Tips targeting the needs of your fans
  • Holiday Celebrations – E.g. Posts wishing your fans happy holidays, idealy in a creative and engaging way 🙂
  • Infographics – E.g. Fan representation of cool data that no one really wants to see just in numbers
  • Fun Post – E.g. Sharing office fun? Yes it’s OK to take a break once in a while and be goofy haha 

I then created photo albums on Facebook named with the content categories above. By using this tactic I (and you if you choose to follow my lead!) will be forced to always post with pictures but also always be reminded to diversify your content.  You probably don’t want to be see me posting about “Confluence fun” the whole month!

Confluence Digital Facebook Page Content Strategy Photo Albums

How to post content on Facebook using this approach?

OK if by now this is an idea that you’re going to give a try, here is the process on how to do it.  You can watch this video or follow the steps below.

  1. Before getting started make sure to first pick default pictures that you can use for each category.  When posting something under a category and you don’t have the time to look for an specific picture to accompany the post, use the category’s default picture instead.  
  2. Upload an eye-catching picture that for your post that will clearly represent its corresponding category.
  3. Use the picture description to describe the post or the picture.
  4. Save and skip publishing since you only want to publish the picture by itself and the pop up to publish is for the album.
  5. Go back to the category album, chose the new uploaded picture and click on share. Make sure that you’re sharing on your Page and not on your personal Profile. 
  6. On the picture’s sharing message box add a teaser that triggers likes or comments, click on post and you’re done! 
Hope this helps with planning and executing your content strategy on Facebook.  Let me know what you think and ask questions or share your Facebook content strategy tips in our comments section. 

 

Give us a call if you need advice on developing an effective content strategy for your website, Facebook Page or blog or if you want help optimizing your website for search (SEO) or are interested in paid search, social media marketing, conversion funnel optimization, landing page design or other aspects of digital strategy.

virtual office phone

Our SEO Top 20 Features Checklist for eCommerce Content Management Systems (CMS)

By | Content Marketing, SEO | No Comments

Image: eCommerce - Confluence Digital blogIf you are a manager of an eCommerce website and you’re looking to make a switch of your content management system, SEO capabilities must be a central part of the decision.

Recently we have had the opportunity to work with several clients who were going through this process, so the question of selecting the “right” Content Management System that would meet their needs and be SEO friendly did come up.

Rather than recommend a specific platform, we thought we’d share our list of 20 SEO features that we feel a good system should include:

1. Support 301 redirects to preserve search engine rankings. 
2. Avoiding duplicate content and use of the canonical tag where relevant.
3. Dynamically generate search engine friendly URLs for product and content pages e.g. www.yoursite.com/category-name/product-name instead of www.yoursite.com/productdetails.aspx?pid=037012&cid=144&language=en-GB.
4. Specify and edit URLs for individual pages via the CMS – important for campaign landing pages and microsites.
5. Support RSS feeds to push out product and news announcements e.g. deal of the day.
6. Support for linking of product pages and content pages to improve internal linking – should be delivered via the Catalog Management tool or CMS.
7. Absolute positioning for text links on product list pages to ensure the first link for each product is keyword rich.
8. Creation of dynamic XML sitemaps which can be submitted on a regular basis.
9. Auto generated HTML sitemaps based on your catalogue and site structure.
10. Support for rich snippets within platform – encoding of data in RDF format e.g. customer ratings & reviews.
11.Custom 404 error page creation and automated reporting to flag error pages so your internal team can take action. (You can achieve this through a separate monitoring tool such as the free Indiabook.com dead link checker)
12. A Robots.txt file is provided and you can access and edit when required.
13. Capabilities for meta content (title, description) management that can be edited easily from within the CMS.
14. Machine readable text links in navigation, not images; if coders are using sIFR (flash replacements) require clarification on how this is being done to ensure it complies with accessibility standards.
15. Keyword optimized Hx tags within HTML for headings – structure for use of H1 to H6 to provide a relevant hierarchy of content.
16. Ensuring Flash objects are search engine friendly. Remember, use Flash to accentuate but not to dominate the user experience.
17. Graceful degradation – when elements like JavaScript are disabled in the browser, be sure that key content is still visible to search engine spiders/bots as well as to visitors.
18. Page builds must be efficient and not negatively impact page load time. Be sure you define how load speed is measured e.g. after all page elements have loaded – this factor is a key part of Google’s algorithm.
19. Site search capabilities. While you’re at it, enable your analytics package to pull site search usage and query data. Google Analytics makes this very easy.
20. Ability to add NoFollow, NoIndex tags to links.

Other than perhaps #1 (support for 301 redirects), none of the other features are absolute deal killers if they are not supported, but if more than a few are not offered, consider broadening your CMS consideration set and look for one that does.

If you need help with SEO on your eCommerce website or want to learn more about search engine optimization, paid search, social media marketing, conversion funnel optimization, landing page best practices and more – give us a call!

virtual office phone

5 Reasons Why Rob McKenna is Winning over Jay Inslee with Social Media

By | Social Media | One Comment

Photo: Rob McKenna vs Joe Inslee 2012 WA gubernatorial race - Confluence Digital blogWe’ve all seen the power of the Internet during Obama’s historic campaign in 2008. Candidate Obama used social media to win hearts and minds, influencing people and attracting followers to his campaign. Since then it has become standard for political campaigns to reach out to potential donors, volunteers, and voters through social media. Candidates now realize that they can no longer ignore the power of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Increasingly people of all demographic and political backgrounds congregate to consume and share information and discuss issues on social platforms. As a result, those relatively new channels can play a vital role in elections and no serious political campaign can afford to miss out on this new trend.

Jay Inslee vs. Rob McKenna on social media

Here in Washington we’re already getting a taste of the no.1 gubernatorial race in the USA between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna as they warm up their campaigns to become the next governor of the State of Washington.  Currently the polls are leaning to Jay Inslee (D) leading with 47% closely followed by Rob McKenna with 44%.  However after taking a look at the candidate’s social media programs I found 5 reasons why Jay Inslee should be stepping up his game on his social media programs if he wants to keep the polls leaning his way. 

#1 McKenna’s campaign website has a blog

The first thing I look for when evaluating a social media program is whether the company, organization, or campaign has a blog and how often it gets updated with fresh, visitor-enticing (and search engine optimized) content.  I was very surprised to find out that of the two candidates only McKenna was maintaining a blog which he regularly updates with the latest campaign news.

As I wrote in a previous article, a blog is a powerful tool to attract supporters through useful content which if integrated with a a social media campaign, can help a site rank higher in the search engines.  In an election a blog is a great way to continue to shape and protect the candidate’s online reputation. 

#2  If “likes” were votes then McKenna is winning the race on Facebook

I would personally consider Facebook “likes” to be a good proxy for votes. They are in fact public “digital votes”, essentially individual-level campaign endorsements, which means in that case that McKenna is leading by 818 more individual “endorsements” than Inslee. Now if the sample size would be the combined Facebook Page likes of both candidates then McKenna would be leading with 52% followed by Inslee with 48%. Not that distant from the actual results as the difference between the candidates continues to be within 3 to 4%.

#3 McKenna does a great job in making his position on key issues easily visible and media rich

As you can see below even though both candidates are using custom tabs to make it easier for their fans to donate, McKenna has one set up for “Issues”.  The tab includes the candidate’s view on 3 issues that include a video presentation followed by a brief written description.  This is really valuable for undecided voters looking to learn more about the candidate’s point of view while on Facebook. 

Image: Jay Inslee vs Rob McKenna Facebook likes - Confluence Digital blog

#4 McKenna gets that he needs to engage his fans to win 

OK, in Facebook unless you can keep new fans engaging with your page, your Page updates will not longer make it to their feeds because of Facebook EdgeRank.  In the post below, not only is McKenna sharing that he is interested in his supporters’ opinion, but he is using a direct call to action by inviting them to take a survey on his site and share their thoughts on how to move forward.  In Facebook this leads to comments which the post received, 24 of them, and probably also generated new traffic to his campaign’s site – smart move.  

 #5  Inslee is more popular but McKenna is more influential on Twitter

I used an influence metric tool to find out which candidate is doing a better job at pushing tweets to their political supporters in a manner that motivates them to share it with others.  McKenna’s account is more influential because of his ability to engage other influential accounts to respond and share his content even though Inslee has more users following him on Twitter.

Image: Rob McKenna vs Jay Inslee Twitter influence - Confluence Digital blog

Social media will play a vital role in the 2012 elections.  McKenna is winning with social media for now even though Inslee is leading in the polls, but as the election approaches a well-managed and focused social media effort could be what ends up separating one candidate from the other.  My recommendation – it’s time for Candidate Inslee to step up his investment in social media or risk getting left in the dust.

Links to McKenna’s and Inslee’s social media sites:

Jay Inslee for Governor

Rob McKenna for Governor 

Jay Inslee on Facebook

Rob McKenna on Facebook

Jay Inslee on Twitter

Rob McKenna on Twitter

Let us help you make the most of your social media outreach whether to your constituency or customer base. We can help answer your questions about any digital tactic from social media to search “basics” like SEO and PPC as well as conversion funnel optimization, landing page design and more.

virtual office phone