Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook Graph Search Optimisation Hacks

This is part two of my Facebook Graph Search Optimisation series, here you can find my Facebook Graph Search Basics post.

Facebook’s Graph Search tips for businesses post gives Facebook SEO ninjas a number of key areas to hack away further to dominate Facebook Graph results. Initially I expect the low hanging fruit with the fastest return on investment coming from the following areas:

Content Optimisation

Screenshot-SearchBar-Photos

Because of its semantic nature, Graph Search initially limits the query strings to a set number of content types. Content that includes photos and keywords related to locations, times and events all adhere to the suggested query string format. Creating photo albums on your Page that mash up the semantic query types is the most obvious way to generate ROI from minimal effort here.

Likely long term wins, worth initial and ongoing effort.

Screenshot-PhotosOfFriendsBefore1999

Keyword Spam

Facebook gives Page owners the following tip “The name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.”

This presents an opportunity to attack the Graph Search algorithm through keyword optimisation in the above Page sections – the expectation here is that at least initially, the Algorithm will suffer from a lack of data to calibrate how it determines spam keyword practices vs genuine content. This Graph hack will likely require constant maintenance to stay ahead of algorithm changes similar to spammy SEO techniques for Google/Bing’s algorithm, in addition to detracting from the perceived value of Pages by fans, so use this sparingly.

Easy wins, but likely only temporary. Worth some attention.

graph-search-body-Inline

Sponsored Search Results

The hidden gem in the announcement was: “Pages and apps can still use sponsored results, which appear to people whether or not they have Graph Search (sponsored results have been globally available since August 2012). There are no new ad formats available today. Here is more information on creating a sponsored result.”

In my experience, the sponsored search results ad unit has been super cheap on a CPC basis. The new Graph Search results page style is likely to increase the quality of clicks and decrease your CPA from campaigns using this ad unit (Sponsored Results Ads in the drop down search box tend to generate a high percentage of accidental clicks). Being a first mover to adopt Graph Search PPC while demand from competitors is low is key to extracting the highest potential ROI while costs are at their lowest.

This Graph Search hack is more involved, and requires ongoing maintenance to ensure ROI as the demand for ad inventory increases, but is likely to be a massive area for growth for Facebook as they release additional Graph Search ad units as they attempt to expand revenue, opening up opportunities for Pages with experience optimising Graph Search Sponsored Result campaigns.

 

 

Second impressions on Facebook UI changes (Facebook un-screws advertisers)

Facebook Activity Feed Advertising Changes

 

1) Facebook just screwed advertisers over by making the ‘friendfeed’ hover over the ads when you scroll (Expect ad CTR to fall – why Facebook didn’t make the ads hover with the friendfeed as well I have no idea)

2) Edgerank optimisation of page posts seems less important now – with all news posts being shown most recent first (unless you can make that coveted top most relevant post position)

3) Looks like the experience will be best enjoyed by those with a Dunbar ‘normal’ 150 friends or so – those with large networks will be swamped with updates.

The changes are definitely aimed at Google+, which is more information sharing centric (in order to power Google’s social algorithms behind the main search engine results) – and is key to Facebook making the move to ‘social search’ and taking the battle to Google proper.

Overall I don’t mind the changes (but will have to adapt to them still), what are your thoughts?

[UPDATE] Second Impression: Looks like Facebook listened to advertisers – now the entire right hand column/activity feed/ads hover as you scroll down the page – keeping the ads visible, i’d be interested to see whether this actually improves CTR with the ads now visible the entire time people are looking at their news feed. (if anyone has any numbers – I’d love to see them)

Google+ is not Facebook

This is a guest post from Nathan Statz aka @Sephyre.

There has been a lot of people throwing around ‘Google+ doesn’t seem to be happening’ or ‘I don’t see Google+ taking off’ of late. Usually this will be a Facebook junkie who thought Google+ was going to be this magical land that replicated Zuckerberg’s playground with a different logo at the top.

A no-talent hack writer over at Forbes went so far as to write a eulogy for Google’s upstart social network. There’s no need to point out what is wrong with the author wondering why nothing was happening on his Google+ stream, because he was smacked down by such a large collection of G+ users that he already wrote a retraction of sorts.

The thing is Google+ isn’t Facebook, and it’s not trying to be. Do you remember way back when you first started out with Facebook? You might have been one of the millions (myself included) that had a MySpace account, but your eyes started bleeding from all the animated gifs and bright colours. By comparison, Facebook was a grown up, clutter-free, and simple paradise to do all the things you could do on MySpace. It also didn’t have the stigma of being ‘for teenagers’. Suddenly being on a social network wasn’t just something kids do, it was starting to become mainstream.

When you started building your Facebook up, likely you added your real life friends, imported a few contacts from Hotmail or Yahoo, and used the feature to find other people that went to the same high school you did, or were in that university club you liked so much. Not only were you connecting with your mates, you were reconnecting with those you hadn’t seen for ages. It was like going to your school reunion, only without the awkward small-talk and forced smiles.

Now that almost everyone is established on Facebook, it’s always going to be tough for a new social network to lure people to it. LinkedIn did it by focusing on building professional relationships, and Twitter did it by focusing on small amounts of information and nothing else.

Even with Twitter’s popularity, it’s nothing compared to Facebook. There is still that reluctance for a lot of people to embrace Twitter, I myself took a while before I ‘got’ what all the fuss was about.

When Google+ first opened the floodgates and throngs of people poured in, there was thundering herd of Facebook fanatics that expected everything to be the same. They no doubt make up a large chunk of that ’25 million’ figure that is floated around all the time, but they also never really tried Google+.

It’s kind of like logging onto Facebook for the first time, wondering why all of your MySpace friends aren’t there telling you how great their background update is, and then never logging in again because ‘it’s not happening’.

You have to put a sliver of effort into populating your Google+ stream, but once it’s up and going, it’s so much cleaner, bloat-free, and just generally better than Facebook.

A lot of the confusion comes from the Google+ ‘circles’. I never quite understood what was so hard to get with that. I only have two circles. I have ‘Friends’ which is basically a copy of my Facebook contacts, and ‘Acquaintances’, which is for all the folks that have come across from Twitter, or I have found posting interesting things on Google+.

To be honest I just post everything to ‘All Circles’, but if I got around to putting up holiday photos, which I have to Facebook in the past, I would send that out to my ‘Friends’ circle.

In effect Google+’s circles let you use the network however you want. It gives you all the functionality of Facebook without random updates about how ‘Soandso needs 50 magical beans for ‘ or how ‘Otherguy got a high score on ‘.

When I first signed up to Google+ I wasn’t expecting much. I usually sign up to whatever social media network is getting hyped, grab my username, and then never log into it again. It took me a couple of years to start getting into Twitter, even longer for LinkedIn, but something about Google+ reached past my social media fatigue to motivate me to actually post and interact.

Maybe it’s the lack of bloat, maybe it’s the fact that it posts all the information anyone posts without an edgerank, or maybe it’s just the fact that it isn’t Facebook.

Facebook scams users to keep up with Twitter in the real time search war.

In a previous post I discussed the reasons why Facebook couldn’t win the real time search war with Twitter. Namely because of the advantage Twitter has with mobile clients. Facebook has come along in leaps and bounds since then, with the release of the Facebook 3.0 app for the iPhone a particularly strong offering. Even my platform of choice, Windows Mobile has a perfectly functional, albeit poor looking Facebook app available.

The one area I didn’t cover in my previous post, was perhaps the most critical factor to Facebook competing with Twitter in the real time search market. Facebook as a platform has since it’s inception, been an inherently closed social network. People need to be part of your network before they can gain access to your information, either by being by being a friend directly, or belonging to your extended network should you have chosen to allow “friends of friends” get access to your information.

Twitter on the other hand, is an open platform by default. Sure users can opt to restrict access to their tweets, but for the most part, this is counter to the workings of Twitter. If people can’t find you by seeing you participate in conversations with others, you don’t exist to them. Which limits your “Twitter experience” considerably.

As a result, Twitter generates considerable amounts of publicly searchable information every second. Whereas Facebook is stuck with it’s data being in silos around each individual that are inaccessible to the general public. In order to make this information available to search engines to provide meaningful results (and more importantly generate revenues from Bing/Google in the process)  it is *vital* for Facebook to change from a closed social networking platform. To a more open one, at least in regards to peoples wall posts (that which provides the best real time data).

This week Facebook offered it’s users what they called a ‘Transition tool’ to manage the transition to the new structure of the privacy settings. The tool itself is illustrated below by a screenshot taken by @beaney.

Facebook Privacy Settings Update

Now what this transition tool offered was the new default options for each setting for Facebook on the left, and a column of radio buttons on the right to allow you to select to keep your old settings if it was different from the new default. Instead of allowing users to select from all the  privacy levels for each  option, they only permitted the default (for the primary options this was the most permissive ‘everyone’ option) or the existing setting. Nothing in between.

Surely Facebook could have offered drop down boxes as with their normal privacy options menu, and simply listed the previously used setting next to each option and allowed the users freedom of choice. But no, this is a deceptive move on Facebooks behalf to scam its users into opening up their data so that Bing and Google can mine it and pay Facebook for the privilege.

Coinciding with this change in privacy settings for Facebook was an announcement not long ago that Facebook and Microsoft had ‘inked a deal’ to index all of Facebook users data. Obviously it is in Facebook’s financial interests to push users into opening up their status updates, but doing so in such a deceptive way will only result in users over-sharing and exposing themselves to risks unknowingly such as having their payoffs cut off when insurers see pictures of them on Facebook ‘smiling’. I expect Facebook’s response to such incidents as being “well the user opted in to up opening their profile” which may be true, but is unscrupulous and not the sort of behavior I would expect from the company.

You can do better Mark Zuckerberg. You evangelise the user experience with Facebook, but you have let your users down with this one.

Twitter is *now* and Facebook is *Last Weekend* (Why Facebook can’t win in real time search)

With the FriendFace deal I’ve written about before the R&D team from FriendFeed was touted as giving Facebook a leg up in the real time search world against Twitter, and while Friendfeed has some great technology to integrate into Facebook, until we see a fundamental paradigm shift in how people interact with Facebook. The service will always lag behind Twitter in the timeliness of posts, and hence, always be behind the 8-ball when it comes to being a true real time search engine.

Why?

In an increasingly connected world, application support on mobile devices is critical to enable people to participate in their social  networks on the go. They need to be lightweight and easy to update your status or participate in your ‘stream’ in the spare moments a person has on the bus, between meetings with clients etc. Facebook has focused a lot recently on developing a new version for the iPhone “Facebook 3.0” which purports to be much easier to use and offers a better optimised user experience than the mobile Facebook site which is “underdeveloped” to put it kindly.

Facebook 3.0 moves to address some of the shortcomings that have limited its use on mobile platforms, but the Facebook ‘environment’ does not translate well from the desktop to the mobile screen. The sheer number of features and plug-ins and other services that Facebook offers can not easily be transferred to a mobile device and this will continue to impede adoption of Facebook by mobile users.

Twitter on the other hand, is inherently optimised for the mobile space. Being limited from early in it’s evolution to messages of 140 Characters (Twitter originally had no message size limit, but this changed soon after the service was born) it has by default a natural place on mobiles, essentially a multi-cast version of SMS. This is both a natural extension of behaviour users are already accustomed to and is an ideal fit for the mobile form factor.

Sure Twitter mobile applications have added many bells and whistles over the basic function of sending 140 character messages, applications such as Tweetie on the iPhone and PockeTwit on Windows Mobile (The screenshots of PockeTwit don’t do it justice, it’s a great App) have added media service integration (uploading of photos, GPS integration with mapping services etc) but the core competancy of these applications is the short succinct ‘tweet’ which drives their function.

Facebook cannot compete with this ‘limitation’ without neutering the experience desktop users have with the service. Which is why when it comes to what is happening now Facebook can’t compete, and is limited to being the repository of the photos from the party you had on the weekend when you finally upload them a week later.