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In an apparent attempt to corner yet more of the mobile market, Facebook has rolled out new functionality that will allow Android users to use its messaging service without signing up for an account.
The Messenger Android app will now allow smartphone users to utilise the Facebook service by submitting a name and phone number. This move is thought to indicate a desire to snare those who have deleted their account, but who still have friends who are users, and will shortly be rolled out to the iPhone.
By relocating its messaging app into a more open market, the Californian giant is competing with widely-used services such as WhatsApp and Google Voice, and may hope to bolster its mobile credibility with a view to increasing the reach of its advertising. The development may have a beneficial effect on business, either through increased paid advertising potential or the wider spread of ‘viral’ material. If you want advice on how Facebook could help your business, or on any other type of social media optimisation, drop us a line and we’ll have a chat.
YouTube and Digital Marketing
A discussion broke out earlier this week in the office about YouTube.
We were talking about life before the site, and how as recent as 2005, we dreamed of a place on the internet which would act as a magical wishing well for whatever niche or interest you had: ‘I want to watch my favourite childhood TV programme’ or ‘I want to see that goal again’. With YouTube, these aims are achievable. Yes, we probably use it mainly for cute cat videos or the latest film trailers, but one shouldn’t exclude YouTube from any discussion of useful social media.
How Social is YouTube?
Yes, YouTube is more widely considered a video-streaming site (which it is); but there is a huge social element too, which gets lost in the shuffle. Visual items, such as video and infographics, are a lot more likely to be shared and go viral than a long, wordy article; and because social is becoming more and more decisive in SEO, creating something that people will want to show off to friends is becoming vital. YouTube users have a profile which they can play around with; made easier with its integration with Google, to the point where you can now have your own name (which will please anyone who came up with an immature username at the age of 15). Unfortunately, a strong majority of users don’t bother to contribute or even read comments, because they’ve already seen a related video that they want to click on to. You’ll have your usual trolls with their all-caps, swear word-infested arguments, but you can find some very thoughtful, well-structured back-and-forth replies as well. You just have to scroll.
Like Facebook or Twitter, you can also see relationships built up over time. Someone posts a video here and there; someone else replies with a ‘cool video dude’; more people see it, and want to throw in their two pence or expand on your reply. A comment strikes a chord and gets a “thumbs up”. If you keep at it as a creator, promoting your video on the other proper social networks, and tagging your video properly, your uploads will spread further. People will post a link on forums, or even sites like Reddit, and in turn, YouTube will register that your upload is getting a lot of views, and give it a nudge.
Soon you’ll have subscribers (i.e. followers) who’ll look forward to your next upload. They can even see it pop up by making YouTube’s homepage a port-of-call, along with Facebook or Twitter. If they’ve decided to follow you on those platforms, you can post a link there to remind them you’re still around and have uploaded fresh content. Like the concept of ‘followers’, ‘subscribers’ assumes that even if you don’t personally know someone, it’s socially acceptable to follow their activity. So whereas some businesses struggle to earn likes from those beyond their friends and family, YouTube is a bit more lax in that you don’t have to wait for someone to accept your request. This way, strangers can observe you from a distance for a while before making a decision to take on your services.
How YouTube Can Be Used By Business
Only a small majority of our clients use YouTube, because it captures a visual element of their services which they wish to demonstrate and which is not as applicable to other industries. How-To tutorial videos, for instance, builds up authority as a knowledgeable or capable source if you’re in the building trade. Viewers can put a face to a business and get to know you as a personality – which can be endearing, provided you pick the right person to represent you on camera. Videos are also an alternative route to posting images on their own on Pinterest or Facebook; putting together a slideshow to music can be easier on the eye, and show that much more effort has been put in.
Social Media and Politics: Going Where The Crowd Is
Some interesting points on social media have arisen from the American elections, from which Barack Obama has emerged the winner. According to experts, social media has played a major hand in encouraging more people to vote, which is always a positive notion. As in business, if you want to speak to a particular audience, like the younger voter, go where they are. For a business stepping into social media, this requires entering certain key conversations where your clientele are. For political candidates, this can equate to simply having a Twitter presence.
Is Your Use of Social Media Biased?
Looking at my Twitter feed last night, I had the impression that Obama could not lose the election. It seemed to reflect the opinions of many pundits who saw the election as Obama’s to lose. But then Obama is incredibly popular with younger voters, who are the main proponents of social media. Perhaps there’s a reason why the two juggernauts of Facebook and Twitter share the blue of the Democrats….
Maybe this is a little too broad a statement to make. It’s important to consider that anyone’s feed is already skewed by who they follow or are friends with. This effect is seen most strongly on Twitter, which is more of a passive tool used to absorb the opinions of others. At least this is the case when you compare to Facebook which is generally more focused on back-and-forth interaction between friends. If you are a young Republican at university, and your social circle revolves around your fellow society members, then the chances are that you’ll see more in your feed who are pro-Romney (or at least there would be more of a balance).
Limitations of Social Media
There are some limitations to the relationship between social media and politics. While this is changing increasingly, social media tends to be a young person’s playground. Many websites made infographics and maps to plot what Twitter was saying about Obama and Romney in the run-up to yesterday. These are useful but somewhat inaccurate. While The Guardian said that Obama was on the lips or fingertips of everyone on Twitter across America, who says they were all saying good things about him? Let us remember also, that Twitter is only 140 characters; the decision of who to elect to lead a nation should depend on many more factors.
Lessons For the Future
We can take a lesson from this and perhaps be a bit more open as to who we follow. Twitter was an important tool for all political candidates to speak directly to the electorate. But how many individuals followed both? Isn’t it more likely that individuals followed the person they always backed or the candidate who represented the party they voted for in 2008? Why bother with the person you don’t agree with, right? It’s a fair assessment, but unfortunately this slightly taints the statement that social media has allowed candidates to speak directly to the voters; they’ve only been able to speak to voters who would listen. To un-follow someone is just the click of a button; so in the future we ought to at least consider both sides and make our feeds a two-horse race.
Similarly, businesses with a Twitter presence would be wise to follow competitors and critics as well as customers. This allows you to take stock of opinions and strategies from all corners, which can only be good for your bottom line. If you want help in setting up or managing your social media accounts, contact us here for advice.
Many prospective clients we speak with come to us seeking immediate results with a turn of a knob here and tweak there. Though Seach Engine Optimisation is our bread and butter, it is an industry that is constantly changing, and adapting to that change is part of our job on behalf of our clients to keep them in the game against their competitors. So unfortunately the implementation of SEO services is not as simple as doing a specific set of actions for a client and cashing their cheque without a second thought; it requires careful testing and re-testing, evaluating the needs of their customers as well as close discussion with the client themselves. Just as we expect that our clients treat each and every one of their customers as individual and unique consumers, we treat all of our clients differently.
So one must not expect SEO to be an added on feature to boost one’s business; something that can be bought or tacked on to give a quick boost. Yes, you may obtain some brief success but that is all it will be; brief, and I can’t overstate the temporary nature of that success enough. SEO must not be ‘turned off’ when you see that your website traffic is up; it is integral in seriously redirecting focus and initiative towards exploring new goals, markets, and avenues of income.
I thought I would bang you over the head once more with something Olympic-themed to explain the long-term game. Watching press clips of various athletes speaking of how they have trained for years and years, their whole lives building to these few weeks, brought to mind the steady process required for your business to properly reap the full rewards.
We have many enquiries who expect the world immediately though they do not recognise that this requires a long-term relationship. That is why usually, I Say! Digital will offer initial services that are smaller and cheaper so as not to falsely present clients with promises of the impossible. Then once we can prove that we can make a difference, we can move forward and discuss additional services.
Business is all about the here-and-now. What does it matter if you were doing well this time five years ago, if you’re close to failure now? Similarly, no athlete wants to peak too early whether in their career, or in one race; effort and conditioning is preserved for when it really matters; when everyone is watching and when most is at stake. No business wants to do well temporarily and then simply fall away like a runner who trails further and further behind having at one time led the pack. The bigger the mountain, the greater the victory.
Why doesn’t a track-runner just strap a rocket to their back? The SEO equivalent is obvious keyword-stuffing on a site; and seeing someone get away with it while you’re doing the right things can be a bitter pill to swallow. Some of the more sneakier, covert tactics like hiding text on your site by disguising it as the same colour as your background are more along the lines of performance-enhancing drugs, which don’t show up on the surface as clearly. While these black hat tactics are promised and utilised by some agencies, Google will see this and (if not immediately) will penalise you. Stigmas related to quick fixes or cheats in the sporting world can ruin a reputation, and the same can be said for black hat techniques for businesses who risk ruining their own image by taking on the wrong SEO agency.
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