According to Hitwise, Facebook just became more popular than Google Search.
become the most visited website for the week. Facebook.com recently reached the #1 ranking on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day as well as the weekend of March 6th and 7th. The market share of visits to Facebook.com increased 185% last week as compared to the same week in 2009, while visits to Google.com increased 9% during the same time frame. Together Facebook.com and Google.com accounted for 14% of all US Internet visits last week
Not sure of HitWises methodology - why aren't they comparing all Google's web functions, including Maps and Mail? - but good on Facebook! For a site that didn't exist in 2003, that is quite some achievement.
What does this mean for the future of search marketing?
Given the lock-in for return visits, it's unsurprising that Facebook might receive more visits than a search engine. However, the most important aspect of different channels, as far as a web marketer is concerned, is: does the traffic convert to cash at some point?
Social Media Marketing, like SEO, is a tatic. However, if the tactic don't translate into more business, then it's a waste of time. Whatever channel you use, it is important to establish KPIs - key performance indicators - that measure the effectiveness of your tactics, and directly relate to the success of you business.
For example, one of the KPIs often mentioned in SMM is volume metrics, such as number of followers, subscribers etc. If we were to relate this metric back to our business objectives, we'd ask how does having a higher number of followers, or people claiming to be followers, result in more business? How many of those followers are really engaging with you? Or are they, literally, just making up the numbers?
I've seen social media companies fudge this aspect. Some play around with the term ROI, changing the "I" from "investment" to "influence", or to "interest", and use the number of followers as evidence of the level of interest in a clients services or brand.
The bottom line is the golden KPI. It can become blurred in bigger organizations, but for the little guy, it is crucial.
Volume Metrics Can Be Deceiving
Search marketers know that the volume game can be an illusion when it comes to making money.
"Jokes" may be a very popular keyword term, but it's not making people any money because there is no commercial intent. "Second mortgages" is not a particularly popular term in terms of volume, but is lucrative as it has clear commercial intent. A high position for second mortgages in search rankings will make you money.
Conversely, how difficult would it be to get buzz around the term "second mortgages" via social media? Sure, with some inventive twisting and disguising of the true message it could be done, but really, it's pushing water uphill. The social environment isn't really suited to such a message.
Choose The Right Environment
The two channels are like apples and oranges.
Different environments work for different messages. Social media is great for generating awareness, getting people talking, and when integrated with an SEO strategy can be a great way of getting links. Primarily, it's a brand strategy. However, because it is a social environment, there is less tolerance of overt commercial activity that in direct channels.
Typical social media measurements include:
- Business outcomes - can you link the campaign to specific interactions, such as sales?
- Influencer Reach - how many influencers picked up on your message and spread it?
- Audience Reach - how many visitors saw your message? Link this metric to...
- Engagement - how many of those people who saw you message contacted you, or took a desired action?
Conversely, SEO isn't much use for building brand awareness or encouraging people to talk about your message. The environment is similar to direct marketing. It is well suited to direct response and commercial activity, as the intent of the user can be determined, and if that intent is commercial, then people welcome commercial messages.
What Is Your Business
Hanging out and being cool on Facebook isn't a business :)
Business on the web typically falls into one of nine groups. Which is yours?
- Brokerage - bringing buyers and sellers together
- Advertising - displaying/selling advertising
- Infomediary - run programs such as ad networks
- Merchant - sell stuff
- Manufacturer (Direct) - make and sell stuff
- Affiliate - sell other peoples stuff and take a commission
- Community - leverage your community to sell something else
- Subscription - sell content/training on an on-going basis
- Utility - pay as you go usage
Decide which business you are in. When deciding on marketing and advertising tactics, ask yourself which environment is best suited to developing your business, then develop KPIs that support that business. You key KPI should be the bottom line - either this activity returns more money than you spend, or it doesn't.
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