Advertising on Social Media

There are nearly countless methods of social networking on the internet, with the numbers growing every day. Naturally, a few names standout as the top platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Small businesses likely cannot afford to choose more than one of these platforms, though the visibility is certainly worth the investment.

Where will you receive the best results?

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of advertising on the top social media platforms:


Pros: Facebook has the largest number of users (over 1.19 billion and of those at least 700 million users are active daily) and will give you immediate visibility with a wide range of audiences. It offers advanced targeting options so that small businesses can advertise to their specific clientele. Targeting options are: location, gender, likes/interests, workplace, relationship status, and education.

Cons: In comparison to other sites, Facebook’s provided metrics are very small. Additionally the expense for a small ad may not offer increased traffic enough to justify its cost.


Pros: The user base is made up of mainly business professionals, which gives the platform a high conversion rate. Categories like employee title, location, and demographics allow targeting to specific audiences. The platform is growing swiftly, particularly in markets such as India.

Cons: Click-through-rates are fairly low, though the ones that do click are usually invested. Compared to other platforms, advertisements are expensive. Additionally remarketing options are not available.


Pros: With its use of hashtags, Twitter allows targeting of users based on their current interests. Like Facebook, Twitter has a dedicated user base (over 320 million active users, with 1.3 billion total). Its ad format is much more straightforward via promoted tweets, which appear like any other user’s tweet. Promoted accounts and trends are additionally beneficial.

Cons: Apart from hashtags and keywords, Twitter’s selection of interests to choose from is fairly limited and makes it difficult to target by interest. Twitter keeps quiet about its ads’ success compared to other platforms. Also the cost can be unthinkable for small businesses, especially for “promoted trends.”


Pros: As a search engine itself, Google knows how to use SEO benefits. Its audience is more tech-driven (a pro for some companies and a con for others). The advertiser does not pay for their ad unless someone clicks on it and at that point, pays per click.

Cons: Google does qualify hovering over the ad for two seconds or more as a click. This platform does not receive as much traffic as the other sites mentioned, with a mere 300 million monthly users (although this includes use of Google’s other products like YouTube). Also targeting options are limited and promotion policies are restrictive.


Web Analysis Services: SmarterStats vs. Google Analytics

An important part of maintaining and optimizing your website involves keeping an eye on your traffic. You need to know what users are looking for when they come to your site, how long they stay, the last page they visit before they leave, and the average amount of time spent on your site. This information is irreplaceably helpful when it comes to highlighting areas that might need improvement or successful page designs you might want to emulate throughout your website. The two most popular services for this analysis are Google Analytics and SmarterStats. The main difference between the two is that Google Analytics is a script-based analyzer, while SmarterStats is a log-based analyzer. What does this mean? We have complied a comparison of facts to help you make the educated and informed decision that will best service your website’s specific needs.

Features unique to SmarterStats:

SmarterStats has the advantage of being managed and installed on your own server and can still be used on firewall-protected corporate internet, reassuring you that you are receiving the whole picture of the statistics. It is able to reprocess historical data from log files and locally process or reprocess log files. It reports on spider and bot activity, server errors, and status codes. SmarterStats provides access to raw data for custom report building, uses SEO reports for analyzing search engine ranking, and offers analysis of competitor reports.

Features unique to Google Analytics:

Google Analytics is able to collect information through tags and uses its integration with Google AdWords to gather more information. It provides Real Time user data, goal configuration and tracking, and visitor flow report.

Features shared by SmarterStats and Google Analytics:

Both analysis services are able to report on paid search campaigns, banner and traditional marketing campaigns, and offer geo-targeted reporting. They analyze visitor session and navigation paths. Additionally both services offer free versions of their programs. The SmarterStats free version limits the use to a single site and one SEO campaign. Google Analytics free version has a limited amount of pageviews it will track. Larger sites with high traffic are required to purchase more of a package.

When it comes to accuracy, Google Analytics can misrepresent or underreport some statistics. The two services process data at different intervals, with Google Analytics using a 30-minute window while SmarterStats uses a 5-minute. Google Analytics only records data on pages with a tracking code. When it all boils down, SmarterStats is more accurate because it reports every request to the server instead of just what tracking code tags.

Developer Preview for Chrome Web Store

Mashable just dropped a post about the Chrome Web Store and how Google’s just release a developer preview video of what people can expect they’ll have access to and what the purpose of the Web Store is supposed to represent.

For those of you who don’t know, the short story behind the whole movement is to take traditional desktop software and make it available through the browser, hosted online and eventually accessible anywhere.

These days, someone says ‘Apps’ and immediately ideas surrounding mobile apps crops up. The reality about mobile apps, they just provide easier access and simplified approaches to tasks you would normally do through a website or desktop software – naturally with the advantage of being with you at all times.

Think of the apps you use on a daily basis. Right now, for example, I’ve got Photoshop, Dreamweaver, an Instant Messaging client, spreadsheet software, a game, and a browser (with WordPress and YouTube rockin’). Of these pieces of software, only one is through a browser, everything else is dependent on a desktop. Granted the IM Client, Dreamweaver and maybe even my game could all be accessing the internet, but they are all software I’ve installed locally to access their features. The core drive behind the Chrome Web Store is to make this traditional desktop software available through a browser. When you open a new tab, you can click screenshots of your bookmarks (to go to those websites) or icons for applications such as photoshop (and access your files either stored remotely or locally).

If you saw the Mashable post on Facebook you may also notice that within a few minutes of the article posting, there were some 50 people commenting ‘No, I will not use or pay for apps through my browser’ – but not in so many words. The general public – and I’d like to think that Mashable’s audience is more tech savvy than the general public – has a hard time accepting certain change. Apps on mobile devices (that aren’t games) are simplified ways of accomplishing tasks you’d do on a desktop or through a website. Now we’re talking about doing the same approach but doing it independent of any mobile device and dependent on a browser.

How many of you host or support websites that are Software as a Service (SaaS)? Would you consider putting your application into the Chrome Web Store? You know if you dig down deep into documentation, there’s a lot of detail on using OpenID and OAuth to interact with Google’s Licensing services – licensing paired with Google Checkout?

Ok let’s back way up and give you some food for thought, look at all Google’s apps have to offer and integrate with: Open Social, OpenID/OAuth/Google Accounts, Google Checkout, Google Maps, Google Places, Google Base, YouTube, and there are so many more that you’ve probably never seen or thought about. Now think about what your SaaS does, or what your desktop-software does: do you think you have enough tools to let people, let your users, actually use your software through a browser? Use and license your material through an online resource that’s separate from your website?

Feel free to pursue the documentation yourself.

What If Facebook Started Its Own Web Search Engine?

A while back, Facebook’s number of weekly hits surpassed hits to Google. This has brought about discussion related to what (else) Facebook could accomplish if it put effort towards other market segments in addition to their social network. Could this milestone be a sign that Facebook, if they so desired, has the strength and means to enter into Google’s search market?

Bing’s search engine is what currently powers the web-based search results provided by Facebook. A big part of the reason why Google is successful is they go out of their way to provide exceptional service(s) for users. Facebook, in a way, already does this: users on Facebook who utilize the search function are most likely looking for Facebook-related material.

In an article from around the same time, there’s a blip about how the recent redesign of Facebook’s layout creates a better opportunity for users to find what they want by searching, rather than combing through sub-links and multiple profiles. Moreover: Bing, being the web-search-engine powering Facebook, is now incorporating meta data from user statuses (which likely means tags as well) into search results. Facebook’s UI and interactions seem to change on a daily basis, but the 30,000+ servers used to support Facebook have changes rolling out constantly and by regions – it’s difficult to tell when everyone has the same search results or expected behavior from Facebook.

I believe the question we should try to answer would be: ‘What if someone tried to encroach on Google’s Market (related to Search)?‘ Facebook, as a social media application, is not the application to do it. Bing, however, powered Facebook meta-data, may be a better candidate to analyse for taking on some of Google’s market share (in search). That said, modify the focus of the question to be “What if Bing starts using Facebook data to power their search results, what will that mean for Google’s market related to search?” Zombies Oh My God: the Privacy Policy wars would wage on for years!

Facebook will not get into web-based search like Google and Bing. The key component of Facebook is the social network(s) that are available to users: Friends, family members, co-workers, etc. A recommendation on a service provider, restaurant, church or concert from a friend of family member (or someone you trust (within reason) who would be a connection on said social network) is more valuable than a web-search result. To Facebook’s advantage, said services and amenities often have Facebook Pages. A co-worker can recommend a service provider, through Facebook, linking to an appropriate page, also on Facebook and the user never leaves the social networking site. Also, it turns out if you are running Facebook Ad campaigns, if you link to a Facebook page, post or profile with your ad, cost-per-click rates are considerably less than linking off of Facebook.

Therefore, I would offer that Facebook may create a niche within search that allows users to search for service providers, amenities or what-have-you and each result is paired with meta-data from trusted members of your network. Ex. Searching for a restaurant or happy hour location yields a list of 5 local results, 3 of which have Facebook Pages, of which one of those Facebook Pages your best friend or sister is ‘a fan of.’ This yields instant credibility, as associated with someone you already trust, for a business or service provider.

Blogging In a Nutshell – Part 2

Last article we explored different types of content to create and how to schedule when blog posts go out. If you missed our little introduction, jump back a few days to learn about forming original content for your blog.

Driving Traffic

In business you know that if you have a good product you can create a brand, business, store front – the whole nine – around your product. Buzz is created by your store’s physical location and buzz around your product by word of mouth from passer-byes or customers. It is far more difficult to attain reputation or recognition by passer-byes without a physical location. An example of a passer-by on the internet would be someone who uses a search engine and finds upon your blog – even if by mistake -they read some of your content and have an opinion about it. Whether they share their opinion on your blog, another means online (sharing on social networks) or discuss it offline, all methods create some level of attention around your content.

Similar to traditional media: distribution or syndication is the top communication channel to generate traffic to your blog. There are several ways to go about attaining syndication or distribution. First and foremost, know that Associated Press is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, content provider in the world. (They are a non-profit co-op and depending on the size of your organization and network, they will require a fee to add your content to their regular postings and provide you with access to their content and photos.) While not a requirement to be syndicated by AP, if your content is relevant for them, it won’t hurt your chances of driving traffic.

The simplest ways to distribute your content are easy, cost effective and steps you should take any way to help build your brand (even if you do not write a blog). First, create a dynamic sitemap; most blogging platforms will do this for you. WordPress, for example, has a series of plug-ins available to automatically (and dynamically) publish a sitemap that can be consumed by Google (and other major search providers). Next, claim your blog on syndication sites like Technorati and Google Blog Search, it’s simple to set up an account and both services will pull your posts daily (or by an interval you can set) so your newest content will always be syndicated. Lastly, any social networks (anywhere) that exist to support your company, blog, content or articles approach them about referencing your material, or post quality comments to their content linking back to your material. While link exchanging is seen as a careless method to generate search engine optimization value, having related content will help readers genuinely interested in a topic to find your blog.