Facebook Local Search

Facebook Professional Services, the next big thing for Local Search? (2018)

Facebook Professional Services

Facebook Professional Services

Facebook Professional Services is a new feature – still unannounced – that can be the next big thing for local search in 2016.

Update: it’s 2018 and the feature hasn’t been announced or promoted yet, but it’s still there, quite useful.

With this move Facebook is entering as a direct competitor of platforms such as Google Places (recently re-shaped as My Business), Yelp, Foursquare, Tripadvisor and others in the #local search market.

All Facebook Pages with a physical location will be listed in their respective primary business category and cannot avoid users rating/reviews – in fact, to remove the possibility that users leave reviews the page does not have to be associated with any physical location (e.g. brand pages).

All pages can be linked to up to three categories, but only the main one will be relevant for indexation in Professional Services – mind that if you do not see your Page listed yet.

Ranking high and with a good rating is crucial to business success. Many prospective customers look for confirmations about their possible choice right before they are going to buy – what Google calls micro-moments. This fact applies in particular in mobile local search, but at the moment, Facebook Professional Services are only available on the desktop. Maybe a dedicated app will be released at some point?

In Facebook Professional Services, ranking level is determined by a combination that takes into account number of reviews and rating (and possibly other variables such as engagement, page authority, reviewers authority, etc.). Therefore, having many reviews is the first step to being sure that a local service ranks in the top ten – there are ten results per page/category/city. Besides, rating from relevant users is also important: generally a page with 70 reviews and an average rating of 4.4 ranks better than a page with 20 reviews with 4.9 average rating.

Are you looking to improve your local search ranking? Have a look at this Local SEO Guide for Businesses by Brad Richardson (Caseo, Canada).

Facebook to discard Conversion Tracking Pixel in the second half of 2016

Features of Facebook Pixel

All digital advertisers that are currently using Conversion Tracking pixels have to move to Pixel by the second half of 2016.

 pixel is a better solution for both building Custom Audiences (e.g. remarketing) and tracking any conversion (see image).

Custom Audience pixel will remain. However, it is advised to move to the new Pixel that enables to build everything.

The FB pixel can be implemented through Google Tag Manager or other tag management services, covering all pages of the website(s) along the customer journey.

There is no need to create and implement multiple Pixels as one can be shared among different Ad Accounts. Consequently, Custom Audiences and Custom Conversions can be created directly into each Ad Account according to specific needs.

* the Conversion tracking pixel will be disabled by the second half of 2016 as announced by .

Linkedin Ads

How to re-target LinkedIn users through other channels

Ok, this method might break some rule, but it can be an effective solution for specific goals, like a very focused lead generation campaign. Let’s imagine that your goal is to reach outside , some workers of a few competitors based in country x or y, or anyone that studied at university z.

Just follow these steps:

  1. (alternative/1: choose this at your risk) Create a fake user profile on , possibly a high profile consultant;
  2. (alternative/2) use your real profile;
  3. If you go for alternative 1, you need to get new friends: define your target audience and add  users through the most appropriate search fields (industry, company, country, etc.);
    LinkedIn Profile Search
  4. Dig into Groups

    (extra/1) you can extend your contact list by joining the most relevant and popular groups that are related to your audience(s) industry and adding people that actively engage in conversation over there;

  5. Chase people suggested

    (extra/2) you might further extend the list by adding people suggested by , if having profiles matching your target audience;

  6. Export your contact list from LinkedIn

    Once you reach a certain amount of contacts (let’s say at least 300), export the contact list from to a CSV format file, format it through a spreadsheet software using the function “text-to-column”, choosing comma as delimiter and save a new CSV file with just a column of emails;

    LinkedIn Export Email CSV

  7. Split the contact list to create different targets

    (extra/3) Let’s suppose that you want to target all HR people of company X but you want to advertise in French and German, depending on where are they based. In this case, you can split the list into many by selecting specific job titles, country and/or company, the only fields relevant for such purpose, to create multiple remarketing lists (see next steps) but only if the sub-lists contains enough contacts;

  8. Create a remarketing list on Adwords

    Google Adwords audiences email
    On go to Shared Library, then Audiences, then select Customer Email and upload the CSV (one or many). Choose the duration up to 6 months, the time that your LinkedIn contacts will be able to be targeted with your textual and visual ads through the Google Display Network (that includes sites like Gmail and Youtube).
    Google Adwords audiences email

  9. Create a Customer List on Ads

    On Ads, select Audiences, then Custom Audience and import the CSV file(s) – you will be able to target LinkedIn users also through Instagram (if they have an account).
    Facebook Audiences
    Facebook Upload Emails
    Facebook Custom Audiences

 

Important Notes

  • if the list is too small you cannot do any remarketing: the list should contain at least 100 contacts;
  • this operation implies serious privacy issues (therefore, take at your risk) in fact, target contacts should be previously and adequately informed about this (either if you choose option 1=fake profile or 2=real profile).

Opportunities

  • you can extend the list by using Lookalike audience on (with a similarity percentage from 0% to 10%) and Similar users on Adwords: this is an excellent opportunity in particular if your target audience is the right one;
  • if you want to target LinkedIn users on Gmail, just add mail.google.com as Placement and the domain of companies that might send them an email as Display Keyword.

 

Top engagement drivers: how to get viral on Facebook

 

How to boost Facebook organic reach

Page Insights, among other things, help to identify what is the most engaging content for your audience. Some content gets viral, while other doesn’t get noticed at all.

Every content is a meme: some memes survive, going viral or being the source of new memes, while other doesn’t get noticed at all and disappear.

In this sense, are not only a memetic machine, with their constant production or reproduction of memes, but also a memetic cemetery (despite some memes of the past can always come back to life, under any circumstance).

This analysis is neither exhaustive nor definitive but tries to offer an overview over factors that affect the viral reach of Facebook posts, either on pages or profiles.

Results are summarised in the above scheme that is the outcome of frequent observations through different Facebook pages.

Why do we post?

The scheme starts from publisher’s intentions, either posting as an individual or for an organisation/brand.

Drivers of our publishing activity could be divided into three main, groups:

  1. Individualism – it tells how we feel or how we want to represent ourselves to the world (or, at least, our audience)
  2. Altruism – it is probably the most valuable content because it is aimed at creating/sharing value with the audience
  3. Opinion – this can be the outcome of either an individual attitude or a wish to start/join a conversation and affect the public opinion

Most of what we post contains elements of any of the above factors.

Content focus: individual vs. general

While Individualism can be categorised as material embedding a personal element and focusing on the poster (e.g. a selfie), the other two categories (Altruism and Opinion) relate to the external environment (e.g. tech, politics, sport, arts, science, culture in general, etc.).

Unless talking about VIP’s (including social stars, even in very narrow fields) or well-known brands that despite talking about themselves have a strong influence on the external environment, general content has more chances to get viral than the individual.

Engagement factors

The expected consequent actions (reactions) made by our audience, will increase the reach of our content: this is the viral effect, an enormous benefit because it does not cost anything, differently than promoted posts. Quality has value.

To get a high viral reach, it is important to engage people that are social stars, since their actions on your posts usually are more effective regarding reach, but, in general, every little helps.

  • Individualist content might be shared because of Empathy
  • Altruist content can be multiplied when it is perceived as Useful
  • Opinions tend to encourage Participation (either with a positive or negative feedback)

The actions that we expect from this are likes for an individualist content, share for a useful altruist content and comment for an opinion that drives participation.

How to categorise Facebook posts: some examples

We can try to attribute each content we see on Facebook to one of the following three categories and imagine what can be the expected reaction.

  • Individualism: selfies, feelings, travel, self-made content, etc.
  • Altruism: pets, recipes, reviews, guides, invitations, etc.
  • Opinion: politics, violence, VIPs, activism, etc.

Some content stays in between two or even all three categories. For example, a video clip of a song can be posted to represent a personal feeling (individualism) and at the same time to help other people discover that particular content (altruism) and express an opinion that reflects the lyrics (opinion).

Support for a political leader/movement or complaints towards a brand/company’s customer services can be categorised as opinions and can have a follow up made of supporting (or detracting) comments – and relative comment-likes and comment-tags.

A selfie is an individualist content, while an is (or, at least, try to be) an act of altruism that hopefully is perceived as useful and then multiplied by being liked and shared.

Affinity to your average audience increases engagement

Everyone has a different personality and Facebook knows that. Thinking of Lookalike audiences, we have to post with our audience in mind, more than content.

Knowing our audience enables to build an ideal average that should be our main content driver. The affinity of our content to our audience’s expectations is a core virality factor.

A Facebook Page with a very generic audience tends to have fewer occasions to gets its content viral due to high engagement-rate, while as opposite, content posted on a Page whose audience is very narrow and specialised can get viral with a high engagement-rate.

All factors count

Often many pages publish great content too generic and informative: its engagement-rate (and consequently its organic reach) will be very low.

Some content is too cold (for example a link to a technical guide) or too personal (for example a personal status about facts of little interest for the audience) or too introvert (something that nobody or very few people can understand or care of).

To get viral on Facebook, content need to be a mix of all factors proposed in the scheme [ individualism + altruism + opinion ] paying attention to audience’s closeness (including language and jargon) and possibly enriching text with hashtags if the content is about places, brands or trending topics.

Write your content (make it original), try to disseminate value – a strong factor, usually appreciated by your audience – and don’t forget to express your point of view because Facebook is a conversational platform after all.

Something missing: the dark side of analytics

Not all content is shared publicly. Therefore, its virality cannot be adequately measured. Often, good content is also multiplied by private messages (e.g. Facebook, Whatsapp, etc.), channels that cannot be tracked but still can increase reach, engagement, leads, conversions.

In fact, many of us are not willing to publicly share or comment anything, but it doesn’t mean that we are not interested in debating about with our best friend through private messages. We are not aware of what happen behind the wall unless we don’t start to track and read everyone’s private messages, but such amazing advanced tools apparently are available only to very few organisations/governments..

So don’t stick to what’s measurable, ignoring the dark side of analytics. What’s behind a “direct” source can be the outcome of your efforts.

The infographic is made mainly for Facebook, but can be useful also for content marketing in general and other social media platforms, in particular, Google+ and Twitter.

Feel free to download and share Facebook Engagement Factors (PDF)

Tips to promote mobile apps through digital channels

Promoting mobile apps

Making a app is not the final step to reach a broad mobile audience. In fact, your amazing app can be discovered only by a few friends if you do not push it in the market – or better, in the right market segment(s) – hopefully catching the right multipliers to benefit from a viral exposure. Here are some guidelines to boost your app reach.

 PLATFORMS (Facebook and Twitter)

  • Ok, an obvious but fundamental step: always check if links to app stores work, in particular if you are using short links like bit.ly or goo.gl
  • If you have Facebook Page(s) or Twitter profile(s) you can add covers to promote your App. Please consider covers do not have a broad reach since users tend to engage with your social media content directly on their timeline.

FACEBOOK ONLY

  • Geo-target posts by selecting only people in the country with a relevant age range (e.g. 17-30). This way the target audience will be smaller but more consistent, increasing the conversion rate of relevant goals (e.g. clicks to the App store, downloads, usage of the app, clicks to your transactional site, transactions=hard goal) and the engagement rate (likes, shares, comments). As a result, there will be an increased post’s edge rank and, consequently, its organic reach. Geo-targeting is also a good way to avoid reaching fake fans that in some pages can easily be spotted by looking at the country of origin, different than your primary target country (in particular for pages with a high geographical focus).
  • Image size matters. Ideally, shared images for Facebook posts (free or paid) should be 1200×1200 (they will have a max width of 504 with a variable height) while shared links should be 1200×628 (they will be 484×252). Remember the 20% text rule: no more than 20% covered by text or they will not be enabled to be boosted as promoted post/image/app/whatever.
  • After changing the Facebook Page cover you should add a brief description with a short link to so if people click (or tap) on the cover to find out more, they will still be able to get straight away to the app store. I have noticed that Facebook page visitors on average about 1% of all page like(rs) and, if you are running promoted posts reaching a wide audience, page visitors can be something like 0.05% of your total Reach. A social media page should never be considered as a website; you can look at it as a repository of content that will be seen from another point of views, surrounded by other content that you cannot expect because each social media user has a different surfing experience. You can now add call-to-actions to Facebook covers but please remember to keep text under 20% of the entire space – check your cover here.
  • offers ways to promote directly. Please do not boost links to app stores because they will not be approved as ads since they would violate their regulations. Here are the guidelines to run Paid Ads for Apps through Facebook Advertising platform:
    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ads-for-apps
    To go further and measure App downloads, the Apps has to be registered and linked to the FB Ads account. More info here:
    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/ads-for-apps/mobile-app-ads/register-your-app

Anyone running Google Adwords campaigns can benefit from Ads extensions to enrich their content. Such extensions also include links to App stores (iTunes or Google Play respectively, depending on the user device).

Here is an example:

App extension

Google Adwords App Extensions, an example

APP POPULARITY AND RANKING

App ranking is made of many factors. No. of downloads is just one of them, and it varies by country. Number of Downloads are not a good indicator of an app popularity, whose ranking is influenced mostly by “current installs per user”. Important indicators are also rating (up to 5 stars), positive comments, no. of app uninstalls (negative factor) and how fast users delete the app (it tells how attractive it is). A boost in the first 72 hours, benefitting of being listed among “new” apps, is just one of the factors in effect.

I am sharing a screenshot of Google Play insights. This app has more than 100 downloads but in fact, the number of real users is about 50%:

Android app insights

Android app insights

For this reason, it is important to invite people to download and give five stars plus an excellent comment and possibly keep the app on their device(s).

The App should be categorised in the right category (free or paid), and its description and associated keywords should be relevant and translated into as many languages as possible otherwise, they will not be available in some App Stores (either iTunes or Google Play). Therefore, when a user clicks on an ad in a given country he/she will see an annoying message saying something like “App not available in this country”.  The description and keywords should include relevant words also in foreign languages if appropriate wherever needed to increase the chances to be found by prospective users.

There are a few ways to check App ranking in different country mobile stores. One is Applyzer.com where you just have to create a free account to access details by country and sector.

For example, these are the top Education apps for iPhone in Italy in October 2014:

App ranking checker

App ranking checker

It is interesting also to check performance of the same app in different countries:

Check your app performance in different countries

Check your app performance in different countries

How to add a Facebook Conversion Pixels through Google Tag Manager

Facebook Pixel in Google Tag Manager

The right way to implement Facebook Pixel through Google Tag Manager

Facebook Conversions Pixels are great tools not just to monitor website or mobile apps conversions – those can also be controlled through after tagging URLs – but they are also one of the tools needed to optimise campaigns (e.g. cost per conversion) or to build Lookalike audiences (see image below) that tend to reduce your spending on Facebook advertising by creating target audiences made of users whose interests are similar to the ones of whoever has already reached a goal relevant to your business. On average I have noticed a conversion rate always higher than other generic audiences, sometimes even double.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

To implement Facebook Conversion Pixels (FBCP) you have to create it for a particular Ads account activated in your site and populated with users info (it is said that you need at least 100 conversions to build a lookalike audience list). Once created it can be shared with other Ads Accounts and it can work for different Facebook Pages managed through the same Ads Accounts.

Google Tag Manager makes possible to add Conversion Pixels whenever and wherever you need, into any web page or mobile apps, depending on specific conditions. The Conversion Pixel has to be placed into the HEAD of your web page but, as you know, Google Tag Manager (GTM), has to be placed immediately after the opening BODY tag.

The question is: will Facebook Pixel works if implemented through a GTM Custom HTML tag?

The answer is yes! After implementing FBCP, you can check if it is working using the FB Pixel Helper, a free extension for Google Chrome.

Facebook Pixel inserted through Google Tag Manager is working (source: FB Pixel Helper, Google Chrome free extension)

Facebook Pixel inserted through Google Tag Manager is working (source: FB Pixel Helper, Google Chrome free extension)

NOTE – However, I have noticed that if “support for Document.Write” is not active for the HTML tag, the FB Pixel apparently takes longer to load – however, it still work – and the result is as follow:

GTM support document.write off

GTM support document.write off: FB Conversion Pixel takes too long to load

How to increase Facebook organic reach: content and audiences are two key factors

Facebook Organic Reach, October 2014

Organic Reach is still alive if content is interesting.

IS FACEBOOK ORGANIC REACH DEAD? Interesting insights by Kimanzi Constable in his post “5 Reasons Why Social-Media Marketing is Overrated“. However, I don’t take for granted his first assumption telling that “Organic reach is pretty close to zero” because evidence can show something different (see above screenshot). For example, I could still reach more than 20% through organic, in October 2014, way more than the 2.71% declared in the article.

SWITCHING TO PAID CONTENT – It is true that Facebook organic reach has been decreasing year after year, in parallel with the growing Facebook Ads market – Twitter to follow very soon – but organic reach can still have a relevant impact regarding engagement and conversions if wisely managed.

DON’T FORGET THE LONG TAIL – It is good to monitor content performance periodically but not constantly because the long tail should always be taken into account: posts’ reach is not always skewed. A good exercise is to identify and classify by topic and type the top performers, rather than posting like a machine. We are dealing with humans after all and our prospective customers don’t want to be overwhelmed with content that is not bringing them any real opportunity, inspiration or value in general. Patronising users’ expectations is still a good way to gain support, but apparently Facebook knows that such content is not valuable, but only aimed at generating a soft engagement (e.g. Likes) by confirming a point of view biassed in a particular custom audience.

CONTENT RULES – If you post too much content the average page engagement rate will decrease, also penalising good posts. Same if you target the wrong audience, therefore your activity has to be very focused or, if exploring new target audiences, modified. To reach new users, build your audience with paid content first, then play with free content later. Paid content has better targeting features than organic; you might guess why… Think of good content, use words and images that catch your target audience attention or inspire them, add relevant if needed and make your post length short (try to be under 90 characters). This way you can quickly increase your organic reach.

INSPIRE YOUR (VERY WELL TARGETED) AUDIENCE – Post content reminding about opportunities like competitions, free resources or local free events, using strictly geo-targeted audiences and city tags (sometimes adding photo of the most recognisable places): it will show a higher engagement rate and, in many cases also higher conversion rate when talking about business and the whole page will benefit, also gaining new likes for free. Sometimes users spread the work simply by tagging their friends in a comment on a post telling about exciting opportunities. Empower your current users by giving them the chance to spread the word of what you are offering them: they will be glad to contribute to your success.

QUALITY FIRST OF ALL – These facts lead to the conclusion that Facebook tends to boost the organic reach when the content sounds interesting/attractive/inspiring for its users, despite it has not been paid. Always ask the magic question: what’s in it for me?

TAG TO TRACK – Last but not least, in particular if you have an e-commerce or a site where you try to lead users: do not forget to add URL parameters when linking to your site or you won’t be able to track your social media content ROI on . Use standardised and meaningful tags for campaign, source, medium and, to go deeper, also content and, when moving from organic to paid, just update them through tools like the PowerEditor to measure differences in performance for the same content.

 

Facebook Pages, get more likes for free

Facebook business pages: how to bypass paid advertising to get more likes and engagement

Facebook Pages, get more likes for free

This post is for business that own an ecommerce site, a Facebook page and possibly other channels. Nothing unethical or forbidden: it’s just a soft trick to get more likes and engagement avoiding paid advertising.

Steps

  1. set up a voucher code (e.g. a 20% discount) for certain or (better) all products on your ecommerce platform
  2. invite your visitors to Like your Facebook page and send a private message with a standard sentence (to avoid confusion with other private messages)
  3. answer them sending the voucher code

Alternatives: make the voucher viral

If you want to be viral instead of sending the voucher code in text use a dedicated landing page on your site, where potential customers can find out the code and also share with their friend a message that replicate the above procedure (Like the page, send a message….)

Alternatives: other promotions instead of vouchers

If you don’t have anything to sell, why not running a similar campaign to send an ebook or a voucher for another company? Many companies already run similar campaigns to get user personal data, but at some point I think that a Facebook like worth more than personal data when they can be unreliable (e.g. unsubscribe after receiving the ebook or using a secondary email opened only to avoid spam), whilst usually a person don’t unlike a page after receiving its ‘present’.

Promote the initiative with a CPC campaign outside Facebook

So far promotional efforts have been free (ok the voucher can be considered a cost, but it comes after a conversion after all). If you have some budget to spend, why not using a CPC campaign outside Facebook? For example, the same landing page can be associated to an AdWords campaign and get three opportunities instead of one.

Usually a CPC campaign is linked to a landing page with some offer. This way it is linked to a landing page that contains

  1. a bunch of products that are ready to be sold
  2. an invite to Like your Facebook page and send a message to receive a voucher (engage)
  3. an invite to share this opportunity with friends, immediately and even after receiving the voucher

And what about getting personal data? 

And what about other personal details like email, city, etc? Well, they will be needed later any way, to activate/benefit the voucher.

Track the voucher!

Don’t use a standard voucher but differentiate depending on what’s the path to get to it. To assign some criteria you can use the standard sentence that users has to send you through a FB Page private message in order to get their voucher:

  1. invite posted on site, blog, social media etc. OR CPC ads – each invite can have a standard sentence depending on criteria you want to track (mostly source/medium)
  2. user to Like FB page
  3. user to send private message using a standard sentence taken in stage 1
  4. Facebook page manager replies sending a textual voucher code or a link to specific landing page with more content and voucher code related to standard sentence