Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment. The YEC provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
It goes without saying that entrepreneurs know the importance of search engine optimization, and how to boost their Google search rankings. Right? Or is SEO a foreign language that you haven’t quite mastered?
Google rank is critical to a business’s success in this digital age. Savvy entrepreneurs know that search engine optimization is a necessary part of the marketing toolkit — and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Instead of letting your Google rank get you down, apply these tips and techniques from a group of successful, young entrepreneurs in order to boost your company’s SEO results.
1. Create Evergreen Content
You’ll want your content to take the top slots for your name and various keywords and phrases, so you’ll want to have high-quality, authoritative content. The best way to make sure your content is seen this way to is create content that is forever useful, not trendy and disposable. Create content that people will be reading 10 years from now, and you’ll be getting linkbacks for a decade.
Take a few minutes to login to each of your company’s online profiles. Is the biography up to date? More importantly, is your website’s URL listed somewhere? The incoming links from these profiles may not weigh too much in Google’s mysterious algorithm, but you’ll be surprised what it can do if you have more than a handful of accounts online.
Think about what your ideal clients and customers might be typing into Google, and then find out if your hunch is right by looking keywords up in Google’s free Keyword Tool. Keep in mind that 25% of keywords have never been typed in before, but you’ll want to aim for popular keywords with low competition if you can. Then write content around these keywords and learn to optimize.
I suggest hiring a search engine optimization company or freelance specialist to develop an effective strategy to improve your rankings. The Google Panda updates has made the SEO space even more challenging to produce results, so I suggest outsourcing this task to the professionals. Look for individuals or companies with proven track records, and monitor their bi-weekly reports closely.
Yes, creating good content is very important to make your business rank higher in Google. But links are even more important. Google loves links, especially those from other relevant, authority websites. Join any and all industry associations, guest blog with a link back to your website, and submit your site to any relevant directories to grow your backlink profile and your searches.
Video is such a huge thing now for business owners. Not only does it give your company personality, but it can also be spread across networks while linking back to your site. Create great videos filled with information people can share and then repeat. Now videos can be distributed across multiple platforms from one single platform, causing Google to love you.
The biggest SEO secret is that when .edu sites link to your website it gives you a higher Google ranking. Contact college and universities and find a reason for them to link to your site by running a special internship opportunity, for example.
The more often you update your site, the more important Google thinks it is. If you can publish content to your blog every day, Google will start to recognize you as a great source of information for whatever your keywords are. With every blog post, you have another chance at ranking for new search terms, so each article increases the odds of your site being found.
Two effective ways of increasing your SEO rank are tagging articles and keyword analysis. You want to make sure your headlines are descriptive. You should also choose keywords that people are going to look for — so imagine yourself as a searcher.
Many small businesses, especially restaurants and bars, use Flash for their sites because it’s easy to launch, looks good and is fairly cheap. While the sites might look decent, they rank really poorly in Google (without doing some tricks). Change your Flash-based site to WordPress or another platform, and you’ll rocket up the search engine rankings.
Are you a local business? Have you claimed your listing on Google, Yahoo! and Bing? If not, stop reading this article now and go claim your business listings immediately! I’ve seen a huge jump in traffic for businesses by simply claiming and filling out all the fields on these local profiles. The future of search is personalized local results, and these valuable profiles are often overlooked.
The biggest mistake people make in trying to rank high in Google is having no clue what people are actually typing into search engines to find you. An easy way to find this out is to go to the Google homepage and slowly start typing in your phrases. You’ll notice Google suggested searches come up. Use those exact phrases in your titles. That’s what people want, so give it to them.
Last year we created a playful video based on How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This year we thought we could still keep that playfulness by incorporating our signature design elements to create a fun and informational holiday greeting. There’s been so much growth in online sharing that we decided to create an infographic about social media network sharing and general online digital sharing statistics. From Facebook and Twitter to Wikipedia and Youtube, online sharing in 2011 has exploded.
We hope our holiday greeting makes you smile and gives you something to think about over your holidays. Seasons Greetings, from the Perks team!
2011 Social Digital Online Sharing Statistics Holiday Infographic
Our CEO Lauren Perkins was featured on Under30CEO for her answer to what website/social networks provided her with the best peer-to-mentoring as a young entrepreneur. Take a look at her answer as well as the other 10!
Q. What websites and social networks have provided you with the best peer-to-mentoring as a young entrepreneur?
Richard B., Brooklyn, NYThe following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). Founded by Scott Gerber, the YEC is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.
A. Use Facebook to Extend Real-Life Relationships
I use Facebook to keep in touch with peer mentors that I meet in person. Nothing beats a face-to-face connection, but it can be hard to keep that connection alive with friends that live all over the globe. Everyone is on facebook, it’s simple to use, and it’s fun. Meet mentors in person then use Facebook to keep the flame alive.
My best peer mentoring has come from a site called Brazen Careerist. Although the site is more focused on Gen Y folks who are career oriented, it has been one of the best places for me to find answers to lingering questions on various subjects. What really blew me away was the speed at which the responses came. The site is very committed to helping its members be successful.
Many social networks can add value to aspiring young entrepreneurs, but some are better for feedback and mentoring. One of these sites is Quora.com. Quora is a collection of questions and answers created, edited and organized by its users — many of whom have honest, mature and intelligent advice to share. It’s a supportive, brainstorming community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Check it out.
Surprisingly, just having an About.Me profile has yielded me the most contacts and friend requests than any other online source. I don’t do anything proactive to network within About.Me, but others find me and reach out to me daily hoping to do business with me. I don’t know how they are finding me but these are great contacts that have led to some great opportunities.
From the time I started working for myself, I’ve sent emails constantly. I’ve reached out to a wide variety of people that I knew I could learn from — and I’ve gotten a lot more responses than I ever expected. There’s a new social network every day, but email isn’t going anywhere.
A. Use Twitter to Network, Converse and Build Relationships
Twitter has, by far, been my most valuable social networking tool for creating relationships with peers, contemporaries and mentors — many of whom have become close friends and business partners. Twitter’s genius is in the low barrier to connection: simple, short, unintrusive. You can connect with mentors, strike up friendly conversation or just ask for help.
Under30CEO.com features informative business articles and fantastic interviews with high level entrepreneurs. Most of all, I get great value from the NYC networking events coordinated by Under30CEO, which gather all types of young entrepreneurs and encourages them to connect in an informal manner.
A. Visit and Participate in Blogs About Your Industry
It’s easy to look to Twitter or Facebook for your social networking, but blogging and commenting on blogs is just as much of a social network. Once you become active as a commentor in a circle of related blogs, you become familiar and can turn this into real relationships with the bloggers and peers in that group.
WeMedia is a great organization which combines online networking, physical conferences and start-up cash for entrepreneurs. They have tons of great tips on their website, speakers at their conferences and tangible advice from their staff on how to build your business. Many websites/networks are very hands off, but WeMedia takes a more hands on approach with resources, guidance and capital.
85 Broads is a great community that connects and empowers women to help each other succeed. The mission of this organization is to generate professional and social value for its members. It offers workshops for members featuring industry experts and connects women in more than 90 countries around the world.
The Young Entrepreneur website has a great blog section which contains information to help young entrepreneurs who are just starting out. They also have a very active forum section where young entrepreneurs ask and answer each other’s questions. The best part of their website is the “Ask an Expert” section where you can ask a question to be answered by their successful panel of experts.
Most of us have figured out the go-to, day-to-day gadgets we rely on for our work – a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. But the array of accessories and apps out there for the enterprise user can be an overwhelming one. Here’s a quick list of the on-the-go apps and tech accessories that have now become must-haves in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.
It seems that the better battery life gets on newer devices, the more we use our phones since subconsciously we know we can. To help fight battery drain every entrepreneur should have a quick back up to reach for in their pocket or bag that will allow them to go on and at least finish out the day without needing to run to the nearest Starbucks for an inconvenient power pick-me-up.
No one wants to be caught without any power at a crucial moment – whether trying to pull up an email for reference or finding directions for the next destination.
Not every entrepreneur needs a Square attachment but for those who do need instant payment options for clients and customers, Square is revolutionary.
Think of the time that’s saved not waiting for a check to come in the mail once papers have been signed in person or taking in business for a quick turnaround with deposits in hand instantly.
Square has proven to be fruitful for those needing payment options on site and immediately without the entire setup of a point-of-sale terminal.
Mifi and Personal Hotspots – Prepaid plans
If you travel a lot you probably already know that internet service can be spotty at best, and security is a concern when connecting through open wifi access points. A MiFi portable personal wifi access point will wipe these concerns away. Having a monthly plan may not be the most logical depending on your travel frequency but luckily there are a couple of prepaid plans out there with various service providers.
Neat Receipt is a fantastic addition for anyone who has to expense or keep track of receipts for tax purposes. It allows you to scan these paper documents and then saves them in a format that is accepted by the IRS. Bonus – your now scanned and digitized information can be imported to Salesforce easily!
If you’re going to be doing any sort of writing that goes beyond a myriad of notes then you absolutely need a keyboard that docks your iPad or tablet, essentially turning it into a notebook. Anyone who has tried to type out long documents on the touchscreen knows that our wrists just weren’t built that way. Do yourself a favor and get one. Fellow Vator.tv writer Krystal Peak shared her favorite one here.
Linkedin recently purchased Cardmunch to further build out their offerings for professionals everywhere. Cardmunch allows you to scan someone’s business card with your smartphone camera and then converts the image to the appropriate text. It automatically searches LinkedIn for their profile in order to connect right away. What better way to keep in touch than to socially connect on the professional social network? Your new contact will find your follow-up to be refreshing and thoughtful.
Gist and Rapportive both keep you up to date with all of your contacts’ updates, like a personal CRM tool. The Gmail plugin for Rapportive keeps you in the loop about the person that you’re emailing with. From this sidebar you can find out their latest social network updates, recent email interactions, vital contact info extracted from signatures, and other social network links so you can connect further. Gist offers a similar feed of your address book all at once on a dashboard or organized by your tags and preferences.
Don’t trust documents and platforms to save your original work? You can use Evernote for syncing your thoughts, ideas and bits of information. Evernote recently launched Evernote Hello so you can remember those you met and organize the context of how you met them.
For small companies, Dropbox has the added benefit of supporting your hardware server and backup so it is accessible and constantly synced no matter where you are. Besides using Dropbox as cloud storage, documents can be accessed remotely and accidentally deleted items can be restored.
While we wait for the next iteration of the netbook and tablet hybrid to be able to fully compute on-the-go, QuickOffice Pro bridges the divide with the much needed document creator and editor compatible with Microsoft Office.
Investing a little bit of money into this app will go a long way for your business; integrating your mobile experience with the productivity tools offered here frees you from the burden of the laptop.
Think of how much a desktop version of Office costs and then relate that here. It’s well worth it.
The following article was originally written by Lauren Perkins on ForbesWoman.
from HA! Designs - Artbyheather via flickr
Networking events are a fantastic way to meet new business prospects, potential partners, and leverage relationships within your existing network for referrals. These events can certainly seem intimidating if you don’t have an action plan to keep you focused and on task. To make the most of networking opportunities, business women can treat each event as they would treat a date. Following the same rules that you would typically follow on a date provides some guidance for how to prepare for the event, what to do while there, and actions to take post-event to take advantage of any prospects.
Primping for your Date
The first step toward an engaging experience at a networking event is preparation. When you go on a date, there are certain rituals you do to get ready. These same rules apply to preparing for a networking event to be the best-prepared date you can be:
Research the event host and the demographics of the attendees. If there’s someone going to the event you want to be introduced to, ask a mutual contact for an introduction ahead of time. LinkedIn is a great resource to discover mutual contacts.
Have a stack of business cards ready to go.
Prepare your elevator pitch and main talking points, then practice a few times!
Be a Good Date
A good date qualifies as someone who makes you feel comfortable. This person listens to you and asks questions based on what you are saying. Networking works the same way. To be a networking queen and get the most from your experience, you should:
Ask other attendees about their purpose for attending.
Make conversation with people you have the most business interest in. While you should be friendly to everybody, don’t waste more than two minutes chatting with someone who you know you have no business interest in.
Listen to who they are and what needs they have that your business may be able to fulfill.
Ask strategic questions to direct the conversation- play to their needs, offer helpful hints, and suggest your business as a solution.
In any dating situation, you always need a good exit strategy. Even if you’re having a great conversation and are interested in working with someone, you don’t want to spend too much time with one person. The more people you meet, the better chance you have at acquiring business. Think of it as speed dating! You want to handle these situations with great care because you never want to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth about you or your company.
Excuses to Exit:
To use the restroom: “Excuse me, I have to use the restroom. It was a pleasure meeting you!”
For a phone call: “Pardon me, I have a phone call to make. Enjoy the rest of the event!”
To meet a colleague: “Please excuse me, I have to meet a colleague. It was a pleasure speaking to you.”
If the conversation went well and you’ve procured their contact information, you may also need to excuse yourself for the above mentioned, but remember to:
Tell them next steps (“I’ll be in touch tomorrow to continue our discussion!”).
Exchange business cards.
The Morning After
Who wants to be the first one to get in contact after a date? YOU DO! Never wait for them to contact you first. In the dating world this may seem desperate, but in business we call this eager, smart and strategic. The day after the event, you should:
Add the person on LinkedIn. Include a friendly message in the invitation that recaps the conversation and next steps.
If the person doesn’t use LinkedIn, you can also send them an email with the same type of message. Also, make sure to download Rapportive, which is a social tool allowing you to view all of a contacts footprint on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Networking events may seem intimidating at first, but the above strategic tactics alongside your natural abilities will ensure that you make the most of the opportunity both personally and professionally. If you think about networking the same way that you would think about being a good date, you’re sure to come out with a broader professional network and a rolodex of untapped business prospects.
Recently I was honored to be invited to the G20-Y Summit in Paris France as an official US Ambassador for the “Innovation, Technology, Communication, Social Media and Wikileaks – Opportunities and Risks” committee. In addition to the committee I was a part of, other topics covered were: shadow banking; financial stability and regulatory issues in emerging markets; systemically important financial institutions (sifis) – resolution tools and regimes; climate change and green growth; integration of the perspectives of the Islamic countries into the G20’s mission and governance & regional conflicts 2011. The purpose of the G20-Y Summit is to inform the G20 delegates about major issues that are affecting all of us, especially the youth of today.
At Perks Consulting we know how important technology and social media is to all of us personally as well as on a business level. It’s now assumed that in addition to a website you should have a social media presence on at least Facebook and Twitter. The way we interact online is often indistinguishable from offline interactivity when it comes to human behavior and how it affects us emotionally and financially.
Innovation in technology and communication has fundamentally changed human behavior across the world. The pace of change and its potential impact, specifically in mobile and social media, continues to scale at an exponential rate. As a result, the world has become more interconnected. If harnessed correctly, innovation provides two solutions to current global challenges – GDP growth and job creation. If this isn’t addressed soon the existing divisions between ‘citizens and governments’ and ‘customers and corporations’ will continue to grow.
The solution lies in changing education, fostering innovation and improving the quality of access to and use of social media. To change this situation, the lack of understanding within government, business and other organizations of this technological revolution and its impact on human behavior need to be addressed.
We felt that G20 member countries should individually seek to understand their respective countries strengths and then collaborate to develop a global innovation policy. Once this is understood, G20 member countries should develop applicable frameworks for implementing education initiatives that foster innovation in a diverse, global economy.
From this point we proposed to build a G-20Y Summit Innovation Committee. The purpose of this committee is to identify and establish global best practices by leveraging experts across a variety of fields and to connect the components of entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world i.e. ideas, capital and markets. Providing all citizens with quality access is the pre-requisite to realizing the growth potential. Every 10% of broadband penetration results in 1.2% – 1.4% increase in per capita GDP growth (source: World Bank).
In order to take advantage of the opportunities at hand, it was recommended that the G20 set a timetable for the development of digital networks across the globe and define specific benchmarks for penetration rate, speed and quality of access. These solutions must be economically viable and environmentally sustainable. On a personal note, connectivity issues don’t just plague third-world countries. I had frequent connectivity issues while in France and Chile. You don’t realize how essential digital communication (email, social media, texting, etc.) is to your life until you don’t have access to it anymore.
With evolution across the technological landscape occurring vertically and inconsistently among cultures and borders, the open culture of social media networks has also brought economic and social disparities in full view. Movements of civil unrest have arisen, generating reactionary responses from government leaders, attempting to control and undermine access to such digital communication tools. As more of humanity comes to rely on technology as a part of their everyday lives, there will eventually be increasing ire towards governments that attempt to curb technological access or refuse to prioritize the development of digital infrastructure. This issue also extends beyond despotic countries, with governments lacking understanding in this revolution of communication norms and interaction, hoping to maintain the status quo and a powerful elite voice. Instead, social and mass media should be seen as a tool to engage, educate & connect with these communities to quell any issues and provide a more open forum for societal progress.
To address this we proposed that the G20 creates a Technology and Communication Board, to 1) maximize growth by identifying global trends that correlate to economic activity, measuring Key Performance Indicators and developing recommendations that capitalize on GDP growth opportunities and to 2) mitigate risks by creating a global policy on cyber security, privacy matters and the use of technology for criminal activity.
The world is only going to become more interconnected as time goes on. With an increasingly globalized trade system and lightning speed transactions, the lack of stable and accessible technological infrastructure needs to be addressed as a priority or major political, social, and economic consequences will arise for individual governments. Hopefully these suggestions from my G20-Y committee will be implemented in a timely manner in order to move forward effectively. I hope to maintain a commitment furthering the role of social media and technology across the board by staying involved in these issues, especially while engaging with Entrepreneur Week across the globe.
When it comes to lifestyle innovation, the car industry is definitely doing their part to push things forward. The latest in a line of digital disruption is Zipcar allowing customers to reserve a car on Facebook, thus moving the social commerce needle forward. Why is this important? According to a survey done by Zipcar, 88% of their customers spend roughly 15 hours per day on Facebook.
First off, that couldn’t possibly be true. While it’s important to poll your customers, it’s also important to get the right data. For that statistic to be true, Zipcar’s customers would have to be on Facebook for every single waking moment. Having Facebook open isn’t the same thing as actively being “on” Facebook.
Regardless of the skewed data, Zipcar’s decision to allow customers to reserve cars on Facebook is no less important. It’s widely documented that people general spend a lot of time on Facebook and leave it open in a tab. Instead of forcing your customers to search for your website on Google, they can just search for your brand on Facebook and use it through that channel.
Zipcar’s engagement proves that online shopping goes beyond just e-commerce and buying products. Customers are hungry for viable e-commerce solutions that simplify the process by allowing them to shop where they spend the most of their time – Facebook.
“We know that our members are tech-savvy and actively engaged in social media, so providing members with the ability to reserve a Zipcar directly through Facebook is a natural next step,” Scott Griffith, chief executive of Zipcar in a statement.
According to member surveys performed by Zipcar, 88 percent of Zipcar users are also Facebook users who spend roughly 15 hours a day on the social network. So why not capture the audience where it spends the most time? Not to mention the obvious opportunity to acquire new customers from Facebook’s 800 million active users.
Visitors to the Zipcar Facebook app will be able to find and reserve available cars, get direction to the car’s locations, and of course, share the reservation with friends. You will also be able to extend or cancel a reservation directly from Facebook and because it is a canvas app, there is no reason for Zipcar member to leave the Facebook website.
Facebook recently made a slew of changes to its platform allowing these apps to really flourish. These changes include updates to it’s developer-focused Open Graph, the ability to integrate different vocabulary into your “likes,” and more.
Zipcar users can also stay mobile through Zipcar’s mobile app available on both Android, iPhone and website.
Social media marketing has moved from cutting edge to being standardized across online channels. Brands can ask their customers what they like on Twitter and Facebook, but when it comes to reaching them in a dedicated mobile environment there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation. That’s where Opinionaided comes in.
Opinionaided allows you to ask a question, upload a photo, and have users vote on it. As with all new networks and apps, the form of user engagement should be determined early on. If you decide to use a question and answer platform like Opinionaided, it’s better to ask if users like one of your products versus another one. Users should never be asked to compare to a competitor or be given an option to compare two of your products that aren’t similar enough. Remember, you never want to make your customers uncomfortable.
There’s also a possibility of engaging network influencers by making them brand ambassadors, but this shouldn’t be taken lightly. If payment is provided then disclosure needs to be standardized across the board. For situations like this we recommend Cmp.ly, which we worked with early on to design their iconography. We do not recommend doing this on your own, as navigating the paid brand ambassador waters can be tricky. It’s always best to bring in a marketing or consulting agency that has done lifestyle engagements before. Regardless of whether you use an agency, make sure you have a content creation calendar and social media guidelines with examples of proper usage before you set out to use any new network officially.
Everyone’s got an opinion — something that the mobile question and answer company Opinionaided has tapped into with its popular iPhone app. Today, the company is releasing its long-awaited Android app, which will help to spur on Opinionaided’s skyrocketing growth and increasing user engagement.
As of September, active users are now spending 3 hours and 25 minutes on the app, compared to around two and a half hours in August. Opinionaided users gave over 10 million responses to over 250,000 questions last weekend alone. Clearly, users are finding something addictive about the service, which allows you to take a picture on your phone, ask a question, and instantly receive responses.
“What is most significant to us is that we are creating a social utility based on helping others, with little judgment or bias,” CEO Dan Kurani said in a statement today. “By adding the Android app, we are able to cultivate a larger and more inclusive community of mobile users.”
Kurani tells me it took the company some time to put together the free Android app, which is now available on the Android Market. The Android app still doesn’t have some of the sharing features that the iOS app has, but Kurani says they’re coming soon.
In my brief testing of the Opinionaided service, I was struck by just how quickly responses to my questions came. That near-instant engagement even surprised Kurani when the app was first launched. He says that users are now seeing between 50 and 100 responses per question, with an average of 70 responses. Kurani attributes the impressive users engagement to the company’s focus on on opinion Q&A, instead of fact-based Q&A like Yahoo Answers.
Opinionaided is based in New York City and has raised around $6.7 million across two rounds of funding.
Fashion magazines have started to feel the strain of online on their advertising budgets, so some are starting to offer online retail in addition to their traditional editorial offerings. This shouldn’t be done as reactionary though. Offering ways to purchase items directly should be done naturally with lifestyle innovation, as readers want a way to instantly purchase something they desire. In print publications each editorial item should have a short URL that leads to the publication’s hybrid editorial ecommerce portal, where readers can see the item exactly how it was in the spread and purchase each item by clicking on it on the model.
Fashion publications would also do well to integrate into Facebook, as Details Magazine has done. Ecommerce is growing in leaps and bounds on Facebook (as is social reading) so it would be in their best interests to integrate both aspects in one easy to use experience. Tablet and mobile devices are also becoming more and more popular and as so different experiences need to be put in place for each interface. The user experience is of the utmost importance, especially on mobile devices.
Overall, if fashion magazines are truly to make the transition into a 360 integrated publication retailer they must pay attention to UI/UX, mobile development, social shopping development, custom Facebook integration development, and naturally website development. Perks Consulting specializes in all of these areas, offering the most versatile packages for our clients when it comes to a holistic solution.
A number of major fashion magazines have recently announced partnerships with e-commerce sites, with Park & Bond’s ‘GQ Selects’ section and Esquire launching CLAD. After recent losses in advertising due to online competition and the economic situation, this move adds a new source of revenue for magazines. The websites also stand to gain, as editor’s recommendations and reviews boost their credibility with consumers. The NY Times reports:
While the glossies have long had a reputation for accommodating the designers they cover, sometimes guaranteeing coverage to those who advertise in their pages, a wave of new ventures and partnerships suggests they are willing to go even further by selling the designers’ clothes. It is a move that is raising some eyebrows in the industry, as magazines like Vogue, GQ and Esquire, struggling to survive in an online world, could potentially become competitors to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.
This move should prove beneficial for consumers who will be able to find everything they need in one place. So, if they read a review about a product they like, they can click through and order it straight away.
We’re huge advocates of social shopping, especially on Facebook. We have vetted over a dozen solutions and found that besides one or two, most are just special tabs on Facebook fan pages. Some even take you away from the Facebook experience by bringing you to a second page that loads the store without any fan page navigation. With these new changes to Facebook (customizable Open Graph and real-time news Ticker) brands will be able to reach more potential customers through new viral techniques.
The only foreseeable problem will be the ability to easily implement these new additions easily and quickly. While large brands can afford to pay developers to create custom solutions for them, smaller brands can’t. When we need to work with smaller brands we bring in established social shopping solutions that can be customized to their brand specifications and marketing needs. Hopefully social shopping vendors add these new changes to their solutions so both large and small brands can benefit from this. We at Perks Consulting are excited about these new viral techniques that will enable brands to connect with potential new customers.
Christian Taylor is founder and CEO of Payvment and developer of the number-one Facebook ecommerce platform for brands, agencies and merchants, and the world’s only Facebook Shopping Mall.
Many of the new features introduced at Facebook’s f8 Developer Conference last Thursday, such as a customizable Open Graph and real-time news Ticker, will have a tremendous impact on social commerce and social shopping in the very near future.
Developers will now be able to build a Facebook commerce experience more relevant to shoppers and also offer more effective social discovery for sellers. Sellers will be able to access new insights into shopper preferences and will use this data to better promote their products. These new opportunities will make the Facebook shopping experience richer and more social.
Here are five ways Facebook’s new features will fuel social commerce and product discovery.
1. Better Self-Expression for Shoppers
Custom Open Graph gestures will bring a new level of relevance to the Facebook shopping experience. By enabling new buttons such as “Want,” “Own” and “Love,” shoppers will be able to express themselves more specifically around a particular product. Consequently, News Feed stories can also be customized to generate phrases such as “Jim reviewed” or “Jane loved” a particular product. These types of posts will drive much more effective social discovery than a simple “Like” story.
These new buttons will also be used to enrich the social shopping experience within Facebook storefronts themselves. For example, in the future, you will be able to see who “owns” a product you’re considering and connect with that friend for recommendations. This functionality will also enable sellers to engage more deeply with shoppers. For example, if I discover that Jim owns a product in my storefront, I might ask him for a product review.
2. Product Discovery Through Ticker
The new Ticker creates a persistent real-time stream that sellers can use to publicize products to shoppers, just as Ticker allows users to discover music their friends are listening to. For example, if my friend Jane visits a Facebook store and clicks the “Want” button on a product, the resulting Ticker story could read, “Jane wants a Granite Fountain at the Fountain Shop on Facebook.”
As powerful as this capability is, developers should be careful to publish only the activities that shoppers agree to promote. For instance, if a boyfriend is secretly checking out engagement rings, he might not want his whole friend list to know about it.
3. The Ability to Create Wishlists
As part of the new design, Facebook will aggregate application activity to create persistent modules on a person’s Timeline. Different social shopping widgets will post to a person’s profile, such as holiday and birthday wish lists or wedding and baby registries. These lists are created automatically based on the custom action buttons. For example, all “Want” button clicks will create a wish list on the Timeline.
Adding product-focused lists to your profile lets people know what you want, and makes it easier for friends to know what to buy you when those special events come around. Now when your friends get a birthday reminder for you, they can click through to your profile, and may even be able to buy you something from your birthday wish list immediately.
The Ticker will also play a role in promoting these wish lists. Want to remind people about your wish list before your upcoming birthday? Just “Want” a more recent product and it will automatically generate a fresh Ticker story.
4. Clearer Permissions
Have you ever started to use a new Facebook application, but hesitated when seeing how the application could use your data? The current permissions dialog box did not allow developers to explain why they want your permissions, so users didn’t always have enough information to make an informed decision.
Developers will now have more control over the content displayed in the permissions dialog, and thus can better articulate how a person’s data will be used. Social shopping applications can explain exactly what type of data will be used and what benefits it will provide the shopper; they can even include screenshots of posts that might appear on your Timeline. For example, a permissions dialog might explain that your Facebook interests will be used to provide product recommendations and special deals targeted to you. This option could, in turn, build trust and increase participation by users.
5. Shopping With Friends
The Facebook custom Open Graph and Ticker opened the door to social music discovery – so why not social shopping as well?
In the near future you might see an “invite friends to shop” button within a social storefront. Clicking on it would generate a post in the Ticker that says, “Jane is shopping for baby strollers.” When a friend clicks on the post, they would be taken to a chat room-style panel or comment box where they can share stroller recommendations. That feedback might become part of the public comments in the store, or may only be visible to the two of you. The end result is that you have enlisted your friend’s help to make a purchase decision, as if you were both shopping together at the mall.
These kinds of experiences are only the beginning. Just as developers have used Facebook to bring people together to play social games, so too will developers use this new functionality to make Facebook shopping a much more interactive — and social — experience.