Nicholas Melillo Veteran SEO Consultant and Web Designer

26Apr/11Off

Facebook Launches “Social Deals” to Directly Compete with LivingSocial and Groupon

Facebook Social Deals

Finally, after a long period of anticipation from the masses; Facebook has announced that they will be launching Social Deals to directly be competitive with Groupon and LivingSocial.

This is their second approach to this type of system and while it is a good idea, I personally think they are making some mistakes; which I will get into later.

The good thing is that they are integrating more geocentric functionality and the system will operate similar to Facebook Places only with coupons added into the mix.  They are trying to focus more on "social" (niche) type deals than more standard ones, to attractive a more selective audience.  This can be good and enable people to access unique discounts on events that normally would not be advertised in more traditional channels.

However, one major negative aspect about this system is that you must purchase vouchers online with real money or Facebook Credits and then redeem them offline.  In my professional opinion this is not a smart decision on Facebook's part.  Seriously, who wants to "buy" coupons?  Good luck with that Mark Zuckerberg...

You can subscribe to Facebook Deals directly through your user profile and get updates on deals near you, when they are published.  Right now, deals are only available in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Fransisco; so FB definitely has a long way to go before it EVER can be competitive with Groupon and LivingSocial.  But hey, its a start and you can't blame them for trying.

Eventually I think this can be a great system for the following reasons:

Like Before You Buy

Another thing to notice about the ACL deal is that there’s no associated discount, a hallmark of traditional daily deals: “50 to 90 percent off.” However this is precisely the type of offline social experience that Facebook is seeking to promote with the new program.

Another difference: you can Like deals without buying them — or before buying them. If you Like a deal it will be exposed through your feed.

You can also share and privately invite selected friends and ask them to join you or expose them to a deal. Facebook users can message each other and discuss the deal as a group before collectively buying. (Not all deals will be targeted toward groups.)

Like traditional daily deals Facebook Social Deals will come through email but also through the Facebook news feed. And they may potentially be exposed via Facebook Ads as well.

More Merchant Control, Including Caps

The notion here, as with Facebook check-ins, is that the new deals are supposed to be “social from the ground up.” Beyond the effort to to make them more social for consumers there are also important differences from conventional daily deals on the merchant side.

As mentioned Facebook Social Deals won’t always involve discounts. Merchants will also be permitted to set caps on how many deal vouchers can be purchased. This is typically not allowed on more traditional daily deal sites.

Another interesting angle is that merchants will be required to have Facebook Pages before they can participate. While many already do — 40 percent to as much as 60 percent-plus of SMBs have some sort of Facebook presence — this requirement creates a more structured way to capture and retain new customers.

Preventing the “One Night Stand”

Small businesses have sometimes struggled to translate daily deal buyers into repeat customers. By connecting deals and Facebook Pages, the company makes an effort to solve the problem of the “one night stand.”

With Facebook Social Deals local merchants can direct new customers to Like them on their Page and — voilà — they have a CRM platform. Merchants can then potentially start a “conversation” with these new customers.

While many SMBs set up a Page and then wonder “What now?,” Facebook’s Emily White says deal buyers (new customers) will help flesh out and populate content on SMB Facebook Pages. Indeed, this is the secondary mission of Social Deals — to get more SMBs to create and then really use Facebook Pages.

The new program will obviously compete with Groupon, LivingSocial and other deal sites, including the new Google Offers. While many who write about Social Deals will be tempted to use the headline “Facebook launches Groupon Killer,” there’s room for multiple winners in the deals space.

Read more about this topic at Search Engine Land

Personally, I am not going to start recommending this feature to my clients until it has proven its viability to exist, be competitive and most importantly...create profitable results that make sense for their businesses.

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13Apr/11Off

Financial Aid? There’s an app for that.

Facebook has recently announced that they will be launching an application called Connect Fund, which will use the individual user's demographic information to inform them about grants available in their area, student loans, financial aid and assistance, etc...including FAFSA applications.

According to Fox Business, the application is set to officially launch sometime around January 2012.

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13Apr/11Off

How the Google Panda Update affects Search Marketers

Back in February, Google announced that they were making a dramatic algorithm change that would forever change the search results. Its primary focus is on targeting low quality pages and sites with text that may be relevant for a particular query, but not necessarily designed with the best user experience in mind.  These are known as content farms.

Content farms are websites that simply create content for the purpose of keyword catching, in the hopes that it will either get highly ranked for their desired search term or to use for link farming as well.  Building links to client websites from relevant content on other websites has been a well known tactic for years and works really good if the content/website has good PR and is very relevant.  However, link and content farms will now lose out as Google no longer views them as credible sources.

The Google Panda update is now officially live for all English language queries across the world. Personally, myself being a professional internet marketing consultant; I think this is a great move in the right direction for everyone.  Content and link farms are a waste of time for any quality SEO to focus on and quite frankly, don't get anywhere near the same level of results as highly relevant, unique content on a credible website does.

Building links on content farms....seriously, who does that anymore?  The time has come to move on people.  Get with the program!

Focus your efforts on generating extremely high quality content on unique domain names, optimize for the search engines but keep in mind the end user experience!  This is critical to your success online.  Having a clear vision about what the user wants while also understanding the needs of the search engines will get you those top results you are striving for.

This is a great move on Google's part and I couldn't be happier.  By eliminating all of the garbage out there, this helps the quality sites truly stand out from the crowd and get the rankings they deserve.  Nothing is worse than having a top notch website get outranked by a content farming link spammer...

Its time to hire more English majors with journalism backgrounds people.  Think quality not quantity!

To read more about this topic, check out this great article by Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land.

http://searchengineland.com/google-rolls-out-its-panda-update-internationally-and-begins-incorporating-searcher-blocking-data-72497

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