It’s 2014, so most companies who come to WebpageFX for Social Media strategies already have some sort of social media presence, whether it is simply a page they claimed and left to deal with later, a few profiles across the web with different names, or a budding social media strategy that got put on hold when an employee left. All of these can cause problems when they are handed off, whether to an internal marketing employee, or my team.

Most of these issues are related to Facebook and customer service is not part of their business model. So, when I say “cause problems”, I mean, in some cases, we have to abandon a Facebook page with hundreds of fans, or activate major damage control because an ex-employee or ex-agency is the sole admin.

Believe me, you don’t want to find yourself in any of these situations, and they can be avoided!

Like It Or Not Facebook's Privacy Policy Has Changed Infographic

Our lives are on display, and we only have ourselves to blame…and Facebook. Just like any typical love affair, our relationship with Facebook went through the honeymoon period, but has since grown stale. Now, Facebook has taken on the role of a needy lover, always asking how we’re feeling, what we like, who we’re with, and why we don’t share as much with them anymore. But what’s worse, is that Facebook’s been sharing this information with the public.

Two weeks ago Facebook held a press conference to announce the arrival of the social networking site’s newest feature—Graph Search. Like other Facebook developments, Graph Search has evoked both positive and negative reactions. On one hand, Graph Search is extremely innovative; on the other hand, it’s extremely creepy. We wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Zuckerberg.

So, What Exactly is Graph Search?

Graph Search is Facebook’s very own search engine. But it’s not a web search engine, like Google, Bing, and all the rest. With Graph Search you’re literally searching Facebook, and the search results are generated by grabbing information from user profiles. This information can include a user’s sex, age, religion, location (both hometown and current city), marital status, education, likes (including music, movies, television shows, video games, books, places, hobbies, sports, etc.), places where you’ve checked-in, pictures you’ve been tagged in, and more.

The searches you can do are practically endless. While writing this blog post I wanted to do an example search to demonstrate what the capabilities of Graph Search. I ended up wasting a good twenty minutes refining and re-refining my search because there were so many different combinations to search! Here’s the example I ended up with:

This search originated from a “People who like the things I like” search, and it’s not nearly as specific as it could be. The images below show you how I could have refined the search even more:

The image above is the condensed version of the “search refine.” If you think that looks pretty thorough, take a look at the extended version:

And Facebook’s not done yet! Here you can extend your search even further:

Keep in mind that the owner of the Facebook account I used for this does not live in L.A., has never attended UCLA (or knows anyone who has), and is not a fan of Rihanna, running, or Starbucks on Facebook.

Invasion of Privacy?

Facebook insists that Graph Search does not violate anyone’s privacy rights. This means that all of the single UCLA students, who live in Los Angeles, speak English, and like Rihanna, Starbucks, and running that showed up in my search results have all of that information about them set to public in their privacy settings.

Still, some believe that Graph Search is a terrible invasion of privacy. Others—like Mark Zuckerberg—believe that people need to be more responsible for checking their privacy settings.

If you’ve been keeping up with the Graph Search news at all I’m sure you’ve heard of the Actual Facebook Graph Searches Tumblr account created by Tom Scott. He posts screenshots of Graph Searches that are so contradictory and/or ridiculous you can’t help but find them amusing. On his Tumblr he states, “Graph Search jokes are a good way of startling people into checking their privacy settings.”

Here are a few of his searches:

Mothers of Jews who like Bacon

Married people who like Prostitutes (…and the spouses of those people)

Current employers of people who like Racism

The Waiting Game

There’s no doubt that Graph Search is innovative. And as creepy as it may be, you have to admit that it’s also pretty cool. From a business standpoint, Graph Search has the potential to open up a lot of doors for a lot of industries. The recruiting community is certainly thrilled by the search engine. There have also been tons of “how to grow your business using Graph Search” blog posts written already, with a few new ones popping up every day.

Tech bloggers are even starting to discuss whether or not Graph Search will give Facebook the chance to rival Google as a search engine.

It will definitely be interesting to see if and how Graph Search will revolutionize Facebook, and possibly the Internet. It will also be interesting to see which of your friends and family members need a lesson in Facebook privacy settings. I’m excited to see how it all unfolds.

Graph Search has only been released as a beta for now, and only a handful of Facebook users currently have access to it. You can join the waiting list here.

The connection between social media and politics fascinates me. There are two main reasons for this:

1. People are hilarious.
2. Social media has such a large impact on our society that it blows my mind.

For an undecided voter, Twitter or Facebook could quite possibly influence IF they’re going to vote, WHO they’re going to vote for, and WHY they decided to vote for that candidate. One could argue that the social media activity surrounding politics and political events, such as the Presidential debates, could be more influential than the actual debates themselves!

Speaking of which, lately I’ve found myself  wondering:

How boring were the Presidential debates before social media?!

They may not have been THAT boring, but they couldn’t have been as entertaining as they are now! Over the past few weeks my Twitter feed has come to life on debate nights. The tweets are coming so fast that by the time I catch up I’m 30 behind again! I can’t respond to people fast enough, I’m retweeting and favoriting like crazy, and I LOVE it. Why? Because these political tweets are entertaining.

Deciding who to vote for is a very serious matter. It’s a decision that should be made after thoroughly researching both candidates and their stances on the issues you care about–but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a 90-minute break every now and then!

Sit back, relax, and laugh at two politicians who are stuck in a room together pretending to be friends while simultaneously insulting each other. It’s the American way! You can make up your mind about which candidate you liked/hated more after everything is fact-checked. In the meantime, enjoy yourself and the hilarious tweets and Facebook statuses pouring through your social media feeds.

Confession time: This concept of this post wasn’t entirely my idea. It was actually inspired by a friend of mine who tweeted me on Monday, the night of the third (and final) Presidential debate:

My first reaction was to completely agree. This IS great theater. If it weren’t, websites like CNN, TIME, and The Huffington Post wouldn’t have articles dedicated to the funniest tweets of the debate. Some of which include:

From CNN:

From TIME (Note- This is a Barack Obama parody account):

From The Huffington Post:

My second reaction was to take in exactly what he said. “Twitter has revolutionized the debates.” That got me thinking: Not only are these hilarious political tweets great theater, they also have the potential to be very influential. Like my friend said, Twitter (along with other forms of social media) is revolutionizing these debates, and humor isn’t the only thing causing this revolution.

Another reason I love political tweets (aside from their entertainment value) is because they strengthen my political opinions. They make me proud to support a candidate that I believe in, and reaffirm that I’m happy with my decision. The influence social media has on me, a person who’s 100% sure of who she’s voting for, makes me question how much undecided voter can be influenced by an entertaining news feed or timeline.

The sheer number of political tweets that were sent during these debates shows the role social media plays in politics. According to Twitter, 6.5 million tweets were sent during the third Presidential debate. 7.2 million were sent during the second debate, and 10 million were sent during the first debate (a record for a U.S. political debate). Politico newspaper correspondent Tony Romm agrees that social media is an extremely important aspect of politics:

“There is a piece of information . . .and it begins to bounce around, essentially. It’s shared, it’s repeated. It reverberates . . . When a [social media] user shares a news story about something a candidate has done. And then, that begins to explode, eventually winding up in major newspapers, making major headlines across the country. So, it has a huge effect.”

How huge, exactly? A recent survey from Ask Your Target Market reported that 5% of potential voters said that their political opinions have been impacted very much by social media posts, and 21% said that their opinions have been somewhat impacted by social media. Those numbers aren’t HUGE, but they still exist, and with social media constantly growing those numbers are sure to increase in the next four years.

These Presidential debates have once again proven that social media is an incredibly powerful medium, and it’s continually increasing its impact on our society.

One of the most common questions I’ve been getting lately is “should I be on Facebook?”  Well, yes. But why stop there? You should be on Twitter too. And while you’re at it … why not have a blog too?

As an SEO, I’m a huge advocate for social for more reasons than one, but mainly because social is now being integrated into my true passion: search results. Not to mention, an integrated marketing strategy is what gets you places.

1.       Filtered results options in Google

Google Real-Time: Google real-time search elicits results based on concurrent updates. As you search, Google is returning results happening at that exact moment. We’re talking live tweets (which coincidentally is another reason to be social). Now I don’t even have to be on Twitter to see the current trending topics. Talk about up-to-date!

Blogs: Another search filter option in Google is Blogs. This allows users to search for just blogs and nothing else. So in order to ensure results in this filter, you must have a blog, and you must be updating it frequently, because Google gives precedence to those blogs that are most up-to-date, since that’s what users are typically looking for. It should also be noted that the default search of “Everything” integrates blogs into the SERPs as well.

So what benefit do you receive as a company? Presence in the search engines beyond the traditional results. It’s simply not enough to be in the traditional results anymore. Times they are-a-changing; search results are ahead of the times, and you need to be too.

2.       Just last week Bing announced an innovative solution to search.

In a fairly new development, Bing is now integrating Facebook “Likes” into their search results. Bing attributes this initiative to the “Friend Effect”. What is the Friend Effect? I like to refer to it as word-of-mouth marketing; you may have heard of it. Bing’s thought process is this: when a user is at the beginning of the buying cycle, their initial action is going to be exploring user-feedback. Who uses your product? Do they like it? Does it solve their problems? Does it work the way they thought it would? Did it exceed their expectations? These are all questions we like to have answered before making a purchase, and as the product increases in price and value, the more questions we are likely to ask. So Bing thought, why not cut out a few days to several months of the buying cycle and answer these questions for the user immediately?

By seeing those results your friends “like” (and clearly trust), you can be assured knowing your friend’s stamp of approval is on this particular brand, and you can trust it too. Now you can skip filtering through an endless amount of review sites!

So how does this work? Simple: Look for the “thumbs up”. If you have lived anywhere other than under a rock, you know the symbol I’m referring to, and if you don’t, this post is for you.

If you’re searching in Bing for say “coffee shop”, you can see how many of your friends “like” Starbucks on Facebook. This way, if I’m interested in knowing whether or not those closest to me trust the brand, I have this information available right at my fingertips during initial brand comparison. Touché Bing.

Facebook Integration Into Bing

3.       Google and Social Accounts Connection

Similar to Bing, Google also gives preferential treatment to what your friends recommend.

So how does this one work?  If you are signed in to your personal Google account with the same Gmail account you registered with for sites such as Twitter and Flickr, you can see what your friends have shared, and those videos, articles, etc. your friends have shared are given preferential treatment in the results Google returns.

How can you apply this to your marketing strategy? If you have quality content users will want to share or “Retweet” for instance, Google will give your content more weight in the SERPs. See reason #4 for more information on the value of quality content.

As you can see below, when I’m signed in to my Google account, Google customizes my search results to what someone I follow on Twitter has shared. What’s cool about this is you don’t even have to be signed into Twitter, just Google.

Twitter Integration in Google

In the preceding search, I was signed into my Google account. In doing so, Google has ranked “Must Watch” much higher up than it would typically be ranking (as you can see below in the snapshot of the same search of which I am not signed into Google), simply because my friend on Twitter decided it was a link worth sharing. How cool is that?

SERP not logged into Google

4.       The Power of Twitter and The Value of a Retweet

This goes hand in hand with providing quality content that you hope will be shared and thus given preferential treatment in the search engines. The way to ensure this happens is quality content. The end goal in mind being the ‘retweet’: talk about viral. With the simple click of a ‘Retweet’ button, users who don’t even follow you are subject to your tweets by people they choose to follow, and we can safely assume, trust their opinion. Word-of-mouth marketing (yet again) anyone? I thought so.  Not to mention when you have a tweet that has been ‘retweeted’, you are more likely to appear in the Twitter search, and, if you’re lucky, perhaps even the coveted “Trending Topics”. More visibility on the Internet? I’ll take it.

So how do you get users to ‘retweet’ your tweets? By writing compelling tweets. And what’s more … the constant desire to compel users to hit the ‘retweet’ button forces you to be a better tweeter. And, speaking as an avid Tweeter, more high quality tweets make for a more high quality Twitter experience; one in which users will greatly appreciate.

5.       Meeting customers where they’re at

OK, so this one’s pretty obvious and it’s probably safe to assume you don’t need a whole lot of explanation, but whether it goes without saying or not, it’s a fact you simply can’t deny.  Facebook statistics show there are more than 500 million active users, while the average user has 130 friends and over 700 billion minutes are spent PER MONTH on this social platform. Twitter is following suit as users around the world begin to jump on the bandwagon. As if these statistics aren’t reason enough, you’re also meeting customers where they’re at in the search engines (you simply can’t deny your customers are using these) thanks to social integration; and this is accomplished simply by incorporating the social factor into your overall Internet marketing strategy. But, if you’re still not convinced from an SEO standpoint, at least recognize the value of dialoguing with your customers.

The significance of a search marketing campaign is simply undeniable in today’s market, and now social can act as a support system to your overall Internet marketing strategy. Social is here to stay; so basically I can sum this post up into one last ‘ground-breaking’ thought: if you’re not being social, you are missing out on the conversation.