Despite the ongoing struggles with its stock price, Facebook has spent most of 2012 aggressively innovating to give marketers new capabilities on the website. Among the additions that came earlier this year were the complete rollout of Timeline in late March and Sponsored Stories. This week, Facebook had one of its most prolific periods of the year, with five new features from the site either rolling out or rumors of their release leaking from the company.
Perhaps the most notable of these new social media marketing tools is the Want button, which Brafton reported is likely to be available soon. The tool would function similar to the current Like button, allowing users to endorse products and services marketers mention on their business Pages. For ecommerce companies, the tool could become increasingly useful, since consumers can indicate they plan or would like to purchase an item mentioned on the network.
Another new tool released by Facebook this week is the Scheduled Page Posts feature, which seems like an ideal pairing for the Want button. Marketers planning to release new products and services can set links to these items to go live at certain times, where the Want button can help gauge interest and drive appeal throughout the network.
Facebook announced the release of Scheduled Page Posts on its Developers blog, along with Unpublished Posts and Page Admin Permissions.
Brafton highlighted the new features in a report detailing the increased control and customization marketers now have over their presence on Facebook. With Unpublished Page Posts, companies can now improve their targeting on the website by choosing which fans see the content they share. These posts will not appear on a company’s Timeline, only within the newsfeeds of the fans they select to receive it. This can help companies who frequently share content avoid spamming their fans and reach the most relevant audiences with specific posts.
For ecommerce companies, Facebook’s new Want button could become increasingly useful, since consumers can indicate they plan or would like to purchase an item mentioned on the network.
Facebook also announced a Page Admin Permission tool on Monday, enabling companies that have multiple employees or outsourced partners managing their accounts to control the access each person has. The move signals growth in the role social marketing plays in businesses, as Facebook developed the tool to help organizations use the platform more effectively. With social used for content sharing, customer service and many other brand-building activities, assigning different responsibilities to employees can help make social more efficient.
The innovations kept coming from Facebook, with the company announcing a new Recommendations Bar on Friday. Brafton highlighted the feature in its report, which found early tests resulted in three times more engagement for content that appeared within the bar. Users who have Liked content will see other links to articles and content similar to the posts they are accessing. For marketers, the tool can help highlight multiple pieces of content that have generated buzz on the site, which is always a good thing for brand reach.
With Facebook rolling out tools to highlight more content on the site, Bing is busy developing ways to show off products related to user queries. The Rimm-Kaufman Group reported this week that Bing is now testing product listings within the ads on the site. Users will see the images that contain links directing them back to ecommerce websites.
Brafton reported on Tuesday that the tool can help drive traffic for business websites. Moreover, the ads will be placed alongside other Bing paid search content. Content marketing campaigns are often associated with SEO and organic search campaigns, but developing high-quality web content can also help paid search efforts as PPC costs tend to go down (and conversions tend to go up) when landing page content is relevant to queries.
It’s not often that a Google Panda update gets lost in the shuffle, but the minor search update was released without much buzz. Panda 3.9 rolled out Tuesday night and affected 1 percent of searches. The iteration was released almost one month after 3.8, which had an even smaller impact on search.
Google included a link to its blog post from last May that urged marketers hoping to boost their search ranking to develop website content focused on the user. Brafton reported that developing articles and other content that follows these guidelines are likely to help companies avoid any traffic issues related to algorithm updates.
Typically, marketers that see decreased traffic following a Panda update are left scrambling as they look to compile data related to the issue. However, a new addition to Google Webmaster Tools could help discover these issues more quickly. On Tuesday, the company reported that it added Index Status to Google Analytics to show companies how many pages within their website have been indexed by Googlebot. Any sudden drops or rises in this figure likely signals a change due to one of Google’s quality algorithms.
Brafton reported that the primary value of this new tool is the ease with which marketers can assess the data. Previously, searching for “Site:YourURL.com” would yield a list of all the site pages indexed in Google. However, aggregating the data into a chart can help spot trends and assess the effectiveness of certain campaigns.
The Panda update and improvements to Webmaster Tools were probably the most important changes from Google this week. However, the company also rolled out some other features. On Thursday, Brafton highlighted a new Google+ integration with Google search. Users will now see “Actively discussed on Google+” below any search results that are currently trending on the social network.
Brafton spotted the addition on Thursday and found that users can also access some of the conversation surrounding the topic by clicking a “Show” button. This is just the latest integration of Google+ and Google search, as the company attempts to drive traffic to its social network.
One topic trending on Google+ (and across the internet) was the London 2012 Summer Olympics, which began earlier this week. For the next two weeks, the event will likely be one of the dominant sources of conversation on the web and a likely trending topic on most social networks. Twitter and NBC Olympics launched a dedicated hashtag page to highlight Tweets related to the event.
Content marketing campaigns can give sites a timely SEO lift when they include relevant takes on trending news content. Over the next few weeks, content writers can drive more traffic using the games as a topic. It’s not easy to find the tie-in, but if it can be done effectively, give it a shot.