We just finished redoing a website that was originally done by a business owner my client met in a networking group. Almost nothing in the original website could be salvaged, and we started over.
The problems started with photos that were uploaded without any attempt at optimization or editing. The result was that the very large images uploaded directly from the digital camera made the site open extremely slowly. Google punishes sites like this and humans today are often not willing to wait for long periods of time for a site to open. The photos were also left unedited. They looked amateurish. (Cropping a cracked parking lot in the foreground of a picture and rotating it to make it look straight would have helped.) The other problems were probably even more startling. The phone number was captured within an image (making it useless as a link on smart phones) and the text was not well-written, not optimized for the key words; there were typos and grammar problems. Finally, although the target market of the business was definitely local, the site was not registered Google Places for Business – and the web designer hadn’t even suggested that this should be done. The site was basically invisible to Google.
Had the client developed his own website on one of the free platforms, this might be understandable, but the website person he hired also used a free platform, represented himself as a web designer, and charged thousands of dollars.
But this isn’t a post about websites. This is a post about joining a networking group that demands that you use and refer the people within the group.
The problem with this type of “Relationship Marketing” is that simply developing a relationship with someone does not guarantee that he will do a good job. The more insidious problem is that people in these groups become friends. No one wants to speak negatively about a friend, who sits next to him every week. Also, since giving and getting referrals is the main reason for these groups, you may be asked to leave the group if you don’t provide members with referrals. This sets up the perfect storm for referring less than optimal people.
While we are not saying that networking groups are intrinsically bad, the adage, “Caveat Emptor,” (Buyer Beware) definitely applies when deciding whether or not to hire or refer anyone. Even though you may think you know someone in your networking group, ask for references (preferably from people not in the group) and investigate his on-line reputation. People used to warn us about hiring our brother-in-law to do a job for us without checking up on what kind of work he does. Today, this warning extends to people we network with.
While it is debatable whether Mark Zuckerberg had a grand plan when it came to leveraging his social networking site into a marketing platform, the fact is that any time over one billion people hang out somewhere, smart marketers will figure out a way to reach them. And while he maintains that it is not the marketing part of the network that he focuses on, the reality is that he continues to make the enhancements that are shaping how marketing is done today, while assuring Facebook’s place as a marketing giant.
The recent Page changes that have been (and continue to be) announced demonstrate Facebook’s commitment. The newest announcement helps people understand how the News Feed works today and explicitly explains what may get a Page quarantined. While those of us who use the site for clients have suspected some of these “rules,” it is helpful to have them spelled out. If you want to stay off Facebook’s “Black List,” do NOT:
- Explicitly ask people to like, comment or share your posts.
- Share the same content over and over. (If you want to repeat something important, use different words and different images each time.)
- Use “bait and switch” tactics. (Be honest when telling people where they will end up when they click a link.)
So how does Facebook decide what to show in a News Feed, they rank the post based on the following features:
- Interest of the user and creator.
- The post’s performance against other users.
- Performance of past posts by the creator.
- The type of post – text, photo, link.
- And how new the post is.
For more on what Facebook chooses to post see TechCrunch’s equation
These and other Page changes have helped define how marketing should be done on Social Media platforms. However, it even more reinforces the fact that Zuckerberg and his cohorts continue to care about user experience. In other words, they want Facebook to remain the place people want to hang out.