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Facebook follows Google+’s lead, what it means to you…

Facebook follows Google+’s lead, what it means to you…

Facebook just announced some changes to their profile, including how you can share posts on an individual basis. The assumed reason that they are doing this is to compete with Google+’s “Circles”, but with 600+ million subscribers, why do they really need to compete against Google+? Yes, there may be a finite number of people who will use Social Media, and most of us try new platforms when they come out. While there is no loyalty in the social media world, we typically go where it is easiest to communicate with our friends. Is Facebook worried that the 600+ million members are going to one day just leave, like we did to MySpace? Perhaps. Or maybe Facebook is going after another sub-set of Google… paid search, the cash-cow and heart of Google.

Facebook has been very successful with their paid advertising, but most of us still use the platform as a social tool, not a knowledge tool. When we want to find out about a product, recent event, person, etc. the mass majority use Google search. Yet there is an infinite amount of information in our Facebook posts, often more relevant and timely than found in Google, but the general public cannot access it because we are not “friends” with the poster. Sure, some people set their profile to “Public” and share every post, but most of us keep our posts private to our friends only.  Also Facebook is a “Closed Community” so even the Public Profiles’ posts do not show up in Internet Search usually.  What if Facebook became as easy to search as Google and Twitter?

This is exactly the change that I think is most relevant with Facebook’s announcement, as identified in Hubspot’s post “Facebook Copies Google+ Sharing, And It Doesn’t Matter“. You can now set your posts as available to the general public, your friends, or only to a custom few.

What does this mean as a marketer?  We already know that your posts that include a link to a website or your Fanpage can drive a lot of traffic and increase awareness among your friends and their friends.  Now make sure those posts are marked “Public” and it will open your reach to the entire Facebook club.  As Facebook members learn that search can collect relevant and timely information, more people will use it Make sure you use keywords in your “public” posts because this will probably be what Facebook’s search uses to include in their results.  How they will rank the search results is something that SEO managers will be monitoring and speculating about for months to come.  One theory is that Facebook will display results based upon the connectedness you have with the poster, similar to a LinkedIn Connections, or that the ranking will be based upon how interactive that post has been with the poster’s friends and the general public.

Either way, once people see that search on Facebook is useful, it could become the next big activity for the members, and Facebook can sell more ads to appear alongside those search results, giving Google Adwords a real run for it’s money.

Another use of Public Posts it that a marketer could develop an “alert” that watched Public Posts for specific keywords, and then replied to that post with specific offers.  Imagine targeted ads appearing only for you that relate to your public posts.  An example would be posting about going to tahoe, as in the above post image, and suddenly getting coupons for meals, hotels, car rentals etc., showing up in your newsfeed. And Facebook getting paid for every impression or click-thru.

I think that has a lot more interest to Facebook than making sure they keep up with the features offered by Google+.

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