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What’s Better for Your Brand?

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Social media has changed our world forever.

It’s put us in contact with people faster than ever before, regardless of their location. It has also given people and businesses a way to connect that was previously unimaginable.

Direct feedback, customer communication, praise, complaints, reviews – social media offers a way to obtain it all. And all of it pretty easily.

But using the features of social media correctly and effectively is much different than simply using social media.

We know it’s no longer a mystery whether or not brands should be on Facebook (and other social media platforms deemed useful to them). The value the social media heavyweight brings, along with other platforms like it, is something you cannot ignore.

The benefits will surely work in a business’ favor when done the right way.

But, with all of Facebook’s features – and new ones constantly emerging–it can be a challenge to decide exactly which tools to adopt for your brand.

Differences Between Facebook Groups & Brand Pages

Facebook offers a variety of features and tools that are helpful to marketers, as well as everyday humans simply looking for information.

Messenger, Videos, Live, Marketplace… Facebook has come to offer a myriad of tools to simplify and/or entertain the lives of all who use it.

But it’s one of its first features – Groups – and what it perhaps indirectly helped spawn – Pages – that have really helped the growth and success of the platform. These features also helped build the success of many of the brands who have used them to their advantage.

The difference between Groups and Pages is more connected to whom brand stakeholders are trying to communicate with through them.

A team leader for a company trying to communicate with his or her coworkers is going to have a much more success communicating via a Facebook Group than he or she would on a brand Page.

On the other hand, if those stakeholders wanted to communicate with current, past, and potential customers of the brand, it would get the most value from doing so through a Page.

The biggest reason for this — and the biggest difference between the two options — is built within the intended audience of the messaging, as well as the goals the brand is trying to achieve.

Reasons to Use a Facebook Brand Page

Facebook Pages, unlike Groups, didn’t launch until 2007. Pages offer brands and celebrities a more far-reaching version of the social media application that once was only meant for individuals to connect with.

Pages have evolved like much of the platform has (i.e., first called “Facebook Pages for Business”) and have been the lifeblood behind the advertising climate throughout the social network.

When they launched in November 2007, Pages represented “a completely new way of advertising online,” according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

And he was not wrong.

The bigger story within the creation of the Pages feature being created was the launching of Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads became a reality – then success – since so many businesses adopted the idea of the brand page and leveraging it and its content with ads.

But the entire movement created an advertising platform unlike anything else on the web, most closely resembling that of Google paid search ads, but with more-defined audience targeting and a lower price.

Even without using the ad platform, a brand page gives businesses the ability to talk directly to their following – and hopefully to some of those individuals intended to become a part of it.

Brands have the chance to send specific messaging to the people that matter most to them: their customers.

Add the power (and affordability, at least in its current state for most markets) of paid advertising to drive engagement and raise brand awareness, and it’s easy to see that boosting Page content is helpful for businesses of all sizes.

And today, more and more brands are utilizing that combined approach of paid and organic social media marketing to create far-reaching Facebook success.

The key for a Facebook Page’s success with its messaging is, again, the intended audience.

A brand won’t have nearly as much success communicating with “the outside world” using a Facebook Group as it would a Page.

So, then, why would a business need a Facebook Group, and how does it differ from a Page?

Reasons to Use a Facebook Group

Groups, which have been around since as early as 2006, were created as a means to communicate and collaborate in an environment that was only to the public when it was intended to be.

This is why different types of Groups have existed since their inception.

For more than a decade, Facebook has offered open, closed, and secret groups.

Open Groups let anyone join and invite, and the content posted and discussed is public.

Closed Groups need approval for new people to be added, and the content is not public.

And Secret Groups are completely hidden from Facebook search (and traditional search), and people need to be invited to be added.

Facebook recently announced its updating its Groups, though.

It will be dropping the Secret, Closed, and Public group privacy setting to simply be:

  • Public and visible in search (formerly Public)
  • Private and visible in search (formerly Closed)
  • Private and hidden in search (formerly Secret)

Despite the naming changes, the utilization of Groups isn’t changing, nor is the intended goal of the group(s).

Each of those group privacy settings offers something unique with the same goal: collaboration with easy communication.

Groups were a lot popular (and useful) before cell phones allowed us to group text as easily as we do today.

But that doesn’t mean Groups aren’t still useful.

They offer the chance for brands to communicate directly with their team members, staff, partners, and, yes, even customers – but the messaging is always going to be much different (at least when it’s done correctly).

Again, keeping in mind the intended goal(s) and target audience, Groups are a great way to not just communicate internally, but they also allow businesses to illustrate expertise and to further support a brand.

For instance, starting and administering a Facebook Group for brand loyalists where they can communicate information about products and services is a great way to beef up brand loyalty and general education.

With the same regard, starting or joining a non-branded community group where people can share ideas and insight is a great way to support the brand as well as build authority and visibility while illustrating expertise.

Groups definitely have their place in the overall social media strategy for brands. It’s just important to use them correctly and avoid being an annoying human billboard that floods out (and ruins) groups and the power of messaging within them.

Deciding Which Facebook Tool Is Right for Your Brand

Most often, a business is going to want to have a Facebook Page that represents its brand.

It’s become an impressionable part of a company’s identity – sort of a 1A of its website – and often the first place a customer or potential customer turns for answers, advice, guidance, and even sales.

But there is certainly a place for Groups, too. It’s just critical to use them both correctly and not to dilute either of their messaging by being too salesy.

Remember, throughout the web, brands’ No. 1 priority should be to educate their customers and potential customers.

And brands can, and should, do that with both Facebook Pages and Groups. Just keep the messaging clear and consistent with the vehicle being used, and never forget target audience and intended goal.

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See the ‘top signals’ informing your Google Ads bidding strategies

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Google’s smart bidding strategies use a host of signals to inform bids with each auction. Now, Google is starting to show which signals are driving performance to optimize bids for people more or less likely to convert.

Top signals. The signals shown might include device type, location, day of week, time of day, keywords, remarketing and Customer Match lists and potentially some other signals. You might also see combinations of signals such as time and keyword. Signals in red are less likely to convert in that strategy, while signals in green are more likely to convert.

(Click to enlarge.) Top signals for portfolio bidding strategies now show in Google Ads.

Where to see top signals reporting. The top signals will show in the bid strategy report. Keep in mind, that report is only available for portfolio bid strategies. The bid strategy report is located from Tools > Shared Library > Bid Strategies. Then select a portfolio strategy.

Google said it will show for Target CPA and Maximize conversions on Search, but you may be able to see top signals for other portfolio strategies. The example above is just for eCPC, in fact.

Why we care. Understanding which contextual signals have particular influence on your automated bidding can give you insights into your target customers and potentially inform your strategy. For example, if you see a keyword being “down signaled,” it may just be a poor match for that particular bid strategy, or perhaps there are ad or landing page optimizations you could make to improve its likelihood to convert.

You might also see trends that can inform other marketing efforts such as email send times. The screenshot above, for example, shows weekends are a strong signal. That could be a good time to test email flights rather than on weekdays.

More about pay-per-click advertising


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.



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Google’s ‘Duplex on the web’ enables the Assistant to buy movie tickets for you

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Google is making it possible to use the Assistant (via Duplex) to buy movie tickets online. Back in May at Google I/O, the company announced that it was expanding the AI-powered Duplex beyond restaurant reservations to booking rental cars and buying movie tickets.

Duplex on the web. Called “Duplex on the web,” users will be able to use the Google Assistant for new reservations and purchase categories. Movies is the latest example.

As shown below, Android users in the U.S. or U.K. can ask the Assistant for movie showtimes or search movies in the Google app. The Assistant will then lead searchers through a “buy tickets” process that involves theater selection, movie times and, if available, seat selection. A saved payment card needs to be in Chrome to work in this case.

Expanding to many more categories. It’s not clear that users will prefer this process to manually booking tickets. However, it illustrates how Google is bringing the sophistication of its Duplex technology to the broader mobile internet.

It’s also not clear how much back end integration needs to be done by publishers to enable this; I suspect not that much. Regardless, I’m sure Google has a roadmap that extends to many other categories where online scheduling, reservations and basic transactions are involved.

Rand Fishkin has been speaking, including at SMX East, about how Google has evolved from “everyone’s search engine to everyone’s competitor” and the SEO implications of this. My view is a bit different.

Why we should care. Google has now talked repeatedly about “helping users get things done in search and with the Google Assistant. This is about making search more transactional and owning the transaction. Google is doing this in shopping and across the board in local (e.g., food ordering).

Google is trying to remove friction and compress the process between search and a sale. It’s handing that process off much less and less to third parties and site owners. This helps Google 1) improve the consumer experience, 2) keep users within its system, 3) create a closed loop for analytics and 4) generate fees or revenue from commerce, which has implications for smart speakers.

If these capabilities (i.e., Duplex on the web) take off, publishers and brands will need to be partnered or integrated with Google actions/services or risk losing the transaction to a competitor. It will also mean that Google owns the customer.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.



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Google Search Console adds Product results filters to performance report

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Google announced it has added new filters to the performance report within Google Search Console to show you how well your product results are doing in search. Google now captures and displays click and impression data when rich results display based on your use of product rich results markup.

The report. Find this data under the Performance report by clicking on “search appearance” and then on “product results.” You’ll see clicks and impressions and can further segment by device, geography and queries.

What it looks like. Here is a screen shot of the report:

What is a product rich result? Below is a screenshot of what a product rich result looks like, but you can learn more about this in this developer document. Product rich results typically show product ratings, price, availability and some description information. Note that product rich results are not new, just the report in Search Console.

An example of a product rich result in Google search results.

Why we care. The more data the better for SEOs and publishers, and this gives us more granular data on the impact of us adding product rich result markup to our pages. Google said this will show you how much traffic comes from experiences with rich data like price and availability and how does shopping traffic change over time, and the shopping search queries your website shows.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.



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