Social media expert Greg Finn on promoted tweets and the rise of G+

Recently I had the chance to interview search marketer and social media expert Greg Finn. Greg is an Internet Marketer at Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 9+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. Greg is also a contributing editor for both Search Engine Land and Marketing Land.

Thanks to Greg for taking the time to answer my questions!

Question: What kind of influence do you see social media having on the SERPs?

Answer from Greg Finn: The influence of social on rankings is definitely growing. At SMX Advanced this year Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting had an excellent presentation showing just how important the signal actually is. Using nothing but social shares (no traffic, links or GA on pages) he was able to rank content using all major social networks.

Not to mention the fact that G+ is essentially Google’s effort to right their algorithm. If you asked 100 people on the streets as to how they vouch for a site online, 99 would likely say that they’d share socially, not that they would like to it. The proliferation of G+ in the SERPs makes a solid social plan unavoidable for any search marketer. Also at SMX Advanced Mitul Ghandi of seoClarity showed a slide that as of April 2013 out of a 300k keyword sample, 13,000 Google+posts were showing top 10 in the SERPs. The ability for friends to give WOM recommendations to results (and the ranking benefits) is a huge step for customized search.

Question: Since Facebook and Twitter don’t share their data with Google, how can (if they do at all) Google use that information in their algorithm?

Answer from Greg Finn: It’s true that the data isn’t formally shared. However, it’s not true that signals are totally inaccessible. Do a search for any brand, you’ll likely see the FB and Twitter pages showing. These pages are not only indexed, but the content is crawlable. So while Facebook/Twitter isn’t openly feeding this information over to Google, they most certainly are happy about the traffic that Google is sending them and it behoves them to keep their content in the SERPs.

In many situations sometimes the easiest answer may well be the solution. Yes, we’ve heard Matt and Maile talk about this multiple times but think about what you would do if you were a search engine. If you had to continually provide the best results for your users, you likely would incorporate as much relevant data as possible into your algo. IMO, right now, it’s far and away the most relevant metric for determining quality content. Lastly, see the above answer – Eric proved that social links off Google+ do provide a meaningful signal.

Question: Will Google+ ever usurp Facebook as the dominant social network?

Answer from Greg Finn: Short answer – I don’t think so. I’m coming around on Google+, but Facebook is great for a reason – everyone is there and there is a ton of privacy. Google+ is fairly confusing to use for the novice and doesn’t really have any advantages to using it. When MySpace beat Friendster or Facebook beat MySpace there were significant advantages to each. Google+ is more of a lateral move for folks at the moment. One thing that could push it over the tipping point is Glass. That is a game changer and if integrated correctly, it could prove to be a huge boon for G+.

Question: Could social signals ever replace traditional links as one of the more important ranking factors?

Answer from Greg Finn: Yes. They not only could, but should. Expecting that everyone can (and will) write a post, include a link, properly format the link and link to the right location is insane to me. Everyone however can +1, share, like or retweet. Social will be the number one factor in a matter of time.

Question: How can a business owner best grow their online author authority?

Answer from Greg Finn: Hustle & interact. We are in an age where shortcuts and tricks don’t exist. Join G+ Communities, post great content, make schedules and stick to them and you’ll be surprised. Also, it is always surprising to me how little many folks engage with others. Don’t make excuses and just work on sharing/writing great stuff and interact with others.

Question: Do you think Facebook ads work well for B2B brands or are it better for B2C?

Answer from Greg Finn: <Bad Answer Disclaimer> It really depends on the product. One isn’t better than the other, the strategy/execution is really what determines the success. With FB ads for B2B you can target the heck out of people with can be great for finding users who went to a target school, work at a specific business which is really powerful. However, FBX and B2C is where there has been the most value and i’d consider super valuable at the moment.

Question: Do you think promoted tweets are worth the cost or is it just a waste of time and budget?

Answer from Greg Finn: <Bad Answer Disclaimer Part 2> It depends on your plan really. However, I would say that for most cases promoted Tweets are absolutely not a waste. If building your account, spreading a specific message/link is a KPI for you, go ahead and give it a shot. Whenever you are in doubt – test.

Question: Are social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon worthwhile to marketers and site owners?

Answer from Greg Finn: Yes. There are niche segments on all kinds of sites. These sites get stereotyped quite a bit, but actually can work for a range of business types. Guess what, there is a super popular parenting section on Reddit (typically thought of as snarky teens) and there are plenty of targeted channels on StumbleUpon. If you want some more info, we put together a guide on how to use Reddit for your biz & finding content awhile back.

Question: It’s very easy to get lost in the depths of social networking and many small business owners are a one man show. How can a small business owner (or one man marketing team) best budget their time when it comes to social media marketing?

Answer from Greg Finn: What I would do if I was a SMB with limited time:

1. Take a few weeks and see what has been working for me. Identify and label all of my efforts and how well I think they’ve done

2. Cut out the networks that weren’t performing.

3. Make a daily schedule with as much time as you can allocate – something that you’d stick to religiously

4. Spend 75% of your allocated time/budget where you’ve seen success and cultivate it.

5. Spend 20% of your time on new tactics

6. Spend 5% of your time on giving roughlt analysis on your work and making tweaks.

Question: Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet, “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark,” arguably earned way more attention than their $4 million commercial did. How can marketers capitalize on real-time events like Oreo did for their own brand?

Answer from Greg Finn: The biggest thing is just being active. To be honest, that Oreo tweet was fairly lame. It wasn’t really funny, it didn’t really have to relate to Oreos (you could do a “you can sip/taste/try/talk/etc in the dark” for anything), and it wasn’t even that hard to do designwise. The number one thing it had, was that it was timely. If you have a team, make sure you’ll always have someone at the helm to take advantage of social friendly topics.

Question: What’s a marketer to do when their audience is most active on social media outside of normal business hours?

Answer from Greg Finn: Post updates during those times. The strategy shouldn’t change other than that.

Question: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and YouTube are pretty visual social channels. How can a brand that isn’t very visually appealing (software isn’t nearly as fun to look at as cupcakes) leverage the power of these social networks?

Answer from Greg Finn: First off, not all social networks are for everyone. Someone selling software may want to spend their time on Google+, FB or StackOverflow as they’ll have better results. If you do want to engage in Pinterest, think about creating vivid visuals that can be shared instead of curating your own account. For Instagram/Vine – comparison videos, sneak peaks, design could be some hooks to take.

Question: What is your opinion of Twitter’s new “embedded on” feature?

Answer from Greg Finn: I like this feature as I think it will push publications to embed more Tweets as they’ll get some extra visibility. I love embedded social posts as I think it give more context to articles and am all for more embedding.

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