How a TSUnami might drown FaceBook

FaceBook is under attack. Can its hegemony stand against up-and-comers like Tsu and Ello?

Of course, the answer is…maybe. FaceBook might seem like a Rock of Giberaltar, solid and unmovable. But so was the Soviet Union (for you younger readers, that’s what they called Russia and a number of its vassal states before the fall of the Berlin Wall ended the Cold War).

Tsuccess - success on Tsu social network

There was a time before Google, too, when Lycos and Alta Vista and Excite and Looksmart ruled the Web.

And FaceBook itself displaced MySpace in the social networking space, which in turn displaced Friendster. The question is not if FaceBook will be replaced, but rather when and by whom?

2014 has seen the launch of two contenders with a better chance than most so far.

Ello is the media darling, which launched in beta mode early this year with its promise never to sell user data or to post ads. It has positioned itself as the anti-FaceBook and has attracted some good capital funding to stake its claim. But it is still in beta and you still need an invitation, so I will report on Ello some other time.

Tsu is less than a month old, and distinguishes itself from FaceBook by sharing its revenue with users. Like Ello, it appeals to people’s sense of fair play: you put content on a social network, you should share in the profits.

Each of these social networks has a captivating Unique Value Proposition. The question is whether either of them will displace FaceBook, or at least make a stand side-by-side with FaceBook.

I use FaceBook and there is nothing specific that bothers me about the site, at least not enough for me to quit. Nothing specific. But there is something just a little shifty about the changing terms of service, the blocking posts from users that we want to see, the privacy concerns… It’s like that guy you meet who always seems to have something to hide.

So I have signed up for Tsu and I am committed to being active there; I am closing in on 500 friends in under a week. I do not expect to get rich from Tsu, but I do spend time on social media. If that time can be converted into a couple extra pizzas each month, that’s a nice little bonus, right?

Tsu has the basic layout and functionality of FaceBook, but feels more fun – the community is somehow more like Google Plus (and that is a good thing). Tsu has hit the ground running, going public before all the features are live, the opposite strategy from Ello. To be viable, at very least Tsu will need some form of groups or communities, so we can assume that will be coming shortly. To compete with Google Plus, Tsu will probably need something like circles and hangouts, or something else uniquely its own.

How you can be be successful on Tsu

  1. Share awesome content – things that are useful, entertaining or newsworthy.
  2. Build a large network of friends, so that your content gets seen and shared.
  3. Be sociable – comment and like other people’s posts, and share them when you really like them.
  4. Forget about the money. Seriously, you need to be social because you have reasons to interact for fun or to build a community for your business.
  5. Be an early adapter. This is key to the whole making money part. Invite people. This is the ONLY thing you should do for the money. A year from now, thousands of people will be banging their heads on the wall for not getting in right away and inviting their friends.

Tsu early adapter

The more people you invite, the more “children” you will have and the bigger your “network” will be. Tsu will share with you its revenue based on your activity and the activity of your children and grand children, so it is important to invite A) lots of friends and B) active friends.

I can’t stress enough the “active” portion of all this. You are not paid for the number of people you recruit; you are paid for the activity you and they generate. Being an early adapter means that you have a better chance of inviting active people who have not yet joined.

This brings us full circle to “forget about the money”. Invite people and encourage them to be active. Then, just go ahead and do what you would be doing on FaceBook or Google Plus anyway. Did you notice that those first three points are the same as for any other social network? Yes, Tsu is much like any other social network in that respect, just that you get a share of the revenue that your activity generates.

If you try too hard, you’ll become a spammer. And as I pointed out in the Social Media Sun, nobody wants to share their revenue with a spammer. Spammers will not get far on Tsu.

Already Tsu has taken measures to prevent spamming and encourage quality sharing. Anyone posting or sharing “Share this to earn more money” posts will have their accounts terminated. And there are daily and weekly limits for posting and friend requests, to keep spammers from running amok.

I hope Tsu stays vigilant on the matter of spamming, even if it makes things occasionally inconvenient. That is what makes it a great place to be – good quality content with a really fun atmosphere.

HOMEWORK: Join Tsu today, then invite three social media friends to join, too. You will sooooooo thank me for it later.

Who uses Google Plus?

So much talk online about the growing popularity of Google Plus, even while all your real-world friends are still on Facebook.  Let’s look at exactly who is using Google Plus.

There is a lot of background chatter online about Google Plus, and whether 2014 is the year that it replaces Facebook as the social network of choice.  I have seen a few smirky cartoons and signs about people leaving Facebook for Google Plus.

Why join Google Plus?

I have even written about how Facebook gave Google an orgasm not long ago.

Notwithstanding the chatter, I do not predict that Google Plus will eclipse Facebook this year.  The statistics still show that Facebook is way ahead of Google Plus, and that even if Google Plus accelerates its growth, Facebook should still dominate by the end of 2014.

Facebook still dominates social media usage.

Of course, both sites have been found guilty of cooking user stats:

“Google+ may have 540m monthly active users, but this year they disclosed that this takes into account anyone who clicks on a +1 button that may be embedded on an external page (such as this one). Likewise, Facebook also takes into account anyone who clicks on a like or share button on any external site, meaning that you don’t have to use Facebook directly to be considered one of its monthly active users.”

Never mind the stats.  If you go out onto the street and talk to “real people” – I mean people who don’t use the words “social media” in everyday conversation and who might not even know what the term means –  they are almost all on Facebook. They are there because that’s where extended family and friends (people they know in the real world) all are.  They won’t switch social networks easily because no other social network has what Facebook has – their real-world family and friends.

Many of these people have also heard of Twitter, thanks to mainstream media coverage in the news and promotion through shows like American idol.

Few of these people have even heard of Google Plus.

Until these people are given a very compelling reason to leave, Facebook will retain the upper hand.

Who’s on Google Plus now?

But a lot of people are using Google Plus anyway, and maybe you should be boosting your Google Plus mojo to reach those people.  Just who are those people?

 


 

 

Disaffected Facebook users.

There are many reasons people are leaving Facebook.  Some studies say that Facebook makes us feel bad about ourselves. Others suggest that Facebook’s privacy and ethics policies are driving them away. I know of people who are upset with the ads and sponsored posts that are invading their streams, although I have yet to hear any “real people” (offline friends and family) comment about this. Will Google Plus be any better on any of these points? Only time will tell.

 

And down she goes.

Smirky cartoon that has been doing the rounds on Google Plus

 

But who are these disaffected Facebook users?  They seem to cut across all ages, although they tend to be more men than women.  Which ones are moving to Google Plus? That is even harder to tell, since so many disaffected Facebook users might not be “leaving” one platform for another, but simply spending more time on Google Plus and less time (or no time at all) on Facebook.

But many of them fit into the groups below.

Artists and photographers.

This is almost a no brainer.  If you have images you want to share online, Facebook just doesn’t cut it. Facebook gives you very little control over images, clipping them automatically.  See what Facebook did to my New Year’s message:

Facebook hacked up my pic

Sharing pics on Twitter is not ideal, partly because of the 140 character limit to describe the image, and partly because the pic doesn’t show up unless you open the tweet.  Here is my New Year’s tweet:

How Twitter shows and image

Here is how most people saw it:

How most people see a tweet with an image.

Google Plus works just perfectly for sharing images, whether you are a photographer, and artist or just someone who like sharing lolcats.  And you can easily describe the picture in as much detail as you wish.  See the difference it made with my New Year’s message:

How an image appears on Google Plus

It is worth noting that for really large images, Google Plus gives extra width, so they sometimes span across two columns.  That makes for some superb online vistas.

Marketers.

This has suddenly become a no-brainer.  Small businesses and online marketers were recently told by Facebook that they are unwelcome.  Not officially, of course, but if you read my recent post on Facebook’s antics, it is clear that they have made the Facebook climate inhospitable for supporting small business life forms.

I am seeing more and more of these people – people just like you, perhaps? – heading over to Google plus. So it’s a great place to network with like-minded marketers, develop relationships, partnerships and collaboration.  But is it a good place to sell to them?  Time will tell.

Europeans.

As Google Plus grows so quickly, I suspect the data is changing quickly.  Nevertheless, you can expect Google Plus users to come from similar places as those on Facebook and Twitter.  My own experience, however, shows that Google Plus is skewed more toward Europeans.

If I remove the local bias in Facebook (so many fellow Canadian offline friends, former friends and family), both Facebook and Twitter tend to be USA-centric, followed by India, after which would be UK and Canada (at least for English speakers).

I do not find myself interacting with a lot of people from Italy, Spain, France, Greece, etc. on Twitter and Facebook.  But on Google Plus, I do.  Perhaps it is just that the avid sharing photographers tend to be Mediterranean, or it might just be an accident of a couple circles I was included in early on.  But I find much less participation from India, and Asia in general, on Google Plus that I find on Twitter and Facebook.

I also find the content split to be interesting.  Very few Europeans seem to be sharing links to blog posts, whereas that seems to be what I see the majority of Americans and Indians sharing.

Google Plus cartoon

Perhaps you have a different experience on Google Plus, in which case please share it in the comments below.  My own observations might be too narrow-based on which to draw any useful conclusions.

Have I missed any important segments?  Are there other large, identifiable groups blazing trails on Google Plus?  Please let me know (and your fellow readers, as well) in the comments below.

Facebook just gave Google an orgasm!

This is a shocker, indeed. I don’t mean that I used the big “O” word in the title. I mean how the script is unfolding.

Facebook is trying to eat away at Google’s search hegemony. Meanwhile, Google has been laser-focused on toppling Facebook’s social network dominance.

It’s just like a classic movie showdown!

But every now and then two rivals meet at a climactic point in the script, engage in hand-to-hand combat, and…get distracted. They smell each others’ hair. They touch each others’ skin. They look into each others’ eyes.

But rarely do we see one of the rivals give the other an orgasm. Perhaps Hollywood is more family-friendly than social media after all.

In case you have been hiding under a rock this past week, Facebook “announced”:

“We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”

This has not sat well with the many, many online small businesses who are among the most voracious users of social media. Here are a few samplings I have read this week of reactions to this news:

To sum it up, if a person “likes” your page on Facebook and wants to receive your updates that way, tough luck.  For them, and for you.  Chances are they will very rarely see those updates.

As a user, I actually like that.  Just because I “like” something, doesn’t mean I want updates.  In fact, I might like something because a friend recommends it or because there is a contest or some other incentive, and the last thing I want is to have all that commercial stuff blocking updates from friends, inspiring mini-posters and those crucial lol-cats.

But from a marketer’s perspective, after investing huge amounts of time and money building up a “likes” arsenal, it totally sucks.  100 percent.  Let this serve as yet another warning – I laid it out in Who Owns Your Twitter Account? and in 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year – you don’t own the work you invest in someone else’s website.

Google “Likes” Facebook

So Facebook is neutering your “likes”.

And Google really likes that.

Google has tried many times to supplant Facebook. Remember Orkut? Remember iGoogle? Remember Google Buzz? Remember Google Circles? Oh, wait…that ended up becoming Google Plus.

Well, it looks like Google’s long history of trial and error is finally over, and the question most of the way through 2013 has been whether Google Plus could do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace. (Don’t get me wring – MySpace is still big, especially in certain niches. But it is “big” only if it isn’t in the same room as Facebook.)

A year ago, Google Plus already had some impressive stats, having passed Twitter in total number of “active” users, but still with only half the number of Facebook.

Social media users

Dreamgrow published the following graph showing the trends up to March of 2013, and as you can see, Google still had not broken out of the pack as far as actual usage by US users is concerned.

Social networking usage

According to Jeff Bullas, Google Plus is closing in on Facebook, at least as far as the number of users and active users is concerned, but still had quite a way to go before catching up as of March.

I wish I could find some more recent stats, but I can’t. However, over the past six months, I have seen traffic from Google Plus increase, not just to my sites but to others’, as well. And the engagement going on now has hit fever pitch with all the circle sharing going on (Yes, drop me a line if you want to include me in a circle share; I would love to join the party.).

So, to cut through the blah-blah-blah, Google Plus is storming the palace gates and what does Facebook do? Facebook opens the gates. If small businesses move from Facebook to Google Plus for their marketing, and at the same time bring their personal social networking over, it could just be enough to create a neck-in-neck race.

In the world of social media spectator sports, 2014 promises to be a year full of oohs and ahs.  And one big social media “O”.

How to Reach New Markets with Facebook

Creating lasting connections was the idea behind the creation of Facebook. The network allows people to document friendships and keep any sorts of “promotions” lined up in one place, so it is no question why businesses started hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon. It’s a great place to reach new markets whether you’re a well-established business or just starting out.

Unfortunately, there are still businesses today that don’t take advantage of the benefits Facebook has to offer. Many businesses feel they are doing just fine with their current marketing strategies, and some claim that there are simply too many social networks to possibly keep up with them all. If you fall into one of these two categories or have your own reasons why you’re ignoring Facebook, it’s time to consider how you can reach new online markets with this social network.

Top 3 Ways to Discover New Online Markets with Facebook

The biggest myth about Facebook is the idea that it is simply another way to reach your already existing audience. However, Facebook works great if you’re looking to expand your audience and discover others who might be interested in your business—and you might be surprised with who you discover.

  1. Microtargeting – Many businesses immediately consider having a Facebook business page, but there are actually huge benefits that lie within the ads you see on Facebook. Facebook offers microtargeted ad campaigns where most target a small audience with customized messages. However, Facebook is now encouraging businesses to expand their audience base by testing different microtargeting standards. You can start with a large audience and then use Facebook ad analytics to see who is clicking on your ads. Although these initial ads will be someone broad, they will give you a brand new audience. Once you know who is clicking on the ads in your first test, you can start creating customized messages.
  1. Facebook Insight – If you have a Facebook brand page (aka a Facebook page for your business), you will have access to Facebook Insight. Facebook Insight is a way to gather information about your followers. You can learn where they are from, their age, what other companies they follow, etc. You might be surprised to find that most of your followers on Facebook are kids between the ages of 13 to 18. This will help you realize that you should change your promotions and advertisements to things that would appeal to this age group; an age group you may not have expected.
  1. Facebook Junkies – Many businesses are starting to offer promotions via their Facebook pages, and users are starting to catch onto this and pay attention. Facebook is a medium where approximately 845 million people feel comfortable (or at least take notice), so it makes sense that more and more people are turning to Facebook to learn about new businesses and find some great deals. Many people don’t even bother looking online anymore because they know they can look on Facebook. They are already using Facebook to chat with their friends, so when your company pops up on their feed their bound to give it a look. This is an entirely new audience that would have likely never found you had you not been an active member of the Facebook community.

How to Get Started with a Facebook Page for Your Brand

Whether you’re just starting a business or trying something new with your well-established business, Facebook brand pages are extremely easy to setup and use. Simply visit Create a Facebook Page and then enter in all the information required (city, description, type of company, etc.). Once you have your page setup, it will ask you if you have a Facebook account. If you do not, you have to click “I do not have a Facebook account” and then enter in your email address. This is a way to make sure that the right person has access to the account, so use an email address you know you will have forever.

You can also connect your blog to your Facebook page so that every time you upload a new blog post, it will update onto your Facebook page. You can do this through Twitterfeed. Once you’re set to go, you will have the option of writing status updates or connecting with customers and clients. The site will take you through all the steps and features of Facebook, so it’s easy to get started.

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to VoIP phone service. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including government small business loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.