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Email Marketing Tips: Your Email Got Bounced. Now What?

Beyond • May 31, 2012

For something so simple, email marketing can get pretty deep. The typical business using this method is up to their necks in testing procedures, going over reports and plotting strategy for the next campaign. Surely there is enough to worry about to justify keeping those bounces on the back burner a little while longer, right? Wrong. Bounced email is a serious deal and one that needs to be addressed immediately. Soft or Hard? When discovering that you’ve got a bouncing problem on your hands, the first thing you should do is assess the damage. You need to determine if it falls in one of two groups: soft or hard. A soft bounce is the lesser of two evils, so to speak. It isn’t as severe. The email delivery system is not as simple as it seems. There are a lot of things working together and if that harmony is disrupted, your message may not be delivered, even if only temporarily. In most cases, a soft bounce is correctable. Hard bounces are the real outlaws, the ones that can stir up big trouble and threaten your reputation. This kind is much more straightforward. If your email does not transmit successfully, then the process is considered a failure. There is no holdup or quarantine for further observation. The message failed. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Meet the Culprits An email marketer can better address soft and hard bounces by understanding what causes an email to bounce. The soft variety is often the result of a capacity issue. Your subscriber has been overwhelmed and their inbox is stuffed with unread messages and spam. If your message arrives when there is no room left, it will have no other choice but to bounce. The hard variety is usually the result of a bad email address. A subscriber who switches ISPs or moves on to another job could be the source. Unless they update their subscription data, you have no way of knowing their email address is soon to be invalid. When it goes bad, any messages sent to it will automatically bounce. Service providers read multiple hard bounces to the same address as attempts to spam, because the messages are going out regardless of response. If you use Benchmark Email’s campaign scheduler, we automatically transfer email addresses that have had two consecutive hard bounces to a “Confirmed Bounces” list. To protect your sending reputation, these contacts are then excluded from your future active contact count and will not be sent any email. A Clean List Is the Key Be it soft or hard, bounced email has to be dealt with. Continuing to strike out will do nothing but drive up the costs of your campaign and make your email marketing more expensive than it should be. Staying on top of it can get hectic, but if you have a good system, then you have tools that will keep track of your bounces and remove email addresses causing failures before they become a problem. The importance of managing bounces ties into the importance of maintaining a clean list. If your messages keep crashing, it will only be a matter of time before an ISP decides to blacklist you from the entire server. Don’t waste your efforts on email addresses that provide no return. Get a handle of those bounces and make sure your list stays in tip-top condition.

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Will Yahoo! Small Business Save the Company from CEO Woes?

Beyond • May 22, 2012

Yahoo is a company in turmoil. Despite a respectable first quarter earnings report and what looks to be at least a viable blueprint for recovery, there seems to be very little faith in the man who has been elected to serve as new leader. To say things are not looking good would be putting it mildly. Investors pushed hard for Yahoo to fire Scott Thompson, the man who just four months ago signed on as Chief Executive Officer for the struggling internet giant. Dan Loeb, founder of Third Point and one of Yahoo’s most vocal investors, explicitly called for Thompson to be fired for the inaccuracies listed on his resume. Padding one’s resume is a big deal in the corporate world, but there is even talk about how this issue could possibly lead to legal troubles for the company. What makes the resume dilemma even more interesting is the fact that Yahoo acknowledged the inaccuracies. That’s right. The company confirmed that it was aware that Thompson does not really have the degree in computer science he claimed to receive from Stonehill College. And while it supposedly looked into the claim, Yahoo’s response on the matter did not sit well with Loeb, who called it an insult to the firm’s shareholders while reminding the world that CEOs for other companies have been fired for less serious offenses. Yahoo’s newest CEO, Ross Levinsohn, has quite a hill to climb. Yahoo’s Reconstruction Plan It seems as if the main focus of Yahoo under Thompson’s direction was downsizing. Last month, the company announced that it would trim roughly 14% of its workforce - which comes to around 2,000 jobs - in addition to consolidating a variety of existing services. However, Yahoo is also being proactive in its approach to survival, and one segment it has decided to target is small businesses.Yahoo! Small Business, the company’s web hosting service, recently rolled out the Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard. It is essentially a new feature that helps small business owners improve their position by putting data connected to brand reputation, site performance and marketing results in a centralized area. So whether it is clicks or page views, Yahoo is providing this tool free of charge so users can find all the information they need in one place.Here is a brief rundown of what the Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard has to offer: Search and Directory Listings - Gives small business the ability to monitor its site’s performance on multiple search engines and directories, including Yahoo!, Yelp and Local. It also helps users uncover new listing opportunities. Reputation Management - Retrieves data from Facebook, Twitter and as many as 8,000 sources to help small businesses monitor and manage their reputations online. Traffic Statistics - Helps small business users understand vital website traffic statistics from Google Analytics and other analytics tools. Campaign Tracking - Enables easy tracking of email marketing, SEM and SEO campaigns. News and Expert Advice - Delivers relevant news stories and tips from Yahoo! Small Business Advisor. Too Little Too Late? Targeting small businesses with its rebuilding effort is a smart move, and the Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard looks to be a nice addition, but for the ailing web pioneer, it just might be a case of too little too late. While the new tool itself is free to use, components of certain features such as reputation management and campaign tracking do call for a fee. So the real question becomes: Will small businesses be willing to pay for these additional services?Last year, former CEO Carol Bartz was terminated for her inability to get the company back on track. While things were rocky on Thompson’s leadership, his firing appears to be another self-admission of what everyone else seems to know - Yahoo is going down, and going down hard.

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Online Marketing: How to Create Good Brand Content

Beyond • May 15, 2012

As internet powerhouses like Facebook and Twitter continue to grow, more brands are starting to realize that social media can no longer be ignored. That is the good part. The bad part is that so many of them are approaching it all wrong. An alarming number of brands are rushing to tally up the most friends, likes and conversions when they should be focusing on creating the type of content that automatically drives that action. Whether we are dealing with social media, search or email, when it comes to content, quality always reigns supreme over quantity. On that note, the following suggestions can go a long way in helping brands churn out content that gets results. Optimize Existing Material In order to survive in your market, you’re going to need to come up with some new content every now and then. However, your old stuff can be just as powerful when repurposed the right way. This is especially the case when you are dealing with evergreen content that despite growing older, never loses its value. So how do your optimize your existing material? Here are some ideas that might work: Link to it from updated content Encourage relevant third-party sites to link to it Use it in email campaigns and newsletters Share it on the social networks Use it to create eBooks, white papers or user guides You get the picture, right? The point is that there are plenty of things you can do to strengthen your existing content, things that will make it stand out in the eyes of your target audience, and the search engines as well. Monitor Social Buzz Having trouble cranking out dynamite content? Why not turn to your audience for the motivation? After all, you’re creating it for them, and if you listen closely, you may hear them telling you what they actually want. This tactic can be extremely effective when mining the social networks for intelligence. How are fans responding to your posts? What are they saying about them? Who are they sharing them with? The answers you get to questions like these can turn out to be the inspiration you need to deliver content that actually delivers. Be Diverse Today’s web is more visual than ever. Just look at the popularity of services like YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Even Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have implemented significantly stronger visual elements in their services. It all follows the trend of catering to internet users who prefer to do much more than read copy when digesting a piece of content. As a brand, this should be your incentive to think beyond text with your approach, and add a visual component to your content marketing strategy. Whether it is images, video or Flash animation, giving people something they can visualize can instantly enhance the information you share with your audience. Work Multiple Platforms Several brands have their favorite platform, but why limit yourself to one, when there are so many to go around? For example, you may be doing fine with email marketing, but you could probably do even better by integrating that strategy with social media. On a similar note, you might be thriving on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but missing out on opportunities by overlooking emerging newcomers such as Pinterest and Google+. The point is, the more platforms you are able to work effectively, the more weight your content will carry as it makes its rounds throughout the digital landscape. Brands operating in the digital era must take their traditional content marketing strategies and combine them with tactics that take new age media into consideration. It is no longer a matter of if. Consumers have grabbed the trends by the horns and made it a matter of when.

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How the GOP Will Use Social Media in 2012

Beyond • May 14, 2012

Technology has come a mighty long way since 2008. That is the year the Republican party was outpaced by the internet-driven assault launched by their democratic rivals. Technology is sure to play an even bigger role in the 2012 Presidential Election, and this time around, the GOP is not being left behind - at least it hopes. Republicans Smell Victory The Republican National Party has just launched the Social Victory Center. What is it? An online hub specially made for supporters who wish to play an active role in the ongoing and upcoming campaigns. The new platform provides all the tools activists and volunteers need to connect and get involved with the political topics they care about. Perhaps the most interesting part about all this is that the GOP has decided to leverage Facebook, everybody’s social network, as the centerpiece that puts everything together. According to the Republican website RedState, accessing the Social Victory Center is as simple as logging into any application connected to Facebook. Once inside, users can engage in activities that range from viewing articles and video tailored to their interests to sharing all that information with their friends. One of the stronger points of the Social Victory Center is in how it allows supporters to easily get involved in the campaign process. Volunteers can organize events, make phone calls and learn more about other ways to make a difference all from the Facebook app. Many social media platforms are thriving, but the GOP was wise in its decision to go with Facebook. As you may know, the site recently surpassed the milestone of 900 million registered users, but what really makes it suitable for the Social Victory Center is its retention quality. Statistics published on RedState show that the average person spends six to seven hours on the popular social network per month. The combination of 2.7 billion comments and likes tells the story as far as the level of activity they are contributing. For the Republican party, setting up camp on Facebook was a no-brainer. Strong Social Influence Presidential candidates will surely pull out all the stops for this year’s election race. Traditional channels, email, mobile - whatever they can get their hands on. With that said, social appears to be where both parties are setting the bulk of their focus, and if statistics mean anything, they have every reason to do so. The Pew Research Center reports that by the end of 2011, 66% of adult internet users were members of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. About half of that segment reached those networks through applications on their smartphone, which just goes to show how much value there is in using this channel to reach political supporters. For Presidential candidates leveraging this lively digital frontier, the main benefit of social media is the sharing aspect. The average American uses social media to interact with family and friends. A big part of that experience is sharing information with those connections. Whether it is through a share, like or retweet, candidates who are able to use this channel to get their supporters active and involved will be in position to cross the finish line. The monumental election we witnessed in 2008 may have been the first to make widespread use of social media and internet technology, but I guarantee you we haven’t seen anything yet. Technology will continue to become a bigger influence as more platforms are introduced and more users jump on the bandwagon. Not even destinations like the Social Victory Center can ensure a win, but at least the GOP is thinking forward because this time there are no excuses.

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How Marketing Focuses on Mothers Online

Beyond • May 9, 2012

Fathers, sons and daughters everywhere are racking their brain trying to find that perfect gift for mom. As a result, businesses of all kinds are fine-tuning their strategies to take advantage of this short, yet prosperous holiday season. Some, the savvy and opportunistic ones, are already cashing in on the rush. Mother’s Day is without a doubt a great marketing opportunity, but as a new study reminds us, for brands, it doesn’t just come once a year - it’s pretty much every day. A study recently conducted in a tandem effort by parenting website BabyCenter and global marketing giant Nielsen hinted that brands should take a different approach to targeting women as they enter motherhood. The study, which included responses from 2,500 American mothers and other adult internet users, revealed some very interesting information regarding the amount of time moms are consuming media, and the devices they are using to consume it. According to the research, moms are spending an average of nearly 11 hours per day with media. That number increased to 17 hours for those who owned a smartphone, tablet computer or internet-enabled TV device. In addition, the study shed light on the following areas: Time Spent Online - Moms are spending an average of 66 hours online per month and 16 hours per month on Facebook. Both percentages are twice as much as the time spent by the general population of American adults. Media Device Preference - Compared to the general population of American adults, moms are 28% more likely to use a tablet computer, 38% more likely to own a smartphone and 38% more likely to own an internet-enabled TV device. Content Preference - Overall, the study found that mothers expect more from advertising and seek out deals more than the average adult internet user. Apparently businesses get the message because we are seeing more and more brands shift their focus to explicitly target mothers. Early this year, we ran across a story highlighting how Vick’s was specifically targeting moms with an extensive marketing campaign for its behind-the-ear thermometer. Managed by Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide, the campaign was comprised of print and TV ads, online ads, email communications and even QR codes. A rep from Blue Chip mentioned that click-through rates for the soft launch were twice as much as initially expected. Engaging the Social Mom Moms are picking up on technology fast and leading the way in adoption on so many fronts. They are doing the research online, buying the new gadgets, downloading the apps, sharing their recommendations and much more. They are making the buying decisions in the majority of American homes, and using technology as their guiding light. It is obvious that moms are moving across multiple mediums, but the channel most tend to wind up in through one device or another is social media. This is great news for the marketing type. According to a study published by marketing firm Performance, mothers are more likely to both interact with brands and come to trust them on social media sites. Another interesting tidbit from the Performance study tells us that moms are 45% more likely to buy something from a brand based on a social recommendation. But perhaps the most important findings were those showing their willingness to act as ambassadors for the brands they interact with through the social channel by sharing their ads, linking to their content and bringing them up in discussion. So what is the takeaway here for brands? To design your strategy so it reaches mothers in the channels they prefer to use, with content they feel is important. Keep in mind, though, that the key is not just adopting this mindset during Mother’s Day season but all year round.

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Using Email Marketing to Reach Your Local Businesses

Beyond • May 3, 2012

Email marketing is often looked at as old school in today’s socially-charged internet environment, yet even the powerhouses of the social web realize email is essential to their survival. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, each social media site requires the user to have an email account to gain access to the network. From online banking accounts to web hosting, the same goes for just about any popular internet service that comes to mind. But as a marketing tool, email’s value extends far beyond the fact that it is a widely used medium, though that is big part of what makes it so powerful. Cross-Platform Communications Technological innovation has enhanced email indirectly by making it more mobile than ever. Consumers and professionals currently have the luxury to save a newsletter on their desktop, scan it on their smartphone and then finally cozy up close and personal with it on their tablet. The mobility of email gives marketers the opportunity to improve in all key areas: opens, clicks and even conversions. Personal, and Primed for Digital Email marketing has been a force from day one, but wields even more power today thanks to its ability to integrate seamlessly with the digital channel. For example, when coupled with social media, it gives you the opportunity to converse in an environment that is more social and personal than any wall or stream could ever be - the inbox. It’s a direct line of communication, one that can drive businesses straight to more opportunities, traffic and sales. Local-Friendly Any brand with a web presence can benefit from email marketing. But its use is not limited solely to the web-based operations. In fact, local businesses can make this tool work for them both on and offline. Here are some examples: List Building - At the most basic level, email marketing can be extremely effective at helping local businesses build a list of prospects and customers. If you have a store or office establishment out in the real world, capturing the contact details of your visitors is as simple as keeping signup forms at the cash register or desk. (A shameless plug for Benchmark’s free Easy List App fits here quite nicely.) With their name and email address handy, you can get those visitors to opt-in to your list and start engaging them with your marketing content. In-Store Traffic - There are signs indicating a recovery, but let’s be honest, the economy is still in rough shape. Many brands are struggling to get people in the doors, let alone generate the sales needed to survive. More local businesses are turning to email marketing to compel people to come out of the house and spend. Exclusive sales offers, discount coupons or just regular alerts that new, useful products are in stock could be all it takes to boost in-store activity - it works doubly well for local businesses because they can actually stop by with hopefully little difficulty. Better Customer Service - The quality of customer service provided can make or break a business. You could have the most valuable, best performing products or solutions in your market, but if your customer service sucks, your reputation is going to suffer. Email marketing is giving local businesses the opportunity to provide their customers with the best possible service. Even after store hours, being able to respond quickly to questions and concerns can pay off tenfold when it comes to establishing loyalty and generating repeat business. Businesses that limit their approach to passing out a few business cards and throwing up a static web page are missing out on golden opportunities. Whether local or national, email marketing can enable companies to see the type of growth and prosperity that cannot be enjoyed with traditional methods alone.

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The New Google+ Layout Explained

Beyond • May 2, 2012

Google recently put the finishing touches to the first major redesign in the brief history of Google+. The makeover makes the social network a bit easier on the eyes for sure and, according to early assessments, enhances its functionality as well. There is a lot going on here in the way of changes and possibly motives as far as Google the corporation goes. New and Improved Social Experience With the redesign, the Google+ crew took some time to focus on the elements that made it stand out from the rest of the social crowd. Some of the most notable improvements include: Better Hangouts - Google+ has made Hangouts, its video chat feature, more prominent than before. In fact, Hangouts now has its own dedicated page. Here users can mange their invitations, monitor popular hangouts from around the network and view pro tips on how to get the most from the feature. Bigger Media - Google also decided to put a bigger emphasis on media - literally. The photos and videos that appear in the user’s feed are now significantly larger, which should definitely help content stand out more and get eyes to popping. Integration with Picasa and YouTube already made Google+ a powerful multimedia platform, so the emphasis on size is kind of like icing on the cake. Trending Stuff - Another area to see improvements from the redesign is the site’s trending functionality. Thanks to the Explore feature and its new “What’s Hot” section, users can now easily browse the popular topics that shuffle through the network. Before, you had to manually type in a query to find trending topics. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the new and improved Google+ are those directly reminiscent of Facebook. These components include: Cover Image - Profiles are now graced with the ability to add large banner-size images at the top of the page. Can you say “Timeline Cover Photo”? While somewhat thinner and a bit overshadowed by the user’s profile photo, it is essentially the same feature Facebook introduced a while back. Right Panel Chat - If you have a Facebook profile, you probably know that the social giant recently moved the chat box from the left to the right side of the page. Well apparently Google felt this was a cool thing to do because the chat activity on Google+ is now positioned to the right of the user’s feed. Navigation Ribbon - Another new element that appears to be inspired by Facebook’s layout is the Navigation Ribbon. Previously, the user could navigate their way around the site through a combination of the top bar and the panel on the left side of the page. Now everything is on the left in a friendly, customizable format that lets the user arrange the order of the buttons that lead them through the site. The recent redesign of Google+ appears to be part of a bigger marketing strategy to catapult Google past its rivals, mainly Facebook. Slowly but surely the company is integrating more of its existing products and services into the platform. Of course we don’t have the inside scoop or anything like that, but it looks like Google is on a mission to create a seamless experience that enables it to act as the hub where users can go from search to social, and everything in between. Google+ could be the key piece of the puzzle that connects all the dots. There has been much discussion about the inability of Google+ to compete with Facebook. But with thriving web properties like YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps in its arsenal, it already has an advantage. The sooner the search giant is able to create that integrated experience it seems to be after, the sooner it may realize that it is Facebook that should be trying to play catch up.

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Google Facing Off with Twitter, Facebook over Valued Data

Beyond • April 24, 2012

When there is controversy in the internet community, Google is usually somewhere around. The Mountain View, California company found itself dead smack in the middle of the drama when launching Search Plus Your World back in January. Despite its claims of innocence, Google has apparently rubbed a lot of the parties the wrong way with the introduction of this new search feature, including social media giant Facebook. As you may know, Search Plus Your World is an enhancement that delivers search results based on the user’s activity on the social network Google+. On the surface, it may seem like no big deal, but try telling that to Google’s competitors in the social media space. Enter the Verbal Slugfest Twitter was the first to speak up about the matter. An exec from the company complained that Google’s Search Plus Your World is bad for the internet because it pushes results from Twitter further down the page. At one time, these companies were partners in the search game as per their agreement: Google paid Twitter to include data from the microblogging service in its real-time search results. Unfortunately for Twitter, the two sides were unable to come to terms at the negotiation table and the deal wasn’t renewed, though Google claims that the tweet people can renew the contract whenever they’re ready. So where does Facebook stand on all this? Well, no one from Mark Zuckerberg’s camp crew has had anything to say about the matter - at least not directly. Pedram Keyani, Engineering Manager of the social network’s integrity team, said that Google’s recent update was a big change of direction for the company, and hinted that the move could have been made out of competitive fear. Paul Adams, former Google employee who developed the Circles concept for Google+, said that he is disappointed in the direction his former employer is heading. He also mentioned that Bing is now his default search engine. The Battle for User Data Neither Keyani nor Adams referenced Search Plus Your World by name, but the writing is clearly on the wall. Aside from their comments, Facebook hasn’t had much input on the issue, and its silence could speak volumes about the source of the real tension between these two internet powerhouses: Data. Right now, Facebook is largely considered to be the most serious threat to Google’s dominance. The search giant would probably like to have access to Twitter’s real-time updates, but would be absolutely thrilled to get its hands on the data shared by Facebook and its more than 800 million users. But right now, that information is off limits due to a virtual wall that keeps third parties out. Experts believe that Facebook is creating its own private internet of sorts - one that not even Google can tap into. The consensus is that if others follow suit, internet users will be far less dependent on Google, which would undoubtedly hurt its existing business model. Will Facebook and Google ever be able to play nice? Sounds farfetched now, but it could happen. After all, Facebook does currently have a partnership with Microsoft, which has the luxury to grab data from the social network when users conduct searches through Bing. You would think the company would benefit more by partnering with the king of the search game, but it is obvious that Facebook and Google view each other as equal threats to one another’s existence. The introduction of Search Plus Your World has Google facing backlash from its peers, and anti-trust allegations from authorities. And while things may eventually work out, the company’s firm stance shows just how far it is willing to go to win the battle for internet supremacy.

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Facebook Develops Tool to Bypass Google’s Search Plus Your World

Beyond • April 16, 2012

2012 has already been an interesting year for the search market, one filled with twists, turns and plenty of drama. It all started with Search Plus Your World, a search engine update Google rolled out back in January. The feature, which uses activity from the company’s social platform Google+, serves up personalized results to users who are logged into the network. Search Plus Your World was instantly met with resistance from individual members of the internet community, including a few of Google’s longtime rivals. The World vs. Google A group of social networking forces teamed up to circumvent Google’s Search Plus Your World - or at least gave it a shot. With the aid of engineers from Twitter, MySpace and other companies in the social space, Blake Ross, Facebook’s Director of Product, developed a bookmarklet that overrides the feature. Freely available at, the tool has been made open-source so that others can contribute to the project and make improvements. Considering that Google allows users to turn the feature on or off, this was obviously more of a stance to show the search giant that its enemies strongly opposed the feature. The Focus On The User initiative is certainly interesting, but if Facebook in particular wants to undo the perceived damage of Search Plus Your World, it may have to take a different approach, one that according to rumors has already been initiated. Various outlets are reporting that the social giant is in the process of enhancing its internal search engine. One source, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, revealed that former Google employee Lars Rasmussen is heading up the team of 24 engineers working on the project. Depending on the improvements the team is able to make, a tweaked Facebook search engine could mean some very interesting things for search moving forward. In the article (which cites information from two unidentified sources, possibly Facebook employees) the purpose of the update is stated to provide a better way for users to sift through the updates, articles, video and other content that shuffles through the network. If you have ever used the search feature on Facebook, you probably agree that this update has been a long time in the making. When compared to the search tools offered by Google, Bing and even Twitter, this one has a lot of catching up to do. Will a New Threat Emerge? For now, the overall consensus is that Facebook is merely focused on improving the discovery experience for its users, not necessarily creating a Google competitor. The collective community would likely welcome such an update with open arms if it really makes information easier to find for content hungry users and increases the visibility of content marketers that use the site. With that said, an updated Facebook search engine could end up rocking the foundation of search whether it aims to directly compete with Google or not. Bing, Yahoo and Google have been working hard to incorporate the irresistible social element into their search products. As the market leader, Google has the best chance of succeeding, but even though Search Plus Your World appears to work almost flawlessly, its biggest problem lies in the fact that Google+ is still lightyears behind Facebook in terms of popularity. The social component is clearly the part Facebook has down to a science, so its challenge would be enhancing the discovery aspect. There is no guarantee that the company will get it right with this latest attempt, but from the looks of it, Facebook is more serious than ever about improving its search position. This factor alone may be cause enough for Google to be concerned.

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Facebook’s IPO: The Ups & Downs of Going Public

Beyond • April 10, 2012

Facebook began the month of February with a bang. It was on February 1, 2012 that the company filed for its initial public offering and set on a quest to raise around $5 billion. Soon, everybody’s favorite social network will be a publicly traded company with shares owned by investors from all over the world. To no surprise, the Facebook IPO is one of the most talked about stories on the interwebs. Eight years and more than 800 million users later, going public seems to be an ideal move. But is it the right move? The Ups and Downs of Going Public It is now well known that by going public, Facebook will make a lot people behind the scenes very wealthy. In fact, it is believed that anywhere from 900 to 1,000 current employees will become instant millionaires. This might make it appear as if the IPO is a part of some elaborate employee incentive compensation strategy, but that isn’t the case. It is more like Facebook’s hands were tied while backed into a corner, essentially leaving the company with no other choice but to file for an IPO. Private companies are not subject to the same SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) rules as public companies. However, all that goes out the window when the company amasses over 500 hundred shareholders, a number Facebook easily exceeds when factoring in all the parties that have invested in the social platform over the years. Now the firm is required by law to publicly report revenue, profits and losses, and other financial information to the SEC. The opportunity to cash-in is tremendous, but whether or not going public is a good thing for the company is something that remains to be seen. Taking the IPO route went extremely well for Apple. It went even better for Google, to the point where even rival Yahoo was able to benefit by making an early investment while the company was still privately owned. IPOs traditionally provide a way for young businesses to grow and evolve, but times have changed, and with that change it has become significantly harder for companies to go public and get the max benefits out of the deal. From eToys to Vonage, there have certainly been more than enough IPO failures in the tech sector to use as examples. Why Facebook Is Different The two things Facebook has going for it that most of the IPO flops didn’t is a good product and, most importantly, huge demand for that product. Even if the company miraculously collapses by this time next year, you can bet that one social networking player or another will be residing in its space. If Facebook has one saving grace in all this, it may be that Mark Zuckerberg retains control - well, most of it. According to reports, Zuckerberg will still have roughly 57% of the power in terms of decision making capabilities and continue to preside over the day-to-day operations. In the end, the young entrepreneurial prince will have his hands full, no doubt. There are so many legs to the Facebook IPO that it is easy to forget about the most important factor in the equation: the users. How will they be affected by all this? Other than having to deal with more advertisements, which is becoming an increasingly dependable revenue source for the company, no one really knows. Facebook will soon have the weight of the world on its shoulders but no matter how hectic things get, it can never lose focus on the importance of keeping the user happy. Once the collective user base gets disgruntled, the party’s over.

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