Facebook, Google & Beyond: Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz & Ben Elowitz of Wetpaint Debate the Future of Information and Relationships

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the social network hasn’t gone full-bore into search quite yet. Fishkin said the idea of an all-Facebook Web experience should be frightening for marketers or content owners.

BEN ELOWITZ: “It’s a different cohort of people coming in, where they’re saying ‘The world is a social world, and the Facebook pages are just as good as the real pages.'”

RAND FISHKIN: “And this totally scares the crap out of me, right? I think that brands who create their online presence on Facebook and direct you to Facebook are crazy. Like, absolutely insane.

Facebook should be a great place to do marketing. Your Facebook page can provide all these great insights, like—you can install a Facebook Insights widget on your website, and you can get all this great demographic data about who’s logged in. That’s awesome.

But to say ‘I’m going to give up control of my brand to Facebook, who can then do whatever they want with it, and I will not own that space’—that’s like AOL in the ’90s.”

BE: “Well, they’ve already given up their control to Google and the SEO world.”

RF: “No, no.”

BE: “By saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to engineer our site to be more what Google wants than what our consumers want.'”

RF: “That’s crazy. That’s like saying ‘We’ve given up our control to e-mail because e-mail marketing drives a bunch,’ or ‘We’ve given up our control to Twitter because Twitter drives traffic.'”

BE: “Whenever you have users on Facebook for four hours a month, it’s the user that’s in charge. You don’t want to pull them out of it.” [Average time spent on Facebook in April was even higher than that, according to Nielsen.]

RF: “But Facebook owns and controls those pages. Of course they don’t. That’s exactly the point. If I want to customize my website to have a better conversion rate, I can do whatever I want. I can control the experience. I own that page. If something happens, I can do whatever I want. On Facebook, it’s all about their rules, their restrictions, their limitations. It can’t be customized.”

BE: “Tons of limitations. And yet, that’s where the users are.

“When you build a store in the shopping mall, you have to abide by the mall’s guidance about what your hours are, what your store design looks like, what your signage looks like, and you do it, because that’s where the traffic is. And in the same way, if you’re a brand, you’re crazy if you don’t have a really important Facebook presence.”

RF: “And you should have a presence. But I think making Facebook your primary traffic portal strikes me as insane.”

Discussing the prospects for Facebook getting much more aggressive with trying to be the entry point for consumer search, particularly in light of its partnership with Microsoft’s Bing, Fishkin said … Next Page »

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  • I have to admit that the idea of organising people into groups I find very compelling. Right at the moment I don’t share my facebook page with business contacts. I suspect many others have the same issues that a facebook page is about your social life and you quite possibly don’t want to mix that with your business life. I think there may be a cultural aspect to this as well. In the US I think there is less of a divide between private and business life, here in the UK I think we tend to have a firmer divide. Whether that’s a good or bad thing who’s to say but it does impact how we view applications like Facebook from a business standpoint.

    I’m going to be signing up for a Google+ account because I think this is a bold experiment from Google and I’m fascinated to see how it turns out.

    Best regards,