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Google’s Criticisms Against Tech Antitrust Bill

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Google's Criticisms Against Tech Antitrust Bill

Google is arguing that a bill proposed by U.S. Congress has the potential to compromise users’ safety, and damage such products as Search and Maps.

Known as the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), bill S.2992 contains bipartisan legislation proposed by U.S Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

The intention behind the AICOA is to create a level playing field for businesses to compete online. It targets purported anti-competitive practices, such as a platform favoring its own products and services over competitors’.

Google claims the bill will do more harm than good. Royal Hansen, Google’s VP of Engineering for Privacy, Safety, and Security, penned a blog post earlier this week with a list of the company’s concerns regarding S.2992.

Do Google’s claims hold water? Let’s look at Google’s arguments and compare them with what’s outlined in the bill.

How Does The Antitrust Bill Harm Google & Others?

Google has four main arguments against bill S.2992:

  • It harms security by banning basic product integration.
  • It opens up Google’s products for exploitation by foreign companies.
  • It limits Google’s efforts to fight misinformation.
  • It doesn’t address valid security concerns.

Does The Bill Ban Product Integration?

Google doesn’t point to any specific verbiage within the bill that speaks to the banning of product integration, so I can only speculate what the company is taking issue with.

I believe Google is referring to section 3.1 of the bill, which states it will be unlawful for platforms to:

“Preference the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator over those of another business user on the covered platform in a manner that would materially harm competition.”

Google could also be referring to section 3.2, which states it will be unlawful for platforms to:

“Limit the ability of the products, services, or lines of business of another business user to compete on the covered platform relative to the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator in a manner that would materially harm competition.”

That could affect Google’s product integration, like how Search, Maps, and Business Profiles are all integrated, since companies with similar products can’t compete at the same level.

Section 3.8 could be drawing the ire of Google as well, which will make it unlawful to:

“Materially restrict or impede covered platform users from uninstalling software applications that have been preinstalled on the covered platform or changing default settings that direct or steer covered platform users to products or services offered by the covered platform operator, unless necessary.”

That may impact how Google integrates its products, as it would have to grant users the ability to decouple Google’s applications from each other.

“I tend to agree with Google’s position,” Ericka Johnson, a Senior Associate with Squire Patton Boggs LLP specializing in cybersecurity, commented via email. “This legislation appears to have all of the best intentions – to promote more competition among large online platforms. [But] because the bill bans basic product integration, [Google] might not be able to secure its products by default.”

Ultimately, Johnson adds, “This could cause unintended consequences, particularly for those smaller businesses that may not have the resources to understand the nuances around defending against cybersecurity attacks other than relying on the default settings provided. ”

However, the bill does add that platforms could restrict users from uninstalling software “for the security or functioning of the covered platform.”

Does The Bill Allow Foreign Companies To Exploit Google’s Products?

Google says the bill will require companies to open their platforms to outside parties, potentially leading to exploitation by foreign companies looking to access data from American companies and citizens.

Google points to section 3.4 of the bill that says it will be unlawful to:

“Materially restrict, impede, or unreasonably delay the capacity of a business user to access or interoperate with the same platform, operating system, or hardware or software features that are available to the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator that compete or would compete with products or services offered by business users on the covered platform.”

Whether this would have the impact Google describes is a matter of interpretation.

“While efforts to promote competition are generally good for the American economy and society, I think we need to be careful about … unintended consequences,” Johnson notes. “Cybersecurity is a national security issue and, particularly in light of the existing cybersecurity threats from Russia, among other countries, I think Congress must be careful not to weaken US-based online platforms.”

Does The Bill Limit Google’s Ability To Fight Disinformation?

Google argues that S. 2992 will limit its ability to take action against malicious content, as the bill states that there must be “nondiscriminatory treatment.”

In making its argument, Google points to section 3.9 of the bill, which says it will be unlawful to:

“… in connection with any covered platform user interface, including search or ranking functionality offered by the covered platform, treat the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator more favorably relative to those of another business user than under standards mandating the neutral, fair, and nondiscriminatory treatment of all business users.”

If Google were to lose the ability to “discriminate” against competitors by downranking them, it might be possible for entities to spread misinformation more easily.

Does The Bill Fail To Address Valid Security Concerns?

Here’s what Google says about the bill as it relates to “valid” security concerns:

“… the revised bill says that we don’t have to interoperate with or provide access to data to entities who pose ‘clear’ and ‘significant’ security risks. But this assumes that we know in real time which risks are significant, and could prohibit us from blocking moderate or emerging security risks that don’t obviously meet the bar of a ‘significant’ threat.”

In other words, Google argues the bill would prevent it from taking action on small threats before they become major security concerns.

“Threat actors are highly sophisticated,” Johnson adds, “and will look for every opportunity to exploit a weakness in an organization’s IT infrastructure.”

Section 2.2 of the bill does say tech platforms don’t have to accommodate entities that are a “clear national security risk.” However, I couldn’t find anything that explicitly restricts Google’s ability to moderate security risks that aren’t national concerns.

The bill also lists affirmative defenses for violating any unlawful conduct outlined in the legislation. One of those defenses includes protecting user safety and privacy.

Technically, that means Google can block any entity it deems a security threat, as long as it can provide sufficient evidence of a risk to user safety.

Are Google’s Claims Valid?

Fellow tech giants — who would be subject to legislation if the AICOA is passed into law — echo Google’s concerns.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), for instance, has started a campaign called Don’t Break What Works to raise awareness of the potential impact of S.2992.

Proponents of the bill say critics are missing the mark and that the AICOA is designed to make it easier for small businesses to compete against large monopolies.

On the Morning Joe Show on Tuesday, Senator Klobuchar explained what she aims to accomplish by introducing the bill:

 “… what the bill does is it says if you’re going to sell stuff on your own platforms, then you can’t preference it over other competitive business products. Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re starting to buy thing after thing and basically outcompete, because they own the pipeline by which people are buying other competitors. That’s not fair capitalism. That’s when antitrust steps in.”

Senator Klobuchar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What Happens If The AICOA Is Passed?

If congress passes the AICOA into law, it could impact many of the major tech platforms people use every day.

Users might see a scaled-down experience, for instance, as far as Google Search goes.

Google potentially wouldn’t be able to make its own products more visible than others, for instance, which means it couldn’t display a local pack of Google Business Profiles when searching for restaurants.

Search could look more like it did back in the day, when it was just ten blue links with a few ads at the top.


Featured Image: rafapress/Shutterstock

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8 Facebook Marketing Tips To Revitalize A Boring Page

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8 Facebook Marketing Tips To Revitalize A Boring Page

TikTok and Instagram may be taking their moment to shine, but Facebook is a social media platform your business simply can’t ignore.

Facebook’s monthly active users have continued to rise since its inception, with nearly 3 billion (2.96) monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2022.

It was also the most popular social network worldwide as of January 2022 when ranked by the number of monthly active users.

Knowing a substantial portion of your target audience likely uses Facebook regularly, it’s crucial as social media marketers to keep up with the Facebook marketing tips that can help you grow your business.

Your business is probably already leveraging Facebook to reach your target audience – and if you’re not, you’re missing out on valuable lead and conversion opportunities.

You’ve likely set up a Facebook Page to communicate with current and potential customers, share current updates, and build social proof.

But, is your Facebook Page optimized to engage your target audience? Have you invested ample time into ensuring you’re leveraging every form and field possible?

The good news is, starting from scratch is the most challenging part of getting your Facebook Page off the ground.

Since you’ve already done this, revitalizing your page is the easy part – and we’re here to help streamline the process even further.

This deep dive guide will succinctly outline what it takes to transform your Facebook Page from vapid to vivacious with the following eight marketing tips.

Read on to ensure you maximize the world’s most visited social media platform to your advantage.

1. Beyond The Facebook Page Basics

Your business can be found in many places online, from your Google Business Profile (GBP) to review sites and social platforms.

Potential customers should be able to find accurate information about your business anywhere they can find you. This includes your current physical address, website link, phone number, and more.

In fact, 20% of consumers are unlikely to visit a business with incorrect or missing listing information.

Ensuring all information on your Facebook page is up-to-date is a good place to start.

Next, it’s time for optimizations that go beyond the basics to help your Facebook Page stand out from your competition.

2. Leverage Facebook Pages’ Templates

Facebook offers numerous templates designed to enhance your Page and help customers find what they’re looking for.

There’s a standard template that you’ll most often see when visiting other businesses’ Facebook Pages.

But there are also templates that cater to different types of businesses, such as nonprofit organizations, restaurants, services, retailers, and more.

To find the template most applicable to your brand, once you’re on your Facebook Page, click on the More drop-down menu and select Edit Tabs.

In the template section, click the Edit button.

You’ll then see a list of available templates. Select the template that is most relevant to your business category.

Screenshot from Facebook, December 2022Facebook Page template example

For example, if you’re a service business and you select the service template, you’re able to clearly showcase the services you offer to customers, along with reviews and offers.

3. Use An Attractive Cover Photo

Visual content has the power to capture attention and increase conversions.

According to Google, businesses that add photos to their Business Profiles receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.

Your cover photo is the first element that will draw people’s attention. It can be the make-or-break point, helping people decide to scroll down to learn more about your business.

Pick a photo that aligns with your branding but captures your audience’s attention.

Use a real photo or an illustration that showcases your brand’s style in terms of colors, mission statement, and values – and be sure to avoid stock imagery.

Stock photos fail to convey a visual representation of your brand and, in turn, can make your brand feel less authentic.

When selecting your cover image, Facebook recommends it:

  • Left aligns with a full bleed and a 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • Must be at least 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall.
  • Loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file that’s 851 pixels wide, 315 pixels tall, and less than 100 kilobytes.

4. Choose A Professional Profile Picture

Your profile picture, while not as prominent as your cover photo, appears prominently at the top of your Facebook Page.

It also appears as your avatar on all posts and photos you publish on Facebook (on your page and others).

This photo should represent your brand effectively any time someone sees it.

For most businesses, using your company logo is typically common practice, as customers may already be familiar with it, and associate it with your business.

8 Facebook Marketing Tips To Revitalize A Boring PageScreenshot from Facebook, December 20228 Facebook Marketing Tips To Revitalize A Boring Page

It should be easy for someone to discern which brand they’re engaging with when they see your Facebook Page.

Your profile image displays at 176×176 pixels on your Facebook Page on computers, 196×196 pixels on smartphones, and 36×36 pixels on most feature phones.

Ensure your profile image is clear by following the aforementioned sizing guidelines and using a high-resolution image.

5. Create Content That Resonates With Your Target Audience

Your Facebook Page should be a one-stop shop for your audience.

It’s an opportunity to learn more about your business, read reviews from loyal customers, and consume relevant content.

So, create quality content that resonates with your wider audience.

You may also want to incorporate a mixture of different types of posts – such as video posts when you have impactful customer testimonials to share, or high-quality photos when you’re launching a new product.

No matter the type of content you choose to share, make sure that it is relevant and impactful to your readers. For example, if your wider audience is Gen Z, video content may be the way to go.

When creating content, ask yourself: will this post add value, or am I trying to reach a quota? If your answer is the latter, you may need to revise your Facebook content marketing strategy.

Consider your post timing, too.

In the past, mid-morning posts drove the most engagement, as people often use the app on their commutes to school or work. However, posting during the early morning hours has now taken the lead.

Post timing also varies by industry, so find the best time to reach your customer base.

6. Create An Incentive For Following Your Facebook Page

Deals and discounts play a significant role in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Americans say offers are a top factor when deciding where and what to buy online. Deals are so important that 48% of Americans said they will avoid brands that do not provide offers.

Your Facebook Page enables your business to promote offers for free.

These offers can be:

  • Percentage-off.
  • Dollar-off.
  • Free product or service.
  • Free shipping.
  • Custom offer of your choice.

Create an offer that is unique for your Facebook followers. This incentivizes them to follow you and engage with your posts.

These offers can change and vary. We advise that you keep your offers fresh and switch them periodically to encourage your audience to continue to follow your page.

Facebook marketing tips, creating a new Facebook offer exampleScreenshot from Facebook, December 2022Facebook marketing tips, creating a new Facebook offer example

Respond To Customer Feedback

One of the most fundamental Facebook marketing tips (and digital marketing tips in general) is to respond to all customer feedback whenever possible.

This includes any time customers reach out via Facebook Messenger, during a Facebook Live, when they leave a review on your Facebook Page, or when they reply to your Facebook Stories.

Being proactive with your responses, whether the customer leaves negative or positive feedback, shows your brand cares about its customers.

Your response time matters, too.

According to ReviewTrackers, 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week, but 1 in 3 expect a response within 3 days or less.

Ensure you have a reputation management strategy and team in place to triage responses. Set standards and expectations with your team when it comes to reviewing responses.

Creating response templates is a good way to quickly and efficiently respond to customer reviews across multiple platforms.

7. Use Every Character In Your Page’s Description

Your Facebook page allows you 255 characters to describe your business.

Use every character possible to share what you do, what you sell, and why it matters. Use original content relevant to your business when drafting your description.

You’ll also want to add complete information for your:

  • Your business contact details (phone number, address, and email).
  • Business categories.
  • Website.
  • Social media accounts.
  • Hours.
  • Price range.

8. Add A CTA

Allow your customers to quickly perform the call to action (CTA) of your choice.

This button appears beneath your cover image and to the right of your profile image. You can choose from a variety of CTA options, including:

  • Follow.
  • View gift card.
  • Start order.
  • Book now.
  • Call now.
  • Contact us.
  • Send message.
  • Send email.
  • Learn more.
  • And more.

For example, a restaurant brand would benefit from adding a Start order CTA.

This eliminates friction in the consumer’s path to purchase, allowing them to start the order right from your Facebook Page, rather than navigating to your website or a third-party food delivery app.

Keep a pulse on your engagement metrics to see if the CTA you’ve selected is driving measurable results. If it’s not, consider adding a different CTA to see if your audience engages better with alternative messaging.

To find your engagement metrics, click on the Insights button in the menu.

Facebook Insights offer a wealth of information from likes, story reach, actions on the page, post engagement rates, how different types of content are performing, and much more.

Check these insights often to better guide your Facebook marketing strategy.

Facebook CTA exampleScreenshot from Facebook, December 2022Facebook CTA example

Concluding Thoughts

As you can see, updating and optimizing your Facebook Page doesn’t take much effort.

Instead, it requires continuously keeping up with your social media marketing strategy and leveraging the tools and features available to you.

Following these Facebook marketing tips is a good place to start.

To keep up with Facebook’s evolving functionality, do a quick audit every quarter to see what’s new and available to you.

This ensures your business is taking full advantage of your Facebook Page’s capabilities and staying one step ahead of your competition.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

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