Facebook Is At It Again!

3/25/2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook changes was a topic I discussed two months ago. I began that post by jokingly saying the only thing constant about the platform is change.  True to form, Facebook has announced another round of…you guessed it: changes!  The internet has been abuzz about this news for the past week, speculating about the potential benefits and adjustments platform users may need to make.  Let’s take a look at the big three changes that are coming our way:

GRAPH SEARCH

Facebook graph search

Many of us are still awaiting the full roll out of Facebook’s new graph search.  Those who do have the new feature are watching it take shape and refine its abilities to formulate valuable search results as it learns more about the information we share.  From a business perspective we are still waiting to see how profoundly graph search will impact us.  And we continue to prepare by serving up as much optimized information as we can, as well as by continuing to post good value and foster lively engagement.  These activities will allow the feature to access comprehensive details about our companies for good search result visibility.

NEWS FEED

Facebook new news feed

The next big change rolling out affects Facebook’s news feed.  The platform has styled it more like a newsletter.  The new feed will present stories in chronological order, with our favorites getting the top spots.  It will be customizable via clickable links in the right side column.  While the default view will be “all friends,” we will be able to use those links to focus on specific postings we desire to see.  One of them is “following,” which will customize the feed to show stories from pages we have liked and groups we have joined.

Facebook’s redesigned news feed will feature much larger, more eye catching visuals.  Pictures and videos will present much bigger, as will the thumbnails that show when we converse or share links. These changes will bring the desktop appearance into line with how the news feed looks on mobile devices.

An interesting thought to ponder is how the new news feed will impact our businesses.  Obviously, the larger graphics – including those contained in our ads – will be helpful.  And now, when people “like” our pages a small graphic of our cover photos as well as our profile pictures will appear in their and their friends’ news feeds.  But since the default will be “all friends,” will our other posts be denied access unless users deliberately click on the “following” choice for their feeds?  This remains to be seen.  I doubt Facebook will do anything to negatively impact our businesses, since they could risk losing our patronage AND our ad dollars.  Things may be a bit bumpy until the changes settle in.  But I’m sure plenty of tweaks will be made to ensure our businesses will be seen. In the mean time, it makes sense to continue doing the things we are doing to boost our chances of being found: having complete, optimized “about” sections with links to our websites and other social sites; lots of appealing visual posts; original and shared posts that contain excellent value for our followers; fostering and supporting good engagement on our pages.

NEW TIMELINE FORMAT

Facebook new Timeline format screen shot

Facebook has FINALLY listened to its disgruntled user masses, and is returning to a single column timeline for our profile pages.  This is a change that has been desired ever since the timeline format was introduced.  Hopefully it will translate well onto our business pages as well.  The actual timeline will now be on the right side of our profiles.  The left column will contain an abbreviated look at our “about” information.  Under the “about” section will be our friends, followed below by our pictures.  If we use any specific apps, like Instagram, those would come next.  The application icons that currently appear below our cover pictures will be replaced by simple text links.  Overall, this looks to be a much cleaner, easier to use interface.

BONUS

Facebook new business cover picture rules

Facebook has JUST changed the rules for business cover pictures.  Previously, they could not contain contact information, calls to action, or direct ad copy such as promotional info.  Now the only rule that still applies is the one put in place last January, limiting text on our cover photos to a maximum 20% of the surface area.  This is a surprising move considering Facebook’s contention that they do not want our cover pictures to appear “spammy.”  Perhaps their thinking is that advertising copy will be severely curtailed anyway by that 20% text limitation.

On the topic of Facebook’s 20% text rule, many of us have been struggling to be sure our business cover pictures are in compliance. Until now we haven’t been able to do much more than take educated guesses. Happily, a new tool to take the guesswork out of the process is currently in beta. The Facebook Cover-Photo Compliance Tool allows us to upload our cover pics, which will then appear with a grid over them. Clicking the grid squares over text areas will tell us what percentage of our cover pictures contains text. Do note, though, that the tool is currently incapable of uploading cover photos for business pages that have limitations of any kind; e.g., age or location.

Four additional changes in just under three months.  Facebook is on the move!  What do you think of the platform’s newest roll outs?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Social Media Marketing: Consistency is Key

March 11, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Consistency is a word we hear a lot in the social media field.  It is an integral part of the online world, and is vital to growing an influential presence among both peers and prospects.

How often do we see Facebook business pages or Twitter business profiles that have been left to gather dust?  There’s no doubt each was launched with high hopes and good intentions.  Some may bear a smattering of earnest posts from those initial days of existence.  And that’s where they lay.

Unused Facebook business page with tumbleweeds blowing across it

It’s important to remember that simply possessing social media business profiles does not guarantee us desirable returns.  More likely, deserted profiles may work against us.  They exist on platforms where social behavior is expected.  Prospects and clients seek them out anticipating a cultivation of customer/merchant relationships as well as a ready conduit for enlightenment and assistance.  Peers visit them in pursuit of information and conversation that may lead to mutual business benefit. What message is conveyed when they encounter virtual tumbleweeds upon clicking onto our sites?

I was recently approached by a former client who could answer that question.  Throughout our affiliation, we worked together to successfully nurture trusting connections, share value, facilitate conversations, and assist those who needed help.  Once our joint effort ended, this client ceased all activity on his sites.  Is it any wonder why he didn’t receive a single response when he recently posted a promotion for an excellent service?  All the trust, all the relationships we cultivated, all the good will we built was gone. He needs to start over again.  But this time his starting point may be met with uncertainty. Will he stay around consistently, or will he disappear on his following again?  Trust is difficult to rebuild when it has been violated.

We come to be known and trusted by posting consistently, sharing value regularly and nurturing engagement daily.  This is the recipe that translates into better bonds, deeper customer loyalty and stronger referrals.

In what ways do you ensure consistency on your social media business profiles?  Please share your thoughts in the Facebook business page with lots of activitycomments section below.

Social Media Marketing? Go Where Your Clients Are!

February 25, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

profile stick figures networking on laptopsFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus.  And SO MANY others.  In the social media marketing realm there is a place and a purpose for each platform.  Of course, it would be counterproductive to try keeping up with ALL of them.  Each one requires a proper time investment.  But a strong marketing strategy will employ several, integrating them into a good, productive campaign.

After carefully selecting the best social media platforms to suit our business needs, it is not uncommon for us to gravitate toward the one or two whose style(s) we favor. That may well lead to us spending a greater share of our time on the one(s) we prefer.  But in order to court success for our clients – as well as for ourselves – we need to step outside of our own preferences and ask: Which platform are the majority of our clients and prospects using?  We owe it to them as well as to ourselves to become comfortable and fluent on the one THEY favor, and to invest a larger share of our time and energy posting and engaging with them THERE.

b to c stick figures shaking hands from laptopsAre our businesses primarily B2B?  Chances are the profile that holds the most potential for us is LinkedIn.  B2C? Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter may likely fit the bill.  Do our businesses lend themselves to visual displays and promotions?  Pinterest and/or You Tube may be the best places to court and interact with current/potential clients.  These are merely generalizations, of course.  The best platforms for us need to be determined through careful analysis of our specific businesses.

To recap:  Planning a successful strategy means determining which of the social media platforms will work best to service the general needs of our growing businesses.  Smart planning will result in setting up and using the few most likely to deliver the best results for our important business metrics.  After that, the largest segment of our time needs to be spent engaging on the one or two platforms that are most heavily populated by the people who are more likely to want or need the product/service we provide.  It is our duty to become familiar and comfortable with those channels in particular, so we may nurture the most potentially fruitful connections and hence obtain the best return from our invested time.

Which platform do you feel is most heavily populated by the best prospects for your business?  How will you use that social media channel to engage with them?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

customer stick figure asking question

Do You Speak Twitter or Facebook?

February 4, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Social media is an important channel for marketing goods and services, more now than ever before.  But using the “tools” of this channel for business requires knowledge and understanding of each platform and how to best employ it.  Too many would-be online marketers do not grasp the “pull” nature of social media marketing.  Equally importantly, they fail to comprehend the nuances of each platform they wish to use.

Twitter surfing on computer mouseOne concept I’d like to address in this post is the fact that each social media platform has its own “voice.”  Each one serves a different overall purpose, and hence each is different in the way users engage.  Let’s look at the two most popular channels:  Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is a great platform for making connections.  Communication is vital, but it is necessarily concise since tweets are encapsulated by that 140 character limit.  Because everything is so “quick hit,” the action moves very swiftly on Twitter.  There are forums where good discussions take place, such as hashtagged conversations.  But these conversations move very quickly because of the brevity of the verbal exchanges.

Facebook figure with megaphoneFacebook, on the other hand, is really good for solidifying connections and building relationships.  It is the tool by which we engage more in depth with our fans and our peers; we service our clients, ask and answer more detailed questions, and really allow our brands’ human side to show.  Because of this activity, Facebook posts tend to be longer and more descriptive.  The pace seems almost leisurely by comparison.

Other social media platforms have their own personalities and functions too.  LinkedIn maintains a more professional demeanor.  Though not entirely, it is primarily a business to business platform. The interaction there is more formal than we see on Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is somewhere in the middle:  less formal than LinkedIn, but not as casual as Facebook or Twitter.  Google+ is also good for B2B, though it’s not as dedicated to that arena as LinkedIn.

When marketers juggle multiple social media platforms, cross posting is considered a great time saver.  There are some limited situations where the practice may work, but it should never be abused.  Twitter folk often dislike seeing posts from Facebook.  The whole style of posting to Facebook doesn’t fit in a Twitter environment.  Conversely, Facebook users don’t take to tweets showing up on timelines – ESPECIALLY when they contain hashtags!  Posts on most other platforms aren’t compatible with the style of verbal exchange on LinkedIn.  Ultimately, it is important to realize that cross posting may save some time on the front end, but it may cost us fans and followers in the long run.  The best approach is to become familiar with each platform’s unique voice, and learn to use each appropriately when sharing our value.

Which social media platform “lingo” do YOU speak best?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!three platforms with megaphones

Facebook Makes Changes Again

January 28, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook is beginning 2013 by living up to its reputation:  the only thing constant about the platform is change.  Three new features and one rule change are rolling out so far, and it’s still only January!

Facebook "like as page" exampleOne feature that is being introduced is certainly convenient for page owners.  In the past, when we wished to like another business page AS our pages, we have needed to formally switch perspectives by utilizing Facebook’s “Use page as…” option.  The new feature enables us to “like as page” simply by choosing that option from a drop down menu that becomes visible upon clicking the gear image to the right of the page’s “message” or “like” button.

Facebook bigger picture area for shared linksAnother new element being introduced is a larger viewing area for pictures and preview text when we post a link that includes an illustration.  Considering the attention posted pictures draw, tripling the size of this preview in shared links will be very helpful as we attempt to pique site visitors’ interest and encourage engagement.

In case we should start thinking Facebook is getting too nice, a new rule was recently launched that spells aggravation for many business page owners.  We already know the cover picture no-nos:  no contact info; no calls to action; no promotions.  The new rule – JUST in case we were still finding a way to make them too spammy – limits text to 20% of our cover pictures.  How many of you are scrambling, as I am?

Facebook open graph search screen shotOf course, the biggest new feature for Facebook is what the platform’s big announcement last week was all about:  the roll out of open graph search.  The implications for business AND personal users can only be imagined at this point.  Search will undoubtedly be taken to an unprecedented new level of personalization.  This will be true both on platform as well as for any off platform businesses that utilize Facebook’s API.  For those users concerned about privacy, it’s a good time to make sure all of your privacy settings accurately represent your preferences.  Graph search will not access what is private; nor will it make public information you have set as visible to only your friends (search WILL factor in your information for your friends if that is how your privacy settings are configured).  For businesses, now is the time to optimize business pages to maximize the chances of being found by the open graph search feature.  That includes filling out the “about” section with as much relevant detail as possible, including links to websites and other social media platforms, and creating/sharing posts with good value that keep page visitors reading and engaging.

So many changes in so little time!  Facebook seems to like keeping us on our toes by making things easier and more challenging at the same time!  Which new feature will keep YOU busiest?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Facebook = Websites?

January 14, 2013

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                         return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Do we really need websites when we have Facebook business pages that allow us to build our customer bases, promote and sell our products/services? This question arises every so often. I have heard it asked a few times recently, so I thought I would weigh in with my views once again.

My short answer to the question “Do we need websites?” is YES! Facebook is an excellent tool for promoting our brands and our products/services. But it is NOT a good “home” for our businesses. Here is why:

JayVee website screen shot on houseThe difference between having a website and just maintaining a presence on Facebook is comparable to owning a house versus renting one. When we own, the place is OURS. We set our own rules and are able to do anything we wish with and within our domiciles. Conversely, when we rent we live subject to the rules as set forth by our landlords. We may not do as we please; indeed, ignoring the rules may result in our being evicted from our homes. Websites are our businesses’ homes. They belong to US. We make the rules, control the designs, post what we want, plan and run promotions the way we desire, and house our all important original content there. We can and should host links to our Facebook business sites and other social media channels on our websites. But while they are important, those business sites are merely rented spaces. Facebook, for one, is a stickler of a landlord! We are not free to post anything we want on our business pages, or to post in any manner we desire. We must follow the platform’s strict rules for promotions and contests. If we don’t play by ITS rules, we will be evicted. And we will lose everything in the process, with no avenue for recourse.

Facebook Terms of ServiceLet me repeat that, for it should be the most unsettling consideration for us: If we don’t follow Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS), our business pages will be shut down. And there is no real recourse for appeal. In essence, that means we do not own or control our content when it is kept on the Facebook platform. Additionally, Facebook’s TOS frequently change. In fact, rules for the cover photos of our business pages just changed again: as of January 15th, text may take up no more than 20% of our cover photos. Were you aware of this new stipulation? Failure to keep track of such changes diligently can cost us our business pages, along with all the fans we have amassed and content we have created. Scary thought, right?

Lack of control and only tenuous ownership of our own content; small wonder Facebook is not a replacement for our websites. We need to consider this carefully and use the platform for what it is: an important tool in our social media marketing toolboxes. Facebook is wonderfully effective for sharing our posted content, engaging and exposing our brands and offerings. But for the security of our businesses, we should not make it into something it wasn’t meant to be – the sole online home for our companies.

How do you field questions from your clients about Facebook versus websites? Please share your perspectives in the comments section below!

Facebook does not equal website

SEE ALSO: “7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Replace Your Website with a Facebook Page,” by John Judd of Codeboss

Social Media Platform Ads: Research and Use Them with Care

December 17, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

LinkedIn ads pageSocial media marketers are happily making use of the various paid ad formats offered by each of the major social platforms.  Any opportunity to increase the reach of our advertising messages is a boon to our efforts.  However, we must remember that these formats aren’t interchangeable, and they won’t necessarily work in all situations.  As with our organic efforts, the key is to research:

1. our target prospects;

2. which platform(s) might best appeal to them;

3. their possible reactions to the various ad formats;

3. the situations under which each format may or may not work optimally.

Online investigation via social media profiles and targeting tools yields more information about the personalities and preferences of our prospects than we ever were privy to before.  (Of course, we need to use the wealth of personal information we find there judiciously and respectfully.)  As we see behavioral and preference patterns emerge we will be better able to formulate more effective advertising spots.  We should also get a better feel for which specific type of paid ad will work best for these targeted prospects.

Facebook sponsored  story sampleIronically, the ads that potentially reach the largest audiences are also the ones many social platform users dislike: those that are placed directly into their newsfeeds/streams.  A company named Mediabrix recently did some interesting research.  Among other things, its findings indicate that we need to be especially careful when crafting these ads. They may invoke ire when they masquerade as friends’ stories, because our unsuspecting prospects feel duped into reading them.  Mediabrix found that 72% of Facebook users and 62% of Twitter users formed negative opinions of brands that intruded on their news feeds in this manner.  The lesson:  this type of ad should not mimic content from our prospects’ friends.  These folks also don’t appreciate having their newsfeeds/streams spammed; this is another thing about which to be mindful.

Twitter promoted tweet sampleAds are a helpful way to get the word out about our products and services.  But while researching and planning our strategies it is critical that we stay focused on the most desired effects of properly executed social media marketing.  The real benefits come from engaging, building trust and confidence, and immersing our prospects in the experience of our brands.  All the advertising in the world won’t lead to success on social media platforms unless we invest the proper time and energy into maintaining meaningful presences on those sites.

Which ad offerings have you used for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc?  Are you happy with the results you have achieved?  Please share your findings in the comments section below!

See also:

“Are Social Media Marketers Running Ahead of Consumers?” by Marketing Pilgrim’s Frank Reed

LinkedIn Ads information

“A Simple Breakdown of All Your Facebook Advertising Options” by HubSpot’s Amanda Sibley

“How to Use Paid Advertising on Twitter to Promote Your Business” by Examiner.com’s Christina Thompson

Flipboard: Everything in One Place

December 3, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

Have you tried Flipboard?  I recently added the free app to my smart phone.  It has quickly become one of my favorites.

Flipboard opening screens

Flipboard is a social network aggregation application for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  It collects content across various partner websites as well as the social media channels we link to the platform and presents it all in magazine format for easy viewing.  A user browses the headlines and synopses by flipping through them, literally as though reading a magazine.  If he/she wishes to read a story in its entirety a tap on the desired headline brings up the whole post.

Flipboard Facebook and Twitter stream options

Social networks that are linked to Flipboard are broken down into various component streams, such as pictures, news feeds, mentions, links and friend/follower posts.  Each can be individually added to form user customized viewer channels.  And each permits user interaction via likes, comments, sharing and replies.  So a user can monitor and interact with all his/her linked social media platforms as well as keep up to date with the most current news stories in and out of his/her field, all in one place.

Flipboard news story from MashableBecause Flipboard offers a quick, easy way to keep informed about the latest news in our niche areas, it is great for finding current, compelling topics for content creation.  Being that kind of quality resource as well as allowing monitoring, sharing and interaction across our social media channels all in one easy to use platform makes this app a must have!  If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend you take it for a spin.  If you have, please share your feedback in the comments section below!

See also:  Meet Flipboard

Likes and Recommendations – Real, or Illusions?

October 8, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                       return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Open trenchcoat with Wanna Buy a Like sign insideWhile doing research last week to compile data for a new client’s media evaluation, I came across one of his industry competitors’ Facebook pages.  What I saw made me sit back and shake my head.  It was fairly new, having been launched about six months ago.  The first month boasted five new followers.  The second month:  23,740 new followers.  WOW!  This business must have a rocket propelled marketing department, right?  I HAD to look at the page’s activity.  There was no interaction at all; just a smattering of posts here and there about services the business offered.  Seriously; do subscribers to practices like this think we are that naïve, or are they hoping we won’t scroll far enough down their pages to see how all those likes came in one giant lump during the pages’ second month of existence?

I’m not condemning anyone personally for buying likes or followers. I’m just saying that doing so is not as covert as he/she would hope.  And considering the bulk of these bought numbers consist of phony accounts as well as disinterested people who will never engage with the page, the practice cheats him/her of business credibility.  Engagement and genuinely valuable activity define the success of a company’s social media sites, not a suddenly huge number of “fans” or “followers.”  Instead of the anticipated boost, this practice serves to negatively flag a social site; it also illustrates wasted money, since Facebook and Twitter have begun cracking down by purging phony likes and follows.

Another faux strategy has emerged recently: buying positive recommendations.  This practice evolved from do-it-yourselfers who compelled others in their employ to write glowing reviews for them.  Many of these are easily spotted for what they are, especially when they are exaggeratedly fawning.  There is actually a question of legality here, as the law requires disclosure of the circumstances behind a recommendation that is motivated by anything other than true satisfactory personal experience with a business, its product or service.

It is tough to launch a social media business.  How do we gain our footing among thousands of peers who already have established pages with huge numbers of valid fans and followers?  The temptation is great to buy ourselves an illusion of competitiveness, even temporarily while we work frantically to build our businesses legitimately.  Although we don’t like to acknowledge it, the reality is that slowly and steadily playing by the rules is the only true avenue to solid social relationships, credible business standings, and ultimately success in our fields.  The reality is also that having a couple of hundred likes who are actively engaged with us on our pages trumps thousands of silent likes.  That’s a metric that can’t be hidden; one needs only scroll down a business page to see the level and quality of activity – or lack of it.

person hawking bought likes is vanquishedPatience truly is a virtue here.  When we realize the only thing that separates our new launches from our successfully established peers is length of time investment, we may be less inclined to take shortcuts that will undoubtedly backfire with negative consequences.  At that point we should realize that taking the time to do things legitimately and correctly is the more direct route to our own successes.

What is your take on the practice of buying fans, followers and positive reviews? How do you handle new clients who want to see giant numbers of fans and followers instantly appear on their social media sites?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

See also:
Davey Winder:  “Why Buying Social Media Reviews is a Recipe for Marketing Disaster
Mallie Hart:  “ Say No to Shortcuts

Google Plus Getting Better and Better

October 1, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC 

flexing body builder with Google Plus headIf Facebook isn’t looking over its shoulder it certainly should.  Google Plus is steadily gaining on the behemoth platform.  With all the quality features it offers, G+ just may catch and surpass Facebook one day soon.

Facebook currently boasts 900 million users, though that number is often called into question with the numerous fake profiles that are known to exist.  Google Plus now has a membership that tops 400 million.  Users are increasingly drawn to the newer platform’s cleaner interface, more user and business friendly features, and the power of its progenitor, Google itself.  Though Facebook is working hard to improve its search function, it remains light years behind Google…and Google improves its search with newer, better features on a regular basis.  Users of Google Plus also benefit from increased visibility afforded them by the platform’s powerhouse parent.

Facebook had a huge head start over Google Plus.  And like G+, it constantly attempts to improve upon its good features. Yet in many important areas it often must play catch up with its younger rival.  In addition to its hands-down edge in search capacities, G+ boasts a few popular features that Facebook lacks.   Biggest among these is likely Google Hangouts, a live streaming group video chat that is a favorite among both personal and business users. And the newer platform is rapidly making up for its lack of any important features Facebook offers, as evidenced by its newest acquisition, sophisticated photo sharing site NIK.

Google and Google Plus have just rolled out yet another new feature that is guaranteed to be a hit with those of us who use the platform for business:  Google for Entrepreneurs.  Its hook:  “You have an idea.  Make it happen.”  Users are encouraged to employ the feature to discover local programs and online resources to launch and scale their businesses.  Here, courtesy of a reposting by our colleague, Sherry Nouraini, is a sampling of Google for Entrepreneurs’ offerings and links:

. Programs: google.com/entrepreneurs/initiatives
. Events: google.com/entrepreneurs/events
. Resources: google.com/entrepreneurs/resources

Website: google.com/entrepreneurs
YouTube: youtube.com/Google4Entrepreneurs
Google+: +Google for Entrepreneurs
More: googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/celebrating-spirit-of-entrepreneurship.html
Twitter hashtag:   #googleforentrepreneurs

Is Google Plus exciting YOU?  How are you using its features to help your business?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!