Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Facebook Timeline for Brands: Curation and Palpitation

Lots of attention has been put on the new Facebook Pages layout since fMC, with people displaying differing perspectives. The usual suspects have already released their pieces on how to prepare for Facebook Timelines. My friend Jay Baer says it betrays small businesses. We, meanwhile, see it as giving brands a new way to tell their story as communications becomes more and more focused on exactly that.

We started preparing for the inevitable rollout of Timelines months ago when it was launched for developers’ personal pages back in October. At the time we’d pulled together our own five-step prescription for preparing your timeline:

  1. Review company marketing/communication materials and history:
  2. Plot out the story you want to tell and the milestones for it
  3. Identify appropriate engagements to feature
  4. Identify approach to contentious issues
  5. Determine appropriate cover image

One aspect of the new system – the potential for issues – doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of attention. Here’s what we didn’t realize back in October:

The Timeline you see on a brand page is personalized by your friends’ actions.

See that circled post? That’s from Liam Lahey – a friend of mine, who posted a link that mentioned Obama in the descriptor text. The previous time I went to the page, it showed a link from Tara Hunt – another friend who had posted something mentioning Obama.

So, while curation is absolutely important, and companies should think about the story they need to tell, they also need to recognize that brands don’t control everything that people see on their Timelines.  That means, even though you’ve curated your timeline carefully anything that someone has posted about your brand could show up, and what does show up changes dynamically.

While this could be a positive thing, it’s also going to give brands migraines:

  1. It could point a renewed spotlight at issues that you wish would go away.
  2. It provides the potential for new issues to get greater attention due to the greater visibility given to Timeline posts.

What does that mean for you as a communicator?

From my perspective, it means that your community management, monitoring and measurement folks are now your best friend.

Community management, because as a brand you need to be watching the activity on your page and watching for spikes in attention.

Monitoring, because conversations could easily shift from your Facebook page to other online channels (blogs, forums, Twitter, etc).

Measurement, because you should be watching for spikes in traffic to old content (especially issues/crisis-focused content) and the resulting patterns that emerge.

In short, the launch of Facebook Timelines for your brand means you need to integrate. More thinking coming on that soon.

Where does content fit in Facebook’s new marketing model?

While marketers everywhere seem to be focused on Facebook Timelines for brands, the latest changes to Facebook’s advertising model represent just as significant a change for brands – if not even more so.

How so, you ask? Let’s start by

A marketer’s journey on Facebook: from engagement to advertising

Facebook has a saying that, “this journey is 1% finished.” Following that mantra, if you look at the changes Facebook has made over the last year as a continuum, the company has significantly tilted the scales away from engaging content – from brands creating communities with their customers – and towards paid advertising.

There’s nothing new in the fact that the vast majority of user/brand interactions come through the news feed.  The fact is that few people actually visit your page on an ongoing basis – even those who do visit once, rarely do again. For that reason, capturing peoples’ “likes” at that time has been critical for a while, so companies can continue to interact with people in their newsfeeds. This, on its own, means that anything Facebook does that affects content is hugely significant for marketers.

Mid-way through 2011, the company changed its approach to determining what people saw in their newsfeeds, with the result that the number of people seeing posts from brands dropped significantly – by up to 75%, in fact. While many marketers may be focused on the nice shiny number of total “likes” they have, the reality is that brands’ posts are only seen by a small minority of their fans.

Sound crazy? While impressions/reach aren’t publicly visible numbers, Fangager put out an analysis of the “100 most engaging brands on Facebook” late last year, showing that even the engaging brands generally had between 0.3% and 2% “active fans”. Here’s the top ten:

Disclosure: several of these brands are Edelman clients

The average percentage of ‘active fans’ in the top ten most engaging brands is 1.5%. If you go by the maxim that 1% of people create content; 9% comment and 90% lurk, those numbers multiply up to roughly 16% of people seeing these brands’ content (consistent with the numbers that Facebook discussed at their fMC event last week..

I’ll say that again – even if you’re on the high end of the scale, only one in five fans of your Page will see your content.

Enter Facebook’s new advertising products. Distilled down to two points, the latest advertising announcements from Facebook are:

Simply put, Facebook first degraded brand content over the last year, and has now released a advertising products to let companies pay to offset the changes they’ve made.

Let’s think about this in terms of customer touchpoints. Before the latest round of changes, if you set aside the Open Graph there were four primary ways to proactively reach your company’s fans on Facebook:

  1. Content (proactive and engagement-focused)
  2. Paid advertising
  3. Creative assets (via tabs)
  4. Apps

While agencies made money from all of the above, Facebook only made money off one of those. Combined with the new Timeline for brands, Facebook in one fell swoop has both expanded the overlap of advertising with content, and has reduced the impact of other creative assets (for example, you can no longer direct people to a default tab other than your wall) in one fell swoop.

Implications of Facebook’s advertising changes

I’m not saying these changes from Facebook are a bad thing. Regardless, we can’t exactly blame Facebook for making them – Facebook is a business and, as much as users may like it, engaging content on its own doesn’t generate revenue for the business.

Still, companies (and community managers) do need to pay attention. Here’s what I think we’re likely to see:

  1. Staffing – community managers/analysts: Companies will need to apply new rigor to their content to optimize its performance in Facebook’s new ad products. While the more socially-advanced companies with significant investments are already doing this, this will become important for all companies with paid investments in Facebook. For those with smaller social media teams, that means community managers will find that stats and analysis are even more important skillsets, and that partnership with measurement teams is critical.
  2. Processes – integration and an “and, not or” approach: Success in this new Facebook will depend on even tighter integration between community managers, content teams and paid media in order to find the right balance of engagement, business results-driven content and advertising.
  3. Users – seeing more push-focused content:Yes, companies could promote engagement-focused content, but given that brands will be measuring the effectiveness of their advertising in driving business results, and weighing the opportunity cost of increased Facebook investment against other paid media, users are likely to see more push-focused posts with a clear call to action being published by brands for this purpose.
  4. Lazy – some companies go the paid route: Some companies will choose to take the easy route out. Rather than optimizing their content to increase engagement in order to drive reach, they’ll simply choose to go the paid route, investing in reach generator and the new premium ads to increase the visibility of their content. Whether this will be cost-effective remains to be seen.

Disclosure And Facebook’s Social Plugin

A few weeks ago Facebook introduced its new Comment Box plugin, allowing companies and individuals to connect comments on their owned properties to their Facebook presences.

At the time, while reviewing the business implications of the new Facebook plugin, I wrote:

“There’s lots of potential for confusion, and controversy, when people realize their comments don’t just reside within the protective, search-resistant walls of Facebook. It’s just a matter of time before people start complaining as their comments start unexpectedly showing up on third party websites, or attracting responses from company advocates over on a Facebook Page…

Companies using the plugin on their owned properties would be well advised to make it very clear to users that their comments may be shared over on Facebook”

My colleague Suzanne Marlatt flagged the way the National Post is addressing the issue on its site. Here’s the notice they include on every story (screen cap below):

“Learn more about the new Facebook comments here or tell us what you think:

If you are commenting using a Facebook account your profile information (job/employer/location) may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to”

The first line links to a full page of information on the commenting system.

I think this is a great way of communicating the implications of using the plugin. What other examples have you seen?

National Post - Facebook Disclosure


How To Engage On Sites Using Facebook’s New Commenting Plugin

Facebook recently introduced a new version of its Facebook Comment Box Plugin, allowing website owners to integrate their commenting functionality with their Facebook presence.

We’ve already looked at the pros and cons of the Facebook commenting plugin for businesses considering implementing the plugin on their sites. Today, let’s take a look at what the implications are for companies running engagement programs.

The new plugin poses a conundrum to those working in engagement programs – specifically, around how they engage in the comment streams on sites using the plugin:

  • Do they comment as a Facebook Page, assuming they have one (and deal with the lower personalization and effect on Page content)?
  • Do they personalize responses more by using commenters’ own Facebook accounts (does that cross a work/life boundary)?
  • Do they just avoid commenting on sites using this plugin?

Here’s my take on five clear options for people running social media response programs. What’s yours? Let us all know what you think in the comments below.

Option 1: Individual employees comment using their own profiles

Have company employees log in and comment using their own Facebook profiles.

  • Pros:
    • Transparency of person’s identity
    • Avoids potentially negative comment streams being pushed to the company’s Facebook page
  • Cons:
    • Requires employee to use a personal account for business purposes. Could be considered to cross a work/life divide
    • Company-related conversation aggregated on employee Facebook profile
    • Possible that some company spokespeople may not have Facebook pages
  • Conclusion:
    • As transparent as this option is, the cons and the risk of violating work/life boundaries outweigh the benefits
    • Lost opportunity to aggregate relevant conversation and to activate advocates on page

Option 2: Comment as company-owned Facebook page

Company employees log in to their own accounts, but use the new person-like features of Facebook Pages to leave comments as the company’s Facebook page.

  • Pros:
    • Clear that responses come from company’s official presence
    • Avoids using personal accounts for business purposes
    • Drive additional traffic to appropriate Facebook pages
    • Aggregated conversations provide additional content for Facebook pages
  • Cons:
    • Potential lower transparency, as company name shows as the comment author (although can be mitigated via comment content)
    • Conversations aggregated on company page may not be positive in tone
    • Dilutes official content on the company’s Facebook page
    • Requires wider group of employees to have admin access to the company’s Facebook page, meaning less control over activity on the page
    • Potential for accidental comments as Facebook Pages on non company-related conversations, if employees forget to change their commenting profile back to their personal accounts
  • Conclusion:
    • Clear benefits over using personal profiles, but increases the level of risk on company pages via increased admin access and unpredictable content. Depending on the company, this approach may be viable.

Option 3: Create new, business-only Facebook profiles for commenters

Company employees engage in the comment streams under their own names, but via  profiles created purely for company use.

  • Pros:
    • Separation of personal and business profiles
    • Avoid additional admins on Facebook pages
    • Maintains engagement on sites with Facebook commenting plugin installed
    • Avoids diluting content on Facebook pages
  • Cons:
    • Violates Facebook terms and conditions – risk of accounts being deleted by Facebook.
    • Lost opportunity to aggregate relevant conversation and to activate advocates on page
  • Conclusion:
    • Risk incurred from violating Facebook terms and conditions is not advisable.

Option 4: Create Yahoo! accounts for commenters

Company employees comment on posts themselves, but do so through a new integration in the plugin – a Yahoo! login.

  • Pros:
    • Works within Facebook’s rules
    • Avoid additional admins on Facebook pages
    • Avoids diluting content on Facebook pages
    • Maintains engagement on sites with Facebook commenting plugin installed
  • Cons:
    • Less credibility of commenter profiles – Facebook profiles perceived as more credible than Yahoo! accounts
    • Lost opportunity to aggregate relevant conversation and to activate advocates on page
    • Could be perceived as easy for anyone to claim to be a company employee
  • Conclusion:
    • This option minimizes risk to the company and maintains the ability to engage. However, this option also loses the opportunity to curate conversations on the Facebook page, and the lack of identity verification that Facebook provides may reduce spokesperson credibility (although no more than via other commenting systems).All-in-all, this provides a viable option for companies looking to engage on these sites.

Option 5: Avoid commenting where Facebook Commenting Plugin is used

Avoid the pros and cons of all of the other options by refraining from engagement on sites using the new Facebook commenting plugin.

  • Pros:
    • Avoids risk of accidental cross-posting
    • Avoids diluting Facebook page content
  • Cons:
    • Lose opportunity to participate in relevant conversations via comment streams
    • If adoption of Facebook pages increases, lose broader opportunity to engage
  • Conclusion:
    • This is the “do nothing” approach. Frankly, it’s a last-resort if a company is already engaging in conversations on third-party sites.

Conclusion: It depends on your culture

Facebook has thrown a bit of a wrench in the works for companies engaging in social media response programs. None of these options is ideal from a company perspective – each comes with draw-backs in terms of risk, transparency and credibility.

Many companies may want to use Facebook’s new ‘company as a page’ functionality (option #2) to benefit from the ability to aggregate conversations on their own Facebook pages, and to do so credibly while providing interesting conversations for fans of their pages to participate in – and a way to leverage the advocates on your page to weigh-in on relevant topics.

However, for those carefully tailoring the volume and type of content posted on their pages, this makes life difficult. Dan Zarrella, for example, has shown that if you post too often to your page, you may lose fans. By throwing comment replies into the mix, companies may run the risk of saturating their page with content, to the detriment of people on the page. What’s more, your comments are unlikely to always be positive, so you may end up aggregating negative conversations on your page.

Meanwhile, logging-in via a Yahoo ID (option #4) offers a good balance of maintaining work/life separation for empoyees, influence over Facebook Page content, and risk mitigation from avoiding additional page admins and reducing the risk of accidental comments “by the company”. The downside of this, though, is the lost opportunity to bring these conversations to your fans, and the lack of identity verification that Yahoo IDs provide.

Ultimately, this is likely to come down to company culture. Is your culture more risk averse? Then you may want to go with Yahoo IDs. Are you more accepting of slightly higher risk? Then commenting as your company’s Facebook page may provide the greatest benefits without usurping employees’ personal accounts.

What do you think? Would you come to the same conclusion? What would you add to the mix?

Facebook Commenting Platform: Pros and Cons For Businesses

Facebook has announced a new version of its Comments Box plugin – its social plugin that enables Facebook-connected commenting on a website. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the apparent benefits and risks of this new feature for businesses.

Facebook’s Comment Box plugin

Among the features Facebook has revealed:

  • Social relevance – the new plugin uses what Facebook calls “social signals” to prioritize comments on posts. Comments from people in your social graph, highly-liked comments and active threads rise to the top; those flagged as spam fall to the bottom
  • Comment syndication and aggregation – commenters can push their comments to Facebook; comments left as a reply over there are aggregated back on the original site. Comments then stay sync’d between the two sites.
  • Moderation - Facebook has included a robust set of moderation tools, including visibility settings (comments can be set to be visible to everyone or set so that people only see those from people in their social graph), blacklisting words and banning users. People can also self-moderate, hiding comments that they don’t want to see
    (For more on the actual features, check out this write-up over on TechCrunch)

What does this mean for my business?

So, what might this mean for businesses? There are a number of potential pros and cons at play here:


1. Ability to comment as a Page

Core to the pros (and the cons) of the new plugin from a brand perspective is the combination of this new feature with the recent change to allow people to use Facebook “as a Page” – commenting throughout the site under the banner of a Page rather than a person. This carries over to the new plugin, meaning that a company’s Facebook Page can engage in conversations on third-party sites.

2. Broader reach of business and user comments

Commenting on third-party sites is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, companies can significantly affect the tone and course of a discussion by participating in it and giving their side of things. On the other hand, it’s hard to know just how many people actively read comments on sites – especially when comment threads get long.

The new comment plugin lets brands increase the audience for their comments, by commenting as a Page and posting the back to their Facebook Page. In doing so, the brand exposes their Facebook Page’s fans to their comments – potentially far more people than might be reading the other site.

3. Bring brand advocates onto third-party sites

As an additional benefit of the previous point, when a brand comments on an external site and syndicates the comment back to their Facebook Page, people who reply to that comment via Facebook will become integrated with the comment stream on the website. Given that (hopefully) many of those people will be brand fans and advocates, this greatly increases the potential of higher, positive, engagement on other sites.

4. Reduced spam

Popular blogs and news sites are notorious for the prevalence of spammers and trolls – people with absolutely nothing constructive to add, who just looking to cause trouble. Those people often comment anonymously, as it’s much easier to cause trouble under an assumed name.

Facebook’s new comment plugin offers the potential to reduce spam comments by forcing users to connect to their Facebook account when leaving a comment. The additional transparency offers the potential of reducing spam comments and comment trolls.

5. Potential for higher engagement on owned properties

The ability to increase the reach of comments beyond a site itself, and to increase the relevance of comments to users, offers the potential of increasing engagement across the board.


1. Potential for confusion

The new plugin allows people to share their comments over on Facebook. However, once the comments are over there it’s not entirely clear for users that their comments will be aggregated back over on the original site.

There’s lots of potential for confusion, and controversy, when people realize their comments don’t just reside within the protective, search-resistant walls of Facebook. It’s just a matter of time before people start complaining as their comments start unexpectedly showing up on third party websites, or attracting responses from company advocates over on a Facebook Page.

Meanwhile, community managers themselves need to take extra care when posting comment replies, in the knowledge they may be synchronized on another site.

The potential for confusion has a couple of implications:

  1. Companies using the plugin on their owned properties would be well advised to make it very clear to users that their comments may be shared over on Facebook
  2. Companies need to make sure they train their community managers to understand the mechanics behind the new plugin, how to minimize the risks of those mechanics and how to maximize the benefits.

2. Comments tied to one platform

While other commenting systems such as Disqus (which I use here) allow you to sync comments with your website’s database, Facebook’s comment plugin has no such feature. That means that if Facebook changes things around, or if you change comment plugins, you will lose the comments people have previously left on your site.

3. No non-Facebook login

While Facebook is looking to roll out other means of logging in to the Comment Box plugin, right now it’s limited to a Facebook-only login. That means that if people don’t have a Facebook login (even 600m users is only 10 per cent of the world’s population) or if they don’t want to share their credentials via a third party site, they’re going to be excluded from participating.

4. Facebook myopia

Just as news sites filtering news according to the views of your friends runs the risk of offering alternative perspectives to current events, so the prioritization of comments by the social graph runs the risk of not providing dissenting opinions when it comments to debates on content.

Remember – just because someone isn’t connected to you on Facebook, it doesn’t mean their perspective isn’t valid or valuable.

Good or bad?

What’s your take on this new Facebook feature? Any other pros or cons come to mind? Do you think this is a net good or bad thing for companies? Would you incorporate it into your sites?

Weekly Reads: Facebook, Marketing Trends and Social Media’s Effect on Stereotypes

Alongside my ongoing book reading challenge, I start off every day by reading the latest goings-on in the public relations, social  media and tech blogosphere. As part of my new approach to creating content, I’m going to begin curating the best for you.

Each Monday, I’ll kick-start your week’s reading by sharing some of the most interesting pieces I’ve read over the previous week. Facebook is at the centre this week – four of the seven articles incorporate the dominant social network – from conflict over Egypt, to UFC broadcasting fights, to creating an engagement guide for your organization. Also: interactive marketing trends and how social media may break down gender stereotypes.

Let me know about your favourite pieces from the last week in the comments below.

1. Betting on News, AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post

AOL’s spate of content-focused acquisitions continues – first TechCrunch, now the Huffington Post as the New York Times reports on its latest move.

AOL buys HuffPo

2. Brian Solis: Malcolm Gladwell, Your Slip Is Showing

Nowadays, you can almost guarantee that every time there’s a significant world event, Malcolm Gladwell will stick his head up and beat down a non-existent argument that social media is driving everything. In this piece, Brian Solis offers a counterpoint to Gladwell’s incessant focus on tools, and looks at the bigger picture.

Gladwell’s slipping point

3. Wired: Trolls Pounce on Facebook’s Tahrir Square

In a bit of a counterpoint to Gladwell’s perspective, Wired looks at how Egyptian President  Hosni Mubarak’s supporters are spreading propaganda and disinformation through social media.

Facebook as a battleground

4. Fast Company: UFC and Its Gang of 4.6 Million Facebook Friends Body Slam Sports Broadcasting

UFC – the hot sport of the moment – bypasses the mainstream media and takes to Facebook to broadcast some of its fights. Fast Company notes that “Experimenting with new web integration is a natural fit for the UFC, a business built on the strapping backs of its early, Internet-savvy fans.”

Ultimate Fightbook

5. Forrester: Actual Interactive Marketer Predictions For 2011

Following-up on my presentation on 20 social media trends for business in 2011, here are a few diverse predictions from an equally diverse group of interactive marketers:

  • Ad prices increase
  • Marketing will blend promotion and content
  • Targeting gets even bigger
  • Netflix pulls out of mail
  • Mobile commerce will bloom
  • 2012 will be a year of even more aggressive innovation

Interactive marketing predictions

6. Mashable: HOW TO: Create A Facebook Engagement Policy

Mashable isn’t usually a source to rely on for in-depth walk-throughs, but this piece on creating an engagement guide for Facebook does a decent job of outlining some key areas:

  1. Categorize posts
  2. Establish acceptable response times
  3. Develop guidelines for resolving issues
  4. Create a process for handling inquiries
  5. Set clear ground rules for fan posts
  6. Set the appropriate tone

Engaging on Facebook

7. TEDTalks: Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender

Johanna Blakley talks about the demographic profiling used by traditional media and the advertising industry, and how online communities and social media may bring an end not only to false demographic targeting but also to gender stereotypes in mainstream media.

Social media and the end of gender

(Image: nkzs, via

How Will Social Captchas Affect Facebook Connections?

Facebook is experimenting with enhancing security around user accounts through a socially-enabled login process. Essentially, instead of seeing disguised words, users will see photos of their “friends” and be asked to identify them.

This new mechanism, PC Magazine tells us, will only be shown if Facebook detects unusual activity on your account (for example, logging in in one place then logging in a thousand miles away shortly thereafter). However, the introduction of socially-enabled sign-ins like this raises an interesting question that arose when I chatted with Paull Young last week:

What effect will social captchas have on people who accept anyone’s friend requests?

What about the Scobles, the Shankmans, the Calicanises (sp?)? When you have 5,000 friends on Facebook and you know a small fraction of them, what chance do you stand when faced with trying to identify them in order to log on to the most popular site on the Internet?

My sense is that if social captchas do become more widespread, we’ll see three things:

  1. Built-in options to allow people to narrow the set of their friends who are considered for the captchas
  2. Fewer people accepting friend requests from random strangers
  3. More ‘connectors’ and ‘a-listers’ pushing random requests to separate Facebook Pages

What’s your take? Will social captchas change the way people approach connecting to others on Facebook?

Don’t Put All Your Social Media Eggs In One Basket

So, a rumour says that Yahoo is  shutting down Deliciousor not. Cue a mass exodus as many people, including myself, look for ways to back-up thousands of bookmarks they’ve saved over the years. They also look to backup their photos on Flickr, as people realize that site may not be a sure thing after all.

Meanwhile, Facebook rolls out revamped Page layouts for brands… and then rolls them back, after first taking their site down for a while.

Both of these situations in the last week illustrate one thing:

It’s risky to put all of your eggs in one basket, especially if you don’t own that basket.

Not surprisingly, when the new Page layouts briefly launched last week, the first reaction of many of my surprised colleagues and developer friends was something along the lines of “oh, crap.”


Because this is one of the busiest times of year for many brands. Because many companies have campaigns in market over the run-up to the holidays, and any change in layout or functionality runs the risk of breaking or severely hindering the effectiveness of those promotions.

Many people seemed to share the sentiment of my friend Jeremy Wright, who tweeted:

FB has a fundamental responsibility to not disrupt their platform the week before Xmas.

I don’t blame him – companies are sinking big money into Facebook nowadays. It’s not just a free tool – it’s a key part of marketing activities for many brands (and has long since ceased to be free for many given application development and media buy costs).

These two situations serve to reinforce a point I often make nowadays:

Third-party social media tools have many advantages. However, you don’t own them. You don’t own the posts on them; you don’t own the design, the layout or the functionality; you don’t own the data held by them. In short, you don’t control them.

That’s why you shouldn’t throw all of your social media eggs into someone else’s basket.


  • Spread it around. If resources permit, incorporate multiple sites into your approach. Integrate.
  • Own your hub. David Armano says that 2010 was the year that you went where the people were; 2011 will be the year where social functionality makes websites fashionable once again. Create your own social hub and control it. Control the design; control the paths you point people down; control the data; control the functionality.
  • Use third-party sites, but be conscious that they might not always be around… or keep their rules the same. If your site relies exclusively on Facebook’s Open Graph for sign-ins, for example, then Facebook going down must be pretty traumatic.

(Image: Shutterstock)

Facebook Strategies: Content Over Creative

Are you focusing your Facebook investment in the right place?

The immensely smart Jay Baer directed my attention to research conducted by Jeff Widman of Brand Glue, who found that 99.5% of comments on his clients’ status updates come from peoples’ newsfeeds, not from the pages themselves.

Interesting, right? As Jay notes, this means that a lot of effort which is expended on customizing fan pages on Facebook is, frankly, wasted.

The first time that people come to your page is absolutely the most critical. They’re not going to keep coming back for the sake of coming back. So, your job #1 as a steward of your brand’s Facebook page is to draw people to your page and maximize your conversion rate of visits to “likes.” Beyond that point, investment in “ongoing” features for pages may be money down the drain.

The continued rise of Facebook community managers

This shines the light firmly on community managers as the key to Facebook success for brands. As with so many other aspects of social media, it’s not all about having a flashy, creative, well-designed page layout. It’s not about dazzling people with creative gadgets. Success on Facebook depends on companies  providing interesting, valuable content that engages people through their home base on Facebook.

Facebook itself doesn’t make things easy for brands. Well, to be more specific, it doesn’t make things easy for brands who provide mediocre content. You see, Facebook doesn’t treat all content equally. The site uses an algorithm to prioritize content based on both recency and on engagement with that content. The key, then, with Facebook content, is to ensure that the things you’re posting actually drives people to interact with it rather than passively consume it. To do the latter is to ensure that the content appears in few peoples’ streams and is soon relegated to just appearing on your wall for the 0.5% of people who may interact there.

This isn’t universally true, of course. Specific initiatives can draw people to engage directly on your page (contests, for example). However, that kind of interaction isn’t sustainable from either side of the equation.

The rise of spacial marketing

My colleague Steve Rubel has begun to talk recently about a new dimension we need to add to our digital engagement: time. In an age of Twitter streams and Facebook news feeds, it’s no longer enough to post the right content in the right place. We need to post it at the right time, too.

Mashable yesterday featured research conducted by Vitrue into the days and times that Facebook users are most active. As they summarize:

  • The three biggest usage spikes tend to occur on weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ET.
  • The biggest spike occurs at 3:00 p.m. ET on weekdays.
  • Weekday usage is pretty steady, however Wednesday at 3:00 pm ET is consistently the busiest period.
  • Fans are less active on Sunday compared to all other days of the week.

To maximize our effectiveness, we need to take data like this and optimize our timing even further to reflect the activity pattern of our own community.

Shift your budget

The bottom line is that many marketers on Facebook are paying insufficient attention to content design while paying undue attention to creative design. While look and feel does matter, instead of spending the bulk of your budget on custom design and widgets, consider splitting that budget differently, with more of a focus on:

  • Converting people from visitors to fans – optimize your page; use tools like Kontagent to test and tweak your apps to get the best possible results
  • Effective community management – generating genuinely useful content and interacting with people in the community over the long term, and driving towards your objectives

Do you agree? How do you approach your Facebook activity?

Do Facebook Fans Really “Like” You?

They like you, but do they really like you?

I just returned from Podcamp Montreal, where I attended several thought-provoking sessions which I’ll write about over the next little while. One of those touched on an interesting question:

If someone “likes” your company on Facebook but hasn’t tried your product, what is that worth?

Not in terms of dollars, but in broader terms.

Are they really worth anything if they just like your ad, or promotion, or even your outreach, but haven’t tried your product or service? Is a fan of your marketing really worth anything?

On one hand, you could point to reports showing a correlation between Facebook fans and higher spending on products they “like.” The report above also indicate people are more likely to recommend those products to their friends.

The question is, though, is that connection just a correlation or is it actually causality?

  • Does liking something on Facebook cause you to spend more on a products and talk about them more?
  • Do people who would do that anyway search out the Facebook pages to like them because they’re such fans of the products?
  • Are some people just enjoying your marketing efforts?

I would suggest that while this would actually be very useful to know, there is actually value in all three of these scenarios.

If the people liking something on Facebook then recommend the product more and buy it more, then the benefits are clear, and your challenge becomes how to continuously engage them while recruiting more people.

If people like something because they already buy and recommend the product more than other people, then Facebook becomes a useful retention mechanism for your business.

If people like something because they just like the marketing, that puts them much higher up the CRM cycle, so you then have the task of moving them further along the funnel over time.

Of course, the odds are that a page’s Facebook fans comprise all three groups (and more). However, knowing that breakdown still matters – that’s where the community manager and the type of activities undertaken to drive new fan acquisition comes in.

What do you think?