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This post originally appeared on TweakYourBiz.Com

Many companies are afraid of social media…. some are afraid of being involved, some are afraid of not being involved. Which is worse?

Anyone who has seen the socialnomics video has probably been persuaded that social media is important for business, both B2B and B2C. Unfortunately some companies get caught up in a panic and jump in without having any strategy or plan of action in mind. This leads to problems.

There is little worse than a Facebook page that is unmonitored – fans clamouring for attention and none being given. The key is in the name – social media. You need to be involved with your audience – you wouldn’t go to a seminar, put on a slideshow and then ignore the audience would you? So why ignore them online?

If you’re lucky enough to have an interested audience who is willing to engage with you, then you need to appreciate them and respond to their queries and concerns. Ignoring questions on social platforms is far worse for your image than having no presence at all; no presence is not great, it shows you’re not in touch with the new way people are doing business, but having a presence and ignoring people shows you don’t care about them at all – a far worse message to send.

A Tale Of Transformation

There is a skincare brand that I am particularly fond of; it’s an English brand started by two women on the Isle of Wight back in 1995. The brand has always projected an image of integrity, quality and, despite their growth, friendliness and caring. In my experience their telephone customer service is second to none (half the time you feel like having a cup of tea and a chat with the customer service rep – they are that friendly). But for some reason when they branched into social media none of this translated.

They had a Facebook page and a Twitter account; the Twitter account had very little interaction and on Facebook they were largely ignoring their fans. It was all broadcasting and no engagement. On one particular day there was a backlash against a post the company had placed on Facebook. The backlash went on for hours and hours without any comment from the company. It was quite clear that they were not paying any attention.

The error of their ways was brought to their attention however, and one year later the brand’s online presence is unrecognisable from what it was. They are now engaging properly with their community and responding to queries and answering questions. They are actively checking Twitter to see who is talking about them and responding to people.

The company has now matched its virtual reputation with its real life reputation. No mean feat, but if one company can do it, everyone can.

Marketing Takeaway

Even if you jumped into social media without a plan and have let it flounder, it’s not too late. Grab the bull by the horns, draw up a proper plan of action and go all guns blazing for the rest of 2012. It’s not too late to be great online….

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facebook iconIf you’ve logged into Facebook recently you’ll have been greeted with a lot of change. In the last week they have rolled out the following:

  • Subscriptions;
  • Smart lists;
  • Top news; and
  • Ticker.

I previously wrote a post on Google+ and the great features it contained that I felt had been lacking in Facebook. Then last month I wrote a post on how Facebook had rolled out some changes in response to the competition from Google+ and Twitter.

But now, only a few weeks later, here are yet more changes. It would seem that the arrival of Google+ has kicked innovation into high-gear in Facebook with developers pushing out Facebook’s answer to some of the popular Google+ features, as well as some brand new features as well.

Nothing like a bit of competition to make people up their game!

Subscriptions

Facebook says the new subscribe button can be used to:

1.    Choose what you see from people in News Feed.
2.    Hear from people, even if you’re not friends.
3.    Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends.

The first use can be particularly handy if some of your friends play Farmville a lot, as you can choose to just not see these updates any more.

The subscribe button also allows you to follow someone you are not friends with – similar to following someone on Twitter. The user e.g. President Obama, has to enable subscriptions on his account, but once this has been done anyone can subscribe to follow Obama’s news feed and anything that he posts publicly will show in subscribers’ news feeds.

This is somewhat similar to liking a Facebook Page, however Pages are supposed to be for businesses, brands or products only (although there’s a lot of misuse), so the subscribe button now allows you to follow people as well.

Friend Lists and Smart Lists

Facebook has also rolled out improved lists.

There are smart lists which you probably saw immediately when you logged in. These are created automatically based on something you have in common with a group of friends e.g. the city you live in or the university you went to.

You will also have close friends and acquaintances lists which separates your best friends from those you’re not as close to, allowing you to catch up with your closest friends quickly through one list. The lists are empty so you need to populate them yourself and from now on if you friend someone you will have to decide whether they are a close friend or an acquaintance straight away – however people will not know which list you have placed them in.

Any lists you have created yourself will now also be easier to access, as you can just add them to your favourites and they will show up in the left sidebar.

The lists are all completely optional, but as someone who was using the previous, clunkier version of lists, I find the new set up much nicer and easier to use.

Top News

Just announced today the news feed will now show you top news based on what has happened since you last logged into Facebook. So if it’s been a week you will see a summary of the top stories first…

but if its only been a few hours you’ll see the most recent news…

All top stories now feature a blue corner on them.

Real-Time Friend Activity

Also announced today is the ticker which shows up in the top right corner of the screen and shows your friends’ activity in real time, including their comments on other people’s status messages. To see more details simply hover over the update.

Change Is Good

There has been a lot of grumbling about all these recent changes, but I think people forget that Facebook is a free service, and no one is forcing them to use it.  Facebook is changing in response to its competition, and also in response to requests from users, all in an effort to give us a better experience…sure sometimes they get it wrong, but at least they’re trying to evolve and improve, and not just standing still!

Watch Facebook’s Video On The Changes

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Top 5 Reasons Your Company Should Have A Facebook PageI recently wrote about why a company should have a facebook page instead of a profile – however I noticed that many people visiting the blog had been searching for reasons why their company should have a Facebook page at all.

 

So in this follow up blog post I highlight 5 main reasons for having a company Facebook page.

 

1.  Reach

 

  • There are 600 million users on Facebook (nearly twice the population of  the US);
  • 50% of users login every day;
  • The average user spends 55 minutes on Facebook every day;
  • 70% of Facebook users are located outside the US; and
  • Facebook is available in 70 different languages.

 

It is therefore highly unlikely that none of your target demographic or customers are using Facebook. So by clinging to the excuse that your “customers aren’t on Facebook” and not having a company page, you are missing out on an opportunity to reach both your current and potential customers.

 

2. Engage

 

Facebook offers an important way to engage with your fans on a platform of their choosing.

 

It also allows you communicate on a less formal level; you can discuss news items relevant to your industry or upcoming events, as well as answering direct queries or highlighting particular products or services.

 

Remember however, that Facebook is a completely different platform to Twitter, so don’t set up your tweets to auto publish to Facebook. A high frequency of tweets is important to get yourself seen in the Twitter news feed as generally people on Twitter follow so many people. However on Facebook you should keep the posts to once or twice a day, enough to allow yourself show up in your fans’ news feed but without annoying them by high jacking their entire feed.

 

3. Track

 

Facebook allows you insight into your fans in a way a website just isn’t able to.

 

By using the analytics available through Facebook pages you can see your fans broken down by gender, age, location and languages.

 

You can track your fans interactions with your page to see likes, comments and daily active users allowing you to see which of your posts provoke the most interaction and therefore post more similar items in the future to encourage even more interaction.

 

4. Target

 

You can run adverts which are much more highly targeted than those available on other platforms.

 

Facebook adverts allows you to target specific people based on gender, age, location, education and interests. So for example, if you run a cocktail bar with a ladies night special you might target those who have ‘liked’ Sex & The City or Gossip Girl.

 

Adverts can be used for anything from simply announcing your page and inviting people to like you, to drawing attention to a special offer or inviting people to an upcoming event.

 

5. Search Rank

 

One of the most important reasons however is the impact on SEO (search engine optimisation).

 

As Facebook pages are public they are indexed by the search engines. And, as the search engines have now advised that they are treating ‘social signals’ such as comments, fan numbers, likes etc. as indicators of importance, the more active you are on these social platforms, the better your chance of ranking above your competitors in the search results, meaning more web traffic and more potential customers.

 

 

So what are you waiting for? Go get your company a Facebook page!

 

 

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facebook iconOn Facebook people have Profiles and organisations, brands and businesses have Pages.

Why?

1. IT’S IN THE FACEBOOK RULES

According to Facebook’s Terms of Service,

Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while Pages allow an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook.

If Facebook discovers you are violating their terms by having an organisation’s page up on Facebook as a Profile they can delete your account and you would lose all your friends, postings etc.

2. PRIVACY FOR YOUR FANS

If you have a profile for your business you may find less people will chose to ‘add as a friend’, because if they do it means they are giving you access to their profile page including comments, friend lists, photos etc.

Although there are some options for people to set up different privacy lists, to allow them be your friend without allowing you access to their full profile, it can be complicated and so most fans won’t want to go down this route. It’s a lot of hassle and probably not worth it for them.

But if you have a Page for your business, allowing fans to ‘like’ you, then they are not giving you access to the activity on their profile page.

3. PAGES OFFER ANALYTICS

Unlike Profiles, Pages offer analytics, allowing you to see how many likes and comments you received each day, as well as demographic breakdowns.

This data will allow you to better understand your fan base and therefore post wall posts which will get the best reaction.

4. UNLIMITED FANS

Profiles have a limit of 5,000 friends.

Pages have no upper limit.

5. SEO CREDIT

Pages offer the means to embed a Like button on any webpage you maintain. So when you post an article on your company blog you can embed the Facebook Like button.

The advantage of this is that likes are now being taken into account by search engines in a way that links are, so by having fans like your Page and your content, you are allowing SEO credit to be passed onto your website from Facebook which will improve your rankings in the search engines.

6. MULTIPLE ADMINISTRATORS

By setting up a Page you can have multiple administrators maintain the Page.

Pages are not separate Facebook accounts and do not have separate logins, but those with personal Facebook pages can administer them from their own account.

Those who choose to connect to your Page won’t be able to see that you are the Page admin or have any access to your personal account.

Still not convinced? Reread reason one.


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