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Are Publishing Tools Harming Facebooks Edgerank or is it Smoke & Mirrors?

5 Sep

Edgerank

Often I am asked that if by using a 3rd party publishing tool to schedule and publish posts to Facebook will it decrease the overall reach of the published post? Some users are saying that they have data that suggests that they get better reach and engagement by publishing directly from the Facebook platform and that the edgerank (Facebooks newsfeed algorithm for displaying content) is harmed if using an outside tool.  In other words, is Facebook punishing me for using something other than Facebook for publishing my posts? 

Lets dive into what the magical Facebook “edgerank” means to you.  

When we speak of edgerank we are really referring to the newsfeed algorithm that Facebook uses in determining what content appears in their users news feeds. Your news feed is prime real estate for brands wishing to share their message with you and the newsfeed algorithm is what determines what content makes it to your feed. The key takeaway here is that this algorithm helps determine what you are most likely to find useful and relevant specifically to you. If this algorithm didn’t exist then your news feed would consist of nothing but marketing noise from all those pages you haphazardly liked.

There are three factors that play into how edgerank is determined but first lets identify what is considered an “edge”.

Every status update, like, share, comment, tagging of a post, uploading an image and basically any type of content or interaction is considered an “edge”.  Facebook looks at all of these edges in a users news feed and uses the algorithm to determine which edges are the most important to you. 

This newsfeed algorithm uses a combination of three magical items in determining what content is of utmost importance to you.  

  1. Affinity – The score between the viewing user and edge creator, in other words the relationship between you and the creator of a piece of content.
  2. Edge Weight – The types of edges have varying weights to them or importance. For instance all photos, videos and links seem to garner the most engagement and therefore carry a greater weight in determining an edgerank score. Simply put these published items are more likely to be interacted when compared to a basic status update.  Edge weight also seems to have a snowball effect, meaning that as a post grows in comments, likes and shares it becomes more weighted and more likely to appear higher in the news feed.
  3. Time Decay  – Time decay factor is based on how long ago the edge was created. Basically, something newer is more likely to appear in a newsfeed then something older.

Something to remember is that while we do our best to analyze and identify the governing factors regarding this newsfeed algorithm the simple fact is that this is proprietary to Facebook and they really keep all of this behind the curtain. Facebook can choose to push something higher in a users newsfeeds for no other reason then them wanting to do so.  I warned you that this stuff was magical.

Smoke and Mirrors

So on to the question at hand, are the posts you make via a 3rd party publishing tool being punished by Facebook? The answer is, well, magical as well.

 These publishing tools are designed to help streamline publishing efforts within your organization across a multitude of social networks. Many of these tools allow you to creating engaging fan content such as custom tab design and contests, allow for better scheduling and publishing of updates, uploading content in bulk, repurposing older content and even measuring your social analytics beyond what the network offers you natively.

Looking at the following scenario you are using a publishing tool to schedule and publish status updates to your Facebook page(s) about a special event that you are having in roughly a months time. Thankfully you have purchased a tool that allows you to easily create a post and schedule it to go out on every Friday at 2pm leading up to your big event. 

Week 1 – You find that your post is successful you have great fan engagement and your post reach is very high.

Week 2 – You have some engagement but not nearly as much reach as the previous week. 

Week 3 – The results are pathetic you have no engagement or reach from your post. This causes you to take to Facebook and create another post about your event and like magic, your reach is better then what you received from weeks two and three combined. You immediately call your vendor and exclaim that the tool sucks and Facebook penalizes posts from it.

Week 4 – You forget you have this one scheduled and it goes out further diminishing how the newsfeed algorithm sees posts from this particular 3rd party tool.

So What Gives?

The edgerank algorithm over time saw your posts becoming less engaging to fans so it learned that when it sees a post that has been published via (insert any 3rd party publisher) to your Facebook page it figures that the content isn’t going to be very engaging to fans so it shows it to a lesser audience. Reach is diminished.

This is just one of many scenarios that could be effecting how Facebook is seeing your posts. We are quick to blame the technology when something goes awry but often it is the short cuts that technology affords us that causes us to be careless and lazy with our content.

 Features such as scheduling content in bulk, publishing to many pages and networks at once and repurposing old posts are all features that can be helpful when utilized properly but harmful if your not taking the time to craft your messages appropriately.  

 The moral of the story, technology tools allow you to move quickly and be more efficient with your social marketing efforts but you might just shoot yourself in the foot if your not careful. Create original, genuine and helpful content for your fans to engage with each and every time. Learn how to use these tools effectively and do not just look for the shortcuts that some may provide within their feature set. It may take you a bit longer to plan your content but the benefits will far outweigh the negatives in the long run. 

By – Adam Lazzara

How Does Your Company Handle Change in Social Media?

11 May

Cross Roads of Social Media

The concept of social media remains the same; leverage your networks to introduce content that creates engagement and encourages sharing of that content. It’s a basic premise but often gets complicated due to the changes that happen in this fast paced and ever changing landscape of social media.

How does your company handle and react to change?

At the crossroads where business and social media intersect, change happens fast. Technology changes, social networks change and new platforms emerge that all change how fans interact with their favorite brands online.

How quickly a company can adapt and integrate these changes are paramount to their long-term social media marketing success. Companies both large and small who are actively engaging in social media must find a way keep pace with this change curve.  

As companies navigate these social media waters industry leaders emerge but it’s often the companies who can quickly adapt and integrate with new changes that allow them to stay nimble and keep pace with change.

Here are some examples of change:

Established and existing platforms will change.

Facebook recently made changes to the entire way businesses present themselves and how they interact with their fans via the new timeline functionality.  

New and emerging platforms emerge, quickly. 

Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are such a huge success that companies must now incorporate new ideas using these platforms into their current social media strategy.

The technology you use change

As social networks change so do the technology vendors that empower you to get the most out of all your social channels.  These social media management systems often have to quickly adapt to these changes and implement new and innovative ways for brands to utilize these system and leverage these social media networks to their advantage.

Its human nature to become comfortable in a routine and any change that gets introduced immediately is viewed as a negative. Instead of viewing these as a negative, learn and try to understand what these new changes bring to the table. By embracing change, your company can adapt quickly and learn to use any changes to your advantage. 

By – Adam Lazzara

Don’t Send Poorly Timed Tweets For Your Brand!

26 May

Social Media Messages

Being new here in Atlanta I like to track local businesses such as bars, restaurants, shops and basically any local business in the area that is attempting to use social media in their day to day communications with their fans and followers. It’s Just my way of getting acquainted with the digital network in here in the south, also it’s the part social media geek in me that is curious as to how business are approaching social media for their marketing efforts.

I have made some discoveries over 60 days of listening; I have seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I am going to speak a bit about the ugly, quite frankly it’s irritating to me when I see it, and much like nails on a chalkboard I cringe at ill-timed social media messaging.

I will not call out any names, I’m not writing this to be damaging to any local Atlanta business so I will refrain from names, that and one of the worst examples of social media comes from my favorite bar. Sigh…

Timing of your social messaging is crucial and it’s quite simplistic when you think about it. We have come to an era where the first thing that we do once we wake up while we are still lying in our beds is to reach over and grab our phone to check our social networks.  Don’t lie, I know you do. So riddle me this why at 8am would I ever want to see a tweet on how delicious your chicken fingers are? This is a poorly timed automated scheduled tweet from a local sports bar. Two quick points, first its 8 am, and the last thing on my mind is chicken fingers and second thing is that they are not even that good. I’ve had them, it was just aite for me dawg. (That was my best Randy Jackson)

I know these are automated tweet because they happen every morning at 8:04am and are published through a tool called Social Oomph. I also know that an agency runs their social media efforts, I didn’t look into my crystal ball to figure this one out I just notice the same businesses sending out the same tweets via the same publisher (Social Oomph) at the same time with the same ill-timed marketing message.

Be very aware when the time is appropriate to send out social your social messages, even the larger worldwide brands I have seen make this mistake with their social messaging. You just need to be conscious of your communications with your fans and followers  and remember not to always be slamming marketing messages down your follower’s throats, “Have you tried our delicious Chicken Fingers?” not only is that message un-imaginative it’s just flat out lame, especially at 8am. Now if you are a coffee shop, its perfect timing to be talking about coffee but at 9pm, not so much

Know your audience and know when the right time is for them to think about your product or service. Don’t make assumptions and certainly do not let your agency make assumptions on your behalf. You wouldn’t tweet to a group of vegetarians that you serve half pound hamburgers would you?

And to whomever the agency is that is out there scheduling these tweets for all of their clients at the same time, come’on man!  Follow Me: @AtlantaSnoop

Why Your Business Needs Foursquare

11 May

foursquare

All things overheard about the insanely popular location based check-in social network Foursquare

  • Foursquare is stupid.
  • Foursquare is pointless
  • There is no value for my business
  • I don’t get why people want to check in

These are all things that come from people that don’t understand the business benefit of encouraging people to “check in” to their business.  

First the facts:

  • Users: Over 8 million worldwide, adding around 35,000 new users each day
  • Check-ins per day: Over 2.5 million, with over half a billion check-ins in the last year
  • Businesses: Over 250,000 using the Merchant Platform (more information at foursquare.com/business)

So now that we have the objection “nobody uses it out of the way” lets address how it can be helpful for your business.

Foursquare allows friends to “friend” you on their application so that they can keep tabs on all the great locations that you go. Foursquare users also have the ability to link their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts so that once they “check in” somewhere they can also share that with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  This allows the Foursquare user to exponentially increase the reach of who is viewing their “check in”. 

Let us picture an example for a moment; you are a local ice cream shop with a special on Foursquare that once you check in you can get an ice cream cone for a dollar. That’s an awesome special and I want an ice cream cone for a buck so I check in and share with my friends that I am enjoying an awesome double chocolate chunk ice cream cone. My buddy who is sitting at home staring at Facebook sees that I just checked in and now he knows where he is going tomorrow, the local ice cream shop for an ice cream cone for a buck.

This also works if you’re a major national brand such as Tasti D-Lite. Foursquare has allowed them to reach a demographic that they otherwise were not reaching. They found that the typical Foursquare user demographic for Tasti D-Lite is a young thrifty male that will visit more frequently then their core demographic which is predominately female.

Foursquare can open doors to help you reach a new customer demographic and bringing new customers through your doors is always welcome. 

Follow Me: @AtlantaSnoop

Don’t Leave New Fans Stranded on Your Facebook Page

20 Apr

Flip Burger Atlanta

While I appreciate your attempt to be socially engaging with your brand you haven’t really done anything to be socially engaging. Indulge me for a moment.

As I am sure you already know, its all the rage these days to build an engaging Facebook page if you plan to cultivate a following and rightfully so. Taking advantage of the tools that are out there to help you create a fancy Facebook page makes sense for your company and your fans.  But whatever you do, don’t leave your fans stranded on your page with nowhere to go or nothing to engage in.

Let us use Flip Burger here in Atlanta as our case in point and let me add this as a disclaimer, I love this restaurant. Seriously, they are amazing if you are looking for an incredible burger and shake but lets break down their Facebook page for a minute.

When you visit the page you see this wonderful image of one of their killer milkshakes prompting you to like their page and “sign up and join the conversation”.  Ok, sounds good right? Click on that “like” button notice NOTHING happening? I’m stranded on their Facebook page with nothing to do, I was ready to sign up and join the conversation. Hell, it doesn’t even take me to their wall, I’m stuck looking at this picture of a milkshake. I liked the page and nothing happened, what gives? This is a missed opportunity for Flip Burger; at the very least they could have captured my information once I clicked that like button. After all I was ready to sign up.

So what am I rambling about?

What I am referring to is what I call “Fan Gating” your page. Creating an image, similar to the one you see on the Flip Burger page that is designed to prompt a user to click that magical little like button. Once that user clicks “Like”, that image should be replaced or “turn over” to display some sort of exclusive engaging content for that new fan.  What we are doing is saying to our potential fans, “hey like us and check out something really cool” or “like our page and we will give you an exclusive coupon to redeem”. In the case of Flip Burger, according to their “sign up and join the conversation” message, that page should of flipped over and displayed some sort of sign up form. It could be a sign up for a mailing list, a coupon, a giveaway or really anything else they would like to offer. This way at the very least they are capturing that users information for future marketing efforts.

Here is the Flip Burger page:

http://www.facebook.com/flipburgerboutique

vs.

A proper fan gated page by The Milwaukee Motorcycle Clothing Company

http://www.facebook.com/MilwaukeeMotorcycleClothingCompany

As I said this is a missed marketing opportunity but nonetheless an awesome burger and shake, if you’re in Atlanta I suggest you get there, NOW.

Building the Proper Facebook Audience for Social Media Success

18 Apr

So you have taken your talents to Facebook to build an epic fan following in hopes of finding potential customers and engaging current customers. Excellent. Let us just assume that you have filled out all the appropriate info, uploaded all of your pretty company pictures and even told your co-workers to “like” your page in an effort to get 25 “likes” so that you can get your vanity URL.

What now?

It’s time to build a following of mass proportions to share your company message with the world. 

But how to get fans always seems to be the magic question and far too often somebody comes up with the idea of an ill targeted giveaway. How many times have you seen this? “Like my page and you could win an iPod or an iPad”. Swarms of people jump at the chance to click the like button for your page in hopes of winning that sweet new iPad.  Your chest swells with pride as you have just taken your page from 25 “likes” to over 1000 overnight. Ah, the power of Apple.  

A job well done smells like success, right? Ehh, not so fast…

Congratulations you have just baited people into “liking” a page. If it is shear numbers that you seek then yes, you have done something very successful. However, if you are a company that has a particular audience to market your goods or services to then you really haven’t done yourself any favors with this attempt at gaining fans.

Consider this, you are a bait and tackle company that sells high end fishing equipment. You are giving away a chance to win a brand new iPad 2 and to enter simply “like” the page. My Aunt Elaine has decided that she wants to be in the running for the new iPad she has been hearing so much about so she “likes” your page. You just got a fan, but one problem, my Aunt Elaine hasn’t fished a day in her life nor does she ever intend to.  

Your giveaway is casting a very wide net, pun intended. The people your catching in that net have little or no desire to hear about your fishing company, gear, bait, fishing tips, stories etc. Eventually they will unlike your company, simply hide your posts from their feed or just flat out pretend that you do not exist. This is not the desired effect in building your social media audience that you had originally intended.

The desired audience that were hoping to attract would be people who have an all round interest in fishing. These are the people that could potentially purchase goods or services from your high-end fishing company. So how do we attract those people? Here is an idea, if you gave away a $100 gift certificate to your fishing store and all you had to do was “like” the Facebook page to enter, I assure you that my Aunt Elaine has no interest in liking your page to potentially win a $100 in fishing tackle. That is a good thing; after all she isn’t the target audience for your business.

Remember it’s not about gaining mass amounts of fans; it is about the gaining the proper audience. Ask yourself would you rather have 1000 fans that can have a wide variety of interests and maybe one of them is fishing or would you rather have 100 fans that you know are fishing enthusiasts? Logic tells you to take the 100 fans of fishing as these are the folks that want to hear your stories, get your fishing tips and look at new fishing gear that they can purchase from your store.

Come up with ways to properly target your audience like this and with time you will begin to see social media success. You will be connecting and engaging in conversations with people who are passionate about fishing. Improperly target your audience and you will be wasting your time talking AT people who have no interest in hearing what you have to say.  Social media will work for you but you must properly define the people that you are looking to reach. 

Local Business – Are You Sure You Created a Facebook Business Page?

12 Apr

Facebook Profiles Vs. Business Pages.

This one goes out to all those small business types that are jumping into social media. First of all, good for you! It is a great for you to connect with the people who are actually walking in and out of your establishment. It is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to hyper-local marketing.

The term “Hyperlocal” is characterized by two major elements.

1)    Events, news, and happenings are all located within a well-defined target area.

2)    Content is intended primarily for people who are located in that area, it is a very defined target.

Example: You are a generic local bar; you have a few TV’s and three beers on tap in your establishment. Your market is the people who live nearby who can easily get to your bar for a cold one. That is your hyper-local community, your neighbors.

The beautiful thing about hyper-local social media is that it is going to allow you to connect and target those people who are your current customers as well as potential nearby customers.

There are a number of things that you need to do to market yourself properly to your hyperlocal community but the number one mistake that I see is the first thing that everyone does. They Create a Facebook profile page instead of creating a “Like-able” business page. Facebook profile pages are meant for individuals and NOT businesses. In fact, it is actually a violation of the Terms of Service.

From the Facebook Terms of Service:

“Facebook profiles are meant to represent a single individual. Organizations of any type are not permitted to maintain an account under the name of their organization”

If you have to add a friend instead of having somebody “Like” your business then you have screwed up.  You have a profile page, you need to have a business page, you are going to want people to “Like” your business and it is essential in targeting your hyperlocal community if you want to do this right.

What’s the difference? Many, but for starters and it’s a big one, you are limited to 5000 friends and your business page is unlimited to the amount of “Likes” it can receive. You want as many people to “Like” your business as possible right? So why stop at 5,000? Besides, one morning you may wake up and go to post that you are having a 2 for 1 special tonight at the bar you are running and you discover your profile is gone. You have violated the terms of service (TOS) and Facebook reserves the right to eliminate your profile once they discover that you are a business and not a individual.

Fortunately, if you have been tirelessly building your friends on Facebook and your reading this thinking that you are eventually going to be screwed, Facebook has recently allowed you to convert a profile page into a business page so there is hope for you after all.

Convert your profile to a page here: http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=19691

Please keep in mind that this is meant for people who intended to create a business page and instead created a profile page for their business. If you are not running a business do not just arbitrarily convert your personal profile page into a business page as some people have done. This has resulted in people losing a ton of their personal Facebook data.

Key takeaway: Facebook profiles are for individual people and Facebook business pages are for organizations and businesses. 

Follow Me: @AtlantaSnoop

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