The Upside to the New Timeline Changes to Facebook Pages

20 Apr

April 1st 2012 was the day the entire landscape of how Facebook pages were presented to fans changed.  Several months prior personal profile pages switched to what is called a timeline view allowing users to create milestones or life events for things such as engagements, weddings and even those little additions to the family.  Many speculated for some time that this change was coming to business pages but what they didn’t see coming was Facebook removing the ability to send a potential new fan to a default landing tab that often prompted the user to click the “like” button to access some sort of exclusive content. Such a small sacrifice for huge benefits.

We can now build and engage a true and genuine fan base

How many likes could you get was the name of the game but seemingly nobody paid attention to the type of fan that was clicking “like”. Let’s go old school for a moment, you wouldn’t send a piece of mail that was meant for athletes to folks over the age of 60 would you? Yet, brands grabbed as many likes as they could regardless of the demographic resulting with lots of fans but no engagement.

To further this think of this example:

Congrats you just got a new fan but that new fan just happens to be my mom and you happen to be an outdoor sporting goods company. Trust me when I tell you that this is not the demographic you are looking for, she never has nor ever will buy any sort of sporting good item but she found your fan page and clicked “like” because you said if she did she might win an iPad.

You may not realize it yet but Facebook has done us all the favor of eliminating the gimmicky landing tab used to gain fans. The type of fan you are looking for is an honest and genuine fan that is using or could potentially be using your product or service.

Deepen the Facebook experience for our fans with technology

Timeline allows you to turn your fans experience on your page from something that was very one dimensional and narrow to an engaging multifaceted experience. To pull it all together it is going to take bit of technology, a proper communication strategy and some paid Facebook ads.

Now that the size of “web apps” (formally known as tabs) moved from the narrow canvas of 520 to the extended canvas of 810, brands can now truly develop a micro site for fans to interact with that will function very much like a regular website.

Social media management systems (SMMS) can provide the technology to make this an easy experience for your social media teams. Gone are the painstaking days of needing a development team to custom code pages by hand. These SMMS technology platforms will now allow a brand manager to create engaging content easily through a drag and drop experience to quickly publish content to their Facebook pages.  By creating web apps for fans to interact with they will be able to capture valuable information on the type of fan that is engaging with their page. Capturing such data will allow them to create specific fan segments for them to re-market to later.

Have a proper communication strategy

Facebook has now created a “link to this tab” URL for us to use to direct fans to this custom content.

Utilizing this URL in your communication strategy across all of your social channels and not just Facebook will be key in driving people to that custom content you have created. Proper communication will play a much larger role now in getting fans and potential fans to these pieces of content for them to engage in.

Capture fan data and use it effectively with technology

Some social media management systems will allow you to collect and retain data on your fans through social CRM. Brands will now be able to organize fans and create “segments” based upon the specific data that is collected.  Data collection can be gathered through building web apps and having fans engage with them.

Example of a custom sign up web app:

Looking at a simple example of using data like this, picture an automobile dealership that sold both Toyota and Honda cars and they used a social media management system that allowed them to create a web app asking their fans what kind of car they preferred, Honda or Toyota.

By collecting this data, the dealership would now be able to create a fan segment that separated the Honda drivers from the Toyota drivers complete with all of their contact information. Having this segmented data they can now remarket to these fans via Facebook ads and even through specific web apps that cater specifically to each segment. It would make sense to display Honda related content to the Honda fans wouldn’t it?

Embrace change

Facebook continues to evolve and it made a natural progression with timeline for business pages and gave brand managers even more tools for building and developing relationships with fans and potential customers.  Collectively we have moved far beyond simply getting a “Like” from a fan and have moved into a world of data, engagement and customer service through social media.

By – Adam Lazzara

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DISH Network Charges us $14,898 for Monthly Service

18 Jan

Dish Network RIP OFF

DISH Network charges us $14,898 and tells us it’s our fault. 

To DISH it’s no big deal. Two charges for $7,499 dollars within a week of each other certainly has to be a mistake right? 

To Dish Network, it’s not a big deal they are just another multi million-dollar company that doesn’t care about their customers. They have overdrawn my girlfriends bank account twice now leaving her with zero dollars. That’s zero dollars, for gas, food, and paying your right. In this case, you can also include moving expenses and buying a new car as that was what we were trying to do before Dish Network continued with their fraudulent charges against our account.

So what happened? A week ago we entered an online payment for a monthly services of $74.49 and DISH Network accepted this as $7,449. Realizing that we did not want to pay DISH over 7 Grand for their already terrible monthly television services we picked up the phone and called them to cancel the charge and pay the correct amount. This is where things get interesting.

Shockingly the first rep told us that it wasn’t their fault and there was nothing to do, call our bank. Ok, so we called the bank, they were equally as shocked to hear what DISH Network told us to do. So we called back in hopes to get another rep that would be more helpful to us instead we got further explanation as to why they could not cancel this pending charge and that we needed to wait the 3+ days for them to reverse the charges.

After going for several days and having several hours of phone calls between the bank and DISH Network the fees were finally reversed. Whew, it was rough having zero dollars in a bank account.

This morning at 6am the bank called, DISH Network has charged our bank account again for $7,499 and now we were overdrawn with a down payment on a new car pending. Not to mention the upcoming moving expenses we have, being overdrawn, everything is bouncing.

Immediately we call DISH Network, the rep reduced my girlfriend to tears as he said that it was not their fault because we messed up in paying them.

So here we are, roughly 7 thousand dollars overdrawn and DISH Network is laughing at us telling us it is our fault.

Please share this story with everyone you can at the very least it will give us peace of mind that their fraudulent actions are being exposed while we wait to legally get our money back. 

PS – On a somewhat laughable note, the DISH rep told us today that we would be required to pay a $10 fee since the funds where not available. Sure ,why not just tack it on our bill whats another ten bucks…

RIP OFF DISH NETWORK

Gamification in Social Media – What is it and why do we LOVE it?

31 Aug

Gamification Social Media Atlanta

Gamification is the concept that you can apply the basic elements that make games fun and engaging to things that typically aren’t considered a game. 

The hot social buzzword of the week is much more then just a temporary fad to make so called social media “experts” sound more eloquent in their efforts to baffle you with their “expertise” they are trying to sell you.

Gamification is not a new concept; most of you are familiar with gamification in the social media world from using the location based check in service Foursquare. Why did we start checking into places and sharing our whereabouts with the world? Why did we abandon privacy to let potential evildoers know that we were not at home? Well, that’s easy; it’s all about getting new badges! Those things are so freaking cool!

Of course getting a new badge is cool but now you need to become the mayor of your favorite places by checking in to them more then anyone else.  In no time you discover that somebody else wants to become the mayor of your favorite coffee shop and now the battle is on, day after day, check in after check in all for the prestigious title of Mayor. The winner? The coffee shop, you have just been there 72 consecutive days buying a cup of coffee and telling all your friends where their coffee shop is…

Ever hear of GetGlue? It allows you to “check in” to things such as TV shows, movies, music, and books as well as allowing you to see what other GetGlue users are doing in real time. With each check-in a user earn points and wins stickers from GetGlue and other major brands that they have partnered with such as HBO. This is all for the love of being rewarded with a sticker, despite the fact that the entire system relies on the honor system seeing that GetGlue has no way of truly verifying what you are watching on TV. Oh yea, as of April 2011 over 1 million people are using this thing.

Gamification has been around a long time and now it’s crashing through social media. Human nature dictates that people naturally want to one up each other, whether it’s on the playground in a basketball game of HORSE or it’s building the better farm in Farmville. People naturally want to progress through something and receive a reward for doing so.  

MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) such of World of Warcraft have players earning all kinds of in game rewards while leveling their character to the maximum allotted level as soon as they can get it done. With a subscriber base of 11 million users, it’s a right of passage for these hard-core gamers to achieve the max they can bring their in game character to and trust me people work very hard at achieving this. It is not uncommon for a player to put in 40 hours a week towards leveling their character. To them it’s much more then a game, it’s an alternative universe and they can dominate there.

Xbox and PS3 now reward gamers with trophies and achievements so players can track their progress and compare how they stack up against fellow gamers. Again, people take this to the extreme to best the other player.

Gamification has been around but its now pushing its way into your social universe.

Social media allows us to share so much more then ever before. We can check in, earn rewards and essentially bait our friends into doing the same thing. Creating engaging items for people to interact with and beat out another user plays into the hands competitive human nature.

We want to win, we want to be the best and while that may not be possible in our day to day real world lives and jobs a virtual world exists and in this world our virtual identity can be a level 70 Undead Rogue or the Foursquare Mayor of all your local favorite places earning you all the respect from the online community that you are active in.

It’s this competition that is reinventing business, marketing and our day to day lives so look for many new ways that major brands will be trying to incorporate gamification into their brand and image. If they get it right, it could be a big game changer for certain brands out there. 

Running Facebook Contests? Want a Higher Entry Rate?

5 Jul

Facebook Requesting Permissions

Chances are if you are reading this then you are either running a contest on Facebook or thinking about running one. Sweepstakes, contests and giveaways are all great ways to attract fans to your brand providing that you are doing the appropriate promotion that caters to the audience you are looking to cultivate. Now that Facebook requires you to run your contests through the use of a 3rd party application there are a couple of items that you need to take into consideration. The first item is selecting the technology or application that you will use to run this contest and the second one is the manner in which contest entries are handled.

These days’ countless companies and individuals are developing applications and technology platforms for usage within Facebook. Some platforms and applications offer extremely robust tools for you to easily create a contest and deliver to your fans. You will have to choose the right technology offering that suits the contest you are looking to run.  Some applications have the ability to allow fans to upload pictures and even videos so that others can vote and select a winner while other applications are much more simplistic only offering the most basic means of contest entry. Whatever the contest may be you need to take one specific factor into consideration: to have your contests require permissions to be authorized or not.

Depending on the technology provider you may not even have this option.

The biggest problem you will see is the drop off when a fan sees that you are asking to “authorize permissions” in order to enter, they will simply back out and choose not to enter the contest at all if they feel their data is being shared. Authorizing permissions is the screen that tells you they data that they will have access to and asks you to “Allow” or “Deny” this access.  If an application is pulling user data through usage of that application then they must disclose the data that they have access to and give you an option to “Allow” or “Deny” this access.

Ever get an email out of the blue and wonder how that particular brand added you to their newsletter since you never signed up for it? There is a good chance that you engaged with that brand on Facebook and authorized permissions through some sort of application that they presented you with.  If you clicked “allow” they may now have your details.

In an age where privacy is a priority, people are paying closer attention to what and whom they are allowing access to online. Many users are becoming more educated on prying eyes and denying these types of 3rd party requests. Your contest entry and engagement will suffer from this as many feel that giving you access to that level of data is unnecessary.

By making sure you select a technology provider that does not require fans to authorize permissions to enter your contest you will get a much higher entry rate into your contests. If you want to collect data from your fans then ask them for it, don’t use a clever app to pull in data from those unsuspecting. Nobody likes receiving things such as newsletters they didn’t ask for. Don’t be a data snake. 

Do You Have a Proper Social Messaging Strategy?

29 Jun

Social Media Communications

The conversation is always about the super cool technology that allows us to do some amazing things in the social media world but all too often we forget to talk about  the appropriate messaging to our fans and followers. You can have the most amazing social media presence but without the proper communications strategy your technology investment will quickly turn itself into an expense.

Let’s look at some of the channels for communication:

Facebook

With the Facebook Edgerank system (Facebook Edgerank and What it Means) it is important to have your fans actively engage with the content that you post.  There is a fine line you have to walk with messaging to your Facebook fans and there is no “one size fits all” type of communication strategy.  But do know this, if you become a trusted advisor to your fans the sales will come. Becoming a trusted advisor is all about becoming a resource for your fan base and that is created with good quality content that others will find valuable.  It is important not to spam your Facebook fans at the risk of turning them off, my preference is for two good quality Facebook updates per day.

Blog

Many people ask why? Some even say that their business doesn’t need it. I say your missing an opportunity to share with potential customers why you are the expert in your field. Every business can have a blog and use it to their advantage. Selling concrete? Blog about the different types of concrete, share with people information about what makes concrete different. Be informative, after all someone out there is looking for information about concrete and this is your chance to stand out and share your expertise with those people.  

Twitter

Harnessed properly it can be very advantageous for your brand. Before you even begin sending tweets search for mentions about your business. Search for mentions about your competition or keywords that are relevant to your industry. Doing so might allow you opportunities to jump into a conversation and provide value. Re-tweet other interesting tweets and share informative content such as blog posts and news articles that you think your followers will find valuable. Reply to people who ask questions about things that are related to your industry or area of expertise but whatever you do don’t jump into a conversation and try selling someone. You want to be a trusted advisor to people and not some used car salesmen, they will appreciate your valuable insight and chances are they will follow your brand.

Proper social messaging is key if you are going to truly harness the power of social media. Remember, even if you have the best social media technology platform to help you the one thing it cannot control is your message, only you can do that. 

Involver & Klout for Cool Kids Only?

27 Jun
Involver, Klout, Audi

Last week Klout and Involver partnered together to do something very interesting on Facebook.

First, you should know what Klout is about. Klout is a tool that measures social influence across the web. The higher the Klout score, the higher the social influence, at least to according to the people at Klout. 

Involver is a social media management system that allows brands to publish, monitor, measure and manage social media content across multiple social networks in one dashboard.

Now that the formal introductions are out of the way here is what they have done.

Klout and Involver have allowed brands to deliver specific content to fans with a specific Klout score. The greater your “Klout” score the more exclusive content from the brand will become available to you. In theory this seems like it could be a rather interesting way to deliver specific content to a fan with a larger social reach than other fans with a smaller social reach.  While the two companies should be applauded for opening this proverbial door of social reach potential there are still some major fundamental problems with it.

Problem #1

The announcement of this partnership came with an example. If you visited the Audi USA Facebook page you were greeted with a message prompting you to “Get your Klout Score and download your Audi Le Mans desktop graphic.” Clicking on this image will prompt you to authorize access to your Klout Score and thus allow you to download the Le Mans graphic image. I wasn’t a fan of Audi before I authorized access and despite allowing Audi access to my Klout Score I wasn’t prompted to “like” the Audi page so I took my Le Mans graphic and ran. Since Audi doesn’t even gain a fan from me authorizing my Klout score there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of value here especially after just giving me an image to download.

Problem #2  

Having a higher Klout score will give me access to “more exclusive” content. So if I am not constantly working on increasing my Klout Score am I not worth it to the brand to give me access to something exclusive? According to Involver “the Klout Coupon App is an innovated way to engage users while targeting your most valuable promotions to your most influential fans.” Again, I guess since I do not spend 12 hours a day tweeting and increasing my Klout score I am not worth receiving that special promotion.  Cool kids only I guess. 

Right now there just doesn’t seem to be much value to this interesting play from Involver and Klout but that doesn’t mean that there wont be.  On one hand the brand really isn’t giving anything away of any value and on the other hand the brand makes itself seem like they will only cater to the really “popular kids.” There is a fine line here that needs to be balanced but I believe with a bit more thought and strategy surrounding it, things can be rather beneficial for both the brand and the fan. Kudos to Involver and Klout for opening this door of social influence now we just have to see if it makes sense for us to step through it.  

Running a Facebook Contest? Don’t Break the 1st Rule

21 Jun

Facebook Ghost Town

Many of you still are putting your company at risk despite the new Facebook policy change regarding contests and sweepstakes.

Many of you reading this are saying, what policy change? Well on May 11th there was a policy change that Facebook announced regarding how contests and sweepstakes are to be run through Facebook. 

How do I know that you have no idea about this policy change you ask? It’s because every day I see a new page that is asking its fans to “Like” or “Leave a Comment” to enter themselves to win something. Shockingly some of them are even major national brands. It’s almost as if your trying to draw the ire of Facebook to see what will happen.  I assure you bad things will happen, things that you are going to have to explain to your boss such as to why your Facebook page with 30k fans has been frozen as Facebook investigates things further.  After all you are breaking the first rule.

1. Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or an app on a Page Tab.

This means that you must use an application to run your contest. It’s a pretty simple premise that either you are not familiar with or just flat out don’t care about. Either way you are putting your company in jeopardy by violating this rule.

I strongly advise that you follow ALL of the promotional requirements that Facebook has established as of May 11th 2011 otherwise your dream job as a community manager may end up not having any community to manage after all. I think you all know what happens to a community manager that has no community to manage, don’t ya? 

Find the new promotions and guidelines change from Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php

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