Archives for Facebook

Facebook Frustrations

Facebook has been going through a lot of changes over the past 6 months. Some have been welcome but many have not. When people talk about not liking the changes, what they ate really talking about is not liking the change in usability. Ever heard the phrase “If it’s not broke don’t fix it.” Well they keep breaking it just to fix it, unfortunately they don’t take it back to the model that worked.

Changes People Liked (for the most part):

  • Timeline Profile
  • Photo-strip on profiles and fan pages
  • New Groups
  • Birthday on side bar
  • Changes People are Neutral on (for the most part):

  • Email upgrade
  • Ability to suggest fan page to all friends
  • Subscribing to friends feeds
  • Changes People Dislike (often passionately):

  • Automatically sorting the newsfeed for highlighted posts
  • Lumping all similar posts into on clump
  • Ineffectiveness of mobile app
  • The last list could actually go on for pages. I picked a few of the most recent issues. The biggest one being the sorting issue. When you go onto Facebook it automatically sorts your feed into “Highlighted Posts” these are posts that Facebook has deemed of most interest by you based on your user activity. Of course this means that you don’t see anyone else other than the high liter few. This also means that if you want to see other people you have to manually search them out. So if you actually want to see all your posts you have to change the sort to “Recent Stories First”. Of course you have to do this every time because the default is not the setting you chose but the setting Facebook chooses, which happens to be the highlighted stories.

    The biggest problem with this is that many people don’t know how to change their sort settings, so they either miss a lot of content or they turn away from Facebook in frustration.

    Facebook needs to turn their development attention back to an easy user experience and stop trying to be like Google and attempt to anticipate your thoughts before you think them.

    How to Give your Page an Edge on Google+

    Now that Google+ Pages has launched you might be asking yourself, do you really need another page for your business?  The answer is yes.  Though there is a lot of debate on whether Google+ is going to be a truly competitive social network for Facebook, there is one area that Facebook cannot compete and that is SEO.

    SEO (search engine optimization) is one of the most powerful tools that Google+ has to offer a business.

    1. When you create a page you are instantly indexed
    2. You are creating more backlinks to your website
    3. Direct Connect – Google’s new way to search online

    Direct Connect is one of the more interesting elements of the SEO boost. It is trying to give pages more visibility in the search engines. Now if someone is searching for you page all they have to do is  add “+” before your business name, ie. “+Your Business “, and they will pull up your page.

    Harnessing Pages for Your Business?

    Lets walk through setting up a basic business page and then we will look at how to give your page an edge.

    Google+ Pages Create a Page1 . Sign up: Go to: http://www.google.com/+/business/

    • Click “Create your Goolge+ Page”
    Google+ Page Categories

    Select your category

    3. Category: Select the main category for your page.

    • Local Business or Place- this is for if you are primarily local or have a physical location.
    • Product or Brand- if you are creating a page for one specific product item or for a brand. Tip: Bloggers this is where you want to be!
    • Company, Institution or Organization- this is the general business category
    • Arts, Entertainment or Sports- anything having to do with these categories, though often these are people like artists and musician or groups of people like a sports team.
    • Other- If you just don’t quite fit anywhere, you can assign your own category. Tip: I don’t really recommend this unless you have to because you are missing out on the “category” search benefit of Google+.

    4. Sub-Category: After you select a main category you will be able to select a sub category that best describes you.

    5. Page Name: Enter in your page name. This is what everyone will see as your page name and how people will find you. Do not make it too complicated and keep it to something that is easy to remember.

    • Though vanity URLs are not currently available, they will not be long in coming and you would rather have plus.google.com/mywebsite than plus.google.com/dontyouwishyourwebsitewerecoollikethis as your URL. Keep it clean and keep it simple!

    6. URL: Enter in the URL for your website.

    7. Age Restriction:You can opt to have age restriction on your page. This is good if you talk about mature issues, alcohol or drugs. The ages restrictions available are 13+, 18+ and 21+.

    Google+ Page Profile Photo

    Your profile image has a square aspect ratio, pick a photo that looks good cropped to a square.

    8. Profile Photo: Your profile photo is your face to the world. You may want to put your logo in here, or a picture of you. But whatever you decide make sure that the picture is square. Unlike Facebook, Google+ Pages give limited real estate to your pic.

    9. Tag Line: This is where you get to put some quick little tid bit about your business. Think of this as your elevator pitch. You want something that describes your page and essentially draws someone into the page. Tip: Give yourself an SEO boost and use keywords in this tag line.

    Once you are done you will be asked if you want to share your page on your Google+ profile. Go ahead and say yes. This is a great way to share your page with your various circles.

    Give Your Page an Edge

    You may be thinking that the set up process was really easy, and wondering why you did not have to fill out a ton of questionnaires about your business, information, description, contact information, etc.  That is because you don’t have to have any of that information on your page. But trust me, you want all that information on your page.

    Once your page is set up, you will want to go view your page profile and start editing information.

    When you click the edit button (a blue button on the top right of your page profile) it allows you to edit nearly all sections of your page.  All you need to do is click on a section to edit.

    Google+ Page Description

    1. Introduction: Write something descriptive about your business. This is your space to make your first real introduction and tell people what you are all about. Make sure you use key words that are related to your brand to given an even bigger SEO boost.
    2. Contact Info: You can add an email address or phone number. To protect your privacy, I recommend just an email address. You don’t necessarily want anyone who can find your page able to call you.
    3. Website: This is where your website URL will be.

    A note on Privacy: you can set the level of visibility as you set up these fields. You can control whether you only want your circles to be able to see this information or if you want it completely public. If you are worried about privacy you should restrict your visibility to “only circles” or even custom circles.  For your website, I recommend leaving this viewable by anyone.

    Linking Relationship

    Google+ offers another way to build good relations with other websites. Like a blog, where you can share your blogroll, you are able to share your recommended links. This is to the right column next to your information. If you have websites that you particularly like or support, this is a great way to share them with your followers. Plus this is a great way to breed good relationships with those websites. If you link someone, make sure you reach out to them and tell them.

    Photo Strip

    Google+ Page Photo Strip

    The photo strip is one of the most powerful visual aids of your page. You can add any photo that you like on this strip, and unlike in Facebook, you can place them in any order you like. All you have to do is upload the photo directly into the Google+ Page Circlephotostip. Once they are loaded you can drag and drop them into any position you like.

    With a little creative photography you can make your photostrip be an excellent brand ambassador for you page….or you can just have some fun with it and create a really interesting panoramic.

    Get Social!

    The number one power of any social network is the ability to be social. Pages is no different. Similar to Facebook, you can use Google+ as your page. You can go and add other pages to your circles. You can comment on their posts and interact them.  Though people can add your page to their circle, pages cannot add people to their circles.

    On the left column of your page, you will see your profile pic, a button to share your page and then a section showing who is in your circles and who has added you to theirs.  By looking at this section on other pages you will be able to find a lot of relevant and interesting pages to network with.

    The more you network with other pages the more they will network with you. Ultimately the more people who have circled you, the more people who are reading your posts. So get out there and network!

     

    Google+ Pages for business is not hugely different than Facebook Pages. However, the SEO value they add is reason enough to get a page set up for your website. The pages are easy to set up and offer the opportunity for more exposure to your website. So go out there and set up a Page and make sure to tell everyone about it!

    Syndicated on BlogHer.com

     

    Google+ for Business….well almost

    Google Plus Business Pages

    Goolgle+ announced today that they are offering pages for business. This is answering a long standing question, when with Google+ be business friendly.  Well, they had been promising the eventual advent of their business Pages, and the day has finally come!…well kind of.

    The pages roll out is just that, a roll out. So not everyone can make a page yet. When will everyone be allowed? Good question. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to that. So though they are not focusing on the exclusivity of the original “invite only” launch, they are likely only giving the “star players” the first shot at the new Page.

    Google Plus for Business but not for you

    As a user of Google+ you will be able to to add pages to you circles. It seems that the pages will be much like the Facebook Pages we are all accustomed to.  But one distinct edge the pages have will be the indexing. Google will be immediately indexing any business page. This means that when you create a page you are immediately getting an SEO boost to your page. Additionally when you type in a business name, if you add a + sign before the name it will pull of the Plus page for that business.  So type in + SM Cubed Consulting and you will find my business page.

    Is the + search a step forward in the next generation of SEO? Maybe it is. It does make me wonder if this will be a change in the Boolean search that traditional search engine algorithm have been rooted in. (In my mind I see lovers of Library Science heads exploding)

    The questions that arise are based in the experience from pages on Facebook.  Will you be able to pursue fans or are we reliant on fans finding pages, like in Facebook?  Will this essentially be simply duplicate content? Is there a point to have both?

    Social Media Links

    In today’s constantly-connected world, there’s no escaping social media. Companies are using social media to reach a new audience of consumers, schools are creating Twitter and Facebook accounts to connect with students and their families, and entertainment companies use social media to reward regular views of TV shows and movie fans. Social media is also being used by traditional media to enhance print publications and television shows.

    But does all of this connectivity add up to any real benefit for the user? Does social media integration make a person more inclined to use online services—shopping, education and customer service— in place of more conventional options?  While people make decisions based on a whole host of factors, studies show that social media can influence more than just the way people communicate; social media can have a tangible impact on what people choose to buy, as well as levels of political and social engagement. Social media is affecting the way people communicate, but it’s also affecting the way people live their lives.

    Education

    Colleges and universities were among the first institutions to introduce online elements like e-mail and websites to their students, faculty and staff. But as social media becomes an important tool for students and teachers alike, Facebook and Twitter are enhancing or even replacing some of the messaging and online collaborative programs from just a few years ago. The rise of online education has been both encouraged and supported by social media: most major colleges and universities now offer courses online, and others offer entire programs online for returning adults or students who want to finish a degree without traveling to a campus.

    And online education is also becoming a useful tool for K-12 teachers and students— programs like Skype that connect students from different areas of the country or the world, online apps like Google Earth that gives students tours of far-flung locations, and programs like Grockit that help kids study for tests are all changing the educational landscape.

    Social awareness and consumers

    You might not think that shopping is an important part of life, but social media is helping consumers make informed decisions about what they buy and why. Whether it’s learning about the latest smartphone or how buying local can affect your town’s economy, social media sites are encouraging people to learn more about what and how they consume products.

    Of course, marketing firms and companies have recognized that social media can influence buying decisions, but activists and non-profit organizations have also realized that providing consumers with information can affect how people view their regular purchases. And sites like Facebook have made it possible for people to learn more about various causes, and how they can contribute to improving society. Organizations like Feeding America and the Red Cross are using social media to make it easy for people to donate and offer other types of support. By making it easy for regular people to contribute to charities and other causes, people are becoming more politically and socially active—and small actions by millions of people can combine to create a larger impact.

    The links that social media have helped create go far beyond messages to friends, family and classmates. The benefits to users can range from the minor to the miraculous—and as social media becomes a part of everyday life, it will change the way we interact with the world.

    Blogging is Doing

    Search engines are used by billions of people every day, helping them find products to buy, stores to buy them from, information on anything imaginable or the directions to their grandmother’s house. Because search engines are such a huge part of consumers’ lives, they have become a huge part of how companies do business. Users are often unaware of the existence of businesses because they don’t show up on the first page of search results, creating the need for business to employ search engine optimization (SEO) in order to gain a wider audience and generate profitable conversions.

    Having an official blog is an effective method of gaining rank in various search engines, particularly since Google’s Panda update was rolled out, favoring pages with high quality content over weak, shallow pages. As part of both a social media marketing campaign and a service being provided to customers, a well-maintained, attractive blog featuring informative, useful content can provide tremendous support for a business.

    By emphasizing valuable content and displaying the knowledge of the company’s employees in their field, a corporate blog can build relationships with customers while gaining the positive attention of Google and Bing. Integrating the blog into social networking initiatives and making it part of a cohesive brand will increase the likelihood of being ranked highly in search results and of increasing customer retention and brand awareness.

    Content is King

    Google’s Panda update made it clear that the search engine values quality content over anything else, particularly the overuse of keywords. While websites could formerly get away with having long pages of machine-generated, mostly incoherent text that included repetitive uses of the same keywords, the method for gaining ground in the post-Panda world revolves around well-written pieces that match the context of the site. By writing content with customers and potential customers in mind, businesses can satisfy both their intended audience and search engine bots.

    Show What You Know

    In addition to providing well-written, pertinent information on their blogs, companies should provide useful information for consumers. Blogs should not be used to advertise a company’s products (though a short post announcing a new product is okay) but should instead educate customers on frequently misunderstood aspects of their business or field. For example, a heating and air conditioning repair company could feature blog posts concerning tips for homeowners to keep their HVAC systems running efficiently or posts describing the various heating and cooling options available to homeowners, along with their strengths and weaknesses. By providing valuable information to consumers, businesses have an easier time maintaining brand awareness with potential customers and being seen as leaders in their field.

    Get the Word Out

    Every blog post should be accompanied by social buttons that will allow readers to share the post with their friends and colleagues on the most popular social networks, such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Integrating the company blog with other social platforms can increase the visibility of each post–and the blog as a whole–to both consumers and search engines. By keeping the user experience integrated and as seamless as possible among the various social platforms and the company’s website, users will be able to recognize the company and its brand more readily and search engines will notice the uniformity and rank the site more highly.

    Jobs Loss for Social Media

    The recent death of Steve Jobs reminds us that, while he didn’t have a direct impact on current social media, Jobs did help create the environment for social media to flourish. With products like iTunes and the rise of podcasts in the early 2000’s, Apple put an emphasis on sharing and creating original content before social media sites became popular. And with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple made mobile computing easy and encouraged users to share more of their lives through social media.

    Apple—and the world of technology at large—finds itself at a crossroads. Will the loss of Apple’s leader impede their ability to offer more and better products? And, if there is a slowdown in innovation at Apple, will this have a similar affect in how people use social media?

    The Medium is the Message

    Apple has yet to create a social media platform of their own, but that’s because they don’t have to. Their hardware and other products were built to inspire creativity in the individual and to allow users to take control of their computer experience. Apple’s focus on their products has meant that their message—thinking differently—is carried to every Apple user.

    For areas like education, this means that iPods, Macbooks and iPads used in the classroom can inspire new techniques and resources for teaching and learning. From podcasting to interactive iPad apps, Apple gives both teachers and students a chance to explore collaborative learning, online school programs, and interactive educational technology. Social media is becoming a larger influence in education right now—and Apple helped facilitate that new relationship.

    The Next Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs influenced more than just Apple: with Pixar, he helped create a new genre of animation, and with the short-lived NeXT, Jobs and his company produced the first web servers. It’shard to imagine that there will be another innovator with talents as diverse as Jobs’.

    Still, if something has to carry on Jobs’ legacy of innovation, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook come close: with more than 800 million users, Facebook is by far the world’s largest social media network. What Jobs did with hardware, Zuckerberg is doing with the Internet: giving millions of users a chance to connect to each other, to share activities and to exchange ideas. Facebook’s latest developments include the integration of apps that allow users to do everything from help each other with homework to find and share new recipes. By creating an open online environment that pushes people to share more, Facebook is changing the nature of the Internet. And with just five years online, the potential for Facebook is boundless.

    The death of Steve Jobs has already had an impact on the tech world, but the innovation of other minds—both at the helm of companies and everyday end users—will continue to find new and original ways to advance technology. Jobs’ legacy is that he helped give each person with a computer the power to make a mark on the world. With Apple’s products and the inspiration of its users, that power will continue to grow.

    Nay-Sayers to Yay-Sayers: How to Convert the Anti-Social Media

    Dead Twitter BirdDespite the high usage of social media by a huge portion of the population there are still people out there who are not on board the social wagon. So how do you convert the social nay-sayers into yay-sayers? How do you get the anti-social networkers on the social networks?

    Lets look at the types of nay-sayers

    1. Too Techy– There are many people who think that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are just too technical for them. They get on and get lost. No on likes the feeling of being confused. No one likes feeling overwhelmed. Telling them that it is simple once they get the hang of it will only make them feel even less capable and push them farther away.

    2. Its just a fad – There are people who still think that social media is going to fall to the wayside. That it is a big fad that can’t last much longer. They have been burned by previous networks (Friendster, MySpace) and don’t want to put the energy into yet another network that will just fail in a year.

    3. No Time – It simply takes too much time. They barely have time to answer their email, how can they possibly make time for Facebook much less Twitter?

    4. Uninterested – The uninterested are the people who will give you all of the above reasons and any other that will come to mind. They are the ones who latch on to every negative about social media. But ultimately they are simply uninterested.

    Convert the Nay-Sayers

    The Too-Techy are the easiest to convert, though time consuming. They fact that they are overwhelmed by it says they are interested but that they don’t know how to use it. Often when we get overwhelmed, we can’t even see how to start. So instead of taking the first step and starting the learning process, they often shun the whole thing. To lead them out of confusion you will need to do a lot of the leg work. Help them set up a profile, show them how to use it. Walk them through step by step and teach them. You will often have to keep coming back to show them more, or go over what you have already shown them. But if you take the time to really teach them, you can help move them beyond overwhelmed and get them online and social.

    The Fad people are a little harder. Many of these are people who were involved early on. They were creating profiles on Friendster and MySpace. They were some of the early users. After creating profiles on network after network, only to have them get shut down by the next greatest thing, they have hung up their social network hat. It is like being in a series of bad relationships, at some point you don’t want to try again.  Ultimately time is the biggest cure. They see that the big 3 (Facebook, Twitter and Linked) are here for the long haul, and many of them trepidatiously create a profile. Though you might not be able to get them to create a profile, if you engage with them when they do, they will get right back into the swing of it.

    No-Time is another word for uninterested, though with less conviction. Many are interested but legitimately feel they do not have the time to do it right so why bother doing it at all. Well, from a business point of view they are not wrong. However, if they are doing it for personal there is not time commitment. Though yes, some people spend hours on Facebook and Twitter, there are plenty who only spend minutes. You do not have to have 500 friends. You do not have to talk to everyone. You do not have to play games. In short, you do not have to do anything you don’t want to do. If you help show them the value, like show them their friends who are on the networks. Show them the great things their friends are posting and show them how quickly it can be done, they will be more inclined to hop on for a couple minutes a day.

    The Uninterested are the worst. Unfortunately there is not much you can do about these ones. You can tell them all the interesting things going on, explain the business value, show them how the networks are here for the long haul. They can have every family and friend every to enter their life be online waiting for them to join. The ultimate problem is that the networks seemingly offer them no value. They want to keep up with their friends? They call them. They want to use it for business? It is hired out. If you can find a way to show them how it is valuable to them, you might be able to generate interest. But otherwise, they are likely to stay out of the social pool.

    Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    There will always be people who will not join the networks. There will always be people who do not see value in them. However, these people are not your audience. This is why marketing needs to be spread out over a few different channels. Your audience will never reside in only one house. So the people who remain nay-sayers, you can let them be. They will find their reasons and you will always have your own to argue with them. But ultimately you are trying to reach the people who are the yay-sayers. So don’t sweat the people who say no and reach out to those who say yes.

     

    Why do I have to wait for Facebooks new features?

    This is an excellent question. Many people are getting the releases of the Facebook updates well in advance of the general public. So what makes us so special? Well not much really. If you want to be the first to get the new updates, use the new features, play with the new timeline profile, then you need to be a developer.

    This sounds much more complicated that it is. All you have to do is create an app.  Now that sounds much more complicated than it is. I found a great guide that will walk you through the steps of creating an app. This does not mean you have to put something out there for the world to use. You can just create something simple that no one ever sees. The simple act of creating it makes you a developer.

    So if you want to get these updates early with all of us tech geeks, the go create an app and get your developer street cred.

    iCloud OS: Good for Business?

    Apple has finally released their new operating system, iOS5, complete with the highly anticipated iCloud. Drawing on principles of cloud computing, iCloud gives you access to all of your information but doesn’t rely on any one machine, whether it be a computer or dedicated server, to store or access information.

    With documents, information, calendar dates, contacts and automatic backups now stored in the cloud, how we can we expect to see businesses utilize and thrive with these new resources? Or, can we expect a change at all?

     Paperless? Or Close To It?

     Whether to cut down on cost or become more eco-friendly, many businesses have been taking steps towards becoming paperless for a while. Though it’s difficult to completely leave paper behind, iCloud eliminates much of the need for paper.

    With documents stored in the cloud, there’s no need to print. And, as you continue to re-draft your business model, there’s no need to print updates or make changes in every document. Any changes you make in sixth draft will be applied all across the cloud. All of your iOS devices will be kept up-to-date with changes.

    Faster Pace?

     With many apps designed for iCloud and mobile use, the loading time will be significantly less. Not only will your apps and documents load faster, but the ability to work on the go and around the clock could mean people will do so. While we once had to stop working for the thirty minutes we rode the subway, or drove to a meeting or the hour we spent eating lunch, we could soon work straight through all that down time.

     

    Sharing in the cloud means instant access to information, which means faster responses, which adds up to more business at the end of the day.

    Will We Ever Have An Excuse Not to Work?

     iCloud allows you to access any document in the cloud from any iCloud enabled device. It boils down to you needing to find a new excuse for “I’m out of the office” or “I don’t have my computer.” With iCloud, your office, computer and information follow you wherever you go. As long as you have an iCloud-enabled device, you have access to your material. Start searching for new cop-outs.

     Never Lose Documents Again?

     iCloud automatically backs up all of the priceless information on your iGadget. Your music, TV shows, applications, books, photos, app data, organization, messages and ringtones will be backed up daily. When disaster strikes, your business plan or entertainment items won’t be casualties.

    Could Staying Connected Be Any Easier?

     Your calendars, appointments and contacts will be with you all times now thanks to iCloud. If you wish you could remember Jeff’s email address, now you won’t have to. If you saved it on your computer, it’s now on your phone too. The iOS5 notification center will remind you of any date set in your calendar, any alarms set on your phone or upcoming deadlines.

    More fun at Work?

     Lastly, with the ease of sharing photos, videos, sites and documents could we maybe all have a little fun too? If you stumbled across a great comic during work, why not share it? Businesses can certainly change with iCloud, so why not for the better?


     

     

     

    Will Fan Pages Get the Timeline Update?

    Facebook has been rolling out the “timeline” update on the newsfeed and on profiles. Will fan pages be the next update? It is the logical progression. Since the fan page update at the beginning of 2011, Facebook has been updating the layout of the fan page in conjunction with the profiles. The main goal being consistency in the user experience.

    The latest update for the profiles was not only a dramatic visual change but also a UI (user interface) change. It is changing how users are using Facebook. In fact, the new timeline profile is deepening the emotional connection between Facebook and its user. If Facebook updates fan pages as well, it has the potential to have a similar emotional effect.

    The cover image will be a great opportunity for branding, with the profile image being the “face” of your engagement. The more graphic display will really encourage fan pages to post more dynamically using significantly more photos. Beyond using more photos, it will encourage businesses to use a more cohesive and truely graphic based brand strategy. The page itself will be like an interactive page from a magazine. It has the potentially to be incredible.

    No profiles have gone public yet. Below is a mock up by the New York Agency Skinny of a potential fan page. The branding opportunity is incredible! Of course this means that people will need to strategically implement their fan page design, which means that marketing firms need to embrace social media design. The game is changing…and getting more aesthetically pleasing!

    Burbery TImeline Fan Page

    A mockup of the Burberry Fan Page by New York Agency Skinny. Click the image to see more mockups.