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This is no time to tag…on Facebook

Social Media Strategist Lauren MacEwen, in the shirt Friends don't tag friends on Facebook

Friends don't tag friends on Facebook- oh yes, it was time for some bad photoshop work ūüėČ

Feeling that it had been a little while since Facebook made a change to how you use it? Yeah, we did too. Thankfully they did not let us down and changed something else on Facebook engagement. You can no longer tag people on your fan page.

Many of you might be saying, “Wait, I could never tag people. Pages can’t tag people.” Well, you are not entirely wrong. A page cannot tag a person. However there was a loophole. If your personal profile was “friends” with someone, then you could tag them on your fan page as long as you were posting as admin.

Many people used this loop hole to use both their fan page and profile to promote their business. They would do massive networking through their profile to meet people. Then they would post on their fan page and tag people in their posts.¬† This form of tag spam has not been well received. The problem of course is that people don’t generally know who owns a page, so they don’t know who tagged them.

Facebook has been trying to balance the functionality of its business sector with the privacy of it s private sector. Ultimately the private sector must come first, as it is the bread and butter of Facebook. 750 million members are a lot of people, and Facebook wants to make sure that their needs are kept priority. Though many pages ill be upset about this change, this will keep business to fan pages and personal to personal pages. Well, for the most part. At the very least it will create a clean line between the two.

Is Big Brother Tagging you on Facebook?

Facebook-face-recognitionA while ago Facebook released automatic facial recognition in the United States.  It caused a bit of a kerfluffle but everyone did go back to their regular existence and pretty much forgot about it. They are now releasing it all over the world so the issue is once again in the forefront of everyones mind.

What is it?

In a nut shell, when you upload pictures to your Facebook it auto-recognizes the faces of people you have previously tagged. It will ask you if it is that person and suggest you tag them in the post.

Why it is good?

The ease of use is what makes this such a great tool. Before facial recognition, tagging pictures was a cumbersome endeavor. Now it is super easy. Facebook not only makes suggestions but it groups the suggestions into categories. So if your friend Susan is a suggested tag, all the pictures it thinks are of Susan will be under one heading. All you have to do is click her name to tag her.

The suggestions are only on the pictures that it recognizes a face. If there is a face and you have not tagged it, it will list them but you have to add the tag yourself.

Not Fool Proof

This is not a fool proof endeavor. The facial recognition will not grab a lot of profile pictures or if people are obscured. Not to mention that recognizing faces is an art not a science, so it will make mistakes. If you are like me and always look like someone else, it will probably suggest people tag you as your cousins friend Sofie.

More Tags

The logic behind facial recognition is not a big brother attempt to dominate and track photos.  It is actually to make tagging easier and more prevalent. The thought is, if they make the tagging process easier, you will be more likely to tag more of your photos and this will drive up conversation and engagement.

Remember, everything about Facebook is ultimately to drive conversation and interactions.

The problem

This is another time that Facebook is pushing the limits of peoples privacy.  What if you don’t want to be tagged in photos?  What if it tags you in a pic that is not you? What if it starts suggesting that people who aren’t your friends tag you in their pics.

These are all very valid concerns.  Thankfully they are not eliminating our privacy, you might not have a lock on the bathroom door but you still have a door.

If you do not want to be flagged in the auto tagging feature, you can change your privacy settings to prevent this from happening. It will turn off the suggestions for any where your face appears in a photo.  If the person wants to tag you, they will have to do it old school and actually click on your face and tag you.

Just like in the past, if you were tagged in a pic and didn’t want to be, you could remove the tag. This is always an option. I recommend making sure that you receive notices via email letting you know if you were tagged. You can check, or change, this setting in your privacy and notifications settings in your account.

Lastly, only your friends can tag you. You have to be friends with someone on Facebook for them to be able to tag you in a pic. They can still tag you in other peoples pictures, but you can rest easy that some stranger isn’t going to tag your pic in some incriminating photo. You only have to worry about your friends doing that.

The big concern

The biggest concern people have is that this is a gateway drug for photo tagging. First it is suggestions for tagging friends; then fan pages, then Facebook will just auto tag you in pictures all over the world!

This is not going to happen. For one, Facebook would be slammed in the media, and likely go to court for privacy issues if they were to try this. Plus, everyone tends to look like someone else somewhere. Yes, we are all unique flowers but the application that does facial recognition does not always see the intrinsic details that make you so completely different from the person in Seattle who look remarkably like you, but yet is not you.

So until we have some Minority Report type technology that is doing retinal scans, we can all breath easy.

Tagging Photos: Engagement or Spam?

Facebook has made a bunch of changes to their tags.¬† First, you can shorten them. Second, you don’t need the @ symbol. Now, you can tag Fan Pages in pictures.¬† Wait –¬† did I read that right?¬† Yes!¬† Facebook is now allowing you to tag Fan Pages in pictures.

Tag SpamWhen Facebook launched the upgraded Fan Page, they significantly improved their ability to engage. You could use Facebook as your Fan Page identity. You could write on walls and comment on the posts of other Fan Pages. You can even Like other Fan Pages. But you could not tag another page in a picture.

For Fan Pages that post a lot of pics, this was actually a hindrance. I manage Fan Pages, and being able to engage with people and other pages on a variety of levels is incredibly important. For many of us who have a professional presence on Facebook, our Fan Page is our public face. So if you are going to tag us, we want you to tag our page.

Photos hold a higher level of engagement for people. Your posts are more likely to been seen and read if there is an image attached. People are just generally more interested in visuals, and more likely to comment on a photo than on a post.

The ability to tag a page in a photo will open up the opportunity for some interesting¬† marketing strategies, like product placement contests. It will also drive engagement higher. This is because just like tagging in a post, if you tag a photo, that photo will appear on that page’s wall. This will also make it much easier for fans to share photos with pages because they won’t have to upload a pic to their wall; all they¬† have to do is tag the pic. It is one less step, and that ensures a lot more sharing.

The big concern is abuse. This does open up an opportunity for more spam tagging and generally inappropriate tags. Thankfully, tags can be removed by the original poster. So hopefully tag spam will be monitored by the community.

I am very excited about the ability to tag photos!

Facebook gets Casual

Tagging is a great way to let someone know you are talking about them. You are creating a link in a post that sends the other person a notification that you tagged them in a post. It also puts a copy of the post on their wall. This has been excellent for engagement, but it has been a bit stuffed-shirt in it’s implementation. Facebook has finally fixed that and made tagging casual.

One of the big problems tags had was their somewhat formal nature. ¬†Though being able to tag was great, studies showed that it was not giving the boost to engagement that people were hoping for. The reason behind this was that people were skimming over posts in the news feed if they looked too long or too formal. Seeing someone’s full name managed to accomplish both simultaneously.

The ability to shorten a name will maintain the casual context of the post and retain the shorter length, and therefore should help improve engagement with tagged posts.

Now, when you tag someone in a post you type the @ symbol, just like before, and you select the person’s name from the list that appears. ¬†After you do that, the person’s full name will appear in the post. Previously, if you were to delete any part of the person’s name it would remove the tag. Now, for instance, you can delete someone’s last name without affecting the tag.


New Facebook shortened tags

The shortened tag is a great improvement for tagging updates. Facebook is anticipating a significant increase in engagement levels with these new shorter tags. The latest update also includes removing the need for the @ sign.  Now if you capitalize a letter, Facebook tries to anticipate that you are tagging. This will make tagging easier for many people and should increase the usage.

Facebook tries to emulate communication in the real world. This is, in part, is why they have been so successful in creating the largest social network.  The new ability to shorten tags parallels real conversation without losing the power of social share. It brings back the casual in our social.

Spam Tag, You’re It!

Can of spam with a tag on it that says "Tag..You're It!"

Tagging is great for engagement but can also be used as spam, which can get you deleted.

I was recently tagged in a picture of shoes.¬† I’d been friended by someone who runs a Fan Page.¬† When they held their next big sale, they posted a picture of a shoe, and then tagged me and a dozen other people in it. This is not a good engagement technique nor is this a good sales strategy.¬† This is called spam tagging, and it can get you deleted.

What did this do?

  • Posted in my newsfeed
  • Posted the pic on my wall
  • Posted the pic on my photo-strip (since it features your most recent photo tags)
  • And posted on my friends’ news feeds that I was just tagged.

Yesterday we talked about new opportunities for business engagement using the Use Facebook as admin” option that is now available. But just because you can does not mean that you should.¬† This technique of tagging people just to get real estate on their walls and news feeds is not new, but it is still as obnoxious now as it was on the day someone thought it up.

Tagging can be a great way to interact with people.  If you have pictures of fans on your page, tag your fans.  If they put up pictures at your business site, or images of your product or you, tag those. But just taking a photo of a product and then tagging people you have friended is not engagement, it is spam.

If someone reports you for doing this and Facebook sees that there is a pattern of this behavior, not only will your Fan Page be deleted, but your profile might be deleted as well.

What’s the difference between engagement and spam?

Spam is blatant and unwanted promotion.  The only reason you are reaching out to the person is to try to get them to click your links.

Engagement happens when you are joining or trying to start a conversation with someone.¬† It is based on the idea that you actually share something in common, you want to have a conversation with the person or page, and you’re interested in what they have to say. Engagement is not all about promoting you, though it can include that as long as it is done in a subtle and/or appropriate way. It is about building relationships with people first and promoting yourself second.

Engagement is key to growing your network and generally maintaining a successful presence on Facebook. With the new options available, be careful that you are actually engaging and not spamming.  And never EVER arbitrarily tag people in posts, notes or pictures.