Last week Facebook made some pretty significant changes to the News Feed. In this weeks video cast I talk you through how to manage ‘top stories’ and more importantly how to be in control of who sees what you post to Facebook.
Next week we’ll look at Facebook lists and the new privacy settings in more detail.

Last week Facebook made some pretty significant changes to the News Feed. In this weeks video cast I talk you through how to manage ‘top stories’ and more importantly how to be in control of who sees what you post to Facebook.

Next week we’ll look at Facebook lists and the new privacy settings in more detail.

#Krocomm is Ireland’s free e-commerce event happening in Dublin on Tuesday 4th October at Kro HQ.  There are lots of great speakers, clinics and giveaways.  Book here.

Back at the beginning of the year there was a lot of buzz about f-commerce.  In other words selling directly from a shop on your Facebook page.  It’s true more people are looking to Facebook to start a shop, it’s also true that lots of large brands seem to be embracing it but is it right for your small business?  How else can Facebook help you sell?  These are topics I’ll be discussing at the #krocomm e-commerce conference next week but here’s a sneak preview of my presentation.

Why sell from Facebook?

Facebook is a massive community, research has shown that Facebook fans are loyal customers who are more likely to buy online.  If you can connect with these potential customers you could be building powerful brand advocates who will not only buy from you but also recommend you to friends.

Buying online is all about trust, you are asking someone to hand over their credit card details so it’s important that however you choose to sell, your web presence oozes professionalism and trust.  If you don’t have the budget to create a great e-commerce website straight away Facebook is often a better option.  There are several applications that are simple to add to your Facebook page that make setting up a shop easy.  Two Irish based ones are Owjo and VendorShop and there are lots of other options out there.  However simply adding a shop to Facebook doesn’t ensure trustworthiness.  Make sure your page is designed well, add as much detail in the info page as possible and be easy to contact offline.

Once you’ve set up your shop the same rules apply as with any e-commerce venture.  Customers won’t just come to you, you will need to attract them.  One of the biggest disadvantages of f-commerce that I can see is that people who ‘Like’ your page often just visit once, once they’ve clicked the ‘Like’ button they rely on seeing your updates on their newsfeed.  Having a shop tab as part of your page means that you will need to get them back to your page, you will need to drive them to your shop and entice them to buy when they get there.  This is true of both f-commerce and e-commerce.

So how do you encourage that purchase using social media?  I’m not going to talk about general strategy here and it’s important to remember that these tips will only work as part of a full Facebook or social media campaign.

Offers

I’m not sure if it’s a sign of the times but consumers don’t expect to pay full price for anything anymore.  If you want their attention you are going to have to discount occasionally.  Creating offers exclusively for your Facebook community is a great way to push them over the edge into a purchase.  You can simply add a discount code in your updates or as an image as these are more likely to attract the attention of your fans or you could create a customised page with vouchers.  If you are a bricks and mortar shop give your fans a fun phrase they have to say when they come into your shop, this will create a bit of fun instore too.

Exclusives

Every Christmas a member of my extended family gets an invite to a special shopping night in Brown Thomas, they give her a glass of champagne when she arrives and the shop is less busy so she’s able to shop in peace and is guaranteed a personal service.  She’s a loyal Brown Thomas customer and this experience makes her feel special.  They are ensuring her loyalty for the future.  You can replicate this on Facebook.

Why not offer an exclusive to your fans, if you have a new product or a new range of products give your Facebook  fans the chance to buy 24 hours before the general public.  Not only will this encourage them to buy, it will create a buzz around your launch.

Reviews

We tend to buy from shops that are recommended to us by our friends and I for one know I research a product online before I buy it.  Reviews are therefore an essential part of any e or f-commerce site.  If someone is able to see frank customer reviews next to the product you are selling they are more likely to buy.  Another Irish company LouderVoice makes the process of getting and sharing reviews easy.

Sharing

If you sell something make it easy to share.  What happens when someone buys from you? Do they have the option to share their purchase with their friends on Facebook? On Twitter? The easier you make it to share the further the word will spread about what you are selling.

Examples

When I asked people on Facebook would they buy from a Facebook shop most people hadn’t encountered one.  This is probably one of the biggest barriers you will come against.  There are good examples out there.

Young British Designers have a beautiful shop and I’m informed they only sell on Facebook, there’s no website attached.

Handmade Jewellery store Dink Design are using Owjo to sell from their Facebook page and I think it looks quite attractive and very trustworthy.

Another Irish company Puddleducks have a store powered by Payvment. Again it looks trustworthy and it has those all important ‘share on Facebook’ buttons.

Pampers have a Facebook shop but it differs from the others as links take you away from Facebook and onto their own website.

So what do you think?  Would you buy on Facebook? Have you tried selling there?  What sort of results have you had?  I’d love to hear your experiences so that I can add it to my presentation next week.

 

It can be easy to get carried away with community size when we embark on a social media campaign.  How many Twitter followers do we have?  How many Facebook Likes? How many YouTube subscribers?  And community size is important, however it’s not the most important thing.

Building a valuable community takes time and although there are people out there who will attempt to sell you thousands of Facebook fans or Twitter followers, the relevance of these bought communities is often low.  Bought Facebook fans often have no interest in your product or service and come from outside your target market or geographical target.  As you are not relevant to them your updates will be or little interest so their value is virtually 0.

It is possible to be successful in social media without massive fan or follower numbers. Take a look at this recent case study from ‘Old Farm’ published on Bloggertone.  I’d even suggest that it’s possible to be successful in social media without having your own presence on Facebook or Twitter (although I don’t recommend this).  All you need to do is create compelling content that is easy to share.

Sharing is the lifeblood of social media, it is ultimately what will secure your success.

Here’s an example.  Your new Faeboook business page has 50 Likes.   You upload a photograph that is amusing, topical or of real interest to your 50 fans.  The average person has 130 friends on Faceboook  and it’s likely that some of those have similar interests to them.  If one fan shares your post it has not only reached your 50 fans but also that fans 130 friends .  Total reach = 180.  If 10 of your fans shared that would be 1,350.  And each time one of their friends shares it on, that’s another 130 people reached.  Now of course not all of your fan’s friends will see that update and some of their friends will already be fans of your page, but you get the idea.

The same formula can be applied to Twitter and even if you don’t have your own presence if you make your blog or website easy to share you still have the potential to reach social media users.

So how can encourage sharing?

Good content

It’s been a bit of a social media adage that ‘Content is King’.  For people to share your content you must have content and it has to be compelling to your target market.  Think about what information you have that they need and blog, or share your thoughts on Facebook or other networks.

The more relevant or topical that your content is the more likely your community is to share it.  For example the videos I create that attract the most views are tutorials on new social media features as they are released. Today I’m late blogging because I’ve been busy screen grabbing and talking people through the newest Facebook news feed updates.

If you become synonymous with good content then people are more likely to read and share your posts in the future.

Share buttons

If you have a blog make sure you’ve made it easy to share.  Adding Twitter or Facebook share buttons or plugins as well as something like ‘Add This’ means that your community can share your content with one click of a mouse.

Share content from others

Be generous with others and share good information, links and tips that they create.  When possible credit the original poster.  This will buy you good will and also establishes you as a generous person.  These qualities will give you social media Karma making people keen to share your content too.

Get to know people

It’s important to build relationships with members of your community.  Engage as often as you can and build a rapport with people.  Others are far more likely to share your content if they feel they know you.

Ask for the share

Today I saw a beautiful photograph on Google+ with the tag line ‘please share this if you like it’ so I did.  However if that user constantly asked for the share I’d be less inclined to do so.

Asking people to share or RT your content will spark people to do just that, there are some interesting statistics on how adding ‘Please RT’ at the end of a Tweet will increase your RT’s.  Asking too often is a mistake that lots of people make, eventually your followers will get annoyed and could stop sharing all together.

How do you encourage sharing?  What encourages you to share content? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Facebook have just announced another new feature to counteract Google+. This time the Facebook subscribe function allows users to share their public content with people who are not their friends and subscribe to the public content of other users.

This week we show you how to allow Facebook subscriptions to your profile and how to follow, and filter what you follow from others on Facebook.

At some moment on Monday night I flipped.  I follow Chris Brogan on Twitter and Google+ and a tweet sprung onto my newsfeed.

“Starting to really dislike the 140 character limit after years of advocating it. Conversations are so choppy here.”

Before I give you my reaction a bit of background

I have to admit one of the things I’ve enjoyed about Google+ is watching it evolve, watching early adopters whose opinions I respect discussing the new network, and discovering how it works.  Chris Brogan for one hung up his keys at Facebook and moved lock stock and barrel over to G+.  These people were finding new ways that Google+ would work and sharing them with their followers.

After a while it became apparent that Google+ was not just a potential Facebook rival but also a Twitter rival, the stream was reminiscent of Twitter and you have the ability of following people who don’t follow you back.  There was nothing amazingly different about Google+ but it was taking the best bits of other social networks and improving them.  And therein lies G+’s strength.

With a massive user base that grew at a rate that must have struck panic into the heart of Mark Zukerberg I was beginning to think that perhaps it could eclipse Facebook and do so much faster than I’d originally anticipated. However this has yet to happen.  There are members all right but few are active and my feed is still dominated by a few power users.

When G+ was launched I avidly created content specifically for it, I routed out my best photos, made specific videos and found links just for sharing there.  To me if I was going to be a success with Google+  I’d have to discover what to post and how to differentiate what I was doing there to what I did on other networks.  My community and potential target market are very much ensconced on Facebook and Twitter so leaving them like Chris Brogan did wouldn’t work for me.

As time has passed I have posted less and less. I dip in everyday to have a look at what’s going on and sadly I now break my golden rule. “thou shalt not post the same content to Facebook and Google+”.

There are some people on there whose streams I find entertaining.  There are some great photographers and seeing photos in the timeline is definitely one thing that G+ has over Twitter.  There are also the social media peeps. Chris Brogan, Mari Smith.  They post great stuff and I love reading it but I hesitate before commenting.  Why?  Well firstly the volume of notifications.  Yes I can mute a post but really my trips to G+ are swift and stopping to mute stuff on the way seems unnecessary.  The notifications that someone else has responded to the post would be fine if there was a conversation going on but each commentator seems to act individually, they are communicating with the original poster but not me and not the others who have left comments.  This is how it works on Twitter but surely G+ gives us the platform to converse.  I myself am guilty of this.  I leave a comment based on the original post and the first few comments I see.  Real conversation can spring up on G+ but usually it’s on the content posted by less influential users.  I’ve participated in small scale conversations on both my own and other users posts.

I guess part of the reason for this is the curse of celebrity, Twitter has given us unpresidented access to celebrity and this has carried forward to Google+.  The problem being that Twitter is filtered so we don’t all see @replies of adoration aimed at high profile users, sadly on Google+ we do.

So with all those users I still see my feed dominated by celebrities or power users, I see some of my contacts struggling with G+ or like me just throwing the odd link up here and there.  It’s partly my fault, I’m not leading my community over to G+, I’m not encouraging them the way others there are and unless I, and people like me, make a better effort Google+ can not succeed.

So my reaction to Chris Brogans Tweet was

@chrisbrogan G+ isn’t ready for the masses yet.. us with smaller communities are finding it harder.”

to which he responded

@spiderworking – how so?”

As if to endorse the sentiment of his original tweet I’ve had to post over 800 words to explain my thoughts.

I’m not sure I disagree with Chris Brogan’s point of view as such I’m just not there yet and neither is my community.  It’s almost as if due to his loyal community base he’s been able to take the express train to Google+ adoption where as I’m still on the steam train, we stop more often on the way though and hopefully we’ll pick up passengers on route.

What are your thoughts on Google+?  Will you pledge like me to try harder? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I found an interesting post on Inside Facebook today about using Hootsuite to post to Facebook.  Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know I’m a big fan of Hootsuite (affiliate link).  I rarely use it  for Facebook but  from time to time I need to schedule posts if I’m not going to be around, It’s important to be consistant and Hootsuite scheduling allows me to do this even when I’m with clients or teaching a course.

The disadvantage of using Hootsuite for Facebook according to the article is that Facebook penalises your content as it comes from a third party app.  This means posts sent from it are less likely to appear in the ‘Top News’ feed of Facebook users and may get overlooked.

I do use Hootsuite scheduling far more frequently for Twitter, in fact I use it on a daily basis.  Unlike Facebook there is no penalty for using third party apps to post on Twitter.

Whenever I mention scheduling it usually sparks a debate.  There are advantages and disadvantages but used properly I believe it can help you create an effective social media strategy.

The argument against scheduling

The idea of scheduling makes some people prickle and I think I understand why, social media is social, users value authenticity and interaction, the perception is that if you schedule you don’t care, you are not there to respond.  However I don’t believe we should all be chained to our computers or phones all day long to interact on Twitter.  Scheduling doesn’t preclude interaction, it just guarantees you are able to reach your audience when they are online even if you are not. Those who schedule must respond and interact live too but if you schedule you can do this when it suits you without loosing your audience.  In this respect scheduling tweets actually makes you more social not less so.

The advantages of scheduling

I find scheduling invaluable for many reasons.  As I mentioned in my opening paragraph I can’t always be at my computer, If I’m out of the office I’m still able to share with my followers, I’m able to be consistent.  If I kept my tweeting to when I had computer access I’d be in danger of flooding my followers streams with my tweets.  There is nothing worse than logging into Twitter and seeing it dominated by a string of tweets from a single user.  By spacing my tweets out I’m giving people time to digest them. As the tweeter this means followers are more likely to look at the links I tweet .  The biggest advantage of all is that scheduling is a massive time saver and it helps me avoid those procrastination moments. I spend time in the morning scheduling and then dip in throughout the day to converse and engage.

How to schedule

Before you start scheduling I’d recommend analysing your followers using a tool like Tweriod or CrowdBooster, this will give you a rough guide to when your followers are online and you can create your content calender around this. Use Hootsuite (affiliate link), Buffer or Crowdbooster to schedule your tweets and assign timeslots during the day to check in on your account and read tweets from others.

Do you love or hate the concept of scheduling? I’d love to hear your opinion so please leave a comment below.

You may have noticed in the last few days that the Facebook status update box has changed. There is no longer a ‘Link’ option and it’s easier to manage your privacy settings for each individual post.

We show you around the new Facebook status box and show you how each of the new features; checking in, tagging friends, and sharing works. We also show you how to post a link the new way.

For more hints and tips on using social media for small business ‘Like’ us on Facebook.