Graph Search Tip

The lack of accurate categories for Facebook pages has been a bug bear for many business users for a long time. Now with Graph Search being rolled out it becomes more important that our pages are categorised correctly. With such a small choice of main categories it can be hard to find the right one for your business. Luckily there is now a solution.  You can add sub-categories to your page, although there is no comprehensive list of sub categories, I’ve found through trial and error that there is something for almost everyone.

How do you enable sub categories? This short video shows you.

As mentioned in the video, here is the link for adding a Facebook map to your page.

If you need assistance with your local business Facebook page I can help. Get in touch to find out more.

schedule Facebook posts

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve shown you how to schedule posts on Facebook and how to find and edit the times of posting those posts once they are scheduled.

If you don’t see the Facebook scheduling option when you compose a post on your page it may be because you have the ‘voice’ of your page set incorrectly.  As well as meaning that you can’t schedule posts it also means that anything that you do post on your page will not be seen by the people who Like your page on their newsfeed as it won’t appear to be posted by the page.  Your friends will see the posts but unless they visit your page no one else will.

This weeks short video shows you how to change voice and enabling scheduling.

Have you had any problems with Facebook features? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to resolve them for you.

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Facebook has changed. There can be no denying it, since it’s had to answer to share holders the added focus on advertising has finally taken it’s toll.  The last month has seen a massive change in the edgerank algorithm, this is the formula that decides which of your posts are shown to the people who like your page, posts are reaching fewer people than ever before.  It’s not just a slight change, page views are plummeting across the board and it really is going to change the way we as small businesses use Facebook in the future.

Analysing Edgerank isn’t simple.  Facebook aren’t going to tell us the exact details of how it’s calculated but we can make some guesstimates.  And that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to guess how it works and offer some suggestions on how to use it to it’s best advanatge.  This is totally unscientific and relates to my own experiences so I’d love to hear what you have found has worked for you since the change.  It is still possible to shine on Facebook but it’s going to take work.

Vary the type of content

For at least a year Images have been the strongest type of content you could post on Facebook.  Anecdotaly lots of my non-business friends say that seeing photographs of their family is one of the biggest reasons they joined Facebook in the first place.  By prioritising images in the newsfeed Facebook were giving people what they wanted.  However as marketers got a hang of this trend we’ve seen Facebook dominated by images. Some are great, some are funny, some are inspirational but not all are to everyone’s taste and some are just awful!  Instead of seeing snapshots of the lives of our friends we were seeing memes shared over and over again.  Of course some of these we enjoy but maybe there were too many?

I can’t be sure but from my own statistics I can see that images and photos are no longer the most viewed type of content on my Facebook page.  By ‘viewed’ I mean that statistic at the bottom of each post that tells you how many people have seen my posts not the amount of likes and comments it’s got.  Instead of photos, status updates now seem to get the most organic views.  I’m not suggesting for one minute that you abandon images altogether but it’s worth adding a couple of plain status updates into your Facebook schedule every week.

Tips for using status updates

  1. Ask a question – Status updates are a great way to ask a question, find out what is important to your audience.  Try and keep it on topic and keep it relevant to your business or the interests of your target market.  Also try and keep it unique.  Asking ‘What are you doing for Halloween’ today for example would probably be lost in a sea of people asking the same question.  Instead a business aimed at parents could ask ‘What’s your favourite Halloween party game?  1. Pin the tail on the witch? 2. Apple Bobbing? 3. Something else’ or  something that would provide great information for parents e.g. ‘How do you know which houses to go to when Trick or Treating?’
  2. Be conversational – If you are not asking a question try and be conversational, maybe talk about what you are doing today or share an insight about your industry.  For example if you are in a food based business you could share a story about what inspired the treats you are making for Halloween.
  3. Important information – As status updates seem to be reaching a larger portion of our Likers than other sorts of content it’s the best way to deliver important messages.  So if your website is down, if you are closing early, if your office is closed for the day a status update is the best way to deliver this news.

Be time specific

The time of day you post on Facebook has always been important to edgerank.  However this seems to have become more important than ever.  It seems to be the case both on personal and page updates.  Here’s what I think happens.

  • You post to Facebook
  • Facebook shows your post to a small portion of your friends / Likes
  • If people react to the post within a short space of time it shows it to some more people and so on.

Every page will have it’s own premium time to post depending on your timezone, how people are accessing Facebook and the occupations of the people who Like your page.  My best times to post are either early morning (7.30am) evenings (after 8pm) and at weekends although I rarely post at weekends.  I’ve also noticed that if I post at 9am Facebook shows very few people my post, I would suggest that this is because 9am is a busy time of day and my posts have a lot of others to compete against.  It’s worth experimenting with this your self to determine the best time for you.

Tips for finding the best time to post

  1. Keep an eye on your statistics for a two week period to determine what time of the day results in the most views and the most interaction.  You want an instant reaction, you need someone to hit the Like button or comment as soon as you have posted so it’s important to get the timing right. You can download your Facebook insights to get an idea of the postings that did best time-wise. You might find this post from Jon Loomer handy.
  2. Schedule posts – Don’t forget you can now schedule posts on Facebook.  I don’t recommend doing this too far in advance but it’s handy if you have determined that your best posting time is at a time when it’s hard to access a computer.  Be aware that even though you have scheduled a post you need to be available to respond and join in nay conversation it provokes.

Collect emails

I’ve always been an advocate of collecting email addresses from my social media channels,  it’s important to get more from your page Likes than a simple Like.  If Facebook went down tomorrow where would that leave our thousands of page likers?  Not everyone who Likes your page will want to join your email mailing list but a certain portion will be interested in receiving more in-depth information via email and it’s important to make the transition from Facebook to a mailing list easy. This means that if Facebook does disappear or if it becomes unworkable you can stay in touch or more importantly you can email them with important information about where to find you now.

Tips for getting email subscriptions from Facebook

  1. Always get permission – it is never OK to subscribe someone to your mailing list who hasn’t agreed to it.
  2. When running Facebook competitions ask for an email and ask if they would like to subscribe to your mailing list as part of the entry process.
  3. Many email marketing providers offer a Facebook app allowing people to subscribe from a tab on your Facebook page. (See Newsletter.ie & Mailchimp)
  4. Add a subscription form to your website and make sure it’s clearly visible to those who land on your site.
  5. Tell people what they will get for their subscription. Is it offers? Tips? News?

Share your Facebook updates elsewhere

One of the best ways to get views of your Facebook updates is to share them elsewhere. Here’s how.  I find this particularly effective with Twitter but you can also try doing it on your personal Facebook profile.

Tips on posting Facebook updates to Twitter

  1. Ask a good question and ask people to respond on your Facebook page.  It’s an easier place to get a proper discussion going than Twitter.  Be sure to keep an eye on Twitter too as some people will prefer to respond there.
  2. You may think you are already posting your updates to Twitter automatically so what is the benefit of doing it the long way?  I would discourage the automated solution.  It’s obvious to those on Twitter that there isn’t a person behind the tweet, some people might even think it’s lazy.  Posting directly to Twitter gives you a better chance of hooking people in conversation.  The language we use on Twitter is subtly different to that we use on Facebook, often due to the 140 character limit.  So post directly and you will see your page views grow.

Is Facebook still worth the effort?  What else should you consider?

The changes have meant that businesses and celebrities alike have declared they are going to leave Facebook,  I’m not sure this is wise.  I have been working with the new edgerank and have had some success, I’ve seen my talking about stats grow back to something resembling the pre-change level and although the average number of page views are down some of my posts are still reaching a large portion of my page Likers.  I do think it is more challenging now but it does give those who put in more effort and who create great content the opportunity to shine.

Of course Facebook are trying to make money.  Facebook will never be the same again now that they have share holders to answer to but some of those paid options do give us far more benefit than we ever got before.  Offers for example gives us the first ever opportunity to measure direct cash ROI.  My offers experience allowed me to reach far further afield than anything else I have done on Facebook.

Finally – Don’t forget why people are on Facebook

Lets not forget why people are on Facebook, they are not there to buy our product, we are lucky that people have chosen to subscribe to our pages.  People join Facebook initially to connect with friends and family.  If Facebook is to continue as a strong social network we have to remember that we are essentially an advertisement interrupting their relationships, this is why it’s important that when we do interrupt it’s with relevant information that they want to see.

Today it seems that Facebook are to introduce a new feature giving our Likers the opportunity to get notified every time we post.  Page owners might be excited by this but in reality I think it’s unlikely that regular users will use this feature.  If we choose to stick with Facebook as a marketing tool we are going to have to assume that edgerank will affect our posting and accept that sometimes we will need to pay to be seen.

What changes have you noticed to Facebook feed?  Have you found any tips and tricks that have worked for you that you would like to share?

Facebook insights have become fantastically indepth over the last few years.  This is wonderful for marketers as we can see so much more about our likers, we can make sure we are reaching the right people, we can see what content works and tie this back to our business goals.  However they can be complex to navigate and that’s where this weeks cool tool comes in handy.  Minilytics takes your existing insight information and does the work for you, giving you analysis on the best time of day to post, the best type of content to post, how much of your audience you are actually reaching and information on the age and gender of your audience.

Here’s how it works:

Go to the Minilytics website. Log in with Facebook

Give permission to the app to access your Facebook info (basic info & email address)

Click ‘Go To App’

Allow additional permissions (manage your pages, access page Insights)

Before choosing what sort of information you want to see  you need to tell Minilytics what page you want to analyse. To choose a page click the ‘change page’ cog on the top right hand side of the screen.

Once you have selected the page you have a choice of what information you want to see; ‘Best time to post’, ‘Best type of post’, ‘How many people are your reaching’ & ‘Who are your fans’

Click on one of the questions on the screen or click on a menu on the left hand side of the page – here’s my results.

What I love about this app is that it tells you how it has analysed your data to come up with a result.  For example, it has told me that the best time of day to post to my page is 1pm, it tells me that it has come to this conclusion by analysing the last 100 comments on page posts.  What doesn’t seem to correlate is the actual time.  It tells me that the average top time for people to comment on my page is 12 noon, yet it’s telling me to post at 1pm?

**update – Jeff from Page Lever has been in touch in the comments to explain this anomaly, The 12 noon refers to GMT but I’m currently in BST timezone so the 1pm represents local time for my best posting time.**

There’s nothing unique here, the application is just analysing your existing analytics and presenting the results in a easier to digest format.  It’s this format that is what is wonderful about this app, it’s a massive timesaver, particularly if you pay close attention to your insights. I’d recommend that you use this tool on a regular basis, either weekly or monthly, in order to improve and test what works best for your page.

As a bonus the app also creates a report for you to download and share with your team.

It’s worth mentioning that this free tool is provided by PageLever who offer a paid Facebook analytics tool.

Did you find this app useful? Did you find the results surprising? Will it make you take a better look at your Facebook statistics in future?

At the beginning of the week I noticed the ‘Promote this post’ option pop up at the bottom of the status update box on my Facebook page.  This happened around the same time that Facebook started showing me the % of my Facebook audience that I was reaching with each post rather than just the number of people reached and the number of people talking about it.

Both updates seem to have rubbed business owners up the wrong way.  It has been the case for a long while, at least since the newsfeed update last autumn, that pages are not reaching 100% of the people who ‘Like’ them.  Facebook have told us that on average only 16% of our ‘Likers’ see our posts.  This makes sense to a certain extent, Facebook users are making more and more connections so in order to stop our newsfeeds scrolling as fast as they do on Twitter, Facebook is selective about what it shows us.  In experiments I’ve noticed that if I post three times in succession from one of my test pages the first post will show on my feed but very often the second or third doesn’t, even when I have it set to ‘latest updates’.  If I want to see everything posted by everyone I can keep a close eye on the ticker.  As someone who likes 100’s of pages it’s a bit of a relief that I don’t see everything, I would be overwhelmed if I had to scroll through every update manually.

Facebook promoted post
Promote individual posts on Facebook to improve your reach

Quite rightly businesses are concerned about the push towards advertising, we’ve been given a free tool to play with and Facebook now seem to want us to pay to stay relevant, however, if you can be creative and are willing to spend a bit more time you can get results without spending.  There is a place for promoted posts but I don’t think it’s as simple as big businesses paying to promote all their posts.

Promoted posts aren’t for lazy Facebookers even if your post reaches your entire Facebook audience there is no guarantee they will click your link or buy something, you will need to take time crafting a post that will work and encourage sharing, interaction and sales.  They could be used occasionally and cleverly to achieve particular goals.

There are two occasions when I can see promoted posts working well

1. To get more of your ‘Likes’ engaging with you so that they will see more of your posts in future

Edgerank is the algorithm that dictates what pieces of your content arrive on the newsfeeds of which of your likers.  In very simple terms it is derived from the type of content you are posting, the amount of time it stays in a newsfeed and the amount someone has interacted with you previously.  Using a promoted post to reach more of your audience and including a strong call to action to ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ means that those same people are more likely to see future posts from you even when they are not promoted.

2. To promote a specific offer

One of the biggest reasons for people to Like a page on Facebook is to hear about offers, so if you create a really good offer it might be worth paying for it to reach more than your usual audience.  Again, it’s not enough just to put up a status update with a discount code, you will need to spend time making sure you are going to get maximum return on your reach.  Creating a really strong image with the offer on it is one way to encourage more interaction and to be more memorable.  Think hard about your call to action, make it easy for people to redeem by either including a link to your offer page on your website or an easy to remember phrase that people have to say when they drop into your shop.

How do promoted posts work?

Before I wrote this blog post I thought I should try promoted posts out to see if they worked, how they worked and by how much €5 could improve my reach, with some interesting results.

Creating the post

Facebook promoted post
Create a strong post for promotion

 

I created a post that I would like to get more exposure, the sponsor video we created for ‘Blog Awards Ireland’.  Prior to posting the video had received 128 views.

I included a strong call to action for engagement at the top of the post.  I rarely ask for people to click Like but I knew that this would encourage the post to become more viral and get shared on tickers and newsfeeds of the people who clicked the Like.

I included a secondary call to action, for sponsors to email us at a specific address.  This would be harder to measure as the same email appears on most of our marketing material and our website. It was also far further down the post so many wouldn’t see it.

Thirdly I intended to measure video views.  The video was posted to YouTube and I shortened the link that I posted to Facebook using Bitly so that I could measure click thrus.

Choosing the promotion options

Facebook promoted post options
Choosing your budget

Once the post was constructed I clicked the ‘promote’ button and I got a few options.  I could either pay €5 to promote it but Facebook couldn’t guarantee the reach or €9 for which they promised to reach 1,700 people (way beyond the number of Likes on my Facebook page).  I went for the €5 option.

The results

Not surprisingly, because of the call to action I instantly started to get people clicking the like button underneath the post,  the post will be promoted for three days so even as I type this the number of likes is growing.  It’s currently at 49.

Because people were clicking ‘Like’ the post was getting seen by more people outside the pages fan base it was getting shared in the newsfeeds of the people liking the post and I was seeing a huge increase in viral reach.  None of this could be put down to the fact that the post was promoted though, more the strong call to action.  At 4pm just under 6 hours after I made the initial post I checked my statistics and noticed that only 1% of my page likers that had seen the post had done so due to the promotion.

What I did discover is that the post was reaching newsfeeds long after it was posted.  I got comments on the post that it was appearing at the top of news feeds set to top news and I’ve even seen it appear in my own newsfeed today.  I’m wondering will this continue until the three day’s are up?  This longevity is a massive benefit if you are promoting an offer, we usually expect posts to last for around three hours.

Facebook promoted post results
Likes and comments due to promotion

This afternoon the statistics for the post are that 38% of my pages likes have seen the post and Facebook tells me that 3% of these are due to the promotion. That’s 188 extra people, it also tells me that this has resulted in 2 comments and 3 post likes. I’ve only spent €1.85 of the €5 so far so I’m hoping to see that increase over the next day.

facebook promoted post reach
Viral reach was strongest

38% may sound impressive when you sit it alongside Facebook’s claim that most page posts only reach 16% of their audience but if I look back at posts from the last couple of weeks I can see a couple that reach above 40%.  Although the number of people who have seen the post is high at 871, with just 2 comments and 3 likes the promotion cannot be held responsible for the viral spread so it would seem that a simple yet strong call to action can buy you far more reach than an ad.

As for the video, although my call to action was to Like the post I thought it would be interesting to note any increase in video views, Youtube records 20 views since the post went live.  My Facebook insights attribute just 4 to my post, I also shortened the link to the video using Bitly and can see that there were 17 clicks on the video via that link, this means the shares that I gained (none of them due to the promoted post) gained me those extra views.

In conclusion

Yes promoted posts can work, they will help you reach a portion of your audience that don’t normally interact with your page but you need to have a strong call to action and you need to choose the right one.  Imagine I had chosen to ask for a share or for people to watch the video instead of for the like?  My campaign could have been far further reaching and may have gained Blog Awards some sponsors.  Maybe I could have captured more from that 3% I reached due to the promotion.  However most of the benefit I got from the post, most of the likes and all of the shares came from people who regularly contribute so by crafting the right post in the first place my reach would have been almost the same.

Have you tried promoted posts? Would you try them?  I’d like to hear your thoughts so do leave me a comment.

Last week I was out of the office a lot, trying to manage a business page from your mobile phone is a challenge.  There are only certain kinds of posts that work. You can’t see your notifications… and more.  I discovered I was not alone when I asked people on my Facebook page if they were also frustrated. With 44% of Facebook users accessing the site via mobile it surprises me that the iPhone and Android apps are still lacking in features.  The good news is that Facebook have just launched an iPhone app ‘Facebook Page Manager’.  As yet it’s not available on Android in Ireland but it is on the way.

Here’s a quick look at the features

At first look it doesn’t seem that different from the full Facebook application.  You can still only write a status update or add a photo.  If you click on the three lines on the top right hand side it brings you into a list of the pages that you manage.  The active page shows at the top with options to look at insights or admins.  Clicking on ‘insights’ gives you a snapshot of your page engagement, choosing ‘admins’ just shows you who the admins are.

On the page itself you can see notifications and any new ‘Likers’.  You can also filter posts and view hidden posts (posts that Facebook may have marked as spam)

As with the full Facebook mobile app you can comment and like posts.  Swiping your finger accross a post gives you the option to delete it, or if it’s a post from another user you can choose to hide the post or ban the user.

There’s plenty missing from this app, it would be nice to see it expand to give page managers full functionality but it’s a good start.

Do you find the Facebook mobile experience restricting?  What feature would you most like them to add?

I was passing through a Facebook page recently and a particular post caught my attention ‘This page is not your billboard’.  I wondered what had sparked this comment.  It wasn’t too long before I found out.  I started finding people posting the Spiderworking.com Facebook wall, short comments like ‘hello from your latest fan’ and a link to their page.  Some people were bolder posting what amounted to an advert for themselves on the page.

I have encouraged people to post on my wall in the past and many businesses do, sharing information, asking questions etc. and it is the lifeblood of a page to have these important engagements. However the short ‘hello look at my page’ post can most definitely be counted as spam .

On another occasion I noticed a page I liked had started posting ‘adverts’ or in this case links to their blog posts to many high profile Irish pages.

I don’t really blame the people who create these wall posts, there are unwritten rules of social media etiquette and they can be hard to navigate.   In this specific example it is also a waste of time.  Content posted on a pages wall by anyone other than the admins does not get shared to the newsfeed of the people who ‘Like’ that page.  The only people you will reach with your post are those visiting the page (a small fraction of the people who Like the page) and the Admin so all you achieve at the end of the day is a few disgruntled admins.

Are you unsure if you’re spamming?  If so here’s my quick guide:

What is spam?

The Google dictionary defines spam as “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients” For the purpose of this blog post I’d widen that to unsolicited self promotional content posted on the Internet in a space not fit for that purpose.  This could be a Facebook wall post, a comment on a blog, a discussion in a Linkedin group or a Twitter direct message.  As a rule of thumb something that just promotes you with out adding value has the potential to be considered spam.

How do I know if I’m spamming?

I guess the key to knowing if a post is spam or not is asking yourself if you are adding value and is it relevant?  Is your post purely promotional or are you asking a question or sharing information that the page owners will find useful?

If you’re leaving a comment on a blog is it well thought out?  If you’re including a link is it relevant to the article?

If you’re posting a discussion to a Linkedin group is it it relevant, will it provoke interaction from others?

If you are sending a DM on Twitter is it personal or is it automated? Are you simply asking them to Like a page or read your blog?

Don’t panic!

If you’re guilty of any of these behaviours don’t panic, you can stop now, you can even delete posts you’ve made on others walls and go forward knowing that you’ve seen the error of your ways.  Start providing value to pages and your community and your spamming days will soon be forgotten.

Are you tired of spam?  Have you been spammed in any more creative ways that I’ve missed?  I’d love to hear your comments below.

The Static FBML application that helped you create custom Facebook landing pages is being phased out. It was due to disappear on Friday but Facebook have extended the deadline to the 18th of March 2011. After this date you will be unable to create new FBML applications although you will continue to be able to edit existing applications.

What is a Landing page?

We’ve talked about Landing pages a lot before. These pages are seen by those who don’t already ‘Like’ your page the first time they visit. Most users will only see this page once so the key call to action of that page should be to get them to click the ‘Like’ button. Here’s a video we made recently about some pages we really like.  And here are some pages we have designed for clients.

What is replacing Static FBML?

As a replacement Facebook now allow you to create iframe applications for your business page. This is slightly more complicated than FBML and requires you to host the page on your own hosting space and create an application within Facebook. The advantage is that you can do far more with the pages, for example javascript that allows you to do things like rollovers wasn’t allowed within FBML but is possible within iframes.

Can you create iframes if you don’t have hosting space?

There are a growing number of Facebook applications that allow you to create your own custom Facebook page.  Pagemodo is a favorite of mine as it’s easy to use and you can include click thrus.  Here’s our guide on how to use it.  I just discovered this page from NCI that looks great and was created using Pagemodo.

PageLever is a very simple application.  The free version allows you to add an image to your custom tab but to do anything more complex you will need to subscribe to the service.

Finally Static FBML: iframes tabs was pointed out to me yesterday.  It looks great and I love the way it allows you to keep some of the FBML functionality.  Has anyone tried it?  I’d love to hear what you think so if you have used it leave a comment below.

Competition

Don’t forget if you would like a Welcome Tab designed professionally for you we have a competition at the moment on our Facebook page.  Every 100 ‘Likes’ we get up to 700 will win a page.  Click here to enter.

How to find inspiration for your blog posts is a common concern for bloggers of all levels.  There are times where I sit here at this keyboard wondering what is it I will blog about next, what if I run out of ideas for next week?  This week at KLCK we learned how mindmapping could help us with this problem. We also learnt about the power of video as part of a blog as a website.

Frank Bradley uses mind maps for all areas of his life, to manage to do lists, to ensure he has good work life balance and of course to organise his thoughts for blogging.  He blogs both on Tumblr and as part of the collaborative business blog Bloggertone.

For me it was a real eye opener, I guess I had always thought of mindmaps as being a bit out there but after playing with the concept I could see how it can help effectively organise your thoughts.  Franks presentation will be available on the KLCK Facebook page soon.

The first speaker of the evening was Bryan Corden from Hedgehog Productions in Carlow who talked about the power of video blogging, and how to effectively push our videos out across the Internet (presentation here).  He was accompanied by a cameraman and camera and we shot a short video on the night.  I’ll share this on my videocast as soon as it’s completed.

After the speakers we discussed the best way to start blogging, we talked about the differences between the different formats; Blogger, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Tumbler and Posterous.  We also talked about using Facebook to blog and anyone who checked into my blog yesterday will have seen how easy it is to do.  I’m delighted to see that three of the attendees have started blogging using the Facebook ‘Notes’ application.

A big thank you to our hosts The Seven Oaks Hotel who looked after us really well. To see who was there on the night, their blogs/websites visit our Facebook page.  You can also see pictures from the evening in our Flickr group.  If you missed the night we’re getting better and better at tweeting, you can view the Twitter archive here.

There will be no January meetup.  The next meeting will be in Laois on the 14th of February, we will post details on our Facebook page and Linkedin group when we have them.  You can also join the KLCK mailing list and we will send you out details of all further meetings.

We also have a discussion group on Facebook if you want to get involved between meetups.