Thursday, November 30, 2017

How to Fix your Facebook News Feed

“Remember when your Facebook feed was full of your friend’s posts?” When I saw this nostalgic question in my own Facebook feed, I of course had to jump in with a little helpful hint on how to fix this “problem.” Doing so went against my interests as a social media marketer. Ironically it was against the original poster’s interests as well, since she is a small business owner who has a Facebook Page for her business, but I like to help out where I can. Helping people enjoy Facebook more overall helps everyone out: even marketers. With that in mind, I’m sharing and expanding on the advice I gave my nostalgic friend so that you can benefit from it as well.

If you want to see more posts from your friends, you have a few basic options: train the Facebook news feed to show you what you want to see, or use Friend Lists to work around the News Feed and see only posts from your friends.

There are two ways to train the News Feed. The first option is to hide posts you don’t want to see, like posts from an annoying, irrelevant advertiser, a Page that you’re seeing too much of, or a friend with whom you’ve lost touch. Just click the top right corner of the post and click “Hide.” You’ll then see a popup with more options, and when you are done with the popup, you will see more options on a card where the post used to be in your News Feed. If it’s an ad post, you can also see why Facebook showed you the ad. If it’s a post from a friend or a Page, you will have the option to unfollow the Page or friend in both the dropdown menu and in the News Feed card. The more feedback you provide about what you don’t want to see, the more posts that you want to see will appear in the News Feed. Since Facebook occasionally seeds your feed with posts from friends or Pages you haven’t interacted with in a while, this will help you tell Facebook that you do or do not want to see posts from them.

The easiest way to train the News Feed algorithm is to interact with the friends whose posts you’d most like to see. Have you ever messaged someone whose posts you haven’t seen in a while, or “Facebook stalked” someone by visiting their Profile, and then immediately seen more posts from them in your News Feed? This is the algorithm at work. It is designed to show you posts from friends who are more relevant to you, including those you have interacted with recently. (Where it gets a bit creepy is when it shows you posts from people you were in physical proximity to without realizing it, since most of us have our location enabled on the Facebook mobile app.) To see more posts from your friends, interact with them and their posts more on Facebook. Like, love, wow, comment, and share. The more you interact, the better Facebook will learn.

If all else fails (or if you’re dead set against the News Feed algorithm) you can use Friend Lists. In the past, I’ve showed you how to use Friend Lists to limit the visibility of your own posts to certain groups of people. Friend Lists work the other way as well, allowing you to view posts from only certain groups. Click here to see your current friend lists, since Facebook pre-builds some for you based on information in your Facebook Profile. From there, you can click on a List to view only posts from that group of friends, or build new Friend Lists so that you can see posts from those groups of people. You can even make a Friend List that contains all of your Facebook friends, so that you can see a feed with everyone’s posts, free from ads or other posts by Pages.

You will notice, however, that these “friends only” feeds are far from the ideal stream you want them to be. They are not affected by Facebook’s algorithms, meaning you will see posts from friends you haven’t interacted with in a long time. The Uncle you added just to be nice, but whose politics you disagree with? He’s there. The friend of a friend you added at a party but have never hung out with (whose profile you have to look at to remember how you know her)? She’s there too. Wading through an unfiltered feed may end up making you nostalgic for the filtered, ad-ridden News Feed that was annoying you so much.

My point is this: as flawed as it is, Facebook’s News Feed and the algorithms that control it are there for a reason. The ads that annoy you are also how Facebook makes the money they need to keep running and keep you using their free service to connect with your friends. The steps you take to avoid Page posts from businesses that you don't like might also prevent you from seeing posts from organizations you support. You may also miss posts and ads from Pages that you actually might like, but wouldn't have heard of otherwise. When you learn how to use the News Feed to show you the content you want, you will have a better experience overall. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Measuring Social Media ROI in Real Life

The other day, someone impressed the heck out of me by doing something that few businesses do well: he asked how I heard about his company. This is an essential piece of the social media strategy puzzle, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses, and often a missing piece. When a retail client asks me how their social media strategy is doing, my response is usually, "Well, you tell me?" I can track and report from my end what kind of reach and engagement their posts are getting, but success for them is most often measured by an increase of foot traffic and physical sales. If businesses aren't asking customers where they are coming from, they will never know if their social media efforts are paying off.

"But won't that seem weird?" No one is going to be put off by being asked how they found you. (Well, there are always exceptions, but they are few and far between!) If someone is browsing your small retail store, a simple "Hey, welcome in! How did you hear about us?" can work wonders. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to wait to ask them until you close a transaction. But if chatting them up is out of place, your point-of-sale system may give you a short survey option for them to fill out as they're checking out.

To make this process worthwhile, make it more than just anecdotal evidence. Create a way to track it systematically, whether it's a spreadsheet, a physical piece of paper, or a relationship management software.

If it's overwhelming for you or your staff to work this type of tracking into your everyday business routine, simplify it. Try it once a week or once a month. Something is better than nothing, so even an occasional snapshot will give you an idea of how effective your social media efforts are.

This post is an extension of a quote I gave to fellow Social Media Today contributor Steve Rayson for his post about social analytics. Kudos to Steve for getting my creative juices flowing on this topic.

As always, if you have questions on social media best practices, I'd love to hear them. Please get in touch via my website.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Social Media is About Interactions

My approach to social media is focused on social networking, not social marketing. Marketing and sales happen, but as a result of successful interaction and engagement with customers.

I watched the Pope's TED Talk yesterday and was struck by one key point he made: "each and everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions." The same can be said for how people use social media. The endless streams of posts are not merely flowing through our news feeds; they represent moments of connection, both actual and potential.

When someone posts on their social media accounts, they are, whether actively or passively, seeking a connection, whether with individuals or with brands. They are sharing a bit of themselves with the world, with the understanding that by doing so, they open themselves up to connections with others.

Capitalizing on this element of connection is what the most successful brands (and people) on social media are doing right. The brands with the least effective (and most cringeworthy) social media presence are either ignoring the power of these connections, or getting them completely wrong.

When customers and fans tag a brand in a post, they do so with the understanding, if not expectation, that the brand is listening and could potentially respond to them. Often, customers will turn to social media for customer service before interacting with a representative in person. Brand evangelists, as well as would-be influencers, engage with brand accounts in the hopes of elevating their own credibility and influence.

Whether social media user interactions are positive or negative, truly enthusiastic or self-serving, the best brands are listening and responding. Are you?

If your business needs help listening and connecting to your fans, customers and prospects on social media, please get in touch.

Happy Networking!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Are You Missing Social Media Opportunities?

No one likes to be talked about behind their back. So, when it comes to social media, why are so many business owners okay with letting that happen? Here are four ways businesses miss opportunities to connect with their customers and prospects on social media, and what they should be doing instead:

  1. Ignoring Yelp Reviews: "My Yelp reviews are almost all four or five stars. I don't need to respond to them, right?" I've heard this countless times from business owners who are only checking their Yelp listings once a month, or less. If someone was raving about you in person, you wouldn't ignore them, would you? Thanking someone for a rave review is a great way to keep them coming back to your business! Claiming your Yelp listing (another step many businesses miss) and monitoring reviews on a regular basis ensures that less positive reviews don't slip through the cracks. Responding to each review you receive, positive or negative, shows that you are responsive and on top of your customer service. This applies to other review sites as well, like Google and even Facebook.
  2. Ignoring Facebook Interactions: From check-ins and messages to wall posts and even simple comments, some businesses just ignore interactions from people on Facebook. They do so at the risk of damaging their relationship with people leaving positive interactions, and further angering those with negative interactions. Negative feedback can also have a snowball effect, with others chiming in when you don't see or respond to the first interaction. Following up on each interaction instead ensures that you will maintain positive relationships with happy customers and that you will control the conversation around negative interactions.
  3. Missing Twitter Mentions: Savvy Twitter users know that often the best way to reach out to an organization for customer service is by mentioning them in a tweet. A company that isn't monitoring their mentions closely risks the ire of people who can't get in touch with them. Instead, follow up on mentions with a response, like or retweet, and follow the user if appropriate. Following a user shows them that you care about what they have to say, and allows you to engage with them in the future, whether they're talking about your business or not. Creating a private list of users who have mentioned you in the past is another good way to keep track of customers for future outreach opportunities.
  4. Missing Instagram Tags: Especially if a business has a physical address and a Facebook Page, there's a good chance people have tagged their location in Instagram photos. Businesses, or their representatives, should monitor photos tagged at their location and follow up on these posts by following the user, if appropriate, and liking and commenting on the post. This also applies to mentions and hashtags using the business's handle and name. Regramming and sharing these photos on other social social media channels is also a great source of content for you!
These missed opportunities on social media happen for a few reasons. Sometimes it's because businesses are afraid of negative interactions, or don't know how to respond in general. Sometimes it's because they see social media only as a sales tool, and not as an opportunity to connect with current and prospective fans and customers. Most often it's because the business owners and staff don't have time to keep up with their social media interactions. If any of these apply to you and your business, I can help. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Happy Networking!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Your Business Needs a Social Media Checkup - Here are 5 Reasons Why

January is a great time to review your social media strategy and the content you’ve posted to make sure you’re on track. Review these items to stay on top of your social media presence in 2017.
  1. Goals – Your business may have different goals now than it did last year, several years ago, or whenever you got started on social media. Whether you’re trying to generate walk-in business or to send people to your website, having clear goals in mind will help you establish an effective social media strategy.
  2. Target Demographic – Is your target demographic the same now as it was when you started? Your target may have shifted, or your demographic’s favorite social network may have changed. You may need to add a new network like Instagram or Snapchat to make sure you are still reaching them.
  3. Content Mix – You may have fallen into a pattern without realizing it, posting the same type of content (photos, links, plain text) or even the same wording all the time without realizing it. You may also be focusing too heavily on selling your business rather than developing a relationship with your customers and prospects. Reviewing your content mix will help you freshen up your content and generate new engagement from your audience.
  4. Industry Trends – Monitoring trends like live video as they gain popularity and assessing whether they’re right for your business can help you make the most of your social media presence. But be careful not to jump on trends right away. I’ve found the best practice is to watch and learn from early adopters to see if the trend is a good fit and how you can best utilize it to your advantage.
  5. Consistency – Review your post frequency to see if your social media activity is consistent. It’s a lot to keep up with! There may be long gaps between posts without you realizing it, if you’re not keeping track. If you’re having trouble keeping up, it may be time to bring in outside help. Consistency can also be an issue when it comes to voice and tone. If multiple people are contributing to your company’s social media presence, your audience may be confused by inconsistency in your brand’s voice.
My best wishes for the year ahead and if you have any questions or need any help with your social media presence, please contact me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Absolute Worst Thing a Business Can Do on Social Media

If you were to ask me the number one mistake business owners make when trying to do their own social media, I might be tempted to say overselling their product or service. Social media is a networking tool, not a megaphone! Beyond that, there is one thing that is even worse: buying likes/followers. Here are my top four reasons why buying followers is a bad idea, and what business owners should do instead.

  1. When you buy followers, they are usually FAKE. When I go through the thousands of followers a new client has purchased before hiring me, they're often extremely obvious bots. That, or they're accounts like my client's: they've given a paid like/follow service access to their account, and therefore their account has liked/followed thousands of similar accounts. They may also be "click farmers" - real people who are paid to like/follow a client's accounts. For more on click-farming, check out this excellent video by Veritasium.
  2. Fake followers drive down post reach. Fake followers usually have absolutely no relevance to your business. Their only benefit is to drive up your overall follower counts. With social networks across the board implementing news feed algorithms, having thousands of fake followers who aren't engaging with your content often means that your post reach dwindles away to nothing.
  3. Fake followers max out follow caps. If you purchase thousands of likes or follows from a spam service, chances are your account will follow thousands of accounts to get there, and you will quickly reach your follow limit on Twitter and Instagram. That will prevent you from following other accounts that are actually relevant to your business.
  4. Buying fake followers can open you up to hackers and credit card fraud. As explained here, people who are willing to take your money to hook you up with fake followers may also be willing to sell your info to others. Stay safe! This aspect of the trade is especially troubling to me when I see my client's accounts followed real teens and even tweens who only posted a few times on Instagram and had clearly used the same follower purchasing company to drive up their numbers.
Instead of buying fans and followers from a shady service who tags you in a post or direct messages you, here's what to do instead:

  • Generate organic social media growth by following and engaging with legitimate accounts.
  • Create extremely targeted ads through native ad platforms to attract legitimate fans/followers. Yes, you may still get a few fake followers this way, but the more specific you are (think demographics, regions, interest keywords, languages spoken, etc) the more likely you are to find real people.
  • Instead of paying someone with questionable ethics to get a few hundred or a few thousand fake followers, hire a real social media manager to create both organic and paid social media growth.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Don't Wait to Get Started on Social Media

One thing I hear fairly often when talking with business owners, especially small, family-owned businesses, is that they are so busy and that business is going so well that they don't need social media. And/or that they'll wait until their slower season to get started. Here's why I encourage them not to wait.

If you haven't been on social media at all during your busy season, it's going to be a rough start during your slow season. That's because of the algorithm that determines whether or not people see your posts. Facebook has had them for a while, and Twitter and Instagram are getting started now too. One of the main factors that influence the algorithms is whether or not someone has interacted with you recently. When you haven't been online for a while, or ever, your posts are less relevant and have less of a chance of showing up in people's feeds.

The busy season is the best time to capitalize on existing customer engagement. When you're busy, you can extend customer interactions to the social space, or find and celebrate existing social interactions that you may not even be aware of, and increase your visibility. Capturing those positive interactions with your fans now will keep them interacting with you during your slow season, and generate viral reach to their friends.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and socialize!

If you need help, I'm always happy to answer questions.