Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Power of Profreading

Did you notice something wrong with the headline of this post? Congratulations! You can proofread! Now rinse and repeat with your own social media posts. Just because social media is a casual, informal marketing format doesn't mean your messages shouldn't be as carefully crafted as any other type of marketing. Proper editing and proofreading will keep you looking professional in the eyes of your fans and followers, and prevent the dreaded "hide," "unlike" or "unfollow."

Here's why:
  • Typos, mistakes and grammatical errors are easy to make, but hard for fans and followers to forgive and forget. They simply look sloppy and unprofessional.
  • While errors in blog posts can be edited, Twitter and Facebook don't let you edit posts. It's either delete it, or live with it.
  • If a fickle follower or fan sees a post twice because you have to delete and re-post it due to an error,  they might hide your posts or unlike/unfollow you. In Facebook, fans can hide your posts and unlike you right from your news feed by clicking the "X" next to the offending post.
  • If (on Facebook) fans "like" or comment on the erroneous post, you won't want to delete it and it will be immortalized on your wall.
  • On Twitter, people might RT your erroneous tweet, making your mistake visible to their followers as well as yours.
The good news is that these errors are easy to avoid by thoroughly editing and proofreading your posts. So take your time, use spell-check, read it aloud or share it with a friend/coworker to keep your accounts looking professional.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Social Media Right for Every Brand?

A friend of mine asked recently if I foresee a future where every organization has a social media presence. I said yes, but the question is if they'll all be effective. So when is social media not right for a brand, or what brands aren't right for social media?

Launching a social media strategy or campaign might not be right for a brand if:
  • There is no clear or consistent business plan or marketing strategy. It's all well and good to start a Facebook page, but your new fans aren't going to stay with you for long if you're not clear about your products or messages or your plan for the future.
  • The brand's managers don't have the time/knowhow to devote to social media or the ability to hire someone who does. As any social media addict or parent of a socially adept teen can tell you - social media is a time suck. If you don't have the time to devote to your social media strategy (monitoring your channels on a daily basis, interacting with fans and other pages, posting, etc) and you can't (or don't want to) hire someone who does, your brand won't survive or pull much weight in the social arena.
The issue of what brands may or may not be right for social media is contentious. You might think that businesses people don't want to talk about or engage with wouldn't do well, but just type "Funeral Home" into Facebook search and you'd be surprised. (822 people like Pray Funeral Home in Charlotte, Michigan) Even brands people traditionally shy away from admitting they like or don't usually want to interact with can do just fine. I would argue instead that brands that can't consistently provide engaging, meaningful content are the only type that aren't right for social media, and that can be changed.

So what do you think? Can you envision a future where every brand, business and organization  has an effective social media presence?

Thanks to @tomheg for the photo: http://tpdsaa.tumblr.com/post/2724755436/submitted-by-tomheg

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How To Friend Your Mom (Aunt, Coworker, Ex-Boyfriend) on Facebook

So you've received a friend request from your mom. (Or your aunt, coworker, boss, ex-boyfriend - you get the idea.) If you click "ignore", they might be offended. Chances are they probably won't notice, but it could get awkward. If you click "accept", they'll have access to all of your Facebook content. They'll be able to see what pages you've "liked", those slightly scandalous photos from your college toga party and your often sarcastic wall posts. Or will they...

Facebook gives you the tools you need to accept friend requests willy-nilly. All you need to do is set up friend lists and then customize your privacy settings to deny access to these lists. When you receive a friend request, you can create a new friend list right there and then by clicking the "add to list" button and creating a new list. Easy as that. Here's how to add existing friends to a new friends list and then modify your privacy settings to change what those folks see:

On your home page, click "Friends" 
Click the "Edit Friends" button
Click "Create a List"

Give your list a name using the box at the top left, and then select the friends you want to add to the list by clicking on their profile photos. Then click "Create List."
To change your privacy settings for your friends list, click "Account" at the top right of any Facebook page, then click "Privacy Settings." Select "Custom" and then click "Customize settings."

On the next screen, you can change individual settings and deny access to specific content to certain friend lists. For example, while I can limit access on individual posts to certain friends, my friends might be less discreet when posting on my wall, so I'm going to limit the visibility of posts by my friends. Click the dropdown button next to the content you want to limit access to, then click "edit" next to the word custom.

Then type in the name of the friend list you don't want to see that content in the box next to "These people:"

That's it! You can go on down the line and restrict access to all types of content on your page. It may seem time consuming, but once you have your privacy settings set and a few generic friend lists created (I categorize my friends into regular friends, "Limited Profile" and "Super Limited Profile") it will go a lot faster, since all you'll have to do is add new friends to your existing lists. Doing so will save a lot of awkward explanations in the future.

Friday, March 11, 2011

News Feed Settings - Top Friends vs. All Friends

You may have seen friends posting status updates lately telling you to change your news feed settings because you're not seeing updates from all of your friends (or if you haven't seen such a message, this might be why.) In addition to giving you the ability to see "Top News" or "Most Recent" posts in your news feed, Facebook provides the ability to customize the "Most Recent" feed. The feed can show posts from all of your friends and the pages you like, or only the friends and pages you interact with most.

Many users are crying out in outrage that Facebook would hide posts from them. Personally, I like this feature because it ensures that I will see the updates that I'd be most interested in. I also customize my news feed by hiding posts from apps like Farmville, or posts from acquaintances good enough to call Facebook friends but distant enough that I don't need constant updates on their lives. It only makes sense to me, therefore, to trust Facebook's algorithms enough to show me posts from the users I interact with most. I like noticing when I have visited a friend's profile or interacted with a page more often and I see their posts begin to show up in my news feed. The difference is most obvious to me when I use the Facebook for iPhone app, where the news feed shows me posts from all of my friends and pages and I have to slog through to find posts that I'm interested in.

Since there has been interest in how to change this setting though, here's how:
  1. In the news feed, click on the "Most Recent" dropdown. (Notice here that you can also customize your news feed to show separate categories of posts - Status Updates, Photos, Links and updates from Pages. You can also show posts only from friends lists - I have two lists created for people who have limited access to my profile information.
  2. Click "Edit Options"
  3. On the "Show posts from:" dropdown, you can select either "Friends and pages you interact with most" or "All of your friends and pages"
  4. Select the option you want and click "Save" at the bottom of the box
In a way, opting to see posts from all of the friends and pages you follow makes your Facebook news feed more like a Twitter feed. It also means that depending on when your friends post and when you log on, it might become more expedient to visit their profile pages to see their posts. Remember that if you do opt to see posts from "All of your friends and pages," you can always customize your feed by hiding individual posts, posts from apps and posts from friends or pages you are no longer interested in. That's something that Twitter unfortunately can't offer.

From the standpoint of Facebook for businesses, business pages would probably prefer that users show posts from all of their friends and pages, because it increases the likelihood that the business's posts will be seen. If users opt for all friends and pages, businesses must time their posts ever more carefully to maximize impressions. If users opt to see only posts from the pages they interact with most, it becomes even more important that business make the posts on their Facebook pages relevant and interesting to their users.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Obtaining a Vanity URL for Your Facebook Page

Since most Facebook page URLs are long and cumbersome, it's a good idea to obtain a username and, thereby, a shorter "vanity" URL for your page. Here's how:
  • To get a username for a business page, you first need 25 fans (This helps prevent people from "squatting" on usernames by just creating a page and naming it with very few fans.) Regular users can set a username for your profile page at any time.
  • Go to www.facebook.com/username
  • Select the name of your page from the dropdown menu
  • In the text box that appears, type in the username you want, then click "Check Availability"

  • If the username isn't available, you'll get a message below the text box saying so. If you think someone is infringing on your trademark by taking the username you want, contact Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=username_infringement. They are pretty good about responding to infringement inquiries.
  • If the username is available, the box below will pop up - read these guidelines carefully and then click "Confirm"

  • Once you click "Confirm" you'll get another popup telling you that you have been successful in naming your page, and you can now direct your fans to facebook.com/(your username). Congrats! 
  • If you have any questions about setting your username, visit https://www.facebook.com/help/?page=900 or send me an email.
And as you may have guessed, my Facebook page is up and you can now visit The Social Stage at www.facebook.com/thesocialstage!

You can also change your username and vanity URL for your personal Facebook page by visiting your "Account Settings" page. Business pages can't change their usernames, but personal profile usernames can be changed. Be careful though - you can only change your username once!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Back to Basics: Posting a YouTube Clip on Facebook

It's easy for social media mavens to forget how tasks like posting video links can be difficult for others. For the not-so-tech-savvy Facebook user, here are the steps to post a YouTube (or other video clip or web link in general) to your business page. To share a YouTube video on your personal page, you can use the "Share" button beneath the video. This is the process for sharing videos on your business page:
  1. Copy the URL from the website - you can find a shorter URL on YouTube by clicking "share" below the video. Additional options will drop down, including a shorter, simpler URL.
  2. On your business page, click "Link" next to the word "Share"
  3. Paste the YouTube link into the box that appears and click "Attach"
  4. The thumbnail for the video will show up - you can scroll through and choose the thumbnail that you like. You can also click the "No Thumbnail" box to post the video without a thumbnail appearing. However, this will prevent users from viewing the video from within your Facebook page. They will have to click on the link and go to YouTube to view it.
  5. You can also change the title of the video and the summary that appears by clicking on the text and editing it. Sometimes the text is too long or, as shown below, an additional URL will appear in the summary. Just click on the text to edit it or delete it entirely.
  6. Click inside the box that says "Say something about this link" to write a comment about the video, then click "Share" and it will be posted to your page.
That's it! This same process applies for posting links to other websites as well. Happy posting, Facebook page admins, and feel free to email me with any questions.