Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

How Bogus Likes Help You To Lose Your Edge

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Lately the hype about Facebook has surrounded the introduction of the new news feed and Facebook Timeline.  Yesterday I posted an extensive outline of the recent Facebook changes and how they impact users and their profiles, but today I want to get back to the business of Facebook Pages.  If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you know how much I stress that social media is not a numbers game. In my post Like Me and I’ll Like You Back I stressed how numbers mean nothing if the followers of Likes you are generating don’t really care about you and your message.  However, with more companies out there pushing their products to gain you hundreds Likes for a nominal price, I thought I’d share how services like this hurt you more than help you.

Facebook’s EdgeRank

Before we get into how these services can hurt you, let me tell you a little bit about EdgeRank.  EdgeRank is an algorithm utilized by Facebook to determine if your content is worth showing to its users.  It creates an affinity score between your page and a particular user by gauging how often you and that user interact, adds a content type-specific weight (is it a link, a picture, status update, etc), and then adds an age factor to round things out (How recent is it, when was the last engagement with the content, etc.).  The second you post something on Facebook the score is determined and is then increases based on interactions.  The more people interact with your content, the higher your base EdgeRank is.  If people aren’t interacting with your content, your affinity score drops and essentially your content will show up less and less, or not at all, in that users News Feed.

How Buying Likes Can Hurt You

With the idea of EdgeRank fresh in your mind, let’s imagine that you went ahead and paid someone $100 for 100 new followers.  In most cases these Like’s are provided by Facebook accounts created solely for the purpose of inflating the number of people that Like Facebook Pages.  They will never like your content, they will never comment on your content, and probably never visit your page again.  Their lack of interest in your content and Page instantly impacts the long term growth of your Page’s EdgeRank and the probability of your content showing up in the News Feed of legitimate followers.

Finding Legitimate Likes

The key to keeping strong EdgeRank is the focus on quality Likes.  Much like backlinks for SEO, it’s not the quantity that’s important so much as the quality.  To gain quality Like’s you need to give people a reason to Like you.  Create an experience that will make existing fans interact and draw attention of other users.

  • Start Close To Home – Get your employees, existing clients, vendors, partners, friends and family to Like your page.
  • Share Unique Content – Videos, images, and updates that people won’t find anywhere else.
  • Post Content That Require Action – Ask questions, run polls, etc. Post things that make people click and interact.
  • Say Thank You – When users post on your wall, thank them and interact with them. Show them that you’re listing.
  • Integrate Social Media Into Your Business – Ultimately the more you entwine social media into your business culture the more fans you’ll cultivate.
    • Post signs in your business, “Join the conversation on Facebook”, “Find out about our latest specials on Facebook”, etc.
    • Have receptionsts end calls asking, “Have you joined the conversation on Facebook yet? Visit Facebook.com/YourNameHere”.

In conclusion, the number of Like’s you have doesn’t matter.  Build and maintain a quality fanbase that is willing to share your content and interact with it.  Your goal should be to become an influencer with content people enjoy and share, not a Facebook Page with 1,000 Like’s.

Unraveling the Slew of Recent Facebook Updates

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Facebook hit users hard last week with significant updates to the Facebook news feed and then a day later unveiled Facebook Timeline, a new look for the Facebook profile that no longer looks to act as your online identity, but the story of who you are.  With the sudden change I was quickly inundated with cries for help and questions on about the changes, especially during my live updates about announcements from Facebook during F8.  A couple days later I promised my friends, fans, and family that I would do a post outlining the changes, what they are, and how they work, and this is that post.

First and Foremost

The first thing I want to take a moment to address are the recent slew of rumors surrounding Facebook.  First, with the new updates came another round of the “Pass this on” posts saying that Facebook was going to start charging for the service.  Facebook has vowed never to charge users, so let’s kill this one immediately.  Ultimately if Facebook were going to do something like this they would mass email their users to let them know of the change since it is a significant one.  This is sure to come up again, as it does everytime Facebook makes a significant change, so please stop spreading this every time you hear it.

Another piece of misinformation that has been floating around is the meme telling users to unsubscribe from your friends’ comments and likes as a means of preventing your friends from seeing your information in the new Ticker feature.  With these changes, Facebook did not change privacy, so this information is available to the exact same people that could see it before the change.  Your comments and likes are only visible to people who can see the original post, so only if the post is published as “Public” will you need to be concerned, and even then your personal privacy settings may override this depending on what you have setup.

Changes to the News Feed

I’ll be honest, at first this was the one change that initially had me in a tizzy. When Facebook first converted the new layout I was forced to scroll through probably hundreds of “Top Stories” before I could view my “Recent Stories” and it made me a bit crazy because I assumed that was going to be a common theme moving forward.  Fortunately the next morning that was not the case.  The feed was much more manageable I could navigate between the two section seamlessly and I only had to go through a handful of posts that were marked as “Top Stories”.

How It Works

Unlike the previous news feed where users could choose between “Top News” and “Most Recent” the two feeds are now combined.  “Top Stories” will now appear first in your timeline followed by “Recent Stories”.  The content in your “Top Stories” section are the updates from friends and websites that have received the most attention (e.g. Likes, comments, shares) and Facebook feels are most relevant to you based off of your past interactions. Top Stories are also designated with a little blue triangle in the upper left corner of the update.  If you don’t feel something warrants a Top Story, or you feel that something that wasn’t a Top Story should be you can click the blue triangle and Facebook will use that information to better deliver “Top Stories” in the future.

Item of Note

It appears that you can now tag anyone and anything on Facebook by using the @ symbol in your updates.  In the past the @ symbol followed by a string of letters would deliver friends and Pages you were connected to that started with those letters, now it appears to unveil anything and everyone on Facebook regardless if you are directly connected to them via a friendship or a “Like”. I have found this to be a bit confusing at time, especially when there are multiple Pages managed for a brand or sports team.

Friends and Subscriptions

Facebook Subscribe OptionsAnother element of the new Facebook is the “Subscribe” feature, which allows you to subscribe to a user as opposed to becoming friends with them.  Another valuable element to the subscription feature is the ability to limit the kind of information that shows up from your friends or someone you are subscribed to in your News Feed.  By default all of your friends are set to “Most Updates”, however it is still unclear what “Most Updates” means since when you hover over the “Subscribe” button on a friend’s profile and look at the list of items you can subscribe to, they are all checked.

The one upside to this is that you can limit the kind of information you see from certain friends.  This is great for folks you friended on Facebook that you aren’t that interested in knowing about.  Another cool factor with “Subscribe” is that it allows you to see public updates from users in your News Feed that may not friend you (e.g. celebs, public figures, and the like).

Introducing Ticker

In the past Facebook’s News Feed suffered from some lag, and even with the updated News Feed you’ll experience a delay or require a refresh to see what’s going on.  With the new Ticker feature, this is no longer a problem.  Ticker gives you an update on what’s going on within your network in real time.  Deemed by some of my friends as the “Stalker” feature or “Facebook on Facebook” it gives you insight into everything else your friends are doing (e.g. Likes, comments, new friendships, updates from apps etc.) in the upper right corner of your screen.  As Mark Zuckerberg put it during f8, this is the annoying stuff that used to pop up in your news feed.  One thing I did notice however is that app updates will show up in the News Feed if it happens to be an app that you use and interact with frequently.  For instance Spotify originally showed up just in the ticker for me, but after a few days of using the new Spotify integration on Facebook I started to notice it showing up in my News Feed instead of just in the ticker.  This again goes back to the point that content displayed in your News Feed will be relative to what matters to you most.  For more information on Ticker, including the concern mentioned earlier about people seeing your comments on other people’s stuff you can view the Ticker information page on Facebook.

Facebook Timeline: The Redesigned Profile

Though not public yet, this is probably the most highly anticipated new feature to come out of Facebook in the last couple of weeks. No longer is your Facebook profile just insight into who you are, it is now your entire story in a single place.  From birth, to graduation, marriage, and everything in between Facebook Timeline let’s you share your life story through images, updates, apps, and more. Below is my timeline, which is not publicly available for everyone to view, but because I setup the Foodskout app as a Developer I am able to test out the new format.

Mike Wilton's Facebook Timeline

The new “Timeline” profile has a lot of cool little features that allow you to add significant information to your story.  Below is a breakdown of some of the core features I have had the chance to play with.

The Cover

For the first time ever Facebook is letting users get creative with their profiles.  For a long time Facebook stood by it’s decision to ensure user experience was seamless from page to page, but it appears that they have finally given up that effort to let users get a bit more creative with their personal profiles.

Mike Wilton's Facebook Cover

The Facebook cover is your cover story, insight into who you are.  It is a reflection of you and your life and you can choose to upload a unique image as a cover, or select an image from your image on Facebook to use as a cover.

Got Apps?

Below your cover is your main information, but it also features a favorites and recent apps section.  One of the other big pushes to come out of f8 was the introduction of social apps that allow you to display music, movies, television, news and more from a variety of apps across the web.  With the introduction of timeline you can now integrate these apps into your profile. I have setup Spotify as my first social app and it displays on my profile.  If you click on the app it takes you to a special page with a collection of my recent activity on Spotify in a Timeline format.

Spotify App on Facebook Timeline

The fun part about the favorite and apps section on the timeline is that you can rearrange, add, and remove any of the elements that you want.

Writing Your Story

As I mentioned earlier, the idea between Timeline is to tell your story on Facebook.  You are no longer limited to a core set of life events and your Facebook updates to tell your story.  You now have the ability to go back in time and tell your story from the beginning adding dates, photos, and locations to any of your significant life events. Below are just a handful of the events available to choose from.

Facebook Life Events

Other choices include:

  • Add a job
  • Graduated
  • Military Service
  • Moved
  • Bought A Home
  • Add a roomate
  • Add a vehicle
  • Broke a bone
  • Had surgery
  • Overcame an illness
  • Learned a language
  • Got a license
  • Travel
  • Achievement or Award

And if it doesn’t fit under any of those choices you can choose “Other Life Event”

I saw an interesting comment on Google+ the other day from someone where they basically said, Facebook users are not the customer, they are the product.  If you think about it, this isn’t far from the truth.  Facebook makes money with advertisers, if they have a database of information about you and your life think of how much easier advertisers can target you?  Let’s just say for instance you were a breast cancer survivor and you made not of this in the “Overcame an illness” category.  Now just imagine I am an advertiser wanting to push content about a promotion or event for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.  Guess who I’m going to want to target?

The Timeline Itself

Your actual timeline will feature a long list of updates from a variety of sources, such as apps that you’ve allowed, friends that have tagged you, Events, Places your friendships and likes.  However, for moments that you want to stand out, you can tag it as a Feature on your timeline by clicking the star in the upper right corner of the post.  This will cause the item to span the entire timeline and appear larger than the other updates in the timeline.

Featured Item on the new Facebook Timeline

One thing to make note of here is that the new timeline format makes content a bit easier to view and skim.  In the past the content on a Facebook profile was very easy to pass by without noticing. In the new format you may notice things that you might not want the general public picking up on easily. If this is the case I would highly recommend doing a quick run through of your timeline once you’re converted and make sure that there is nothing that should be hidden from the timeline.  Fortunately this is easy to do by clicking the edit or remove feature that appears in the upper right corner of the update when you mouse over it.

At the end, even this comprehensive post on what’s what of the new Facebook is just scraping the surface. There are literally dozens of new features and changes that aren’t as prominent or important with the new Facebook, such as the added ability to send your friends celebrating birthdays a message all at once directly from the birthday notification in the sidebar.  In the end it will all just take getting used to the same way we have with every other change Facebook has rolled out over the years.  Hopefully this has given you some insight into the new Facebook and answered some of your questions.  If not please feel free to drop me a note in the comments below and I will do my best to answer your question or seek out the answer for you.

Why Posting to Social Networks in a One Size Fits All Format Is A Bad Idea

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

There was a time when I thought Ping.fm was the greatest thing in the world. It allowed me to easily update nearly every social network I belonged to all at once, but there was one problem with that.  I was updating every social network I belonged to at once.  At the time I didn’t think about the fact that different social networks have different audiences and want different things from me as part of their network.  With so many networks and services allowing you to integrate your posts across multiple platforms, a lot of clients have asked me to help them set them up so that Facebook posts to Twitter or Twitter posts to Facebook, and the like.  Every time it comes up I strongly advise against it, and here is why.

Below is an image of a tweet I came across a few weeks back while doing some research.  When I saw it I was confused. Why was this doctor telling people to follow him on Twitter from Twitter. Sure, if they came across it the way I did it may entice them to follow, but let’s be honest, this tweet clearly wasn’t intended for his Twitter audience.

Twitter Status from @rsplastic

Sure enough, when I clicked through I found that this doctor had originally posted this on Facebook as a means to get his Facebook fans to follow him on Twitter, but it was being fed from Facebook to his Twitter timeline.  I did a little bit more digging and found that there was a lot of cross posting like this.  Some posts were fine this way, where others left me scratching my head as a user on Twitter.

Earlier this week I posted reasons why posting via third party apps can impact Facebook engagement, and one of the things mentioned in the study from Applum was that the content was not intended or optimized for the social network it was on, and this is a prime example.

Aside from looking ridiculous (Do you get as annoyed as I do when you see people post Twitter updates on Facebook full of @username and # in the status?), you are creating a content echo chamber that is repeating your message over and over to those that have connected with you on multiple networks.  That’s the social networking equivalent to calling or emailing a client to let them know you are offering a new promotion, and then doing it again, and again, and again. Talk about annoying.

Each social network is different and they should be treated as such.  Does this mean it’s not ok to share the same content on multiple networks? Of course not, but be conscious of what you are doing.  Does your LinkedIn network want to know that you just checked-in to your favorite Chinese food restaurant on Foursquare? Probably not.  Do you need to ask your Twitter audience to follow you on Twitter? Absolutely not.   So before you start integrating all of your social networks into each other, ask yourself, does this network want to hear what I have to say on every other network? In most cases the answer is going to be no.  To ensure you get the best engagement for your content on the social network of your choice, take a few extra minutes to post the proper messages into the proper channels, and if you are going to automate make sure the content that’s being fed is suitable for that particular audience first.

Why NetworkedBlogs May Not Be the Best Way To Push Your Blog’s Content to Facebook

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

NetworkedBlogsThere are a number of free services available to push your blog traffic to Facebook, and an array of other social networks.  One of the more popular services that I have not only used, but recommended in the past was NetworkedBlogs.  NetworkedBlogs is an extremely popular app used by a number of professional and amateur bloggers to not only push their content to Facebook, but to connect with their other favorite blogs via Facebook. Overall it’s a great service, the problem lies in how the app delivers blog content to Facebook from your blog.

NetworkedBlogs uses iFrame’s to deliver blog content from the app in both user streams and within the app itself.  You may recall a while back that both DIgg and HootSuite took heat for similar practices because people felt the social media giants were stealing site traffic and keeping users within their own site.  Though this is a practice that has been frowned upon time and again, NetworkedBlogs seems to continue doing it without a blink of an eye.  Digg eventually did way with their culprit the “Diggbar” and HootSuite eventually gave their users the option of using a Ht.ly toolbar for links shortened in HootSuite, or the Ow.ly option which would redirect to the long URL.

Why Are iframes Bad?

The problem with iframes are that they place your content within the confines of another website. This creates issues when people link to or share your content. Oftentimes they will reference the URL in the address bar alone, and not think to link to the original content. This means that any links built to the content in the iframe will pass value to the site framing the content, and not the original content creator. And even scarier, if the site providing the iframe or shortened URL shuts down, so does that link to your web content.

What’s the Alternative?

There are a number of alternatives out there if you are looking for something to simply feed your content to Facebook once it goes live.  I recently started using dlvr.it to feed not only to Facebook, but also to Twitter.  Another popular alternative is RSSGraffiti, which I am seeing more websites use as an alternative.  There are a number of alternatives on the market both in the form of Facebook or web app as well as WordPress plugins. The key is to look for services that will redirect you to your website’s full URL and not rely on iframes to deliver your content.

Already using a service to send your blog updates to Facebook or another social network? Share your favorite service in the comments below!

The Real Plus to Google+

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Last week I gave you all a rundown of Google+ tips for those who hadn’t yet had the chance to really dive-in and get their hands dirty or for those who had yet to receive an invite.  However, what I am finding is a bigger advantage to Google+ is that it is offering up some prime opportunities to not only rekindle, but build online relationships.

Early on Google Engineer Matt Cutts posted this in his stream on Google+

The feeling of building new friends and catching up with old is something I haven’t seen happen on a social network in a long time.  Sure, we connect with hundreds, if not thousands of people via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. on a daily basis.  But with Google+ I feel more people are getting an opportunity to be seen and heard where on other established networks they are often drowned out by noise.

Part of this, in my opinion, stemmed from the fact that only an elite few got in at first and then Google quickly halted invites.  You had an opportunity those first couple days to really engage the people in your circles and create conversations that might easily have been ignored on something like Twitter.  With less saturation the platform created a stage for users to not only rekindle old online relationships, but also to create a great first impression.

Though I feel some of this opportunity may have passed (I had 4 rows of “People you may know on Google+” the first night and this has since increased to 76), the network is still new enough to put yourself out in front of your peers and both develop and strengthen your online relationships.  I know I have personally interacted with Local SEO Andrew Shotland on Google+ far more than I ever have on Twitter or Facebook, and he is a fellow SEO whose work I have admired and followed for sometime.  He even went as far to share info regarding our search for a developer in my new startup venture Foodskout.

Take this opportunity to mold the relationships that matter to you most.  It’s not often that a new social network comes along that the masses flock to and actually like.  The real plus to Google+ is that it’s new, people are still finding their way around, the number of users is far less than Twitter or Facebook, and there is still a lot of time to build your influence within the network.