Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Why a New Facebook Feature Means It’s Time To Get Serious About Blog Images and OpenGraph

Monday, June 24th, 2013

New Facebook feature which allows Pages to upload content preview imageOver the last couple of weeks, Facebook has been quietly rolling out a new feature to Facebook Page admins that is going to force content creators to start seriously thinking about their use of imagery and Open Graph protocol on their content.

What It Does

The feature, which I just discovered this past Friday allows Page admins to disregard the images suggested by Facebook for a shared piece of content and instead upload an image of their own.  The feature is useful, especially for folks trying to make their Page content look as presentable as possible even if they are sharing from another source.  Where this will be most handy however is when content creators refuse to use imagery in their content and Facebook shares are left with generic imagery from the website.

Why Images Are Important

Imagery not only helps to visualize your content to viewers, it can also help to break up large blocks of content and make your content easier to read.  We are a generation of skimmers, very few people read web copy these days, instead they skim to digest what they can out of content.  Images can help to break up content and make it easier to skim.

If that wasn’t enough, social media has made us an extremely visual culture.  Sites like Facebook and Google+ are automatically pulling imagery from your website to help make content shared on their sites more appealing, so why not make sure its an image that makes sense with your content as opposed to an ad or some other random image off of your website.

By adding relevant imagery you can not only make the content on your site more engaging, but you increase the probability that users who see your content on social networks will click through and view your content.

Adopting the Open Graph

The Open Graph protocol has been used by Facebook for a few years now.  Like the structured markup that can help local SEO, it is a means of helping machines and systems, in this case Facebook, understand more about your content.  With Open Graph you can tell Facebook specifically what the title of your content is, what description to use when it displays your content, and best of all what image it should use when people share your content on Facebook.

By telling Facebook what title, description, and image to use with your content when it’s shared, the odds of people seeing your content exactly as you want it represented when seen on Facebook is that much greater.  Even if you’re using images in your content, this ensures that Facebook can properly access the imagery and use it alongside your content.

This weekend I tried to share a piece of content from a site that was using images in its content, but for some reason the main image that was most relevant to the post wasn’t suggested as an option from Facebook, instead it was pulling irrelevant imagery found in the sidebar of the page.  Had the site been using Open Graph I wouldn’t have had to upload the picture myself before sharing it on my Page.

Image options for the content before and after

Implementing Open Graph

There are a number of ways to integrate and implement the Open Graph protocol into your content.  If you have to hard code the tags into each piece of content I would highly recommend Neil Patel’s piece on social media meta tags.  On the other hand, if you’re a WordPress user like me, you can simply install WordPress SEO by Yoast.  It not only gives you a ton of great SEO functionality, but has Open Graph protocol features built into it that can help ensure your content is seen properly by Facebook.

TL;DR What You Need To Know

  • Facebook is rolling out a new feature that allows Page admins to upload an image of their choice to represent content they share on their page
  • If you want your content to be properly represented visually on social networks you need to make sure you are using images in your content
  • If you want to make sure Facebook is using the right images for your content implement the Open Graph protocol on your content to help Facebook identify the right image to use for your content when its shared
  • If you don’t take this seriously, Pages can choose imagery for your content that may not align with the message or theme you were hoping to convey

Don’t Go Back In Time With FacebookTimeline: Business Pages Are Sure to Follow

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Back to the Future Clock TowerAs with anything shiny and new the introduction of Facebook Timeline and a slew of other new features has businesses and marketers rushing to find out how they can use it for their business. I have already seen a number of small businesses sign up for a developer account just so they could create a branded Timeline on their personal account, but I’m left to wonder why.  I have spent years battling with clients and local businesses to convert from a Facebook profile to a Facebook Page to create a better user experience and greater engagement opportunities for their business and even with a shiny new Timeline, my advice hasn’t changed.

Facebook has said for years that they want users to have a seamless experience on Facebook focused on a fluid user interface, and while some may say the numerous changes they have made over the years have made things hard, they have still had that in mind.  Yesterday Mashable posted an article that looked at what advertising pros might do with a Facebook Timeline if it were applied to a Facebook Page and in return received some really well designed and branded Facebook Timeline’s for brands like McDonalds, the New York Yankees, Coca-Cola and a number of other brands.

In the article, a Facebook rep suggested that Facebook was looking at the evolution of Facebook Pages in addition to the recent changes to user profiles.  “Consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook, so we hope to make Pages more consistent with the new Timeline in the future,” he said.

As I pointed out in an article I wrote for Plastic Surgery Studios about early adoption of Google+, good things come to those who wait.  We saw what happened to businesses who adopted Google+ too rapidly, their pages were taken down and they were placed on a waiting list to try out the, still yet to be publicly released, business pages.  If you already use your Facebook profile as a business account, then first I’d highly recommend you convert to a Page, but if not by all means have at it.  Otherwise, don’t send your Facebook social media efforts back in time by engaging your fans via a profile.  Remember profiles require you to accept friend request, you don’t get Likes and your content can’t be easily shared.  All that extra effort definitely isn’t worth the shiny new Timeline feature for your business.

In 4 Days Your Facebook Page Tabs May No Longer Exist

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

OK, it’s not really as dramatic as the title makes it out to be, but in the chaos surrounding all the new Facebook changes it seems that may people were left unaware that something bigger was coming down the pipe.  Earlier this year Facebook announced OAuth 2.0 and HTTPS Migration in their developers section.  With it came an October 1 deadline that required all page tabs and apps to be complient with the new rules.

To be compliant by October 1, the following items must be addressed:

  • all Website and Canvas apps must exclusively support OAuth 2.0 (draft 20)
  • all Canvas and Page Tab Apps must use the signed_request parameter
  • an SSL Certificate is required for all Canvas and Page Tab apps (not in Sandbox mode and not FBML)

A lot to absorb with just a few days left to comply.  Fortunately, if you are unable to address these issues in such a short notice your content will still be available, however Facebook users will be greeted with the message below.

Facebook Secure Browsing

While this isn’t due to roll out until October 1, I saw at least three instances today where a person was already being served this warning in place of a Facebook Page’s welcome tab.  If you are using a third party service or app to generate your Facebook tabs on your pages I would highly recommend contacting them to ensure that your tabs will survive the October 1 change.

SSL certificates are easily to come by and are offered by most hosting providers or domain registrars.  Certificates vary in cost, so do a cost comparison to get the best value, especially if you are only utilizing the SSL certificate to manage your Facebook Page tab or apps.

In some instances hosting companies offer shared SSL for free, where you can host your content under a subdomain on their main domain instead of on your own personal domain.  This too is a viable option if it’s available to you.

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.