Facebook made some very big changes in the fourth quarter of 2011 that impacted how businesses can use Facebook and how they interact with fans. As a quick review, here’s what Facebook did:
- Got rid of the ability to send a note out from your Business Page to all fans. The best feature!
- Removed tabs and the ability to do FBML markup pages. You now have to do iframes.
- Killed off the notes and discussion sections.
- Removed the ability to auto feed your blog to your Facebook Page.
- Removed the ability to see who your Business page fans are once they have joined.
- Allowed anyone to comment on a Business page, not just fans.
- Destroyed the value of a like. No one needs to like your page any more to see or interact with you.
- Changed the News Feed for users. People must subscribe to your data to see it in their News Feed.
- Changed the personal News Feed so a Business’ News Feed updates are typically lost in the noise.
Actually, these are some very serious changes and have really strangled a businesses ability to connect with users on Facebook and for that matter have caused fan growth for pages under 100 fans to come to a near halt. So, you would think that I would recommend to our business clients to get out of Facebook, but I’m not.
Strategies change and what Facebook has done to kill off brand and business interaction on their platform will certainly change as the blow-back impacts their business. For now, I personally feel that these changes drove businesses into Facebook pay per click initially. As advertising is where Google makes huge returns, Facebook has struggled with trying to get their fair share of advertising revenue from their platform and thus has made changes to force businesses to pay to play.
I still feel that businesses should be on Facebook and keep a presence there, but maybe not in the same fashion as we recommended in early 2011. I recommend at least doing updates once or twice a day and taking a wait and see approach to what Facebook will additionally change in 2012. These changes may open doors again for businesses and brands. Positioning yourself to be back in the Facebook game quickly is a very good strategy.
There’s a lot of buzz in my industry on Pininterest and it is definitely a site you’ll want to be watching. For now, here are a few links to check out some cool boards that showcase what you can do on Pininterest.
Photo of one board so you can an idea.
Pininterest board showing creative pictures of a sleeping baby – very creative.
Pininterest home page.
Get an invitation to Pininterest.
In a nutshell, this is what Pininterest is:
A visual bulletin board of images with links pointing back to your website or blog. Allows for others to share your board and items on their own boards.
Why would a business want to use Pininterest?
For an e-commerce stores that sell clothes, jewelry, and other fashion products, this may be one very hot way to market products and encourage social sharing to drive more sales. Just take a look at a few of the fashion Pininterest boards where ensembles have been created as suggestive selling to get an idea how this new platform could be used for marketing.
I definitely consider Pininterest a site to watch. There have been huge numbers of new members and extraordinary press exposure on this new platform. I recommend keeping an eye on this one!
Did you know that how many people you follow versus how many people follow you is an important metric on Twitter? In fact it is so important that if you don’t follow enough people someone may not follow you back.
I’ve seen a few client accounts that we only post tweets to that have several hundred followers but the account only follows one or two other profiles. This wild imbalance may keep others from choosing to follow you.
Personally, I use an automated service to vet my own followers. Due to the size of my own business accounts onTwitter I now don’t follow every one who chooses to follows me. I have become more selective over time due to the size of my accounts and my Twitter klout.
Here’s what I check out via automated settings before I follow someone back on Twitter:
- Was there a tweet done in the last seven days? If you aren’t using Twitter frequently I won’t follow you back
- What is the percentage of followers versus followed. If you have a big difference, I won’t follow you back.
- If you don’t have a real profile photo and are using a generic image or no image at all, I won’t follow you back.
- Is your profile photo showing an image in a bikini? I won’t follow you back.
These are just a few things that I look for before adding an auto-follow on Twitter. Additionally, I will periodically purge my accounts of people who I follow but who do not follow me back. Although I can’t perform an unfollow as an automated action as I did before, I do purge my account periodically.
All these actions help to keep a Twitter account in balance and fairly spam and porn free. I consider these actions just a part of good Twitter account management. There are a number of free and paid tools to use for these actions, but that’s another blog post and one I’ll save for next week!
Who uses Twitter is changing rapidly. It’s no longer marketing people between the ages of 35 and 55, rather now a group of potential consumers for your products and services with money to spend.
Here are a few nuggets to consider from all Internet users:
15% of Twitter users have household incomes of over $75,000.
18% of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 to 29 years old
14% of Twitter users are between 30 to 49 years old.
15% of Twitter users have a college degree or higher.
13% of all online adults report that they have used Twitter
You can read all the demographics and review trends in this very interesting report.
The bottom-line is that Twitter is a great way to reach a very important buying market. It’s a place where your business needs to be and can connect with potential customers. If you’re not sure how to get started with Twitter please make sure to check out our Twitter Management services.
I’ve been using Twitter since it became available, but until just this last month, my kids were not interested in trying out Twitter. About three months ago my 22 year old son opened a Twitter account and then just this past week two of my teens opened accounts. What I find interesting is that Twitter is expanding its popularity into a wider demographic.
I asked my kids why Twitter? All three responded that they were tired of Facebook and tired of large follower bases. They wanted to connect with a smaller group of people who meant more to them. Interesting! I am not sure how long this trend will continue, but for kids on Twitter I recommend that parents make sure that they do not set their profiles up as public.
By default a Twitter profile will be open. That means that anyone can follow your child and that anything your kid tweets is public. Shutting down a public profile to a protected profile simply requires one click action, but many kids simply don’t think of this on set up.
If you’re not sure if your kid is tweeting, make sure to ask. In fact, my teens tell me that many of their friends are not allowed to be on Twitter or for that matter Facebook and most of these kids do have accounts, but under assumed names; hiding usage from parents. I prefer the opposite approach: allowing interaction on social networks but with private settings and my confirmation of such. For my teens, my other rule is that I have to be allowed to be a fan or follower. This allows me to monitor my teens activity and who follows and corresponds with them.
I routinely chat with my kids about not sharing school names and locations except to people they really know online. That means a student in their school, not just someone they met online or play a game with online. As a parent I feel that it is important to help my kids have fun online, but within secure limits. Why don’t you take a moment and let me know what you do with your teens online.
In the last two to three years I have seen a growing trend of specialization on the Web. When I started out in business in 2001, we could do it all for clients: web design, optimization, and site promotion. The Web environment was simpler then. With the advent of e-commerce, that all changed.
Now, you really need specialist in many areas such as e-commerce, mobile website, mobile marketing, pay per click, YouTube videos, web design, and content creation. The days of one business being able to supply all the needs for your online presence is rapidly changing. Why is this so? The degree of complexity and uniqueness of each of these avenues has changed immensely over the last few years.
The best case in point is with e-commerce. As complex as shopping carts are now, and the degree of difficulty in setting up accounts and implementing credit card security you must know what you are doing to be security compliant. Add in issues such as New York state having a terribly complex sales tax situation (where the percentage is driven by zip code and not necessarily by county or city) and you add in another layer of difficulty.
In this year, I expect to see a boon in web design for smartphones and tablets. Although many websites still look good on smartphones having to pinch and drag the screen to navigate to important contact information is simply irritating. Having a great mobile site this year may be one of your most important items on your own wish list.
Specialization in search engine marketing has also been another growth area. With Google AdWords becoming so complicated, many consumers are looking to professional managers, such as ourselves, to off load the degree of difficulty and time it takes to use and understand Google AdWords for online lead generation.
As I look back over the years I’ve been in business, it is interesting to see these trends develop. All I can say is, that I am glad we chose to diversify, and will continue to do so to stay relevant to our customer base.