I have migrated my two Facebook business pages early to the timeline this past weekend and wanted to share some of my tips that I have figured out while I was using the new look. Remember as you read this blog post, all business pages will all be forced into the new timeline layout as of the end of March 2012.
Here’s what I have learned:
Don’t try to create a complex graphic or use a screen shot of our website banner. Use one large high definition image that tries to convey visually who and what you are. In my case we are located near Washington DC and so I am using a image I took recently of the Capital building. I did try my website banner and I did try a composite image, both looked too busy.
Clicking the star at the top right of an update will stretch either the image or text update across your whole page. Facebook will leave the bigger post up for 7 days. You can do this in several places on your page to break up your layout. Actually what I did was to design my layout look by using images and text to give a pleasing break to the typical two columns. This means that the new timeline is a much more visual statement than the old wall. Make sure to only load high definition images as when Facebook expands the image if you highlight it, low resolution images will look bad.
When you are logged in as a business page entity you cannot post to anyone fan or otherwise walls as a business entity. In fact when you are logged in as a business, you cannot even see a fans wall, you will only be able to see the timeline. That means that all interaction is back on your own timeline. Business pages in fact don’t have a wall anymore, just the timeline.
As a result, our services for Facebook have been changed. We may add additional services later, but for now we have streamlined our offerings to cover what we feel will work for business during this change. My personal feeling is that the action for Facebook for businesses will now be in the advertising arena. For many business owners the cost to keep a Facebook business page updated with photos, video, favorite posts, and other apps will simply be too costly and time consuming.
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.
Just as PageRank is to Google.com placement, EdgeRank is to Facebook placement in a reader’s News Feed. In other words, your EdgeRank on Facebook will determine if a fan sees your updates in their News Feeds and where.
The bottom-line is that when you have more comments, likes, and tags on a Facebook Business Page wall post, your EdgeRank will be higher. Additionally new news is preferred over old news. If your EdgeRank meets a certain threshold, your post will be show in a subscriber or fan’s News Feed. There appear to be not only EdgeRank numbers for posts but for whole Facebook accounts.
Here’s one free tool that I have found that allows you to check your own Business page’s EdgeRank. Most of the pages we work with that have under 100 fans but more than 80 fans will have an EdgeRank that is about 12 to 15 or average. The free interface is quirky and you may have to refresh the page several times to see your numbers, but this tool will give you a general idea.
Can you ever really know your “real” EdgeRank. Most likely not. It seems this number is like Google’s PageRank (not to be confused with Google Toolbar PageRank) and is secret and a part of the special algorithm that racks and stacks sites.
So what can you do to improve your Facebook EdgeRank?
Post regularly on Facebook.
Post four to five times a day on Facebook.
Post shareable items that are current events or trending topics.
Move away from an all about me focus.
Actively work to engage readers.
Start a log sheet of all fans when added as Facebook will hide their names once added.
Use your list of fans to interact with @messages.
If you have additional suggestions or thoughts on Facebook EdgeRank, make sure to click comments and let me know!
I have been doing quite a bit of testing this past month on Facebook interaction levels and what is the best number of updates for a business page now that Facebook has completed its most recent changes.
First, it is important to know that for over a year we have recommended two status updates a day so that you would not spam your audience and fans. However, with the changes that Facebook made in September everything is now different. With people being able to subscribe to your page without being a fan; fans being able to block, filter, or subscribe to the type of updates you provide; and now your inability to react directly with fans and not even know who is a fan by name, interaction levels need to be different.
This is what I have found out so far in my testing:
For Facebook Business Pages with about 100 to 500 fans updates about five times a day seems to work to get you exposed.
Actively responding to comments or posting is key to fan interaction growth.
Doing only two updates a day seems now to simply get lost in the Facebook noise.
For Facebook Pages that have 500+ fans the thirst for interaction is stronger. In many cases up to 12 updates a day PLUS interaction with the posting of comments, doing polls, and sharing video appear to not hurt a page but rather grow a page. You can review an interesting analysis done before the new Facebook changes in this interesting article for more background. Remember however that their findings are pre-Facebook changes and so may not be valid today but are good for review.
Are you finding that your fan engagement has dropped on Facebook? If you have under 1,000 fans most likely your activity has dropped or come to a crashing halt on your Facebook Business Page. Why? This study may shed some interesting insight in regards to what is happening to the traffic on your Facebook Business Page.
“Pages with less than 1,000 fans saw a decrease in engagement. Pages with more than 1,000 fans saw a steady increase in engagement, right up to Pages with over 100,000 fans, which saw a 27.8% increase in the rate of engagement.”
“When you consider how the news feed now works, with the vast amount of content and updates being shared, it is evident why the number of fans will become more important. You need a higher number to increase the chances of your content being found.” Read the full article and see the graphs.
So far in our testing on engagement levels including likes, comments, and interaction, we are seeing a marked decrease in participation and exposure for the 22 clients that we are monitoring since the changes. Although our testing and monitoring is not over yet, what we see it important in regards to how businesses may want to consider using Facebook in the future.
“The study from Edgerank Checker has found that over a sample of over 5,800 random Pages, 82% experienced a reduction in the amount of impressions on the Page.”
Yikes, that is scary. Your content, that you are working so hard to create for Facebook users, is getting lost in the noise. It appears that a standard two updates a day that many were using (to prevent spamming readers) in this new world on Facebook, will mean that your message gets lost in the shuffle. However if your users are on Facebook enough, they will see your content appear in the
right sidebar ticker, so take heart.
Facebook has slowly dismantled the things that have made Facebook Business Pages a great resource for a business to have. In September and October Facebook has disabled these features.
No longer can you use these two important items on Facebook if you are a business:
Cannot send out a note to all your fans using the Facebook message system
Cannot have a forum like exchange on the discussion tab – discussions are removed too
Did away with the Facebook reviews tab
Serious changes to contest and “like” building strategies – many things are now off limits
Some of these features went away as of September 30th and others on October 31st, and I have to tell you I think more changes are in store.
Additionally, fans now can block all your updates from their pages. In fact, unless they subscribe to your updates on their wall they may actually never see what you have talked about or shared through default Facebook settings.
For businesses these very important changes have removed the value of a “like” on Facebook. Additionally, Facebook is now allowing anyone, not just fans, to post on your business wall. So now someone doesn’t even need to “like” your business to have their comments posted as it was before.
You may still force people to “like” your page with a fan gate for the time being, but this will probably change as well. In conclusion, before a “like” really had value – you could additionally market fans with coupon codes and messages all within Facebook; building relevancy and a reason for someone to actually “like” your business. With the changes that are being rolled out it sure seems like the value of a Facebook “like” has lost its value.