Facebook Graph Search

On January 16th, Facebook announced and introduced their new feature– the graph search. The graph search is basically an advanced search within the Facebook platform. It includes being able to search for people, places, interests, etc. However, this search only includes items within your own “social graph.” And the results? Similar to that of the general Facebook algorithm, you will see what is most relevant to you.

What’s most interesting/useful about this feature is that the language you use to search can be very specific. For example: “restaurants my family likes.” What I wonder is how, exactly, this will impact brands and companies on Facebook. Cara Friedman, from likeable media, writes “Ratings of local business and restaurants will expand to all brands. It will be even more important to be likeable and ask fans for ratings to ensure that your brand is ranked high organically on search. People can also search others based on their likes. This is an easy new way to find your brand and can creatively be put into content to encourage people to search for you. It is clear that this is Facebook’s attempt to create a “Google Killer.” While it seems that it is limited on the surface, Facebook’s intent is clear to develop their search to eventually become the default, given the personal relation to its users.” We’ll have to see if this stumbles or succeeds…what do you all think?

It’s only in beta right now, but you can sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch.

Read more about Graph here: http://newsroom.fb.com/News/562/Introducing-Graph-Search-Beta

What is the Value of Social Media?

What is the value of social media? While this is a very big question– one that I cannot answer in one blog post, I do want to begin to confront it, beginning with the larger view.

Social Media has changed the way we communicate both personally and professionally. Professionally-oriented social media initiatives may take more work, time, even more employees, position titles; though, it should not be viewed as a separate effort apart from any other marketing/communications effort. One’s social media efforts must reach as far as how you use your company website or your ad campaigns. It’s just as important and should be viewed as an integrated component of your communication goals and initiatives, handled with in depth strategy (which is it’s own beast).

So let’s start with what social media means to a company– what it’s value is (not numerically just yet). Across any social platform, when one engages, you are sharing real-time knowledge, ideas, etc. in an authentic way. You are able to get behind the voice of your company and put it out on social media in the most personal way possible. Additionally, the people who are receiving and engaging with those posts are all over the world. Suddenly, whether or not your company extends its product/services across the globe, you have a global voice and you are connecting/engaging with the world in real-time in a way that is much more “real” than an email could ever be.

The most common misunderstanding I am confronted with is always “well, how many followers do we have? Is that a good number? Let’s get more.” While gauging the number of followers/fans is important, it is not the telling-metric. I always view it as an opportunity number. I have the opportunity to reach 20,000 followers. Of course, more the better, but that does not define its value. I like to think of it as: given the opportunity to reach X number of followers, I am successfully engaging and interacting with Y followers. This will tell you the value not only of social media, but how successful your social media content is.  The second common misunderstanding around the value of social media is to randomly suggest that one’s social media efforts should be doing ONE thing. For example, if only 1.5% of my homepage traffic is coming from Facebook, does that mean my Facebook efforts are not working? Maybe. But only if your goal and only goal is to drive traffic to your homepage.  Most of the time, a successful presence on a social media platform means you have a variety of goals and a variety of ways to reach those goals. I might want to direct people to the Company homepage, but I might also want to have users go elsewhere; I might want them to stay on my Facebook Page itself, and so your efforts should reflect that variety (and so should your metrics).  Of course, these are just examples of how the value of social media and surrounding questions can be approached with a limited view rather than remembering that while social media’s value might be wrapped around one or two goals, it’s incredibly important to define how social media is simply a means of communication, a tool (an amazing tool) that changes how we communicate and the scale of communication efforts.

How to Use Twitter Lists Effectively

Twitter Lists

One of most overlooked but useful tools on Twitter is their list feature. Many of us use it for personal use to divide those we are following into manageable size digestible lists or even to secretly listen to those we may not “follow” publicly. Businesses, however, don’t always use this feature to its full advantage. Here are a few ways to incorporate Twitter lists into your social media strategy:

1.  Organize your followers into lists that make sense for your business. For example, “customers,” “coworkers,” “potential customers,” etc. Or you can make it even more granular by dividing your customers according to their niche or according to how you would identify a customer group.  For example, “prospective students in USA,” “prospective students international” “current faculty,” “academic departments,”  “alumni” etc. By doing this, you can LISTEN to these groups separately, and create your content strategy
based on what you hear.

Continue reading

Social Media Strategy: Listening

Photo credit: Melvin Gaal (Mindsharing.eu) / Foter / CC BY-NC

Social Media Channels Have One Clear Call-to-Action: Post!

When we sign into an account — on a  social media platform or a social media posting tool– there is always the one highlighted window, clear as day, that we are to post and publish, post and send, post and feel good. Many of us have content calendars (editorial strategies) tacked up on the wall where teams of people congregate and participate to ensure that we are delivering effective content at the right time and hopefully, responding and engaging on each platform, but we often overlook what effective content means in light of one’s communication strategies, goals, and priorities.

One Half of the Strategy

Effective content is content that is dynamic, interesting, relevant, timely, engaging, and accurate, AND strategically delivered as a tactic to reach a specific goal. Continue reading

Easy Social Media Strategy Starter

When people tell me they don’t know where to start to build a social media plan, including a larger strategy, I tell them to first create an editorial collage. While this might not seem like the most logical first step (after all, I’m neglecting goals, priorities, platform decisions, etc.), I find it to be the most effective way to build a comprehensive strategy; while people might name “my social media goal is X,” they often don’t know if that goal is social, so it’s best to map out the kinds of content you have to put out on social media and see if that content screams out “This is your goal!” Benefits include: accountability, identifying trends, % of resources, creativity enthusiasm, and forecasting.

First, identify the kinds of content you might post:

1.  Does your content fall into categories (events, discussions, deadlines, questions, etc.)?

2.  Does certain content feel more “real time” than others? (i.e time sensitive)

3.  How many participants will you have posting and responding to social media?

Next, I suggest creating your goals that may resonate after mapping out the kinds of content you have. Continue reading

Oops! Mistakes on Twitter

In many ways, Twitter is its own language. Example:

“RT @SocialAllie 3 Ways to Supercharge Fan Engagement on Facebook entrepreneur.com/article/223701 via @EntMagazine #socialmedia

It’s not a regular sentence, but it still has its own grammatical rules. RT, #, and @ signs are all part of the language, and, if not used correctly, can have an impact on your overall social reach. That said, I want to focus on one common problem that many of you probably see every day– the @ sign.

@ is like a big hello wave from across the street, or a shout out from across the park, or a calm, collected response to a question in a cafe. However, it cannot be all of these things at the same time. I suppose one can gesture a wave while shouting a cross the street “Hello!” But that action could never be considered a collected response in that cafe. Let me put this analogy into Twitter talk.

This tweet is a reply to @tamadear. @bmshirley’s followers will not see this on their timeline.

This tweet is a mention of @markgr. @markgr will receive a notification, and the followers of the tweeter, @EricStoller will receive this tweet in their timelines.

This difference is important to note as many tweeters turn this mere”difference” into a mistake.

“@SocialAllie is a great tweeter; everyone should follower her!”

The (imagined) tweeter decided that @SocialAllie (which happens to be me!) is awesome, and everyone should follow her. The problem is that only @SocialAllie will see this tweet; she will be very flattered, of course, but the tweeter won’t reach his/her target audience. If one person happens to be following both the tweeter and the recipient, they will see the tweet somewhere on the timeline, but unless everyone is following both of them, everyone will not see that tweet. Oops! The only way someone would see this tweet is if someone dug through the tweeter’s personal timeline– not ideal.

How to fix this mistake?

“I recommend following @SocialAllie! Great tweets!”

By putting the @username anywhere after the first character, this tweet will appear in your followers’ timelines– fixed! Another somewhat common approach is to put a period in front of the @username.

This tweet will reach The Boston Globe’s followers.

Personally, I avoid this unless it’s a matter of syntax/awkward phrasing.

Making yourself aware of this difference and practicing accordingly will make sure you are reaching your target audience. Comments? Questions?

Facebook Pages Just Got Better!

As a Social Media Strategist, I find this update particularly useful as I’m attempting to align efforts and ease the workflow process among users of Facebook Pages. As many of you probably heard, Facebook changed its Admins limitations and capabilities. Now there are new ways that the manager, content creator, moderator, and yes, even the advertiser can interact and control a brand’s Facebook Page.

Mashable posted a comprehensive and easy-to-understand chart that I’d like to point to:

Prior to this Facebook Page revision, admins all had the same abilities and limitations. Now that these roles can be defined and segmented according to the needs of the Page, I think this will simplify and streamline many of the user efforts to help them achieve their goals more efficiently.

A few questions for you all: How might this impact your current Facebook Page strategy? Will you continue to use third party tools such as Hootsuite? Comment!

Branding Facebook Pages

As many of you know, Facebook Pages began to look different at the end of February. The new visual dynamic appeals to many — including brands. With that in mind, I want to share with you some tips on how to improve your Facebook Page for brand development.

What does your cover look like?

Your cover photo is one of the most prominent images of your Facebook Page; it sits at the very top of your page and serves as a kind of introduction to your brand. What does it look like? Choosing the right image is crucial to your branding. The image should represent the larger picture of your brand.

Do you have any custom tabs?

With the option to create up to 12 tabs displayed beneath your cover photo, it’s something to take advantage of. Each tab displays a representative icon for its function. For example, photos are…photos. Photos is, by default, your first tab on your Facebook Page. Because only four of the possible twelve appear on the main screen, I suggest using those tabs you deem most important to your brand presence– what do you want your target audience to look at first? How do you want to organize what will be their options to interact with your brand?

Integrate Facebook and Twitter!

If you Tweet, connect Twitter  from your profile settings. You can display your tweets in your timeline.

Content Must be Good Writing. Exciting Writing.

As always, don’t undermine the importance of good writing. Content should always be fresh. Don’t leave a photo or video hanging without any context. Include a snippet of text that has a call to action.

Here is a recent article from Mashable that you might find interesting!

What are your Facebook Page branding tips?

How To Create a LinkedIn Group for Your Company

This will be redundant for the more social media savvy subscribers, but for those of you who are on LinkedIn as a professional but not as a leader of a Group, this is something to consider!

Understanding LinkedIn and Groups

LinkedIn has 50 million users and is one of the most popular social networking sites for business professionals. One of the strongest features of LinkedIn is the ability to create a group. Groups offer networking opportunities, resources, and information for participants/members. By creating a group, you can establish a community of individuals who share the same interests/goals as you do. In addition, the group is a wonderful tool for business intelligence and business development.  It can be used to create awareness of your brand and demonstrate your company’s expertise.

How to Set Up Group

  1. Log into LinkedIn. At the top of the site, you will see “Groups.” Scroll down and click “Create a Group.”
  2. LinkedIn will ask you fill out a form to create your Group.
  • Logo: Upload an image that stands for your brand/company. Logo!
  • Group Name: Your group name – Be creative and straightforward.
  • Group Type: The drop-down will give you options— Alumni Group, Corporate Group, Conference Group, Networking Group, Non-Profit Group, Professional Group, Other. Choose the one that is most appropriate for your Group’s goal/mission statement.
  • Summary: This is a brief description of your group’s purpose. This description appears in the Groups Directory.
  • Description: This is a more comprehensive description of your group’s purpose.

**Keep Group summary and description brief. One paragraph should clarify possible topics of discussion.

  • Website: Add a website link that directs traffic to your website.
  • Group Owner Email:  This will be your designated Group manager’s email address.
  • Access: I suggest you use “Request to Join.”
  • Language: English or any other language you might use.
  • Location: If the group is specific to a single geographical location, you can choose this. However, you will most likely want to keep it open to all geographical locations.
  • Twitter Announcement: Click this so that when you announce something, it will be sent via Twitter as well
  • Click  “Create Open Group.

4. Post Group Rules: Post clear group rules. Discussions should be reserved for sharing resources, discussing issues and ideas, and seeking advice. Post group rules under “Manage>Group Rules.” Once they are posted, they are then featured in the upper right of your group’s homepage.

It’s pretty easy! I will be posting in upcoming days how this can help your company, best practices, and ideas for effective strategies!

Does anyone have a group they would like to share? 

Are You Pinterested in This?

As Mashable reports, Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. Not only is it capturing amazing stats, but the site is a new form of social media that we haven’t seen before– and it is both smart and pretty.  Instead of links, we have photos/images. Instead of categorizing items in a list, we have virtual boards. And when you view someone’s profile, you see a beautifully organized, image-based representation of that person’s interests. While Chris Brogan argues that Pinterest catches more of the female demographic than the male sector, I am tempted to say that 1) I doubt that will hold true for too long and 2) who cares?! It still works as a social media outlet that helps marketers on all sides. In fact, in addition to the aesthetic pictorial representation on the site, I’m also fascinated by the multifaceted marketing dynamic.

There is the product. When I say ‘product’ I’m referring to the photo that the user loves enough to pin on one of their boards. This can be anything from a blouse you see on J.Crew or a book you want to read/have read to a poster print you have hanging in your office or want to hang in your office. When the user pins this to the board, that person become personally connected to the brand of that product. The brand then benefits from this pinning because any one of the the user’s followers who sees the pin, and says, wow…I really like that blouse, too…and proceeds to click on it gets directed to the J.Crew website. While this is great for the brand/company on the other side of the pin, it also creates more design demand. You’ve got to have a strong design element to your website if you want to be on Pinterest.

Then, there is the brand that gets on Pinterest as a user. When J.Crew gets on Pinterest, what do they pin? While they are not currently on Pinterest as a user (you’ll see their clothes pinned everywhere–no surprise there), what would be smart to pin from a marketer’s perspective? Sure, why not put more of their clothes on the site, but they could also show those products coming from companies they’ve partnered with like New Balance, Timex, Sperry, Ray Ban, etc. Or, how about from an institution/school like the University of Virginia: what do they like? They could pin their paraphernalia, published faculty books, images from events, football games, the surrounding town, restaurants– all of these things bring students to the UVa website. Not many companies/institutes/brands have hopped on Pinterest to create a profile yet, but I think it would be a smart thing to do. Not only do you create a diversified portfolio of the products and personality of the brand itself, but you create a personal following– your fans do not just ‘like’ your company, they follow you and pin your products on their walls. The marketer can even see what specific products are getting the most visual attention.

What do you think about Pinterest?