Tuesday, July 07, 2015

How Old is That Facebook Business Page?

So I just figured this out - in a rush of Holmes logic - and though I'd share. This is going to be my shortest blog post, ever.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you may need to know the age or your, or another persons, Facebook Page. It could be estimating growth off a similar brand, completing some documentation for the folks in PR, whatever. It's not as easy as just going to your first post, alas - if you try and scroll through all those posts you're likely to lag y'self to bits.

Instead, go to Photos, go to Profile pictures, go to the first image (down at the bottom), click on it and disco - there's a date just under the Page name (top right).

Unless the Page owner has deleted their first image (which is damn unlikely) it'll give you a reasonably accurate date of when the Page was first created.

If anyone ever finds this useful I'll be amazed, but there it is. If anyone else has any ideas for a quicker or more accurate way of doing this please gimme a shout in the comments ;)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Timely and Respectful Reminder

I want to get something off my chest:

Last Friday thirty-eight people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire on tourists in Port El Kantaoui, in Tunisia, just north of Sousse. Over twenty-five British victims have now been confirmed killed in the attack, including 3 from Ireland.

Port El Kantaoui was/is a favourite holiday destination for my family. My parents even owned an apartment there for a while and were regular patrons (some 10 yrs running) of the El Hana Hannibal Palace Hotel. Tunisis is filled with warm, friendly and lovely people.

A national minute's silence will be held to remember victims of the Tunisian beach attack at 12:00 BST on Friday. No one wants your content or opinions or aggregated whatever during this time. All they want is your silence and respect. I humbly suggest - for the sake of courtesy and your companies social credibility - that no scheduled social media posts go out for any of your social channels 15 minutes prior and up to 30 minutes post this event.

This goes for all periods of national or international mourning, be it Armistice Day or whatever. Silence means silence. Thoughtless publishing and scheduling shows a distinct lack of respect, and no one likes it.

Thank you.

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Can we Use EdgeRank to Get Our Facebook Posts Seen?

EdgeRank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide whether or not posts from friends or business pages appear in our news feed. If you want to be seen by the average user it’s important to know how this works and what Facebook considers worthy content. This isn't as grey-hat as it sounds, it's just about producing good stuff.

EdgeRank takes several factors into consideration. They are:

How recently was the content posted?
How long did the user spend on content published by this page previously?

What type of content is being posted. Different types of content have greater or lesser chances of being seen. Facebook looks at this akin to the amount of effort we put into a post. A standard simple comment has very little EdgeRank. A link has a bit more. An image or videos are far more likely to be seen.

Has the user engaged with content from our brand before? Have they liked posts, shared articles, clicked through on links, and commented? Did the brand comment back or like their comment? All these factors add affinity.

With this in mind there are things we can do to boost our EdgeRank, however, they do require effort. Creativity is what’s going to differentiate your content. The effort that Facebook wants us to put in to guarantee our content is of good quality and relevance. Let’s take each of the above factors separately to show how, collectively, they can make a difference:

Timing is Important
Posting at prime times, when our audience is there to respond and see our content is critical. Think about when your audience is online. Will they be checking their mobile devices on the tube on the way to work? Will they be sitting back after dinner, around 6:15 and mulling over their feed? Will they take a look over their lunchtime coffee? Naturally every brand is different, but we commonly see an increase of 15 to 20 percent engagement at weekends. Insider knowledge of your brand and audience play a big part here – some testing may be necessary.

timing is important

People need to engage for longer so we have to post content that takes a while to digest. In short, well-written and engaging content is king. The inclusion of animated gifs or embedded video could be a bonus to add ‘stickiness’, but whatever it is it better be awesome. The longer people are engaged the greater it raises the chances of your posts being seen in the future. Strong opinion pieces. Well researched studies. Useful and helpful how-to’s. Whatever it is, it better be good.

Think Content Type
Post images. You’ll probably want to drive traffic via links, but posting good, amusing or entertaining, original images will give it a boost so that when you do post a link you’ve raised affinity (by people seeing them and liking them) and it will help to compensate. There’s plenty of good image banks out there if you can’t capture something new, give CompFight a look. It’s good to think of alternative ways to use images like using them to support quotes if it fits the brand. Behind-the-scenes imagery has the added benefit of allowing you to tag people which gives further exposure to peoples friends and peers. Get creative - try some of these.

If you have video available to you make sure, with Facebooks auto-play feature in mobile, that it’s going to grab people in the first six seconds. Can you repurpose slide presentations? Can you commission industry explainers? Can you showcase your HQ or cover charity events?

Build a Relationship
If you are posting links be sure to change the title, body text and image to offer a more enticing click-through opportunity.

building a 'special' relationship between interface and human

Small competitions and sweepstakes can gather great traction. When doing so it’s important to allow space for organic spread (so, run them over a week or more) to give people a chance to engage and to see posts their friends have engaged with. Pinning them the top of the Page for a week will also allow new visitors to engage more easily and will increase sign-up, as well as saying “Hey, we run competitions.”

Ask for opinions and invite commentary. Get your audience to share their own images and encourage engagement. Simple posts offering tips, then asking the audience if they have any further suggestions, can work well.

Boosting posts (by paying for them) to make sure the audience sees them, at least once or twice a month, can offer an added push.

Keeping an eye on our Pages Insights will show us the type of content our audience responds best too, and so what we can publish in the future that will get strong results.

There are a few other things to consider:

Pay for it
It’s also possible to pay-to-be-seen. Simple boosted posts are an excellent way to gather affinity by getting them under people’s noses. I’ve had single posts, boosted for only ten pounds, reach over 56,000 targeted people. This is a great one to combine with like and share competitions or simple give-aways. Consider the expenditure like a highly targeted branding exercise. Don’t forget, if people like a boosted post their friends and followers will be told they’ve done so by Facebook.

Use no Applications
Facebook doesn’t like content posted from applications, which includes the likes of external publishing tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social or whatever. This is to stop the Poker apps and Candy Crush clones of old from spamming our streams. Content must be scheduled via the Facebook platform, or posted immediately. Even auto-posting from other social channels, like Twitter, is a wasted effort. Yes, it’ll post, but experience has shown us that the chances of it being seen are drastically reduced.

In summing up. Good content posted at the right time with good imagery. Accept no substitute, because Facebook doesn’t and no ones going to see Jack or shit if you don't put some effort in - that's just how it is.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why you Should Scrap Your Print Ads

I recently wrote and article on the Tank blog covering six things I think every business should be doing this year, and one of these was "Scrap Your Print Ads". I want to expand on this a bit.

I worked (indirectly) in print for many moons, mostly for the Northcliffe and Daily Mail group. In the late 90's/early '00s we were very much aware that things were changing. Online made viewer figures and click-through entirely measurable while our print ads relied on (some may say speculative) circulation figures. It's now the general belief that circulation figures don't mean Jack.

In addition, sales of physical newspapers and magazines are in a pitiful decline. People paying for print magazines (even specialist magazines like 'Portable Restroom Operator', 'Miniature Donkey Talk' or 'Fashion Doll Quarterly' - no, really) dropped by an average of 12% in the last half of 2014.

Who actually reads ads unless it's in a very specialist publication? - bless the printed version of The Chap for it's plethora of good outlets. Those people spending their marketing budgets want to see the numbers, and justifiably so. Yes, print ads may have some brand awareness potential, but not everyone can afford a full page in The Metro and it's unlikely for most that the entire readership of any publication gives a damn about what they have to offer so a lot of that circulation figure is just going to impact off the surface.

"Print is dead."

Now, I'm damning print ads here but I'm not doing the same for PR. PR works, I've seen it. Indeed, due to valuable links being so important for SEO it's now a vital part of creative online marketing. I work for a PR company - 100% out of choice - because good quality content and strong messaging is something worth sharing (you can't make butter with a tooth pick). Review and recommendation - genuine opinion - has still got a place in print and translates seamlessly to online. Numbers may be down in print, but print is just one part of the PR mix.

So what I'm saying here is ditch your print ads and move your budget into something measurable. Something more targeted that can offer capture potential and drive real punters to your widgets. Basically, invest the same money in social ads.

"We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy."

Social ads are extremely targetable, if done right. It niggles me when I get ads showing up for me in Facebook that are sloppily targeted or clearly too general, that's just lazy work by the person setting up the ads and there's no excuse for it. I believe in the power of the semantic web and keep my data as accurate as possible to get the best out of this - I see viewing targeted ads as a necessary part of any free service. Getting it wrong gives the format a bad name and people blame the platform.

Social ads can capture an audience. They're not a one hit wonder. They offer a direct link to a point of engagement/sale or to a company Page where you can develop a relationship with future customers and turn casual browsers into advocates.

In LinkedIn we can target specific industries or people in specific companies in specific roles. Twitter can push single tweets or profiles to locations, search results, or specific profile keywords. Facebook targeting is (virtually) limitless.

Ads are so targetable it's frankly a wee bit scary. The good lady wife asked me recently (having received a £50 of free ads thing from Facebook) could I target "Women who are getting married in 2015 who might want unusual or coloured wedding dresses".

Yes, yes we can - "Women > 21-55 > engaged > into Steampunk, Gothic Music, Emilie Autumn, Cosplay, blah, blah..." See what I mean? Simples.

"This is a newspaper story, what are they doing with it?"

They can also dovetail nicely with real-word activities like adverting, PR, or marketing efforts. Think a little outside the box here. Here's a couple of examples of (arguably cunning) things I've done for clients:

A branding goal: Imagine being a hosting company using LinkedIn ads as a one month branding exercise prior to your sales team rocking up at a trade show? Hell, they don't even have to click through, just display the ad and make sure the person has heard the company name before you make contact. The cost could be buttons. Better than standing there with everyone else, handing out flyers at the entrance.

Getting folks involved: We wanted people to vote online on a political campaign so, at almost the last minute, we targeted people in a certain geographic area and pushed them to a link to "Vote in the next hour or loose your chance to change Nottingham". We timed this as people were commuting home and between 6:30 and 8pm (prime times for after dinner surfers). Engaging local people at a local level. They clicked-through in droves.

Increasing a following: One of my clients had advertising hoardings at football games across the UK. They are a debt management company and wanted to do something targeted to back up the ads. We did a campaign in two stages - mimic the ads and wish followers of the home teams good luck on match day and to commiserate or cheer after the game. People at matches are logging in to Facebook to post pics etc., and bosh, the personal touch they can relate to a company they instantly form a relationship with. Better than an ad in the match day programme.

For the same expenditure your spending on print, divert it into social ads. They're a bargain. For Facebook we charge a one off set-up fee then 15% of any ongoing spend to tweak them - which seems to be about the going rate across the business. You only pay what you can afford - if you've only got £400 then that's what you spend and you get the same targeting as if you spent £5000.

Well worth a small test, right?