Can We Talk About This?: Facebook Users

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Facebook, Opinion | Posted on Oct 01, 2013

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Faces of Facebook

The screencap above is from Faces of Facebook, an online exhibit that combines all 1.2 billion Facebook Profile Pictures into one large collage. Social Media marketers throw figures around often enough that we often forget they represent people, and this project is a great reminder that we shouldn’t lose track of the individual.

But, seriously, 1.2 billion?! That’s more than the entire population of India!

Can we Please Stop it with the Facebook Scams?

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Facebook, News, Opinion | Posted on Mar 21, 2013

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Facebook Banner

Louis CK Contest

Since I posted on this last week, I’ve seen another massively popular scam based on the PS4, and now this one getting started around Louis C.K.. Now, to be fair, this one comes from a local, legitimate newspaper, so they might not know that they’re not allowed to do this. Still, come on! Has this just become acceptable now? Will we be plagued by fake share contests from everywhere? It’s a clear violation of Facebook’s Page guidelines as well as a sloppy way to run a contest, since there’s no way to privately contact the winners. I sincerely hope we start seeing less of this in the future.

If you want to know how to run a legitimate Facebook contest, you can read Facebook Contests: Rules and Regulations.

Update: Turns out the contest operator is actually trying to make good on their giveaway! Good for them!

Email vs. Social

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in email, Opinion, Social Media | Posted on Sep 24, 2012

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Email vs Social Media
[source]

With all the talk in the news lately over the future of Facebook, it’s natural for this question to come up. It’s not the first time, either; people have wondered about the utility of Social Media since the commercialization of MySpace in 2004.

So why don’t we have an answer yet? The reason most people give is that unlike email, where every customer reaction can be tracked and calculated to a T, social media lacks quantifiable benefits, creating an ambiguity that could potentially throw the argument either way. Basically, they’re saying that we can’t agree on an answer because there isn’t one. But the truth is simpler than that: Email vs. Social Media isn’t a valid question.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be constantly evaluating where and how your company markets itself. That IS important. However, boiling that decision down to a choice between electronic mail and networking sites glazes over the fact that the two media work much, much better together than they do individually. In other words, it’s not Email vs. Social, it’s Email PLUS Social.

Email + Social

So how do you integrate? The first step is doing what you may be already: including recognizable social icons in the header and/or footer of your emails. Whether it’s one, the other, or both, you’ll want to give your audience direct links to your social presence in the most obvious way possible. Icons have the advantage of being both visual and relatively small, making them attractive and easier to identify than text hyperlinks.

Social Icons

Next, you’ll want to highlight Social content in your emails. Are you running a contest? Attending an event and liveblogging it on Twitter? Let people know! Whether it’s a one-off or part of a regular newsletter, keeping your audience informed about your social promotions will boost engagement and ensure that your campaign makes an impact.

By now, you’ve probably noticed that email seems to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in this relationship.

Lifting Cat

So how does Social pick up the slack? By generating new contacts for your campaigns:

Social media networks are a great place to promote or even host list-generating sign-ups and surveys. By alerting your fans to these opportunities and providing proper motivation, you’ll be able to draw from a pool of users not regularly considered for email targeting. Additionally, you’ll want to consider using Social-driven contests to draw an audience.

Looking for more on the value of Social Media? Check out Why Facebook? and follow us to learn more.

Why Facebook?

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Facebook, Opinion, Social Media | Posted on Aug 22, 2012

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Why Facebook?

With Facebook, Inc. dominating the news lately with their plummeting stock prices, it’s natural to ask what the value is in maintaining a strong Social presence. But for those marketers who have been paying attention to their numbers, the answer is, unsurprisingly, the same as it’s always been: Social is the glue that ties you to your customer; the bind that links your email, landing page, and print efforts; and the investment to insure that, years from now, people will know you still exist.

While stock brokers and other investment professionals speculate on the fall of a giant, the savvy marketer is looking at the history and seeing the truth: Facebook has and will continue to grow as a primary source of information and traffic for businesses online.

Referrals

Facebook Referrals Graph
Despite recent developments, Facebook continues to grow as a source of referral traffic for online publishers. According to this study by BuzzFeed, the social network now matches Google in overall referrals, tying it for the most valuable resource for publishing material online. And this doesn’t just affect bloggers; according to some studies, Facebook is now contending for the most popular site on the web, making it a valuable resource for anyone looking for brand exposure.

Internet Map

Consolidation/Integration

Social media is fast becoming the common denominator of Online Marketing campaigns. Where once you directed your email, print, and online advertising solely to a website with limited connectivity, you now hold a host of Social tools that you can use to cross-reference and piggy-back these campaigns to a more comprehensive goal. Imagine your Social Media as a string stretched between your campaigns, connecting them all and turning a marketing tree into a marketing web.

Marketing Tree

Facebook is at the center of this cohesion; more than any other site, it provides the tools and features necessary to collect your marketing efforts into a single campaign. Not only can you distribute details and updates on various promotions, but, using the right tools, you can even collect contact info, host surveys, and run contests right from your Page. No other site can match that.

Still shaken up by some of Facebook’s major changes? Check out How to Make a Great Custom Cover Photo and How to Make a Great Custom App Image. And don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more exclusive Marketing updates.

5 Ways to Use Web Forms

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in email, Facebook, Networking, Opinion, Small Business, Tips and Tricks | Posted on Jun 07, 2012

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Forms

Web Forms are a dynamic and engaging way to involve your customers in your marketing process. Form functions can be used to fortify your campaigns in a variety of ways that work to combine certain efforts and expand on others. This post will list a few of the methods that marketers have utilized over the years and provide a detailed description of how to create similar setups. To help illustrate my points, I’ll be using a Form builder available through Social Page Builder.

5. Surveys

One of the most basic functions of Web Forms, online surveys allow you to get direct feedback from your customers without invading their privacy or inciting a negative response. For best results, try asking your audience what they like in similar products or services.

Most Form builders include a generic set of tools. Once you have loaded your builder, look for a set of applications labeled “Survey”:

Survey Tools

From here, you’ll be able to set various questions and responses using tools like sliders, boxes, and tallies:

Survey Tools 2

4. Quizzes

Want to keep your audience interested in your brand? A good quiz can get your customers engaged in your website or Facebook Page. Whether you want to focus on your products or branch out is up to you, but, above all, BE ENTERTAINING. Nothing will turn your customers away faster than a lame quiz. (For some great examples, check out these quizzes by The Oatmeal)

Quizzes can be creating using generic Form boxes (fill-in-the-blank) or dropdown menus and check boxes (multiple choice):

Quizzes

To set up email notifications for quiz completion, go to “Setup and Embed” in your main menu and follow the email alerts instructions. Most Form builder programs have this kind of functionality:

Email Notifications

3. Email List Building

The most commonly used of the Web form functions, Email List Building is critical to any online marketing campaign and huge part of integrating your email marketing with other electronic efforts. Forms used on Web Pages or Facebook Tabs can help you fortify your lists with dedicated and interested leads at virtually no cost to you.

Email Forms are simple to set up; most Form builders have a default email option that can be selected from a series of standard operations:

Email

*Email addresses can be exported in notification emails (example above) to the address of your choice. Automatic list integration varies between Email Service Providers. For specific upload protocols, please consult your current Email Service Provider.

2. Remote Login

Want to give your customers easier access to their accounts? Just like any regular login page, Web Forms can be programmed to accept login information and remotely connect your customers to your product. This is great for eliminating extra steps in the login process and giving users more options when using your services.

To set up a remote login, search your advanced options for Username and Password fields. If neither are available directly, they can usually be fashioned through the individual boxes’ “Properties” sections:

Passwords

1. Contests

One of the best uses of Web Forms is coordinating and supplementing contests. Not only can Forms be used to integrate all of the functions above into one campaign structure, unique notification tools allow you to take those results and develop a legitimate, secure method for contest verification.

In addition to the standard options described above, Social Page Builder’s Form Builder also integrates an upload function which can be used to drive a submissions-based contest. Such submissions could then later be used to promote your brand (depending on contest terms):

Upload

Once you’ve set up your content, you can secure your Contest by creating strict parameters on multiple submissions (under “Preferences”) or inserting a Captcha (Under “Tools”):

Strict Submissions

Captcha

Lastly…

Make sure to include a “Submit” function with every Form you create. Most builders won’t let you publish a form without one, but it’s a critical last step:

Submit

Like this post? Then check out some of our other How-Tos: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Email Campaigns and How to Make a Great Custom Cover Photo. to get more updates like this one, be sure to Like Us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter.

4 More Social Media Statistics that Should Bother You

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Google+, Opinion, Pinterest, Social Media, Twitter | Posted on May 16, 2012

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Social Media

4. You Watched 435 Youtube Videos Last Year

And that’s just an average. Evenly divided among all internet users, GLOBALLY, the number of views per person in 2011 came in at just over 434.7. What were we watching? Was it important? Probably not.

Rebecca Black

The good news about this statistic is that it teaches us exactly how widespread and influential YouTube is. More than ever, companies need to be focusing on how to best leverage their visual presence online (Facebook Timeline, Pinterest, etc.), and YouTube is a great place to continue that expansion.

3. 5% of Tweeters Produce 75% of the Content

Some of you probably don’t find this that surprising. It seems like people who use Twitter are often split between rarely posting updates and spewing tweets like some sort of greasy, bit.ly-crusted faucet. If you follow anyone like that, you know what I mean, and that overflow of information can often be counterproductive when looking for useful or relevant material.

Confused Bird

Why is this such an issue? Because Twitter encourages it. The more a person posts, the more exposure they get, and, as long as they keep the content varied and original, they get distributed through retweets and similar posts. Basically, it’s a numbers game, with over-tweeters betting that their visibility will make up for how annoying they are. On the plus side, the need for fresh topics does keep things at least a little interesting, and there are always more than one way to connect with someone online…

2. Pinterest Shrunk by 10% Last Month

For those of you with active Pinterest accounts, this stat should come as no surprise. Posting has slowed dramatically since the site’s initial hype in March, and many casual users have stopped visiting all together. It’s not hard to see why it’s happening; pinning is fun when you first start and have a lot of fresh ideas, but generating new content can become a chore once those ideas are used up. For example, I’m a huge fan of craft brewing, and most of my personal page is dedicated to posting about beers that I’m trying. Early on, I was able to draw from my experiences and easily come up with drafts and images that fit the Pinterest style. However, after only a few weeks, I had basically run out of old ideas and my posts became dependant on new material. At an average of one new beer a week, posts on my Board slowed to a crawl, and traffic responded likewise. Once that happened, the value of posting wasn’t worth the time and effort it took to generate the content.

No More Drinking

Since March, Pinterest has lost over 150,000 active users. This isn’t great news, but the lasting impact may be better than people expect. Pinterest is a fad, but a very functional and useful one. Their meteoric rise in popularity was bound to result in fading interest down the road. All we can do now is wait and see if they’ll be able to hold their fans’ attention over the summer.

1. Britney Spears Runs Google +

Britney Spears is, by a wide margin, the most popular person on Google+. Why? I have no idea. What does it mean? It means that now, more than ever, I want nothing to do with that social media trainwreck.

Britney Spears

Looking for more disturbing facts? Check out the original.

The 4 Types of Spammers

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in email, Opinion | Posted on May 01, 2012

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Spam

The Deaf Pan-Handler
Maybe you took a flier from him a while back. Maybe he found your email and just thought you seemed generous. Either way, now, he won’t leave you alone. You tell him you’re not interested, you try and avoid him, but the guy just won’t take a hint. His optimism is kind of endearing, in a pitiful way, but you’ve got business to attend to, damnit! Finally, you run out of options and report him. Guess what? He gets a new address and comes back. Eventually, you’ll just learn to ignore him.

The Nigerian Prince
Classic. He identifies himself as a stranger; someone who needs your help to get his fortune/valuables out of an insecure location and into your hands. It’s obviously too good to be true, but you can’t help but wonder, even hope, that it might just be for real. After a few seconds of tentative optimism, you trash his message – scams like that tend not to repeat.

The Lunatic
He has no shame, no fear, and nothing to hide. He will run around your inbox aimlessly, screaming incoherent gibberish while making you feel ashamed to be sharing the internet with him. He’ll get caught and shut down, but another three will pop up in his place. Fortunately, he’s easy to spot and easy to ignore.

The Skin Suit
At first glance, nothing seems much amiss. He’s from your bank, a local business, or someplace else that you trust. But then you really look at him. OHGOODJESUSNO he isn’t who you thought he was. He looks legit, even his address checks out, but behind that face you know so well is a stranger, a dangerous man who wants to destroy you. And as you stare into those cold, electronic eyes, you realize what makes him different; what makes him truly terrifying: This took time. This isn’t some regular lunatic out for your cash. This is someone patient, someone who takes pride in their work, and someone who, at that very moment, is manipulating your life in ways you don’t completely understand. You feel a crushing despair.

Then you mark it as spam and get on with your life.

3 Simple Ways to Sync Your Email and Facebook Campaigns

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Advice, email, Opinion, Small Business, Tips and Tricks | Posted on Apr 14, 2012

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Merge

3. Direct Links in Email
If you’ve got an email campaign, chances are, right now, someone is reading one of your messages. Email is a huge part of how modern companies do business, and the easiest way to get your social media in on that sweet, ecommerce action is to build a pathway for it. Facebook provides numerous free icons that can be hyperlinked to your Page, and many email Service Providers support layouts encouraging fb tie-ins. Icons can generally be placed anywhere on your emails and, depending on the amount of attention you want them to receive, rearranged in a number of different ways. Don’t have the technical know-how to modify images? No worries, there are numerous applications designed around integrating social media into emails. The image editor in Email Design Builder, for example, allows you to add an icon and hyperlink it in one easy step.

“Why should I add another link to my emails?” You may be asking. “What’s in it for me?” The answer is, put simply, that Direct Linking is for Facebook what dynamite was for digging holes. Or fishing.

Blast Fishing

The new Facebook Timeline format prevents businesses from designating landing pages from within the site. However, outside sources can direct to any Page feature with a url, including Like-Gated Applications and other conversion-generating content. Giving your customers the option of following these links will net you fans and help ensure that your business has a strong social media presence.

2. Cross-Promotions
People who opt-in to your email or social campaigns are expecting updates from your company. This interest can be leveraged by both platforms to draw business for themselves and each other. Say you start running a contest over Facebook. Send an email out letting your customers know about it. Running an email campaign? Alert your Facebook fans to send you their email addresses for a special promotion. Knowing how and when to best use tactics like this can be tricky at first, but your ability to identify opportunities will develop quickly once you get started.

1. Facebook Signups
While having followers on your social pages is a great way to update people about your company, exposure is spotty and you don’t really have control over who sees what. To get your Facebook fans more engaged with your marketing, try creating Applications offering special deals or exclusive content that require an email address to sign up. Be sure to include a clause about marketing materials and BAM, contacts.

Contacts

To set up a form-based Application, you’ll need a Facebook Tab creation tool, like Social Page Builder, and a dedicated list building service to pass the addresses to. How you treat these contacts is up to you, though it’s important to remember that they came to you from a social setting and are probably used to a fairly informal exchange.

5 Common Email Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Advice, email, Opinion, Tips and Tricks | Posted on Apr 10, 2012

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Email Mistakes

5. Flooding
Staying in contact with your customers is important. The longer a person goes without hearing from you, the sooner they’ll forget about you. As a result, many businesses send a rolling schedule of emails and updates to their customers. This is a normal and, if executed properly, a very smart thing to do. However, you need to be aware of how often your customers want to hear from you. Most companies run on a weekly/bimonthly schedule. Audiences expect that kind of thing and are willing to take it so long as the messages are helpful and varied.

Email Flooding

Where lots of businesses run into trouble is in bland or repetitive content. At best, you’re boring. People will tolerate it, but they won’t be engaged by what you’re sending them. At worst, you’re annoying, and that’s when you start to lose customers. A business should be evolving constantly, so use your development to keep your audience in the loop and interested in what you’re doing.

4. Over-Concentrating
Different products are relevant to different people. Yes, the group that most appreciates your marketing is invaluable to your business’s development, but they’re not your only potential customers. Right now, most audiences are segmented and left to their own campaigns. That’s great for the short term, but after a while you’ll be micromanaging several small strategies instead of a master plan.

Targets

Occasional crossovers between product groups should be encouraged. Try creating an email that uses multiple products to appeal to a larger portion of your audience. Be sure to stay relevant to all involved. Most Email Service Providers will allow you to select multiple groups to broadcast to, so this shouldn’t be difficult.

3. Miscommunicating
The first thing anyone will see in an email from your business is the Subject. If it doesn’t appeal to the reader, then the rest of your message won’t have much hope. Always be sure that your subject lines are grammatically correct and relevant to your target audience. Remember, nothing will get you flagged as a spammer faster than misspelling words.

Confusing Email

2. Over-Stimulating
Most desktop email clients disable images by default. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.* So how do you get your diligently-rendered jpegs and pngs to appear on your targets’ screens? Sadly, most of the people who open you email will never view the full message. While all of the tips in this article will help get people interested in your marketing, only those who are legitimately engaged will override their email settings to see your layouts. Those targets are valuable in their own right, but to make sure your message gets across, you need to include text and proper placement.

*Many desktop clients also filter incoming emails based on a preset image/text ratio. If you exceed the limit, it’s likely that your message will be blocked before it can get to an inbox.

1. Trapping
Probably the worst thing you can do in an email marketing campaign is make people feel trapped. A bad email is one thing, but a bad email you can’t stop will start a customer service nightmare. Fortunately, most large Email Service Providers require built-in opt-outs, so this is a disaster most marketers won’t have to deal with. Still, it’s often a good idea to request a second opt-in from customers, especially if they haven’t been contacted in a while. At the very least, this will show you how many people are still interested in your marketing.

Trapped

For more email marketing tips and tricks, you can check out Email Design Matters or The State of Email Marketing.

Beginner’s Guide – Converting to Facebook Timeline

Posted by Graham Henry | Posted in Advice, Facebook, Freemium, Opinion, Small Business, Social Media, Tips and Tricks | Posted on Mar 29, 2012

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Facebook Timeline Evolution

On March 30, 2012, Facebook will be switching all Business Pages to their new Timeline Profile format. While this move has several long-term implications, the first and most important concern of any Page manager should be preparing for the transition. Fortunately, Facebook has made this fairly simple for existing Pages.

Step 1: Preview

Viewing your Page as an Admin should give you the option of previewing the new Timeline format. From the Preview mode, you will be able to see what your Timeline will look like and alter new features without changing the content of your original layout.

Timeline Preview

You will notice that some of the components of your old Page have transferred to Timeline, namely, your Profile Picture and business information. Both of these sections are editable. However, it should be noted that any change made before switching to Timeline will alter your original format.

New Timeline


Step 2: Design Your Cover Photo

As the centerpiece of your landing page, the Cover Photo will have a large impact on your final layout as well as a visitor’s initial impression of your business. You’ll want to create something engaging that both reflects your company’s interests and conveys the principles behind products/services that you sell.* An excellent Cover Photo customization tool can be found at www.timelineimagecreator.com.

To post your Cover Photo, look for the small box at the top right of the page labeled “Add a Cover” and click it. This will open a dropdown menu that will allow you to choose from the photos you have on your page or upload an image from your computer. The Cover Photo displays at 851×315 pixels, so you must pick a large image to use. Images under 399 pixels wide cannot be used.

Adding a Cover

Once you have selected your Cover Photo, it will be placed in the Cover Photo socket where, depending on the size of the image, you will be able to adjust the crop. After you’ve cropped your image, click “Save Changes” to publish to your Timeline.

*While designing your image, keep in mind that Facebook has placed several restrictions on Cover Photo content. You can read more about Facebook’s Terms of Use here.

Step 3: Modify Your Applications

Applications allow you to engage your customers directly and develop a relationship through Facebook. It is therefore important that they be as enticing and eye-catching as possible. Your first step is to find a third-party Application creator, such as Social Page Builder, and design Apps that will attract viewers to your business. Secondly, you must choose Application Images to display under your Cover Photo. Each Page will display a maximum of 12 Apps, though it is possible to publish and stage an unlimited number. You can edit your Apps by opening the App area and clicking the Pencil icon.

Editing and App

Step 4: Profile Picture
Your Profile Picture is the image that will precede every post that you make. Measuring 125×125 pixels, your new image should have a clear and definitive connection to your business, i.e. a logo or headshot.

Step 5: Publish
Your Page is complete and you can now publish it to Facebook. Once you’re live, be sure to follow Facebook Timeline’s best practices.

Pre-Timeline

Arrow

Finished Timline

*All Cover Photo and Application Images seen in this post were developed using Timeline Image Creator, a Free timeline customization tool from High Impact Designer.