Friday, 14 May 2010
As simple as people find the Facebook interface and as powerful as its feature set, it’s amazing how many brands only seem to recognize a portion of the platforms potential. Though we freely admit that messing it up can be easy to do. Knowing what is best practice it seems is always easier than consistently delivering it. With that in mind, here are some of the lessons learned along the way.
Post Frequency - Be aware of what content you would like users to see from your brand and how frequently you are posting. Remember, your fans may be passionate about your brand, but that might not mean they want their Facebook News Feed flooded with updates at the top of every hour. Keep in mind that a user’s News Feed is live and real time information.
Posts are also more effective during the week when people are typically checking Facebook (in the morning, just before or after lunch and in the evening). Create a schedule just like you would for any media. Note that Post frequency can also vary depending on the industry your brand is a part of. For example, a news brand may post more frequently than a restaurant. The users are expecting more posts from a news organization than their restaurant.
Post Type - Make effective use of multimedia and dynamic wall posts and apps for heightened engagement. Not only do multi-media posts present engaging content, they also provide key viral discovery components. That’s where the Facebook “share” function comes into play, which is automatically included on every wall post using the Facebook “links” app. Utilizing Facebook’s video, audio and image posts allows users to share with friends via news feeds and notifications, which helps spread the word and keeps them coming back for repeat visits.
URLs - URLs should be short and easy to type. Making them that way increases the chance that a visitor will click on them. However, public URL shorteners don't include your brand in the URL, and some services like bit.ly allow the general public to see your brand's traffic!
URL shorteners are Internet tools used to shorten longer URL links. These shorteners are typically used to accommodate character space and are more aesthetically pleasing. Another way brands utilize these shorteners is use it to track the analytics of a link. These shorteners allow users to view how many times the link has been clicked and redirected, and where the link is being shared. Several online services offer to shorten your URL for free but do not give the links or pages credibility.
Building an Audience - Driving traffic to your page is key to building your audience. Facebook ads can amp up the amount of visitors you have to your page increasing the likelihood they will connect with your page. Promoting Facebook exclusive offers is another way to attract users to your page.
If applicable, cross-promote with other associated official fan pages to give credibility to your page. For example, if you have an official company page and have offerings in other pages, make sure you link them to main page for user reference and vice-versa. That way, users who are connected to one page have the opportunity to see the other pages and connect with it too.
Page Information - Fill out your page information as completely as possible within the Info tab and the blurb box underneath the profile image. This helps your page surface when users conduct a Facebook search for your company. Focus the brand’s social presence. Too many separate company pages can lead to over-fragmentation, which can be confusing for users trying to find accurate information.
Engagement - Updates should ideally be posted when most people are checking their Facebook accounts. Vitrue research shows that posts are more effective during the week when people are typically checking Facebook (first thing in the morning, just before or after lunch and in the evening).
Brands should aim to post updates 2-3 times a day to keep content fresh on their wall. A brand who posts infrequently will have stale content which will not encourage users to return to a page. A brand who posts too much may annoy their audience, which may result in their social connections opting out of your company’s updates.
Posts should solicit as much engagement and participation as possible. The best ways to engage your audience are by asking questions in your updates, posting relevant content that the audience will comment on and share. Fan comments are more desirable than “likes” because they require more of a time investment from the user. Also when a fan comments, it gets broadcasted to their friends through their news feeds. Remember, users are on your page to interact with your brand, so try to respond to user comments and wall posts in a timely fashion. They will appreciate the attention and might tell their friends about the experience.
Moderate fan posts and comments for obscenity and spam as it relates to your company’s social media policy. Moderation allows for a safe environment for all ages. However, some brands are more accepting of certain language based on their brand personality.
It's also best to use a branded URL shortener to give your links credibility and assurance that the link will redirect to a relevant page. Another benefit of using certain branded URL shorteners is that they protect against making your links analytics public. For example, if you add a "+" to the end of any bit.ly link, you can make the analytics public.
Since social media is a more informal landscape than traditional media, the brand communication should be more personal too. Balance promotional offers with conversation.
Remember - The space is intended to allow for two-way communication -- don’t simply use social media as a push medium for promotions. The entire exercise is intended to be participatory.
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