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Save Time and Get Active on Social Media with Buffer

6 Mar

Buffer AppDo you ever notice people that seem to always be online? Always posting to Twitter or Facebook? Just because they’re posting several times throughout the day doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on Twitter or Facebook all day long. They could be using one of several apps that allows you to schedule or spread out your posts throughout the day. One of the best apps I’ve found to do that is Buffer.

Unlike robust social media management tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck (both excellent tools), Buffer does one thing and it does it exceptionally well. Buffer is a status update scheduling tool, but unlike a more full-fledged social media management tool, Buffer doesn’t ask you when to post your updates. Buffer initially selects four times throught the day when your posts will go out (but you can add, subtract or edit any of those times). Each time you add a new post to Buffer, it simply throws it into the buffer queue behind your other scheduled posts. In the screenshot below, you can see that there are several posts scheduled to go out over the next 24 hours. This is how Buffer works.

Buffer Dashboard

Now, I can spend 20 or 30 minutes over lunch or in the evening reading news updates from my Google Reader account or (some of my new favorites) Flipboard (iOS app link), Zite (iOS app link) or even the Bloomburg BusinessWeek (iPad app link) apps on my iPad. Then, when I read interesting articles, I can add them to my Buffer knowing they’ll post later and not inundate my followers as I read each article.

Buffer also makes it VERY easy to add content, whether you’re sharing links of articles you’re reading or whether you just want to schedule a post without a link. Buffer has created more than a dozen different ways to add content to your account. In addition to being able to update from the website, you can also update with an Android app, iPhone app, Firefox and Chrome extensions and (one of my favorites) a way to add to your Buffer via email, it’s easy to keep your Buffer full wherever you are. Below is a screenshot that shows how to add an update to Buffer via email. You’ll receive your own exclusive @to.bufferapp.com email address and everything you send to that address will automatically get added to your Buffer. Just add the email address to your contacts and you can add to your Buffer from anywhere.

Add to Buffer via email
Buffer is a free service, but there is also a couple paid versions available. For free, you can have up to 10 updates in your queue, and you can have one account each of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For $10/month you get up to 50 updates at a time, six social networks and up to two team members per account. There’s also a $99/month plan that gives you lots more.

I’ve been using Buffer for about six months now and it has become an indispensable part of my day and my social media routine. If you’re interested in checking out Buffer, click here (referral). If you sign up through my referral link, we’ll both get one extra space added to our Buffer queue.

**Update Thanks to Troy Thompson of Travel 2.0, you can use Tweriod (a free service) to find out the best times to tweet. Simply connect Tweriod with your Twitter account and it will let you know the historically best times to post content to get the most interaction from your followers. Tweriod is included as part of the paid Buffer subscription, but you can look up the times on your own for free as well. **

Subscribers, Fans and Followers: Mobile Dependence Day

29 Jun

ExactTarget - Subscribers, Fans and Followers ResearchI just got an email today that ExactTarget just released another report in their fantastic Subscribers, Fans and Followers research series. Their ninth report is entitled Mobile Dependence Day and goes into depth about our collective dependence on our smartphones and other mobile devices. (You can see my previous reviews of the SFF research series if you want. I covered report #7 Social Mytbhusting here.) While I was reading the most recent report, I realized that I hadn’t blogged about the previous report: The Social Breakup, so this post consists of reviews of the two most recent reports as part of the Subscribers, Fans and Followers research. If you’re interested in downloading the reports for yourself, check out ET’s Subscribers, Fans and Followers page for the full reports.

Report No. 8: The Social Breakup

The eighth report in the Subscribers, Fans and Followers series focuses on the “social breakup” – how and why consumers “break up” with brands and stop following them via Facebook, Twitter and email. You might be surprised at how much similarity there is across all channels. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Email
    • 67% of subscribers hit the unsubscribe button to end the email relationship rather than just deleting (17%), reporting as spam (8%), ignoring (6%) or setting up a filter to auto-archive the message(2%)
    • Top 3 reasons people unsubscribed from emails:
      • Too many emails from the company
      • Repetitive or boring content over time
      • Email overload – too many emails in general, cleaning out the clutter
  • Facebook
    • When fans no longer want information from a brand they previously “liked”, 43% of them go to the brand’s page and click “unlike, 38% click the “X” in their newsfeed to remove them from the wall and 19% just ignore the posts.
    • Top 3 reasons people “unliked” a brand on Facebook:
      • Too many posts – too much frequency can overwhelm users walls
      • Repetitive or boring content over time
      • They only “liked” the brand because of a promotion, discount or deal offered to fans, and “unliked” once they got what they wanted.
  • Twitter
    • Nearly half of consumers who created a Twitter account no longer use it with 52% saying they found Twitter to be pointless, 38% saying it became boring and 23% thinking that Twitter was too chaotic.
    • Top 3 reasons people stopped following a brand on Twitter:
      • Repetitive or boring content over time
      • Tweet stream became overloaded with marketing posts, wanted to clean up
      • Too many posts – too much frequency can overwhelm users tweet streams

Notice the striking similarity between why people unsubscribe, unlike and unfollow brands? While there are different strategies to employ for brand to get the most out of email, Facebook and Twitter, online consumers – across the board – seem to all be saying the same thing when it comes to ending their relationship with a brand’s digital initiatives: don’t talk too much and keep the content interesting.

Report No. 9: Mobile Dependence Day

The ninth report in the Subscribers, Fans and Followers series really focuses on our increasing dependence on our smartphones and other mobile devices. Even within the past year, the share of US consumers with smartphones (as opposed to feature phones) has grown dramatically. Here are some of the high points about what it means for interactive marketers:

  • 89% of US consumers 15+ own a cell phone. 41% of those have smartphones
    • Android: 33%
    • iPhone: 25%
    • Blackberry: 19%
    • Other: 23%
  • Smartphone’s Big 5 (the five most frequently used functions on today’s smartphones):
    • Phone Calls
    • Texting
    • Email
    • Internet
    • Facebook
  • How important is the smartphone to people who own and use one? Here is the percentage of people who would (if forced to choose) rather keep their smartphone than the following items:
    • Game Console: 72%
    • Dishwasher: 46%
    • Laptop: 40%
    • Microwave: 34%
    • Refrigerator: 13%
    • Car: 8%

The rest of the report gives recommendations of ways you can integrate your marketing efforts across all three communications channels and is definitely worth a read.

Have you looked through ExactTarget’s Subscribers, Fans and Followers series? What do you think about their findings?

Facebook Deals Now Live

26 Apr

Facebook Logo

Looks like Facebook has decided to jump head-first into offering group buying discounts a la Groupon, Living Social, and a host of other local and national ‘group discount buying’ programs. I checked my email about 10 minutes ago and had my very first Facebook Deal staring me in the face. There were rumors that Facebook Deals would launch in five US cities this week and it appears they official have launched in Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, San Diego and San Francisco.

Just like GrouponLiving Social and other group buying programs, I received the Facebook Deal in my email instead of through Facebook. They must have realized the power and personal nature of email marketing to have launched a program that is so dependent upon email as opposed to their own platform.

The most interesting part of the email is that I now live in Indianapolis, but the Deal (see screenshot below) is for horseback riding in Acworth, GA (a suburb of Atlanta). I did live in Atlanta for a couple years, but I’ve been in Indy for the past 5 years, so Facebook needs to do a bit of work with their Deal targeting.

Have you received a Facebook Deal yet? Do you think you’d be likely to buy a deal via Facebook or will you stick with Groupon, Living Social or another similar daily deal program?

Facebook Deal via Email

New Facebook Page Features

8 Mar

New Facebook Page Features

A couple weeks ago Facebook launched a redesign of Fan Pages and I’ve taken that time to go through all the new changes so I can detail some of the most important changes in this post. The new Pages redesign actually follows very closely to the changes that were made to Personal Profiles a few months ago and I think Facebook is really heading in the right direction here.

For the next few days, you can optionally switch to the new Pages format or stick with the old one, but as of mid-March, all pages will be automatically transitioned to the new Pages format, so it’s worth making the switch today.

Facebook Pages Redesign - 3/11

Facebook Pages' Photo RibbonPhoto Ribbon:

One of the most visible changes is the addition of the photo ribbon to the top of the page. Just like user accounts, pages can now feature a random assortment of their recently posted photos. A couple of details:

  • Unlike on your Personal Profile, you can’t specify the order of the photos – it just selects the 5 most recently uploaded photos to display at random.
  • You can remove photos from showing up in the ribbon – simply click on the ‘x’ in the upper right-hand corner of each individual photo.
    • Note: This won’t delete the photo from your gallery, it just makes it so it won’t show up in the photo ribbon at the top of your page.

Facebook Pages' Left-hand TabsTabs Moved to Left:

This was another big change from the way that Pages used to function; but again, it helps Pages mirror the Personal Profiles display and shouldn’t take too much getting used to. Now, instead of seeing your tabs at the top of your page, they cascade down the left-hand side. This also allows for longer custom tab names (see the image at right) and Facebook allows you have more visible tabs.

If you already had a custom landing page, everything should still work fine and users can still be defaulted to whichever page you’d like.

Facebook Pages' Use As Page OptionUse Facebook as Your Page:

This is one of the most significant upgrades to the new Facebook Pages. We actually saw a glimpse of this when Facebook accidentally rolled out the feature to all users for about an hour back in December. When you click on the link that allows you to use Facebook as your page, it literally allows you to use Facebook as your page.

This means several things:

  • Your notifications area (Facebook Page Notifications) now shows new fans added and lets you know when someone leaves a comment on your wall, or likes or comments on one of your posts.
  • You can post on other Pages as your page – very helpful if you’re want to post as your official presence on other pages – just don’t go overboard. This is the feature that has the biggest opportunity for abuse.
  • You can now “share” items from other pages onto your page. You’ve been able to do this as an individual for a long time, but now this functionality extends to Pages and is extremely helpful.
  • You now have your very own News Feed. Go around and Like different pages and they’ll all show up in your custom news feed. Just click on the Facebook logo when logged in as your Page to get to your Page’s News Feed.
  • You can also set up email notifications to be sent to you when a user likes or comments on a post on your wall.
    • This is a great feature for any Page managers who have been looking for real-time notification when their Facebook Wall gets some responses.
    • However, if you manage a Page with a large following, you could very easily become inundated by a flood of email notifications, so it’s probably only really useful as you’re beginning to grow your page.

Facebook Pages' Featured Likes OptionsFeatured Likes:

You can now feature up to 5 other pages in the Featured Likes section on the left-hand side of your page. Click on Edit Page, then go to the Featured Tab to select anywhere from 1 to 5 pages that you want to always display under the Featured Likes section. The other pages featured will randomly generate from all the pages your brand has liked.

This is a great way to feature timely pages, to highlight members of your organization or to give someone an added-value push on your Facebook page.

Move to iFrames Instead of FBML:

This is probably the most important and most technical upgrade that Facebook made with their recent Pages upgrade. I’ll go into more details about how to set up a Facebook Landing Page without using FBML in an upcoming post, but here’s the short of this change.

Several years ago Facebook developed their own simplified version of HTML called FBML (Facebook Markup Language). FBML was developed with the intention of making coding easier for people who didn’t know the first thing about coding. It enabled users to utilize a very simple block of code (see below) to do many things, including specifying which content could only be seen by fans as opposed to anyone who visited the Page.

<fb:visible-to-connection>
Fans will see this content.
<fb:else>Non-fans will see this content.</fb:else>
</fb:visible-to-connection>

Back in the fall, Facebook announced that they’d be getting rid of FBML in favor of a standard HTML control called iFrames. Essentially, an iFrame allows you, as the programmer, to call in an entire page – created and hosted elsewhere – to display within the iFrame. This actually allows for much more flexibility when creating customized Facebook landing pages, but it is a big departure from Facebook’s old standard of FBML.

Those are some of the biggest changes involved in the Facebook Pages redesign. How will you start using the redesigned Pages for your organization’s benefit?

 

How To: Create a Facebook Username

22 Oct

Facebook Logo

I’ve recently noticed that while lots of Facebook Fan Pages have created a custom username for their URL (facebook.com/VisitIndiana, for example), there are still plenty of Fan Pages out there that still use their long, cumbersome URL instead of a shortened username (facebook.com/pages/Visit-Indiana-Indiana-State-Tourism/42785429080).

With so many URL Shorteners being used today (Bit.ly, Goo.gl, etc.), it might seem like it doesn’t matter what your Facebook Page URL is,

Luckily, Facebook makes it easy to create a custom username for your personal Facebook account and your business’ Fan Page.

The only caveat is that you have to have at least 25 fans of your page before you can create a username for it. This is Facebook’s way of ensuring that people aren’t creating pages just to squat on popular names.

The video below gives you a quick walk-through to help you create your custom Facebook Username. If you can’t view the video, just click through to the full post and you’ll see text directions to create your username.

(more…)

Four On Friday: Social Media Recap

15 Oct

Check out these articles to see what you may have missed this week:

1: Facebook Introduces One-Time Passwords Via Text | PC Magazine

Social Mediarology thinks: For as much flak as Facebook has received lately for their lack concern for users’ privacy, this is yet another step in the right direction. Facebook also recently released the ability to log out of other locations remotely and this One-Time Password feature is just another way Facebook really is looking out for their members. If you’ve ever felt nervous about logging into Facebook on a public computer, this is a great way to check in on Facebook without the worry.

2: Klout Now Measures Your Influence on Facebook | Mashable

Social Mediarology thinks: Klout’s influence score has become one of few widely-recognized and respected Twitter influence scores on the web today. You’ll find Klout’s scores baked into Twitter clients like HootSuite. Klout’s foray into Facebook is interesting because while finding a definitive influence score for Twitter or Facebook is nearly impossible, it seems much more difficult to do so for Facebook, where there are many more variables to take into account that for Twitter.

3: Skype 5.0 Busts Out of Beta, Integrates Facebook Friends | Engadget

Social Mediarology thinks: There have been rumors for a few weeks about the integration of Skype and Facebook and half of the equation is now solved. With the 5.0 release of Skype, Windows users can log into Skype and bring all their Facebook friends with them. Then next step will be Facebook pulling Skype into their own chat application to create Skype-enabled text, audio and video chatting. While many businesses are starting to use Skype more and more, their integration with Facebook will bring more users to Skype.

4: URL Shortener Bit.ly Now Generates QR Codes | Mashable

Social Mediarology thinks: QR codes are gaining popularity with the advent of mobile apps that can easily scan this new style of barcode. Foursquare even allows users to scan a QR code that will check them in to a location. While QR codes are still in their infancy, they are becoming more common and Bit.ly has done themselves a great service by making QR code creation so simple (just append .qr to the end of a Bit.ly URL and they’ll display your QR code. Take a picture of the one above using a QR code scanning app on your mobile phone and it’ll redirect you to SocialMediarology.com.

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