Tag: Facebook

Why Your Business On Facebook Needs A Facebook Business Page

September 28, 20111 Comment
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Did you know that nothing drives most Facebook users more crazy than getting tons of friend requests from people they don’t know who they can see are just trying to boost their number of Facebook friends for purely business reasons? Especially if, after the request is accepted, they are then spammed with affiliate links and/or endless sales letters about that person’s business. If this is what you’ve been taught or have assumed it’s the way to do things, then you need to realise that it doesn’t work. It’s probably not your fault, but you need to stop and change.

Fortunately I quickly noticed that these so-called strategies are very unpopular and don’t work. I never intentionally do it. The vast majority of Facebook’s almost 800 million users regard their Facebook personal profile as exactly that, personal. Worse still is when that person posts a link directly on their new friend’s Wall which isn’t a welcome or appreciation message but a link to a sales page! The vast majority of people are not primarily on Facebook for business purposes and even those who are don’t want to see their page being hijacked by uninvited strangers. When they see such posts appearing on their newsfeed, or worse posted directly to their Facebook Wall, it will be viewed with the same disdain and distaste that they show towards junk mail, generally addressed as “Dear Homeowner” or “Dear Occupier”, which piles up on the doormat or in the mailbox and then gets sent unopened to the trash bin – who wants to do business with someone who can’t even be bothered to find out your name or what your interests are?.

Remember first that Facebook users use their personal profile for social use, to chat to friends and family when they are away from home, to keep up with people they’ve met whilst travelling or who they’ve formed friendships with in the past. They may well wish to post vacation pictures or family photos for their friends and family to see, and to keep up with what their friends are up to.

More seriously for your business, not only does this mean that are you using a great social tool for something it’s not intended for, Facebook personal profiles are also FAR LESS effective at promoting and selling online. You can only have 5,000 friends anyway. That may sound good to start with but what about the longer-term? Are you just going to settle for 5,000 business contacts and that’s it? That doesn’t sound like a great plan, especially when fan pages are unlimited! It will ultimately get tedious just going out and friending everyone and also sending them a personal message, unless you share a mutual interest with them and are likely to come into contact with them from time to time. Not only that, “real” friends will soon get annoyed when receiving endless marketing status updates from you. Using your personal profile as an outright business page is contrary to the nature of social media, which is after all, to be social.

It’s certainly great to connect with likeminded people through your personal profile, provided that contact through that profile is largely confined to freely sharing information and ideas with them and maybe organising get-togethers and other genuine networking. I enjoy learning from new contacts and keeping up with their news. If there are no strings attached, I’m also happy to share that on my Social Media platforms and am pleased if that helps them a little, especially if they reciprocate and do the same for me. The new “Lists” feature on Facebook will certainly enhance that, but attempting to sell directly to your contacts through your personal profile or aggressively adding them to groups without asking them first and then bombarding them with those same spammy affiliate links is just wrong. If people don’t leave those groups it’s likely to be only because they ignore what’s being posted to them from those groups anyway.

Facebook’s Terms and Conditions expressly prohibit personal profiles being used for direct business use. If flagged up, there is a strong danger that Facebook will close your page down. They can and have done this overnight if they interpret that a page is being mis-used. All the connections to that page have then been lost unless you’ve found a method to back up all those names.

Far better then to leave business activity to your Facebook business page, or pages (more commonly still referred to as fan pages), the place Facebook intends it to be in and where people will expect it to have business content. It’s way more effective and it lets you separate business and social life…which is hopefully a goal that you have in the first place.

Facebook have now made it very easy for users to switch from their personal pages to their business pages and back and post your updates. Simply go to your business page and on the top right side there is an option to use Facebook in that business’s name. You can click that option and then you can use that business page to post updates in that name, reply to comments about your previous posts and choose other pages for your business page to “like”. When you’ve finished there’s an option in the same place to revert back to your personal profile. From there you can go to your other pages and post in those names and choose which other pages to “Like” should the need or wish arise or proceed with using your personal profile.

It’s great to have your own Facebook personal profile if you have an online business. I certainly am very reluctant to do business online with anyone who is invisible on Social Media. But if you want to put Facebook to work properly for your business you need to go a stage further. So if you want to create the structure to put Facebook to use properly for your business, and haven’t yet done so, take that step now and create a Facebook Business profile too.

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The Launch Of Google Plus

August 21, 20110 Comments
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The launch of Google Plus has not been without it’s ironies. Whilst the identity of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s account in Google’s social networking site Google+ (Google Plus) remained a mystery until Google launched a verification procedure, this account easily bagged the most number of early followers. As of 21st August, the Mark Zuckerberg account in Google+ stood at over 470,000 followers whilst that of MySpace founder Tom Anderson, despite Anderson being an active poster on Google Plus, stood at a mere 109,000. Zuckerberg has achieved this without posting a single public post on Google Plus, thus possibly marking the final victory of Facebook over Myspace!

More seriously, is Google Plus the real deal after several false starts by Google in it’s efforts to be a major social networking platform?

Prior to the launch of Google Plus, all the momentum seemed to be with Facebook. Facebook effectively launched its own email address option for users with it’s facebook.com address option for messaging and also was expanding it’s quasi search-engine capacity in what was seen as an attempt to push further into Google’s domain. Facebook ads have also become an increasingly popular alternative to Google Ads for online advertisers. Facebook has also announced the launch of a Video Chat feature on its platform with the help of Skype, one of the most popular internet telephony services. According to Facebook’s own stats, it now has over 750 million active users. As is often said, if Facebook was a country it would have the third largest population on the planet.

Under such an onslaught, it would have been naive to expect Google to remain passive. It has certainly hit back hard with Google Plus. At it’s initial launch, which of these major internet platforms had the most sign-ups in the first month?: 1) Google Plus; 2) Myspace; 3) Youtube; 4) Facebook; 5) Ebay; 6) Twitter?

Well, despite being an invitation only platform, Google Plus hit 20 million unique users around the world within it’s first three weeks, according to figures from online measurement company Comscore, making it the comfortable winner and was topping 25 million users by the first week of August. Of course that still leaves Google some way behind its social networking rivals. Twitter has more than 300 million users and Facebook’s 750 million. Even the more exclusive Linkedin reports it now has 120 million members.

Google Plus has easily been Google’s best attempt to establish itself as a major Social Media player with some saying this will be the beginning of the end for Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. But after an explosive start, latest reports suggest a slowing down in the pace of Google Plus’s expansion. The fact that Google Plus’s success continues to be measured against that of Facebook is part of it’s dilemma as it cannot truly be viewed as having succeeded when it is continually being compared to Facebook rather than being viewed as an entity with an identity in it’s own right.

Google Plus has certainly tapped into a strong current of dissatisfaction with Facebook over issues such as privacy, some spammy applications which can bamboozle all but the most informed of it’s users, it’s attitude over allowing users to be randomly added to groups without their consent (groups that can then spam your wall without your knowledge or permission until you block them) and some very intrusive adverts. Time will tell whether this will be looked back on as just a protest vote against Facebook for it to get it’s house in order or whether this will mark a seismic migration from Facebook towards Google Plus.

Critics of Google Plus state it is a rip-off of Facebook, but is that really so? Being a late comer has it’s advantages. Perhaps Google Plus is successfully combining the best features of Facebook and of Twitter. This is most obviously the case with Google Plus’s Circles feature which enables users to choose who they want to connect with (as they can largely do when choosing who to follow on Twitter), rather than waiting to be approved as a friend thus ending the requirement for mutual “friending” for access to profiles and posts. The Circles feature is also easy to use when a user wants to limit a post to a selected group or groups of connections.

A further not inconsequential factor is the effect of a Google Plus presence, allied with the use of the Google Plus +1 share button, on search engine optimization given Google’s power in this sphere. If it’s impact is going to be stronger than that of Facebook then this could give Google Plus an edge over Facebook – websites would be incentivized to integrate +1 buttons more than Like buttons if that provided the bigger boost to search results. Better search opportunities will be at the core of any business’s choice over whether to be more active on Google Plus or Facebook. After all, the most important thing about online marketing is attracting traffic to your site and businesses are said to be eagerly anticipating the next phase of Google Plus’s expansion.

Does this paint a dark picture for Facebook’s future? A small but influential number of internet marketers and analysts have proclaimed this to be the beginning of the end for Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Some have even closed their accounts to move over to Google Plus, but Facebook still has a lot going for it.

Although some Facebook apps are discredited many important ones are not. NetworkedBlogs, for instance, is the cornerstone of any serious Blog’s options for being seen and read beyond it’s immediate circle of subscribers. Additionally, businesses and individuals who have invested so much time and effort building their presence and identity on Facebook such as through the use of Facebook Business Pages are unlikely to just close down and move to Google Plus.

Google Plus may have been able to tap in to a wave of dissatisfaction with Facebook from some of it’s users but any advertiser who has been on the receiving end of Google’s notorious slap will hardly look upon Google as a benign and benevolent operator. Nor has Google Plus appeared to have made much impression upon, far less replaced Facebook, in the consciousness of Facebook’s massive teenage user base.

There will be plenty more to come. It was only a matter of time before Google started to integrate Google Plus with YouTube. A new feature that Google has recently built into YouTube allows instant firing up of an online viewing party between you and your nine closest friends or associates through the Google Plus Hangout feature. That’s all thanks to Google’s integration of Google Plus Hangouts directly into YouTube’s video sharing functionality. Over time, as Google Plus expands, you can be sure that the vast array of Google tools will be increasingly added into the Google Plus platform.

No doubt the battle will be joined as both Google Plus and Facebook seek to improve their users’ experiences with both attempting to learn from and outdo each other. For the time being it is to be welcomed that social media users once again have a serious choice of social media platforms instead of the monopoly which had the field virtually to itself until recently. A foot in both camps remains the best option for the foreseeable future, though in the longer term there will come a point where one of them will have the upper hand.

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Migrating A Facebook Personal Profile To A Facebook Business Page

June 24, 20111 Comment
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Although Facebook was initially intended to be a social network, it’s value for business purposes has quickly become apparent. As is frequently and correctly stated, if Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world, behind only India and China. Further, the way Facebook advertising can be structured according to demographic information such as age, gender, location and the interests of each Facebook member, allows for advertisements to be much more specifically targeted than many other advertising options. Not having a Facebook account would be a big own goal for any business or person looking to promote themselves.

A big drawback for businesses is the 5,000 friend limit on personal accounts. Facebook also takes a dim view of businesses outrightly promoting themselves and their products from their personal accounts and reserves the right to close these accounts. Facebook warns that having a personal profile for anything other than a single individual violates its guidelines. Facebook suggests converting such profiles to business pages, or else risk being banned for policy violations. In any event, people who’ve opened personal accounts will quite soon object to having their newsfeeds assailed by constant updates from business users which are intended for their own financial gain. Facebook will investigate complaints about “spam” and close accounts. Even if they don’t, friends will “unfriend” in droves to avoid such “spam”.

Facebook therefore launched “Pages” for business users analogous to the “profiles” that personal users have. For the business world, profiles became pages and followers became fans. It is very much “best practice” to promote your business, product, brand etc from business pages and never directly from your personal profile.

Further, there is no 5,000 follower limit for business users. You can build an unlimited number of fans for your page, eg the Manchester United Professional Sports Team page has over 16 million “Likes” and the Justin Bieber page has over 31 million “Likes”! This option has given business owners and entrepreneurs a dilemma – do they choose to build a business page or a profile? Or should they do both?

In the case of major organisations, sports teams and entertainers, the answer to that is easy. The numbers involved are simply too vast for meaningful social interaction away from that organisation or brand. Also, the higher the profile, the more selective they will usually want to be with what they wish to share. Users entirely looking to use their account for business purposes will not be looking for social interaction away from news directly related to that business. But for those with an intermediate level of contacts such as Internet Entrepreneurs there is much more of a dilemma. Is the best policy to abandon their existing Facebook profiles and build a new page, to have both a page and a profile, or even to look for a way to migrate their existing profile into a business page? Facebook now allows this option. If you have both a personal Facebook profile and one or more business pages there is an option on the top right hand side of each business page offering to use that page as your Facebook page.

You will be taken to a page titled “Profile to business page migration”. Various categories of business options will be presented to choose from. Please note this is the same option you get when creating a business page from your personal account. If you go ahead with the migration option do note that ONLY your profile picture and friends move with you. Everything else will be lost. There are limited back-up options but you run the usual risk of losing data.

This is an improvement on the situation which previously existed which meant converting your Facebook profile into a business page also meant losing all the friends linked to the personal account. In effect, migrating to a business page was the same as starting all over again. Well known people could get away with it but the risk was that past friends connected to your personal profile would not notice what had happened and could forget about you, thus throwing away relationships so carefully developed prior to the switch.

Now that friends can be carried over with the migration, is such a move now a good idea? The arguments against it should be carefully weighed up:

1) You will no longer have automatic access to your friends’ updates and events via the newsfeed. Your “Wall” would revolve solely around activity on your own page and any interaction that takes place between your followers on that page.
That might help you keep your “focus” but is it genuinely “social”, in the way social media is intended to be.

2) Will your friends appreciate now being categorised in effect as followers. Some could view it as a change in relationship and quietly opt not to continue to follow your page. After all, if they perceive you are not genuinely interested in them, why should they be interested in you?

3) The account associated with the profile you previously maintained will be converted to a business account, which will be the sole admin of your new Page. Some options available to personal profiles are not available to business accounts. For instance, pages previously “Liked” from your personal profile will no longer be “liked”. Photographs other than your user photograph will also be lost as there is no facility to carry them over with the “migration”. Old wall posts will disappear.

4) There have been concerns over the performance of the migration tool.

5) Migration is basically a “one-way street” – if it doesn’t work out it cannot be automatically reversed, although Facebook have now instituted an appeals process, reinstatement cannot be guaranteed.

Although more administration is involved, the option of retaining the personal profile and continuing to operate your business pages as extra pages would appear both to offer the most flexibility and to be the safer option. It avoids jeopardising the results of what has been built up already. Relationships with contacts can continue on a level playing field and your credentials for being genuinely committed to social media will be retained. The option to encourage and/or induce friends to “Like” your business pages will be retained and allow them to do so voluntarily. Keeping business matters and promotions to your business pages will also make it far less likely that you will fall foul of Facebook’s user policies. You will also retain the option of selectively sharing posts on your business pages into the newsfeeds of your friends via your personal accounts when you wish to do so.

These are a few of my concerns over “migrating” – perhaps others have a different view? Let’s also remember that Facebook is a constantly moving feast and its policies and procedures are constantly changing.

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