Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

The Great Poke Off: Use Your Networks to Help, Not Just to Complain

By @Trochman

Working at an Agency provides you the ability to work with a number of great brands and experiment with social media tools in a variety of ways in order to help them reach their target audience.  Sometimes this gives you an awe inspiring look at creativity and human interaction. Sometimes it gives you a sad look at how nasty people can be to one another, or witness how a simple communication tool can be warped into a funnel for complaints.

However, what touched me recently was not the act of a large company or marketing team but the creativity of two friends looking to make a small difference in their own personal networks. This weekend I was given another affirmation to the true power of social media.  How with a simple act, people can engage with their networks – not for fame or attention – but to help one another.

As I was scrolling through Facebook I came across a competition between my cousin Dan Andersen and his friend John Clinton. The two were participating in a poke-a-thon on Facebook. The concept had been John’s brainchild the year before and I vaguely remembered them participating… but this year was different.  This year there was clearly an emphasis by both men to take a playful competition and use it to make a difference.

Here is what caught my eye, a new timeline cover and invitation via status update:

Friends, Countrymen, People Who I haven’t talk to since high school or EVER: It’s that solitary time of year when I call you to action for charity, but wait, I don’t want your money! All I want is that long-lost Facebook function that (hardly) anyone ever uses anymore….the poke. Last year, we raised $234 for This American Life and $158 for Heifer International. This year I hope to accomplish the following:

1) Raise more $$ for This American Life
2) Beat John Clinton again

Here’s how it works – every time one of you pokes me (on FB), I give $1 to This American Life (up to a later specified amount)…plus I get to brag about it to John in the Internet locker room.

If you’ve never poked anyone before, you are probably not alone AND good ol’ Mark Zuckerburg has been moving stuff around lately – FB timeline has actually hidden the poke option in the drop-down widget menu just below the right-hand corner of my cover photo.

So please, take 2 seconds out of your FB surfing and poke-a-bro. I promise to return the favor when this is all over. Thanks!

Here is John’s timeline graphic:

As the competition picked up steam and both men started receiving pokes, The Chicago Booth Follies was also added to the mix for donations. (Their graduate school’s annual variety show –which they had learned its funding was dramatically slashed this year.)

This challenge was issued in late March with a deadline of 4/8/12. (Ok so he can get mad at me for taking this long to notice…) Through humorous Facebook updates, offers to give gifts and challenging Meme shots (see Harry Potter here); Dan and John both received pokes from friends, family, coworkers – and the networks of each group.  Some of my friends here at SHIFT have even found themselves poking these gents.

At the time of the competition’s close at midnight on 4/8/12, Dan had received 274 pokes and John received 205.  This means $479 was donated to This American Life and $479 to Booth Follies.

This is the true power of social media. People from various backgrounds staying connected, communicating about goals and helping each other.  This isn’t a complaint campaign to change some trivial policy or product feature, it isn’t the RT of some celebrity – it is just two friends looking to raise money for an organization they feel passionately about.

Can you imagine if we all just stopped every now and again and thought along these lines?  I know I tend to use my own social media tools for sarcastic thoughts and movie quotes.  I think the problem is we all imagine that in order to make a difference we need to think of the next million dollar charitable campaign. No. You don’t. Even the smallest donation can make a difference to someone so long as it is to an organization, group or movement you believe in.

Consider yourself poked.  Now what are you going to do with it….

Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages: What’s the big fuss?

The social media world has been abuzz since last week’s official launch of Facebook Timeline for all brand pages. Timeline has been available for personal users for a few months, and while it’s been optional, it’ll ultimately be the only choice for people and brands alike. I’m now accustomed to seeing the new look on my friends’ pages: huge cover photos of sunsets, babies or pets (I’m guilty of at least two. See for yourself.), but how will Timeline actually transform a brand’s presence on Facebook? After speaking with reps from the site, taking an online webinar and reading up on all of the official Facebook documents, I’ve come to the conclusion that Timeline can enrich a consumer’s view of a brand. How can it do this? By creating a page where consumers might spend more time and by allowing brands to seem more human.

Image

Personal uses of Cover photos are often sunsets, babies or pets.

Here are some details about how Timeline works:

Cover Photo vs. Profile Picture

The new cover photo seems like a simple concept. It’s like a profile picture, but bigger. But Facebook claims that it’s more than that – and they may be right. The suggested use of this space is for an image that captures the essence of your brand. Not a logo, not a promotional photo, not just text. The cover photo is the soul of the brand page, and should convey the soul of the brand. On the other hand, the profile picture should convey the facts: the logo, the label, etc. Facebook chose a few brands as guinea pigs for Timeline. Among them were Coca-Cola and Manchester United and not surprisingly, their pages look great (I’m guessing their sizable Facebook advertising budgets didn’t hurt). The Manchester United page is the perfect example of the Cover Photo vs. Profile pic discrepancy. Their profile pic is just the Manchester United logo. And yet their cover photo is of an emotional, uplifting photo of the victorious team, evoking immediate emotion from any user. Even from me!

What it means for brands: Emotion sells.

Image

Manchester United gets it right with an emotion provoking cover photo

Pinning Your Posts

Another new feature for Timeline is the ability for brands to “pin” a post to the top of the page for up to 7 days. This is all about the first impression – any user landing on a brand page will see exactly what the brand wants them to see. The days are over when negative customer feedback live at the top of the Facebook Brand Page wall. This gives more power to the brand over all headlining content on their page. And while users are still encouraged to post on brand pages, Facebook has introduced a new option for consumers to privately message brands. This should cut down on some of the customer service type questions that are often prominently displayed on Facebook walls. Barack Obama’s profile is a great example of keeping the positive message up top, including user photos of reasons why they support Obama, positive videos and quotes from the President himself.

What it means for brands: Choose your pins wisely. They’re the introduction line in your consumer conversation, and you now have the power to control it.

Image

Obama pins positive posts. And check out his great cover photo.

Views and Apps

Here’s a big change: Brands can no longer select a landing page for their users to view first. Everyone will land to the brand’s Timeline. The only way for users to go straight to an application is through a paid media buy. Facebook has also changed up the way applications are displayed – they’ve said goodbye to the text links on the left side of the page and opted for pretty thumbnails at the top of the page, right next to the Photo and Like images. Brands will be able to move the thumbnails around, displaying which applications get top priority, although the Photo and Like thumbnails are stationary. This results in a nicer presentation, but a more top-heavy page, where users will need to scroll down below the fold to get to the real meat of the page.

What it means for brands: Brands can no longer dictate for users to arrive on welcome pages, “like to enter” tabs or apps. So, create thumbnails to make your apps pop.

Milestones

On to the main course: And here’s where brands can really show their personalities. The milestone function allows brands to chronologically add in the opening day of their business, the day they made your first dollar, when they expanded globally, etc… The actual timeline on the Timeline allows brands to expose their history to their users. Do consumers care? Brands are tasked with injecting their milestones with fun, interesting facts – otherwise the Timeline will fall flat. Starbucks started their Timeline with opening their first store in 1971, and for a company that has grown so quickly – it’s a fun read. Obama also gets this right. His milestone posts bring us back to the 1970s with fun facts such as: “Obama gets his first job working the counter at Baskin-Robbins” or “Obama moves in with his grandparents in Hawaii”. But then there’s Coca-Cola. Their first milestone on their Timeline is the company’s start in 1886. A brand with such a long, rich history should be fascinating to read about. But do consumers have time to scroll though their entire history? I’m not so sure. Especially since the Timeline functionality is still very sluggish. Once we see improvements with the speed, it might become a more attractive read.

What it means for brands: Keep this section short and sweet, with punchy and interesting facts. Brands want users to find your brand charming and inspiring, not just read a history text book.

Image

Coke’s milestones take us back to pre-Facebook times in 1886.

There’s no question – Timeline is pretty. And it will allow brands to speak to users in a whole new way. I just hope that Facebook doesn’t lose sight of the importance of the consumer to brand and consumer/consumer conversations, both of which seem to take a back seat with this new look. If the goal is to make brands seem more human, then human consumer engagement should still be a top priority. But as we’ve seen with Facebook in the past, there’s certainly more change to come.

Facebook Timeline Launches: Four tips to keep personal information private

By Marlesse Marino (@marlesse)

It is official folks, Facebook Timeline is here! Instead of a seeing a disjointed list of wall comments, status updates, mobile uploads and Farmville requests, the new Timeline displays an organized and visually interactive story of your Facebook life dating back to when you first signed up with the social networking site.

Facebook users will also have access to a new tool called Activity Log. According to a blog post by the Timeline team, “your activity log is a place where you can review all your posts and activity, from today back to when you first started using Facebook. Only you can see your activity log.”

Along with the awesome new interface (it’s seriously beautiful, check it out here if your profile hasn’t updated yet), comes a potentially not-so-awesome new way to expose parts of your life that you never intended to share with your employers, clients and my personal nightmare – FAMILY MEMBERS. In a September post, former Mashable editor-at-large, Ben Parr went so far as to state that Facebook Timeline was assisting in euthanizing the concept of privacy.

According to the Facebook blog, “Timeline gives you an easy way to rediscover the things you shared, and collect your most important moments.” While this sounds poignant, there are certain “important moments” on Facebook that I would appreciate that no one “rediscovers.”

With Timeline making it easier than ever to find out what your best friend ate for lunch two years ago, or for others to find out what you wore on Halloween as a college freshman (Cave Girl – don’t judge), I thought it would be pretty useful to provide a refresher on Facebook privacy and the perils of over-sharing on the Internet.

1. Update your privacy settings: Since Timeline shows everything you’ve posted in a single view, it provides easy, scrollable access to your past Facebook blunders. Although Facebook Timeline is rolling out today, you have a seven-day review period to go through your profile and hide or delete unwanted posts, so take advantage. Facebook offers security and privacy tools for a reason – use them!

(Photo courtesy of SpaceDust.AtSpace.com)

2. Be mindful of who you talk to online: The old saying, “stranger danger” is definitely applicable to people you talk to on Facebook or any social networking tool, not just the weirdos in vans with tinted windows advertising free candy. Take for example, this story by New York Times Bits blogger, Nick Bilton. After receiving a comment from a user on Instagram, Nick goes on a 10-minute stalking session on Google which culminates with him finding the full name, phone number, home address and place of employment of a person who commented on a few of his Instagram photos. You would think that writer for The New York Times won’t hunt down your personal address for fun, right? If you did, read Nick’s article proving you very wrong.

3. Discriminate when deciding to share information:  There are tons of Facebook applications out there, so be cautious when allowing anything to access yours and your friends’ personal information on Facebook. For an extreme example of the amount of information you share when you permit application access to your account, check out Take This Lollipop. Take This Lollipop is an interactive short video, which shows a deranged man in a windowless room looking at YOUR Facebook page. The site asks you to sign in with your Facebook login, takes information from your account and weaves it into the video. You get to watch a creepy man stroke pictures of you with his grimy hands, and then continue to stare in horror while he use Google Maps to find out where you live. This video terrified me to the point that I deleted every app that was on my account.

4. If you have to ask, don’t post: If you have to question whether something is inappropriate, don’t post it. It probably is, so just tell your friends in person. The Internet will not be at a loss if your potentially inappropriate comment doesn’t make it onto the World Wide Web. Even if your privacy settings are extremely limited, an error in the system can make that once-private comment available to everyone. Just last week, Facebook had a snag that exposed personal, private photos of many of its users, including Mark Zuckerberg. The glitch was fixed almost immediately, but the system was down for enough time for me to get the personal photo below of Zuckerberg hanging out with his girlfriend and his adorable dog below!

 

These tips boil down to one thing: Once you post something to the Internet, it’s there forever. Think twice before you hit enter, especially now that Timeline allows for even easier access to your private life.

What are your thoughts on Facebook Timeline? Do you think it puts an end to privacy? What steps are you taking to keep your personal information hidden?

Battle of the Brand Pages: Can Google+ Pages Knockout Facebook?

By Marlesse (@marlesse)

Last week, Google announced that it will offer Google+ Pages to brands, businesses and celebrities. Heading up to and following the announcement, speculation surfaced from tech and social media buffs alike as to whether Google+ pages could be the game-changer for the budding social network.

Despite largely positive reviews from users and reviewers alike, Google+ has yet to regain its early momentum (the site went from 0 to 20 million unique visitors in three weeks!) and instead, has seen slumped engagement numbers – the most recent report from Chikita, a data analytics company, shows that since the launch of the network, traffic has fallen 60%. Google+ received even more heat after Michael DeGusta from UnderStatement.com posted the infographic below showing that the majority of Google’s management either don’t have a Google+ account, or have never even posted.


Instead of jumping into the fray, let me lay out an overview of all that Google+ Pages can do for brands and other commercial names. That way, you can decide for yourself whether Google+ will take over the world with a bang, or go out with a whimper.

How to launch a Google+ Page:

Google created an online guide that shows brands how to:

  • Launch the page
  • Share updates
  • Promote the page
  • Measure analytics such as traffic and interactions to determine how they affect the brand

My favorite thing about Google+ is the ease with which corporations can engage their followers. I’ve listed a few tools below:

Tailor Messaging through circles:

Because Google recognized that different people are interested in different parts of a business, it incorporated Circles into its social network. This way, brands and friends alike can tailor messages to specific people. Facebook also saw the merits to tailoring messages and quickly launched Friends Lists.

Chevrolet is already making use of Circles on its Google+ test page. The brand sent out an update to its followers asking about their interests so they make sure to keep them looped into their favorite topics. Chevrolet gave its fans the following options to choose from: Outdoors & Recreation, Events & Entertainment, Racing & Performance and Innovations.

Receive Direct Follower Feedback with Hangouts:

With Hangouts, brands can host video chats with up to ten participants. While it seems that this is something that only smaller companies could really take advantage of, the X Games Google+ Page has already held a Winter X Games Hangout with athletes Louie Vito, Mat Hoffman, Sarah Burke, Brian Deegan, Ryan Nyquist and host Brandon Graham. In addition to the athletes, X Games hosted a contest to select a few fans to join the Hangout and ask some of their favorite athletes a few questions. If you want to checkout a video of the hangout, you can go directly to the X Games Google+ page or go view the video on YouTube here.  So while this function may seem limited, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely irrelevant to big companies!

Immediate Access to Google+ Brand Pages through Google Search:

Google’s newest feature, Direct Connect, makes it dead simple for users to find and follow brands on Google+ through a normal Google Search. If a user wants to find a brand on Google+, all they have to do is type ‘+’ in Google search, followed by the brand or business they want to follow. So if a user wants to follow Macy’s, they would simply type ‘+Macy’s’ in the Google Search box and it will bring up a direct link to the Macy’s Google+ Page.

And these are just some of the high-level features! Now that Google+ Pages has been launched, do you think more people will engage on Google+, or do you think Facebook is just too big to compete with? Include your thoughts below!

Why Social Media Will Save Us From Information Overload

By Amanda Guisbond (@agbond)

There’s no dearth of news these days.  Let’s take the most recent earthquake (ahem, aftershock to Boston and NYC) on the East Coast as an example of a “news event” that was sliced, diced and spun 100+ ways in a matter of 24 hours, including:

And my favorite:

The point here is, there have been many different perspectives on the news, whether brief or in-depth, and much, much more beyond what I’m sharing via links.  I’ve curated the news based on what leapt out to me from a simple Google News search, and now you get a more digestible sample of some of the “kookier” takes.

Really, to me, the earthquake was a small experience that I felt for a matter of seconds while at my desk at work, and my Facebook commentary was something along the lines of… “Now I have no excuse not to move to California.” (Engagement: 5 likes, 8 comments)

There I did it again, “curating” the news for my Facebook friends, who by the by, are sometimes my GO-TO source for a major event.  After the “shaking,” I jumped on Facebook, only to discover status updates from several friends from all over the East Coast assuring me that either a) they were being evacuated OR b) it was just aftershocks, and they were at a food truck stand when it happened.

The reason I went immediately to Facebook and not to Google News is because lately, Google News terrifies me with its overwhelming choices of publications, blogs and “in-depth” repurposed sub-pieces about major news events.  I just don’t know where to click and so I revert to my friends, who I know and trust.

There continues to be a major opportunity for brands to curate world news and events that are relevant to their industry, community and customers, via platforms like Twitter, Facebook and now… Google+!  So, as brands look to build out their own platforms – corporate blogs, branded communities – they should continue to identify opportunities like the “earthquake” to engage their audience and have a relevant, real-time conversation with them.

My favorite recent example?  Cape Cod’s Wellfleet Beachcomber (a beach bar with live music) took to Facebook with the following update this week – regarding the next weather disaster – honest, humble and totally upfront.  It’s not good news but… you can’t help but love ‘em.

Wellfleet Beachcomber:  Sucky News Alert Number One: Gene Ween and Dave Dreiwitz has been cancelled. There is no way we could talk Gene into driving 8 hours in a hurricane, even for the ‘Comber. Tickets (300 of ’em sold) will be refunded over the next 48 hours. Cold blows the wind…………

Love That Social Media! A Twitter Fan Story

This post is courtesy of AE Mike Fearon (@MDFearon) – a guy always cruising the Twittersphere for free t-shirts and the latest tips on orange soda consumption…

Being in the social media biz, you see some brands that get it and many that don’t. When I’m not being an average PR Joe, I use the tools from my day job to hobnob with some of my favorite companies and brands. I don’t want to email brands. I don’t want to call a customer service line. I just want to send them an @ message on Twitter.

My desire to interact with brands on Twitter makes the platform a great proving ground to separate the social haves from the have-nots. For example, I turned to Twitter when orange soda brand Sunkist started to run a summer 2010 ad campaign promoting its new Solar Fusion flavor and I couldn’t find the product locally. Excited that the brand had a Twitter handle, I initially didn’t notice until after I tweeted at the handle that their last tweet came on October 2, 2009. Orange I mad I couldn’t connect with you on Twitter. For those interested, I never did get to try Solar Fusion…it’s something that will haunt me for the rest of my days.

Another example of a Twitter disappointment is Keystone Light’s lack of a Twitter handle for its newest pitchman Keith Stone. In his adverts, Stone is the coolest Keystone customer offering the smoothest advice on the block. His 30-second sound bites would have made a smooth transition to the 140 character world and, if handled properly, could have given Keystone the Q3-Q4 version of the Old Spice Guy. Instead, I’m just left with a bitter beer face.

However, there is one company that has consistently knocked my social socks off with its efforts to connect with fans on Twitter. In fact, they were recently lauded in an Ad Age piece for their social marketing efforts. That dedication helped Popeye’s Chicken win a national taste test over top rival KFC, but more importantly, made me a fan for life.

It all started in February, Mardi Gras to be exact. The Popeye’s Twitter handle kindly asked fans to retweet a post for the chance to win a t-shirt (no flashing required for these beads). Being a lover of free t-shirts, Mardi Gras and chicken, I obliged and was soon rewarded:

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/9199244569

The t-shirt arrived at my house a few days later and I’ve been turning heads ever since (it is one of a kind) but this story is not over…fast forward a few months to planning a monthly team outing…to Popeye’s in Kenmore Square.

Of course I couldn’t visit my favorite chicken chain without representing their colors and coming unannounced:

http://twitter.com/MDFearon/status/24472494151

In a savvy move, Popeye’s responded:

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24482488057

http://twitter.com/MDFearon/status/24485751489

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24493292203

I obliged and provided my dinner photo:

http://twitter.com/MDFearon/status/24576579747

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24578593578

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24578645333

http://twitter.com/MDFearon/status/24579020287

Ultimately, the chain culminated with a request that my picture be used on the Popeye’s Facebook Page and my teammates @agrinavich and @Trochman got involved:

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24762854410

http://twitter.com/agrinavich/status/24763116416

http://twitter.com/Trochman/status/24763370268

http://twitter.com/MDFearon/status/24763710562

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24767310890

http://twitter.com/PopeyesChicken/status/24779156833

Popeye’s social media team did not spend the entire day on my tweet. It didn’t take hours of strategy sessions to agree on messaging before replying to some nerd talking about wearing a Popeye’s shirt to a team outing (I have a hunch these hours were put in before the Company’s first tweet). In fact, it could be argued that this nerd and his co-workers did most of the heavy lifting – but I wouldn’t want to take credit from a job excellently executed by my friends at Popeye’s. It took three simple steps for Popeye’s social media managers to earn my lifelong loyalty: monitoring, personality and action. Make sure these elements are in your social media plan and who knows, I might make you famous on Twitter and Facebook. 🙂 For a great example of brand/customer interaction, you can follow Popeye’s on Twitter at @PopeyesChicken.

And to Popeye’s, the only thing I love more than your social media is your chicken! You’ve got a friend in me!

Double Trouble for Dunkin’ Donuts

By Mikinzie Stuart (@mikinzie)

If any of you “Like” Dunkin’ Donuts on Facebook, you might have noticed something less than palatable appear on your news feed recently. This is because Dunkin’ Donuts was spammed on their Facebook page earlier this week with provocative links and images (seeing as these images are NSFW, we will just say they involve young women and the phrase “scantily clad”).

Hmm... something's missing.

Contrary to what you may think, the real crime wasn’t the spam itself; it was the fact that it took Dunkin’ Donuts 12 HOURS to acknowledge the spamming to their Facebook community. Even after the initial wave of images was finally removed, naughty photos and links kept showing up, flooding the company’s Facebook page throughout the following day.

Fellow SHIFT colleague, John Carter, noticed one of the racy spam videos pop up on his Facebook news feed and brazenly “liked” the spicy video. To prove a point, of course.

“More than anything, I think it points to the gap between content creation and community management when it comes to social media. If you look at Dunkin’ Donuts’ Facebook page and other initiatives, they’re doing some really great stuff; the donut creation contest and fan of the week are both absolutely genius. But their actual one-on-one interaction with consumers is rudimentary (at least on Facebook),” said Carter.

While DD Facebook fans waited and watched to see how the company would respond, it was disappointing when Dunkin’ Donuts followed up with a simple boilerplate apology to angry comments left on the Facebook wall by loyal customers:

“Thanks for your concern. We’re responsible for protecting the integrity of this community and take this very seriously. In accordance with DD Facebook Etiquette, all of these posts have been removed, flagged and banned. Any future posts of this nature will also be dealt with accordingly. We’ve always tried to keep our Facebook page open for fans to share and post links, pics and videos. Unfortunately, there will inevitably be a few individuals who abuse this. But rest assured that we’re on top of this and will always do everything in our power to keep this type of content off our fan page. Thanks, Ben”

As the conversation around the Facebook flop moved to Twitter, it was clear the damage had been done. Even though Dunkin’ Donuts quickly responded to customer tweets about the spammers, the fall-out had solidified, with complaints about: 1) the fact that it happened (and was left unattended) in the first place, and 2) a weak attempt to resolve the problem via a blanket apology.

So, what can be learned from DD’s double-down? Too many brands are concerned with the fancy bells and whistles of their social media space and forget that they need to have someone moderating the content. Granted, mistakes do happen: Dunkin’ Donuts could have had technical difficulties with the Internet down all day; the person in charge of monitoring the Facebook page and scanning for coverage could have been off sick that day; or maybe, and more likely – the company wasn’t investing enough time in regularly checking up on its Facebook page.

As one of the administrators of SHIFT Communications Facebook page, I check the space multiple times a day. I do this not only to moderate what is being posted on the Facebook page wall, but to understand what is important to SHIFT’s various audiences and what it takes to maintain the outward image of our company.

It’s just unfortunate that, as of late, Dunkin’ Donuts has been outdone by those other double Ds.


SHIFT on Twitter