What to do now that Facebook won’t let you force people to like your page

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The folks at ShortStack — a service that helps you create apps and interesting things on Facebook Pages — have some excellent thoughts on what Facebook’s decision to ban fan-gating on Pages, and tips for how to adjust your Page.

At ShortStack we have over 350,000 customers, all of whom are Facebook Page Admins. I’m always analyzing the data from our platform, and in recent months I’ve seen (and supported) a shift away from like-gating. In May we released an eBook  titled Why Every Business Should Stop Obsessing Over Facebook Likes that has been well-received. We’ve also redesigned the entire ShortStack platform to allow marketers to build Campaigns that can achieve their goals independent from like-gating.  Our recommended best practice is that businesses should be collecting actionable and valuable data such as emails, customer feedback…anything that is critical to their goals. If the customer wants to like your Page as well, that’s great, just don’t force them to.

Read the full post: “Facebook Bans Like-Gating: Here’s What Marketers Can Do.”

Photo credit: Denis Dervisevic on Flickr

Adding a Facebook Like button to your WordPress site

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Adding a Facebook “Like” button to your WordPress site is a great way to connect socially with your audience and to drive traffic to and from your site and your Facebook page.  This post will cover two ways to add a “Like” button to your site, and each requires a Facebook App ID and an Admin ID.

There are a lot of steps here, so be ready to spend a few minutes going through it. Continue reading

Is Facebook suppressing views of free posts?

I recently tried a little experiment. I paid Facebook $7 to promote my column to my friends using the company’s sponsored advertising tool.

To my surprise, I saw a 1,000 percent increase in the interaction on a link I posted, which had 130 likes and 30 reshares in just a few hours. It seems as if Facebook is not only promoting my links on news feeds when I pay for them, but also possibly suppressing the ones I do not pay for.

Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost,”  by Nick Bilton, New York Times.

“Always take a personal approach,” and other great advice for using Facebook

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FACEBOOK(LET) Frontside

“Facebook demands consideration from nearly everyone, because choosing to stay off it means stepping away from the social sharing and conversation of 800+ million people. Yet choosing to play the game as an author or marketer—and use Facebook as a means to an end—can spell immediate failure if your friends and followers feel used.”

E-media guru Jane Friedman summarizes five primary principles for using Facebook in a way that’s effective and real, not overtly commercial and un-friendly. Excellent advice for anyone grappling with how to present their personal or organizational brand on Facebook, or really anywhere.

5 Principles for Using Facebook” by Jane Friedman.

Photo credit: GOIABA – Johannes Fuchs

Six degrees of separation and your privacy settings

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Related to my post yesterday about Facebook’s privacy settings: danah boyd posted in more detail about the implications of Facebooks privacy (“Facebook and ‘radical transparency’“). These two paragraphs convey the problem I often see in which people haven’t thought through the implications of the “network” part of social networks:

A while back, I was talking with a teenage girl about her privacy
settings and noticed that she had made lots of content available to
friends-of-friends. I asked her if she made her content available to
her mother. She responded with, “of course not!” I had noticed that
she had listed her aunt as a friend of hers and so I surfed with her to
her aunt’s page and pointed out that her mother was a friend of her
aunt, thus a friend-of-a-friend. She was horrified. It had never
dawned on her that her mother might be included in that grouping.

Over and over again, I find that people’s mental model of who can see
what doesn’t match up with reality. People think “everyone” includes
everyone who searches for them on Facebook. They never imagine that
“everyone” includes every third party sucking up data for goddess only
knows what purpose. They think that if they lock down everything in the
settings that they see, that they’re completely locked down. They
don’t get that their friends lists, interests, likes, primary photo,
affiliations, and other content is publicly accessible.

danah’s full post is well worth your time.

How to simplify your privacy on Facebook (and everywhere else on the web)

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How to navigate Facebook Privacy Settings, from the New York Times
How to navigate Facebook Privacy Settings, from the New York Times

Yesterday the New York Times made a noble attempt to map Facebook’s new, super-complicated privacy settings, via a few well-designed graphics and an accompanying article (“The Price of Facebook Privacy? Start Clicking,” by Nick Bilton, 5/12/2010).

The new opt-out settings certainly are complex. Facebook users who hope to make their personal information private should be prepared to spend a lot of time pressing a lot of buttons. To opt out of full disclosure of most information, it is necessary to click through more than 50 privacy buttons, which then require choosing among a total of more than 170 options.

Users must decide if they want only friends, friends of friends, everyone on Facebook, or a customized list of people to see things like their birthdays or their most recent photos. To keep information as private as possible, users must select “only friends” or “only me” from the pull-down options for all the choices in the privacy settings, and must uncheck boxes that say information will be shared across the Web.

If you have a Facebook account, it’s worth taking a few minutes to understand what information is being shared with other members of the site, whether they’re your friends or the general public.

But the most important rule about privacy online still stands: If you have information that you want to keep private, do not put it online.

This applies to explicit information like data, photos, and video, and also to implicit data like your connections — who you know or have worked for, for example. It applies to your thoughts and opinions, including likes and dislikes.

Keep in mind that sending an email is a means of putting information online. Once it’s sent, you have no control over where it ends up.

Results versus hype: can small businesses realize value from social media?

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An article in the Wall Street Journal last week (“Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media,” Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ 3/15/2010) said that a recent study showed that small firms were having mixed results in their use of social media.

In and among the survey results, the article gives several examples of companies seeing a positive ROI on their social media investment. There’s a common thread among them: Each successful firm has been consistent in using the tools over time, and patient in waiting for results.

Some entrepreneurs say they’ve found early indicators that their
social-media efforts are paying off.

“The people coming from social media have been buying,” says Stephen
Bailey, who oversees social-media and other marketing initiatives for
John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd., a footwear and accessories retailer
in Vancouver with about 100 employees.

As evidence, Mr. Bailey points to a 40% increase in online sales in
2009, the first full year the company engaged consistently in
social-media marketing, compared with 2008 when it was just getting
started. He says he can draw a correlation between those figures and
social media by looking at traffic to the company’s Web site from
Twitter using Hootsuite, a free Twitter-management service from Invoke
Media Inc. Other free services that track Web traffic from social-media
sites include Google Analytics, CoTweet and Lodgy.

“The second we started using social media, it became one of the
biggest drivers of traffic outside of search engines,” says Mr. Bailey,
adding that his research shows these visitors spend as much time on
Fluevog.com as those who come from other online destinations. The
company doesn’t invest in paid advertising on social media, he adds.

John Fluevog Boots & Shoes is one of the companies I give as an example in our workshops on social media, particularly for their use of their Facebook page. Their social media interaction extends beyond Facebook though. On their website they solicit customer feedback, hold contests, and find myriad ways to entertain and engage customers. As Mr. Bailey of Fluevog says, social media complements these other efforts. It’s a useful example of a firm using online networking as part of a larger strategy.

FAQ: Should my organization create a Facebook Page or Facebook Group?

Social media

Q: I’m on the leadership team of a nonprofit, and we want to use Facebook to connect with potential donors and volunteers. Should we create a Page or a Group?

A: If you’re creating the official presence of an entity on Facebook — whether an organization or a business — you should create a Page.

Here’s how Facebook describes the difference between Pages and Groups:

Like a friend’s profile, Facebook Pages enable public figures, businesses, organizations and other entities to create an authentic and public presence on Facebook. Unlike your profile, Facebook Pages are visible to everyone on the internet by default. You, and every person on Facebook, can connect with these Pages by becoming a fan and then receive their updates in your News Feed and interact with them.


Authenticity is at the core of Facebook. Just as profiles should represent real people and real names, so too should Pages for entities. Only the official representatives of a public figure, business or organization should create a Facebook Page. …

While Pages were designed to be the official profiles for entities, such as celebrities, brands or businesses, Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos and share related content. …

(Thanks to @broganmedia for tweeting about this explanation.)

Pages have several features that Groups don’t. They can import an RSS feed into their Notes, so any blog posts your organization’s site generates could automatically be posted on your Facebook Page; they display visit, interaction, and fan demographic stats to Page administrators; and they have more flexibility in adding apps (including fundraising apps and store apps) and displaying information.

The next question we often hear is, “What if we already have a Group and want to switch to a Page?” There’s no easy way to make the transition. But you should transition anyway, to get the benefits of Pages. The sooner you make the change, the better.

Here’s what to do: Create your new Page, add information like your logo, photos, blog feed, and other content, then send a message to all the members of your Group that you are switching to a Page and the Group will be deleted. Invite the Group members to join you at the new Page; include a link to the Page so they find it easily. Send a second reminder about the switch a week later, and after two weeks send a final notice and delete the Group.

Then, work on creating great content and inviting participation on your new Page, so fans have a reason to visit often and interact with your organization and with each other.

20 Presence Management Chores *for Business* You COULD Do Every Day

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Garden hand
Photo credit: enviziondotnet

A few weeks back, new media marketer extraordinaire Chris Brogan shared ideas and suggestions for maintaining a personal presence online. (“19 Presence Management Chores You COULD Do Every Day“) The list is dense and ambitious, but the time you put into this kind of effort pays off.

If you’re charged with maintaining the social media presence of a company, the list still holds great value, but it might need a bit of translation. When you speak for your company or for a brand, you’re stepping outside your individual persona, and your actions should reflect that. This is also true if you maintain separate online presences for your personal self and your work self.

Here’s my take on key online presence management chores for a company or brand. Continue reading