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Facebook Page Insights now go Way Back to the Inception of a Page

January 2, 2014 Leave a comment

When Facebook revamped its Insights feature for Facebook Pages last year, social media managers around the world rejoiced at the luxurious array of analytics and visualizations.  The only nagging shortcoming was that they could only be viewed in windows of three months at a time.

No longer.

Now you can scroll back to the very beginning of your Facebook fan page (or as my esteemed colleague Chris Tromp put it; “to inception”) and see graphs and charts of every possible metric, from likes to reach to engagement:

Facebook Likes From Inception to Present

Facebook Reach From Inception to Present

Facebook Visits From Inception to Present

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You’re not a Master of Social Media if You’re not on Facebook

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

facebook800lbgorilla

In a recent blog post on Inside Higher Ed (Visiolibriphobia: Fear of Facebook *), Professor Afshan Jafar discussed her concerns with Facebook that keep her from using the platform.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Call me crazy, but I am not on Facebook. That’s strange for somebody my age and stranger still for somebody who belongs to a group of writers here at UVenus who are masters at using social media.”

I have two issues with the article:

  1. You’re not a master of using social media if you’re not on Facebook.
  2. It’s impossible to stay off Facebook.

Permit me to explain…

1. Mastery of Social Media

You’ll have to forgive me if I’m touchy about the subject of social media mastery.  A primary means I make my living is through my understanding of social media, and my ability to ply my trade is substantially hampered by people who falsely claim to be experts like me.  Regrettably the learning curve with SM is so great that the average person often isn’t able to distinguish good practice from bad practice.  I’m hardly alone – virtually every profession or area of technical expertise faces this problem.

The 800-lb Blue Gorilla in the Room

Facebook is easily the most massive social networking site world-wide – particularly in the West.  Right now they’re coming up on one BILLION users – or one 1/6 of the planet.  Mastering social media inherently requires a thorough understanding of Facebook given its dominance.  To be a social media expert and have no ongoing hands-on experience with its most key player is the equivalent of attaining a Master of Film Theory degree without learning anything about Sergei Eisenstein.

Social Media’s Shifting Sands

Online the only constant is change.  As such, remaining a master of social media means constantly learning, growing and evolving with platforms.

To wit: every single social media presentation I do is different.  I often stay up late into the night before a presentation revising it with the developments that happened that day.  I even modified a recent preso I did for Crime Stoppers International from one day to the next because the social media world had changed significantly overnight.

Professor Jafar qualifies my first assertion by arguing in her article that Facebook nurtures two characteristics of McDonaldization (efficiency and calculability) that are harmful.  Hopefully Professor Jafar is heartened by the fact that we as a society have evolved away from those measures precisely because of the effect of McDonaldization.

Social media experts AND Facebook know that impersonal shotgun blasts of information are far less effective than one-on-one engagement and discourage it (in the case of Facebook, its algorithms will de-prioritize that content so it shows up in the newsfeeds of fewer users).  Even casual users of Facebook are opening their eyes to this reality, and todays’ students are getting better at communicating differently to different audiences.

With respect to calculability, virtually everyone from tweens to multinational corporations know that sheer numbers don’t matter online.  Actual interactions and action are what matters – and those qualities are rarely present in inflated numbers of fans or friends.

2. You ARE on Facebook

Whether or not you want to be, you likely are on Facebook already.

If you know anyone who is on FB (or possibly even people who don’t know you), doubtless they’ve uploaded photos of you, updates about you, and if you’re a publisher of content like Jafar – that is being shared, liked, and commented on in Facebook.  Institutions or events also publish content about us – like TEDx Conferences:

At the very least every web-accessible digital snippet about you is searchable through Facebook:

AfshanJafar_FacebookSearch

The ubiquity of recording equipment in society means that there is constantly digital documentation of our behavior.  We’re able to ignore this reality on a daily basis because it’s usually never interesting.  That changes the minute we do something sensational or outstanding in either a positive or negative sense.

In Professor Jafar’s case – this likely takes the form of her students discussing what an excellent teacher she is.  Right now these wall posts, photos and posts are mostly unsearchable in Facebook – but that will invariably change as our notions of privacy evolve and become more permissive (a massive shift in public opinion that Pew has documented).  The pressure Facebook is under to monetize its users will only accelerate this trend.

Don’t get me wrong – Facebook should give everyone pause with respect to their privacy.  They’ve made a number of moves over the years that remove control from their users over what is shared about them.  A decade ago, staying off a social networking site was a viable pursuit, but we’ve reached a saturation point where that is no longer the case.

The solution is not to abstain – it is to engage.

When you refuse to engage digitally (be it on Facebook or the web in general) you accomplish two things:

  1. you lose the opportunity to monitor what is said about you and…
  2. you give up the ability to contribute to the conversation about you.

Facebook Change to User Emails is Case Study in the Limits of Spin

June 29, 2012 1 comment

The @Facebook.com Bait and Switch

As you’re likely aware, recently Facebook changed the email settings of all users so that the email they signed up with is no longer visible – replaced by their @facebook.com email address.  The company rolled out an email service back in 2010.  My guess is that adoption was lagging so given the new pressure they’re under as a result of their IPO to monetize the service, they made the switch.

They’re perfectly entitled to do this; after all they’re a private company providing a free service to users.

HOWEVER, what you’re ENTITLED to do and what you SHOULD do are two completely different things.

MOREOVER, WE do not control the language – THE PEOPLE DO (in this case, the users). Read more…

Does Every Employee Need Social Media Training?

June 13, 2012 1 comment

Make Your Employees Social Media Superheros

Earlier today, Sam Laird of Mashable wrote an article asking “Does Every Employee Need Social Media Training?”

Absolutely. All employees are brand ambassadors whether they want to be or not. There’s no way to stop information from flowing in or out of an organization. Social media policies are, by their very nature, reactive so by the time they come into play the damage is already done.

The only way to get ahead of (and hopefully avoid) the negative consequences of a radically-transparent world is to make sure employees are aware of the dynamics of the new world we live in where Internet connectivity is ubiquitous and everyone has a multimedia studio in their phone.

Focusing myopically on the negative possibilities in social media is like focusing only on the villains in comic books.  They’re only part of the equation (and often easily vanquished).

The flip side of the worry over employees and social media is that most organizations are missing out on POSITIVE opportunities (which are far more numerous than the negatives). Properly-focused and empowered, employees can wield the power of social media for an organization’s benefit (improving workflow, engaging customers, and sharing the stories that build a brand).

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel: there are loads of infographics, charts, checklists, fliers, videos and other resources a simple Google search away and the training can be as simple as an informal jam session that starts with you asking what employees’ questions are and building the conversation from there.

Six Reasons Why the Facebook IPO is the Beginning of the End

February 13, 2012 7 comments

Facebook's IPO Will Monetize the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

By now everyone with access to the Internet (and even a lot of people who don’t) are aware that Facebook filed for an Initial Public Offering.

If every other social networking platform in the history of the web is a guide, this signals the beginning of the end for Facebook.  Private corporations are freer from the pressure to drum up wads of cash in the short term than publicly-traded companies.  They are also more resilient in the face of economic challenges than private companies because they can absorb a period of shrinking profits instead of scrambling to implement drastic measure (like mass layoffs) to quickly cook the books for a pennywise short term jump in profits.

Here’s why Facebook will suffer from the rush to monetize the gigantic community of users it has amassed: Read more…

How to Hack the New Facebook Profile – Updated

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

[Updated] Facebook again changed its front page (as social networking platforms are wont to do), which means that the dynamics for hacking the front page have changed yet again.  Here’s how to have fun with (or for marketing/pr types – how to “leverage/maximize”) the new Timeline Profile:

1.  Make sure you have the new Timeline.  Your profile should look like this (with the small profile icon and the large, horizontal background):

The New Facebook Timeline Profile

The New Facebook Timeline Profile

2.  If you don’t – you can get instructions on how to sign up for the new Facebook Timeline here.

3.  If you’re graphically-inclined, the world is your oyster.  A lot of clever people have come up with interesting ways to utilize the new profile.  If, like most of us, you’re not graphically-inclined – there are already a number of tools to create customizable background images.

Mashable has an excellent pre/review of them here “Facebook Timeline Customization: 5 Tools for Killer Cover Photos”.  Thus far my favorite one that I’ve used is CoverCanvas; it’s the one I used to create the above image for my background. Read more…

Will the Filter Bubble Render Social Bookmarking Obsolete?

December 9, 2011 3 comments

Will the Filter Bubble Render Social Bookmarking Obsolete?

I don’t know – I’m just asking.

The Context

For clarification, the “Filter Bubble” is a term coined by Eli Pariser referring to the practice of search engines (most notably Google which enjoys the largest market share) tailoring search results to each individual user using an algorithm that takes into account that user’s online behavior (Pariser’s TED Talk on the subject is available here – recommended watch).  So depending on what sites I regularly view, what terms I search for, how long I spend on pages, whether or not I hit the “back” button immediately after viewing a page – the results I will see are different from the results you will see.  The concern expressed by Pariser is that it’s further helping us insulate ourselves away from people and ideas that are different from our own, allowing us to live in a self-reinforcing “bubble.”  Beyond cramping our ability to broaden our outlook, there are also nefarious possibilities – that, for example, those in charge of the algorithms that power search results could quietly weed out unflattering content or the content of competitors.

Social Bookmarking” is a practice facilitated by a variety of platforms and tools in which individual users curate the limitless content of the web by adding their own categories, terms, tags, keywords, and even annotations based on how they perceive that content.  So, for example, if I go to Slashdot – I know that I will see “news for nerds” whereas if I use Digg – I will see more entertainment-themed content with a specific philosophical/political bent applied to it.  (The brilliant satirical site Uncyclopedia has particularly hilarious send-ups of both Slashdot and Digg that illustrate their nuances.)

The Future of Social Bookmarking

Here’s how my train of logic goes: Read more…