The Facebook Page for Beginners – The Top Five

Posted in: Blog, Facebook by admin on November 12, 2010 | No Comments

Recently members of Spider Writers and our sister company, Simple Tourism, were asked to deliver a presentation on social media to the marketing teams of convention and visitors bureaus around North Carolina. We enjoyed a lively discussion on utilizing Facebook to the best of their ability, and hopefully brought insight to different ways anybody can use this social network to build their brand. The following is first in a series of articles adapted from our talk and is written with the beginning marketing in mind.

If you run any kind of business, regardless of size or reach, it’s assumed you have the bare minimum in your marketing arsenal, that being one Facebook page and one Twitter account. If you have neither, it’s important by the end of the day to have them up and running, because these are probably two of the most valuable marketing tools you’ll use today. They are free to use and have the potential to reach an audience larger than the population of most countries. It’s been said that if Facebook were a country it would be the fourth largest in the world, and the proprietary search engine created for Twitter is used regularly to find information. The content you place here is apt to be found, all you have to do is get it there.

That said, we will focus now on the Facebook page and ways you can use this free tool to your advantage. At first glance it may appear Facebook’s structural limitations won’t allow you to do much beyond updating status and posting links, but if you look carefully you’ll find there are ways to customize your page to give it some uniqueness that defines your destination and turns initial visitors into regular viewers and people likely to share your information.

The Main Profile Graphic should be utilized to its extent. You are allowed to use 200×600 pixels here, and you can customize a graphic that includes URLs of your main site and blogs, URLs to your Twitter or YouTube, your  logo, anything you feel should be promoted there. This graphic is set to catch the eye immediately, so optimize the space.

Promotion of Other Local Pages – You’ll notice on your lower left sidebar there is a place where you can highlight your page’s favorite pages. This gives you the opportunity to seek out Facebook pages belonging to businesses and attractions in your area. When you visit a page you can click to add that page to your favorites listing. In turn, local businesses can return the favor. You’ll find that when you promote the presences of these businesses they are likely to reciprocate. One such trick to promote a local business and your page at the same time is to mention a specific Facebook in your status updates. Choose a Facebook page you have “liked” and insert an @ sign along with the page’s name, and the page will be linked in your update. When you visit the page you have linked, you’ll find your post on their Wall, and visitors to that page will see it and hopefully click through to you.

Custom Tabs – Facebook tends to change policies on page design from time to time, but one constant that remains is the custom tab. By adding a certain application to your page called Static FBML, you can customize HTML and CSS code to show in tabs that appear in your top menu. Using Facebook’s Developer’s Guide, you can embed a video gallery or photo slideshow, you can apply a searchable directory of hotels, restaurants, or vacation rentals, you can set up an ecommerce or opt-form to collect e-mail addresses. Custom tabs are designed to enhance the functionality of your page and basically turn it into a satellite site.

Engage and Respond – If you expect growth of your fanbase, if you expect people to stay fans, you must keep the information you provide current and you must engage fans in conversation. When people post to your Wall, respond in a timely fashion. When you receive criticism, supply feedback in a tactful manner – we usually suggest you don’t remove posts unless they border on extremely volatile; if you can show you handle critiques well, you stand to gain respect. If you keep your review and discussion tabs active, check them regularly. Don’t let anything go stale.

Integration – When you consider how many pages and accounts people may follow in a day, if you post one thing one time it may get lost in the ether. As was mentioned before, a visitor is going to come to your site several times before making a decision, so it’s important to keep your messages alive through all your networks. Your Facebook page should feed into Twitter; Your YouTube account should feed into Facebook; your blog RSS should feed into your Facebook notes application. You’ll have people who may follow one account or the other, so cover your bases.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and Facebook marketing. Clients include vendors of cloth diapers, travel companies offering cheap European hotel reservations, Virginia health care services, Norfolk Realtors, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns.

Do They Like You? Do They Really, REALLY Like You?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook by SpiderWriters on September 8, 2010 | No Comments

Need help with your social media campaigns? Hire the Spider Writers! Contact 757-499-1990 or contact us to learn more.

A few years ago, while buzzing away on some now-archaic SEO practices for a client, a co-worker wandered past my desk and asked if I had done this or that with Google. “Google owns the world, you know,” he told with some conviction. It sounded to me, though, he didn’t seem all too happy about that. Now, this was back in the day before Google Earth and Buzz and Wave and all the other goodies they provide that give you impression that perhaps they do own us.

These days, he’s not in the office so much anymore, and I wonder what he’d say. I still sit at this desk, performing a myriad of social media tasks for clients who aren’t so concerned now about showing up in the top spot on Google as they are in amassing general social approval of their sites and service.

You see, it’s one thing for people to like you, or “like” like you (like back in high school), or Sally Field like you and give you nice shiny paperweight. When people Facebook like you…well, now you’re the queen of your own prom!

It’s difficult not to see these little blue buttons everywhere you surf. Blog post pages, Squidoo lenses, eCommerce sites with a gazillion dynamically generated product pages…the Facebook Like Button has spread throughout the Internet like a raging case of social media acne. It’s no longer enough for Facebook users to go to the page you created there and hit “Like” for inclusion in your growing fan base – now we are encouraged to click these tiny little F’s after we chuckle at some funny video or witty, insightful blog post about Facebook Like Buttons (*cough*). For the clicker, these buttons bring a simpler opportunity to share interesting material – you bypass cutting and pasting a URL in your status update, or going through a 2-3 step rigmarole associated with other social share functions. Simply point and shoot, and your profile page automatically updates with a direct link to the shared data.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? The more people click the buttons on your sites and blogs, the more of your links appear on Facebook. It’s a great way to go viral, but consider this: the results of the Like Button clicks appear on the profile pages of those who “Facebook Like” you, but not in your friend feeds. So unless people directly visit profiles on Facebook, there’s a good chance they could miss a few shares. Whereas with a link shared through the status update, you’ll find that appears in news feeds and can be aggregated into other social sites like FriendFeed, and can be routed into Twitter.

Does this mean you should encourage Facebook Likes? Of course not, you never know when the technology will change to further expose this promotion of your brand. That Facebook makes it rather simple to implement the button in WordPress (a simple plugin search yields many options), or Blogger, or your website lets you know that Facebook wants you to share your stuff and gain a piece of viral goodness.

Does it mean they want to own the world? I suppose that’s a wait and see.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and blog writing services. Recent clients include retailers of pet supplies and cloth diapersGainesville bed and breakfasts and European hotel bookingagents, and Virginia Beach web design firms.

Facebook Places: Should Everybody Know Your Business?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook, Industry News, Social Media by SpiderWriters on August 20, 2010 | No Comments

Need help with your social media campaigns? Hire the Spider Writers! Contact 757-499-1990 or contact us to learn more.

Yes, it appears Facebook has once again set off the privacy alarms. It only seems like yesterday when shared post after post liked from my news feed took me to instructions on how to change my privacy settings to remove my voice mail number from public view…with Facebook Places barely out off the launch pad, the backlash hit me like the heat from a blast furnace.

If you aren’t aware of this latest alleged attempt for Facebook to reveal everything but your underwear size, Facebook Places is similar to the Foursquare, Loopt, and Gowalla concepts – acting as a GPS agent, Places tracks where you are in the world and posts it to your profile. Gone down the street to Starbuck’s? Facebook is there. Off to see a movie? It’s on your Facebook.

What’s more, unless you change your privacy settings, your FB friends can tag you on Places. So, let’s say you *cough* called in sick to work so you could catch the Vans Warped Tour three towns over. If a friend spots you and tags you, it’s out there. We all know, too, what happens on Facebook could get you fired.

Now, as a businessperson using social media to promote your work and products, you have to ask yourself of what value is something like Facebook Places to you. Opponents of the tool cite security risks; many pointed to the defunct Please Rob Me site as an example of how even Tweeting your activities without a locator device could land you in trouble, so why let Facebook compound problems? If you have a personal Facebook account and a page to promote your company, does Facebook Places add something of value to your social media strategy?

It can, provided your business is a physical location that other Facebook users frequent, and are willing to mark in Places. One way to encourage promotion via this tool would be to offer incentives to anybody who marks your business in their profiles. Half off their dinner order at your restaurant, or 10% off their purchase or other discount on your services.

Whether or not you should use Facebook Places is up to you. Physical store owners, naturally, would be expected to be at work. If you do not feel comfortable with Facebook tracking your every move, don’t feel as though opting out will hurt your business. Yet, for those who choose to use it, keep the offers open, because word of mouth never hurts, no matter where the words are posted.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and blog writing services. Recent clients include retailers of pet supplies and cloth diapersGainesville bed and breakfasts and European hotel bookingagents, and Virginia Beach web design firms.

Five Things You Didn't Realize You Could Do on Facebook

Posted in: Blog, Facebook by SpiderWriters on July 16, 2010 | No Comments

These days I find businesses aren’t directing customers to their main site anymore. Everywhere I go, whether it’s a restaurant or boutique, the movie theater or even a service, the signs are clear: Join us on Facebook! The discount codes are posted to the Wall, the pictures from last night’s special event are now upload to the photo albums, and everybody’s your friend and talking to each other on your fan page. Facebook has truly become an important hub for businesses large and small, localized and nationwide. It’s an incredible tool for last-minute updates on events and great for customer retention and support.

We’re willing to bet, too, you aren’t even doing half of what you could be doing with it to optimize your business.

As with other social networks that appear to maintain rigid design structures, Facebook does allow you to get away with the occasional trick to help make your profile or fan page stand out among the rest. If you plan to rely on Facebook for the bulk of your social marketing, you especially want to pay attention to different ways to optimize that space. You may already know about custom tabs (and if you don’t, we’ll cover that soon enough) and manipulating the Boxes tabs to arrange information the way you want, but there is so much more you can do to turn a simple wall thread into a genuine hub for your customers and soon-to-be customers that will keep them coming back to interact.

You can maximize your profile picture!

That all-too-critical profile picture is the first thing people will see when they visit you. More than likely, given the positioning and small print of that dinky About You box underneath it, they will miss your main URL. It’s important to take advantage of your allotted space here to advertise who you are and what you do. This example from Eurobookings illustrates how they have used the maximum 200×600 pixel spot to showcase the beautiful hotel rooms they book. The URL is clear and they have branded the picture with their logo. You look at this and you know this is a page for travel accommodations.

The challenge, of course, comes in designing a cascade like image to suit your company. If your logo is more horizontal than vertical, choose images relevant to your business and be sure to make your URL prominent.

You can add custom boxes on your personal profile!

Customizing on Facebook isn’t limited to fan pages. If you have a fan page for your company live, you must have a profile to manage it.  With the application HTML Profile Box, you can add custom HTML code to your profile to advertise anything at all – your main site, your Facebook page, products and more. You can link anywhere in the world, and set the profile box on your profile sidebar, so every time a new friend comes to visit your information is there to guide them anywhere on the Internet. In this example, a teaser advertisement for an upcoming book is placed on the author’s personal profile. As newcomers visit, though it’s possible they won’t see the entire profile as dictated by the privacy settings marked, the custom box should remain visible for anybody to see.

Two caveats to using HTML Profile Box that I have found: it appears you can only use the application once on your profile, and you need to make sure permissions are turned on to have it appear on your profile. It’s important for your personal profile to have some kind of optimization done that guides people to the fan page, where you are more apt to collect people who “like” what you have to offer.

You can sell stuff! If you take Paypal for goods and services, you can sell on Facebook. There is a nifty plugin called Payvment that allows you to integrate a small cart on a custom Facebook tab. What you have to offer, people can buy it right there without having to leave Facebook:

Certain fees may apply. Be sure to check with the site and plugin as you set up your account.

You can collect e-mails for your newsletter! The relevancy of e-mail marketing in the age of social media remains under debate. However, as long as e-mail is still used, e-mail marketing is germane. If you have a newsletter or alert system in place and use a system like Aweber or VerticalResponse, you can set up a tab to collect opt-in interest for your company:

Check with your e-mail marketing setup to see about Facebook options.

You can host a live chat! Live Stream is one of many helpful plugins designed to shape your Facebook experience. With this code inserted in a custom tab (or even on a website that accepts iframe code), you can host a live chat event for your business.

Advertise your Q&A session for your products, host a live book launch party, get all the family and friends together for reunion…the possibilities are endless!

With these and other Facebook fixes, you can create an interactive forum for your company that truly puts the social in social media!

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with Facebook Marketing. She has helped a number of companies, including Virginia Beach web design firms, global trade forums, European hotel booking sites, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns achieve optimized social profiles.

Revisiting the Mass Social Media Invites: Should You See What Sticks?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook, Social Media, Twitter by SpiderWriters on June 9, 2010 | 1 Comment

Need help getting more friends on Facebook? Contact us today at 757-499-1990 for more information.

Just like the song says, you gotta have friends. Friends are there to help seed your Farmville gardens and help destroy the forces of evil in your Mafia Wars. Friends are there to retweet the URL of that “not safe for work” Lady Gaga video you managed to sneak peek while the boss wasn’t looking, and you can always count on them to “like” your Facebook status every time you come up with a whimsically snarky comment about which Real Housewife of Boise is sporting fake…well, let’s say enhancements. In this age of social media, everybody has the potential to be your friend, even people you don’t know and may never meet in your lifetime.

So comes the dilemma as you approach your social marketing strategy: do you grow your Twitter or Facebook page following naturally, hoping that people you do know will recommend you and your business to others, or do you embark on the aggressive vaccum cleaner process of sucking in every profile in sight? If numbers are the only thing that concern you, there are ways to amass plenty of warm bodies. People sell services that strictly invite Facebook “friends” and mass follow Twitter users that automatically refollow. For as little as fifty bucks you could have the ears and eyes of thousands of people, but are they really paying attention?

Consider for a moment the pros and cons of the guerrilla invite. We’ve discussed this topic before, but it’s one worth revisiting as ideas on social networking change. If you don’t switch gears as you promote, it means you haven’t grown in your strategy, and it’s good to weigh all options. With the blind follow of Twitter users, for example, you could match your follow count to your followed by as many as six figures if you wish. If those followers boast the same volume, there is the likelihood your tweets are lost in a sea of other updates, but one can also argue that by following a good number of re-follows there is the possibility your message will be seen by people who wouldn’t otherwise follow you naturally. You had to find them first, then they become interested.

Same goes with Facebook and even LinkedIn. With the latter, there are groups solely designed to connect “open networkers,” people who will connect to you regardless of your industry. As a writer and social marketer, it might benefit me to network with as many people as possible because ultimately every industry will need marketing help, right? Gaining more connections increases my chances of finding work. However, for the niche business you might not benefit as much, unless one connection happens to know of somebody interested in what you do.

Where Facebook is concerned, triggers are in place to reign in your mass friending activities. Unless you know one of those magical loopholes to gain five thousand friends in one fell swoop, you might be better off approaching people slowly. To be certain, there are accounts created strictly to sell and spam, which won’t do you much good when you try to sell. However, in a sea of kelp you’re bound to catch a few fish.

So, how do you approach networking? Is it better to throw everything you have against the wall and see what sticks? Do you take out a thinner brush and draw out a more thoughtful plan? Look at what you’ve done to start, and if it hasn’t worked you might consider bolder measures. Experiment with different lighters to see what sparks the fire in your campaigns.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and local PPC campaigns. Clients include Gainesville bed and breakfasts, European hotel search engines, global trade forums, and Virginia Beach web design firms.

The Facebook Backlash and Your Social Campaigns: Should You Be Worried?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook by SpiderWriters on May 17, 2010 | No Comments

Need help with your Facebook promotion? Contact Spider Writers today at 757-499-1990!

Not everybody is happy with Facebook right now. Accusations of breach of privacy and disregard for online safety have prompted grassroots protests and mass deletions of accounts on the premise that not only does the social network do nothing to protect user privacy, but actually encourages distribution of information not necessarily meant for everybody’s eyes. If you use Facebook, perhaps you’ve seen viral status messages from friends imploring you to make adjustments to your settings to ensure that the complaint you make about your boss isn’t broadcast to the free world. Reports that some users prefer to delete their profiles altogether may concern other diehard Facebook fans, and as a business with a strong Facebook presence you might wonder if this backlash will affect the way you promote your products and services.

The privacy concerns making the news, naturally, concern users who are wont to share personal information and photographs on their networks. While they believe at first only select friends have access to the data, neglected privacy settings may allow certain (read: embarrassing) information to be found in Internet search. We’ve all heard stories of people getting fired from their jobs or losing out on other opportunities thanks to a slip of the keyboard – an outsider might opine, “Well, don’t post anything you wouldn’t shout into a megaphone,” yet one can argue users and Facebook need to meet halfway on ensuring security measures.

As a business, you want exposure for your Facebook page. Despite the grumbling, Facebook is still one of the most used websites on the Internet – it’s a powerful search engine and marketing tool, and as you amass fans (or people who “like” your page and company, per the new policies) the opportunity to expand your reach grows. If you are concerned about losing fans due to a protest against privacy settings, know that you do have a few options for keeping your page visible and the information available, even to people who don’t use Facebook.

1) Integrate the content into other networks. Feed status updates into your Twitter account to capture that audience, and place a fan box on your main website. If you use Squidoo, there is now an option to embed a fan box in a lens, too. Anywhere you can place your page’s RSS, take the advantage.

2) Keep your page active and visible. Offer as much data on your page to new visitors and those who do not use Facebook. As a business page, you should feel comfortable with the information you post there. Don’t give away any trade secrets, but encourage participation with the content you do provide.

3) Be respectful of current fans. Make sure whoever monitors comments on your page is courteous to posters. Just as the products and services you impart online are available to others, so are bad vibes. If you receive a complaint, be tactful in your response, because that’s what people will see. The impression you make on Facebook coupled with the timeliness of your information will keep people on your page.

How will Facebook fare in the future? Like Google, it may continue to grow and offer amenities we can’t live without, or it could go the way of lesser social networks if and when another player comes along. Whatever the fate for this network, it is still a top used site and as such holds importance in your social optimization. Mind your p’s and q’s on your Wall tab, and you should be fine.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media promotion and Virginia Beach web design. Clients include European hotels, real-time global trade forums, and vendors of pet supplies.

Facebook Turns 6 – You've Come A Long Way, Baby

Posted in: Blog, Facebook, Industry News by Jessica on February 4, 2010 | No Comments

I’ve never had the opportunity to say this, so I’m going to bask in this moment.

Back in MY day, Facebook was very different than it is now. Only college students were allowed, and the news feed was non-existent.  We didn’t use Facebook to figure out a company’s business hours, talk with our favorite aunt in Vegas or live feeds.  Back when it was, there was no Farmville, no Mafia Wars, dopplegangers or status updates. The utility of Facebook was brilliantly simple – if you didn’t go to class to take notes, send your friend a message (writing on the wall was kind of weird at the time).

Then came the groups, the photo tagging, and the complicated relationships.

Here’s what a profile page looked like when I first started Facebook in 2004:

Ah, blissfully simple. Nice, clean boxes. Then, everyone freaked out when “The mini feed” came rearing it’s ugly head. As if the addition of the status wasn’t too creepy feeling, Facebook wanted to chronicle every thing you did on the site.

If we only knew! The mini-feed has now split into a news feed AND live feed, your wall is the most prominent feature, and we are inidated with pay-per-click ads on the right side of the page that are targeted toward everything we put into our personal information in our profile.

Mark Zuckerburg had no idea his small Web project would turn into a revolution for marketing and advertising. With over 350 million users, Facebook has become part of almost everyone’s lives, whether they want it to or not. For businesses, if you do not have a presence on Facebook, you are behind your competitors. For students, Facebook is a way to not only keep up with class notes and party spots, but an outlet to talk outside the school walls. For families, it’s never been easier to stay close when you are spread apart.

Am I pleased with the progression of Facebook? Sure. Why not? I’m a big believer in “Facebook is what you make it.” If you love Farmville and taking quizzes, wonderful. If you love connecting with other professionals, fabulous. If you are a helicopter mom (please stop what you are doing), Facebook is good for you.

More importantly, now we have the ability to use Facebook (and all of social media, really) for good. News breaks faster than ever and awareness can be given to important causes and charities. Millions of people united to help those in Haiti stricken by disaster by donating food, money and time.

So happy birthday, Facebook. I’m excited to see how far you’ve come, and where you’ll go from here. If you had it posted on a profile, you’d have 350 million notifications. Lucky you.

Jessica Swink is a freelance writer specializing in articles about Search Engine Optimization and Facebook Marketing.

Social Media and the Image You Convey, or Would You Buy a Used Car from a Guy With a Goofy Profile Picture?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook, Industry News by SpiderWriters on February 1, 2010 | No Comments

With regards to surfing Facebook, it’s been a very telling week. Several days ago, a friend vented to me about one profile he monitors specifically because it belongs to a friend of his teenage daughter. The girl had posted rather raunchy photos (including shots of  underage drinking and smoking) to an album not marked as private. “Anybody can see this,” he groused, though he admitted he was grateful to see no compromising pictures of his child.

More recently my husband, who shuns any and all social networking, asked me to look up a few Facebook profiles for him. He is on a panel conducting interviews to fill a vacancy at his school, and wanted to see if any information provided on the accounts matched what he received in the applications. It happens, in nearly every field of business and entertainment. I know publishers and editors who perform Google searches on prospective authors who have submitted work – not so much to see if they actively promote online, but if they do or say anything that could potentially damage their own reputations if they were to sign them.

If you think somebody isn’t looking at your Facebook profile, or reading your tweets and not forming an opinion about you, think again. According to a recent Microsoft study, twenty-five percent of HR managers reject job candidates based upon information found online, particular social profiles. So if you’re thinking about posting that video of your antics from your friend’s bachelor party at Hooter’s, and you happen to be up for tenure at your university, you may want to think twice.

Business and the Social Media Image: Who Represents You Online?

These days, it doesn’t seem uncommon for a major company to have a policy on their employees’ involvement in sites like Facebook and MySpace. Even off the clock, you may be seen as a representative of your work, and as such may be expected to project a professional image. This doesn’t mean, of course, that businesses are watching their workers 24/7, but thanks to Google Alerts and similar watchdog applications, managers can monitor what is being said about their companies, and ultimately these updates can click through to something they feel should be handled swiftly, and perhaps with disciplinary action.

For the business using Facebook, Twitter, and other social profiles to market products and services, it’s important to ensure that your activity online is handled in the manner you conduct your business, and provide the face you want customers to see – be it casual, professional, humorous or compassionate.

Does this mean you can’t play Farmville anymore? Not necessarily, but if you do have criticism to share about your company or competitors, you may wish to exercise caution when you post status updates. If you’re set on sharing photos of your wild weekend in Vegas, strongly consider utilizing privacy options on the social network and avoid tagging friends online if you feel the shots are a bit compromising. You don’t want to put a friend at risk, either.

If your company has a fan page on Facebook, make employees aware of feedback policies – designate one or two employees to speak on behalf of the business via the network to avoid confusion. It’s easier, of course, to set up that person as admin to ensure fans will know the company responds in a timely manner.

Social networks are all about socializing – they are meant to inspire fun and creativity. So long as your company and employees know the difference between light-hearted behavior and immaturity, you can enjoy a good presence online.

Kathryn Lively is a social media expert assisting clients with social media writing and travel social media services. Clients include Gainesville hotels and Virginia Beach web design companies.

Neglected Social Media Profiles – Should You Cut the Dead Wood?

Posted in: Blog, Facebook by SpiderWriters on January 31, 2010 | No Comments

As one might expect with a fad, the novelty eventually wears off and disenchantment replaces interest. When you think of everything that has filled store shelves only to end up gathering dust in attics – pet rocks, Beanie Babies, even that gadget that was supposed to firm your thighs – one wonders how much “junk” can be left on the Internet. “Site rot” is one term that has been used to describe websites or portals that have become neglected – outbound links are invalid, as is the content. To look at some social media profiles, where the owners clearly haven’t logged in for months, it begs the question of whether or not the information should remain or the account should be cleared away altogether.

When it comes to social networks like MySpace and Facebook, a user may favor one over the other and simply focus attention wholly on the preferred site. Recently an acquaintance posted on his Facebook account that he may never log into MySpace again because he found the feed layouts and real-time updates on Facebook more user-friendly. As he uses social media primarily to keep up with friends and family, he isn’t bothered by a neglected profile page. Should a business, however, that began its social marketing campaign gung-ho with a presence in every port worry about “site rot”?

Consider some reasons why work on some social profiles fades:

  • Not enough analytics – it’s difficult to determine how many referrals to the main site are coming from that page
  • Poor response to centric contests and discounts – you might offer a sales code on one network and it’s rarely used
  • Problems with spam – the only friend/follower requests you receive are from junk accounts that clog your inbox/comment walls

Eventually there comes a time when a business realizes that marketing in an area where nobody can hear you is a waste of time, energy, and money. Though most social networks cost nothing to join, the content and time invested is better spent elsewhere. But should you delete the ineffective account altogether? Is it better to have a virtual ghost town set up and risk opinions on your company? While a private citizen may endure little backlash in deleting an account, a business profile may serve your company well even in a state of long-term hiatus.

  • The brand remains visible – if the profile in question is labeled with a vanity URL, you keep your brand’s name intact. Nobody else can take it.
  • Your brand may still be found in search – depending on how much content is available on the profile, search results may still appear. Better to lead potential customers to a stagnant page with a link to your site than a 404 error.
  • Social media is adaptable – even if you don’t log in to one account, you can adjust the profile as such to feed in updates with available gadgets. If you continue to blog, for example, find a tool that displays RSS of recent posts; this way, if somebody does stumble on the page there is some fresh content.

For businesses, social networks can be an effective method of promoting brand identity. It’s common, when one tactic fails or doesn’t mesh with the overall vision of the company, to move on to something else. In the case of stagnant social pages, however, one may wish to consider a lengthy hiatus over deletion. Should the need arise to revisit the account, it’s better to revive a dormant profile than redo all the work.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and travel social media services. Clients include Gainesville hotels and Virginia web design companies.

Turning the Other Cheek on Facebook – Dealing with Negative Feedback

Posted in: Blog, Facebook by SpiderWriters on January 25, 2010 | 2 Comments

As you monitor the comments by fans on your Facebook page, you may swell a bit with pride to constantly see missives praising your business, your products and customer service. Ultimately, however, the pendulum will swing in the other direction – it does hold true that you can’t please all the people, all the time. Just your luck, the one person who suffers a negative experience connected to your business – regardless of the situation – may surely take his/her voice to the streets…and Facebook.

As you maintain your social media presence, it’s important to do so in a manner that lets people know there is a human being behind the profile picture you display to the Facebook world. The Facebook page back end does allow you to adjust who can post to your page’s wall, photo albums, and message board, but if you are the type who fears backlash and wants to limit consumer opinion, you may wish to step back and evaluate why you have a Facebook page in the first place. Limiting a forum for fans to speak their mind makes a powerful statement about the way you handle feedback, good or bad. If somebody is unable to post how they feel about your products and services to your page, do you think they will wonder if your company listens at all?

Not only that, blocking any kind of communication from fans keeps the good feedback away, too, so prospective customers won’t see how others like you. For a company intent on catering to people, it’s necessary to listen to the people.

So let’s say you are browsing your fan page and you come across a thumbs-down notes. Perhaps somebody visited your brick and mortar store and claims to have been treated rudely, or maybe somebody purchased your product, book, or service and was not satisfied. That comment is sticking out there like a stain on your reputation, visible to anybody browsing your page. What do you do? You have a number of options available.

1) Delete it. The temptation to change history and remove the comment is always strong. Out of sight, out of mind…or is it? You don’t really know how many people will see a bad mark once it’s posted, and if you do erase it consider the possible fallout: will people call you on the deletion? Will the original poster retaliate with more negative remarks, not just on your page but elsewhere in spots you can’t administrate? While you have the option, removing a bad review should be considered carefully. Weigh the legitimacy of the claim against the poster’s intent – if somebody is posting a general “You stink!” without backing it up you may be able to chalk it up to general trouble-making. If specifics about the bad experience are mentioned, it’s time to evaluate the complaint and do something about it.

2) Ignore it. You could also continue to post and answer other fans as though the complaint doesn’t exist it. Of course, that may work as well as deleting the comment. If the fan expects an answer or compensation, you may find he/she doesn’t want to be ignored. This could lead to trouble on your fan page as more fans catch wind of the silent treatment, forcing customers to wonder if this is how you truly handle business issues.

3) Respond privately. One point in your favor is that when somebody posts a negative review on Facebook, it’s not done with anonymity. Whereas people can hide their identities on Google reviews or blogs, with Facebook you know who the plaintiff is. Therefore, you can seek to appease the poster with a personal missive offering some kind of compensation (a refund, a freebie, etc.) and hope for the best. A display of personal apology may inspire the poster to retract his/her complaint and keep you a customer.

4) Respond publicly. Even better, showing not only the plaintiff but everyone subscribed to your page that you heard the remark and intend to make good shows your willingness to listen and heed negative feedback. No person, no company is perfect, but as you work to correct wrongs in productivity and customer service it shows that you are prepared to progress toward perfection, and are willing to take it on the chin once in a while. You could offer the poster some kind of compensation, while at the same time offering your fan base a general discount on products and services.

Above all, do not ignore poor grades on your company. How you respond to feedback on Facebook creates a powerful image in the mindset of those who check your page for updates. Act professionally, and your fans will treat you as such, even if they are frustrated at times.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing, travel social media services, and Virginia web design. Her clients include Gainesville hotels and Virginia Beach roofers.