Page to Page Facebook Activity Works Friday, Jan 6 2012 

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

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I’m an organic social media type fellow. I love to be behind my master dashboard (something my company cooked up which will soon be available to the public) and schedule posts and watch real time analytics. In short, I love talking to people and telling stories about my clients.

So when my employer (@everymerchant) gave me access to a Facebook page our biggest client “forgot” about (our contract was to run all *existing* social sites, so I was prevented from creating one for them! Dumb, eh?) I got excited. Not because the page was doing well, it certainly was in rough shape, but because I had a veritable blank slate to work with.

My challenge? Build a facebook following under brand restrictions (can’t be edgy) and with zero advertising budget. DAMN!

So I fell back on the old tactic which started my career (and, incidentally, raised me a few grand in college which I promptly spent on beer and horror movies- worth every penny!).

I talked. Online.

Brain crushing, eh? But I didn’t just “post into the air” to zero followers hoping that somehow, someway, someone would accidentally search for my brand and randomly be enthralled by my wit and high quality content. I “rode the ticker” by doing targeted “page to page” likes and engaging other brands which, while not in competition with my client, that my client’s customers would frequent. I didn’t just log in and spam, “CLICK MY PAGE” either. I spent a few minutes every day having real conversations with folks in the threads and showing a genuine interest in the topics.

Well every time I logged in to my client’s account a new notification popped up in the corner and my engagement levels sky rocketed. To be fair- facebook is kind in that it doesn’t provide Insights that go below “zero” so the only direction my client’s analytics *could* go was up.

In short this was just targeted advertising. If I jumped into a major discussion with folks I already knew were interested in my brand all it took was a few basic practices to inspire them to click on my client’s icon.

I kept my posts short, 1 or 2 sentences at most. In long discussion threads all but the most passionate will skip over the big blocks of text (tl;dr). Also if your post is between two other people in an active exchange your potential customers simply have to read your post to get to the next post (its human nature, we’re taught to read *everything* in grade school, not skim)(don’t debate me and tell me Internet users just skim, its different in real time chat when the posts are not in excess of 140 words).

I kept my posts relevant and made sure to generate discussion, not debate. Even if I was just agreeing with a previous poster, or the original poster, I contextualized my replies in a way that agreed with my client’s message and company.

I kept my voice and posts consistent, when they saw my client’s avatar they knew I wasn’t going to suddenly bend left and confuse people. I was a reliable source of opinion.

In the end, the other brand’s I communicated with benefited from longer converastions which kept users on their page longer, and my client benefited from increased visibility and… the only analytic most clients even look at… more “likes”.

So if you’re a small business owner- log in as your Facebook Page and cherry pick a couple dozen pages with whom you know you can have good discussions. Watch as the followers of that brand, and their friends who see their posts in the Ticker, discover your brand.

 

 

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Use Your Analytics on Social Platforms Thursday, Dec 22 2011 

TrackerSuite.Net, a Web-based product

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I have a wide fauxcabulary. A fauxcabulary is a list of words which are basically nonsense but I’m forced to use in a business environment because well… If I said what I meant clearly all hell would break loose.  The first time someone said,”Bullet Point these Price Initiatives for me?” I asked, “You mean tell you how much this costs?” I was nearly tossed out on my thrift store clothed behind.

But Actionable Metrics is not fauxcabulariy- its your lifeblood as a social marketer. What are Actionable Metrics? Just what they sound like, measurements which suggest a course of action. For instance, if you post 100 times a day about turtle wax and once a day about bike chains, and the bike chains post gets your clicks? Well, then you know you’ve stocked your twitter lists with bike messengers and not car owners and, depending on your product, you can either change who you engage with or change your message.

Such was the case with one of my favorite clients last week. The client shall remain nameless, but we share office space with them and I take my smoke breaks with them. I’d been running a low level twitter campaign for them. I was waiting on some other things to come into place, so I wasn’t really building their following just yet. I would seek out and connect with a few locals (their business is local) and automate some messages about their product, but nothing major.

Well, I’ll be damned if I wasn’t seeing a 50% click through rate (Pretty easy, actually, with a small list, also tracked via bit.ly and @everymerchant ‘s soon-to-hit-market social media software). What really got me though, was that the majority of those clicks were coming before and after the business day and that the most clicks were on the product oriented blogs that the business was posting.

Well, this told me something- people were interested in product specifics, and those people had jobs.

So I changed my tactics. I took down all the content I had automated and replaced it with product details and changed the timing of the posts to peak hours of the previous month’s click throughs.

Will it work? Don’t know, have to wait until I’ve given it enough time to turn over. And, as much as it sounds reasonable  it may still *not* have been the right move. But you have to be rubber, flexable and listen to your fans and your data.

Hit me up at @pallanteMichael some time and we’ll talk about it.

Pretend To Be A User Wednesday, Dec 21 2011 

This (attributed to ) originally appeared duri...

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I was recently working with some partners on a charity’s Facebook page. We were having a little trouble getting everything we wanted in place because, like any good Americans, we wanted it all and we wanted it now! We wanted our landing page to have reveal tabs and donations page to have “tweet to friends”, our posts to be written by Benjamin Franklin and our art carved by Michaelangelo! Erm. Yes.

Well the one thing we were forgetting is that community development is a long term goal, not an instant conversion. We should be happy we get a “like” to start with and thrilled to get a donation down the road.

We’d gotten in so deep at that point our page plan was a mess! So what did we do?

We took a step back, had a couple beers and logged out of facebook went to our facebook page and said, “Lets pretend we’ve never heard of this charity ever. It doesn’t matter how we got here, but now we’re here. What do we see?”

Then we started asking questions: Having looked at our landing page for 2 seconds do we know what the page is about? is it worth a like? Why not? What can we do to make it worth a like? Ok, now we liked it- now what? And so on…

In short we went through the “conversion” process and decided exactly how a completely uninformed lead should be nurtured to becoming a donor / spokesperson for our cause.

And that, really, was our goal- to create donors! But we’d forgotten our strategy and gotten mucked up in tactics. Always remember a tactic supports a strategy! On their own tactics are a waste of bandwith. We all love new toys but what good is Voltron’s sword arm without the head? Savvy?

@pallanteMichael 😉

Twitter Marketing: Its Who You Follow Monday, Dec 19 2011 

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

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Any reasonable social marketer should be listening to their market. And you are listening to your market, right? You didn’t just add a bunch of people and start spouting off a sales message, did you? Well, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

How your audience reacts, how they click your links, what they say and what you say to them all has a major impact on the style of your social media campaign. You should be looking at your click throughs and website analytics to see which messages worked, which messages didn’t, and identifying who your biggest fans are. Knowing who your biggest fans are lets you leverage their loyalty- and reward it. Someone who constantly retweets or @’s your brand is someone you should be extending extra attention to so they continue.

But lets face it- if you’ve got a massive list and you’re following back everyone who follows you the numbers can get tough to crunch. You can be looking at a stream of thousands all day and find it near impossible to gauge true sentiment. There is software out there to help you with this- and its useful, but I’m an old school kind of guy and prefer to work “in the field” as it were. And I can tell by looking at someone’s Twitter feed how successful they’ll be with their efforts- In short, if you can’t guess how your audience feels about an issue then you can’t be flexable enough to deliver an impactful message.

If you followed a wide array of people with no coherent interests you’ll never be able to gauge your community and respond to their specific needs.

If you followed a select group of people you carefully chose by keyword use, retweeted posts and observing their feed then you’ll have a much greater chance of staying engaged.

In short- if you went and added a bunch of shmucks just to get big numbers then you’ve gone and shot yourself in the foot because you’ll never be able to talk to them because you won’t be able to listen to them. If you have 10,000 fans that you got by adding 20,000 and with whom you have nothing in common than there’s no hope for dialog, and you will fail. Epic fail.

But if you started with a handful of people whom you see eye-to-eye and grew your list organically through conversations and dialog- well then you’ll be able to chat with 10k people as if they were a single friend.

So think hard before clicking that “Follow” button- because even a big huge corporate brand can be sunk by predatory adding.

A Hashtag Lesson Thursday, Aug 25 2011 

Image representing AOL as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Twitter hashtags are a great way to catagorize your posts, imply sarcasm and simplify. But how do you use them to maximize your impact?

There are three types of hashtags (#) on twitter: Social, News Stream and Orphans (hat tip to Rob @questional for the last one).

Social:

These are hashtags that are used for discussions and chat. My favorite is #pubwrite and I have a #pubwrite stream running on my tweet deck. Throughout the day people will include the #pubwrite tag in posts and others will reply with the #pubwrite tag. Its like an old AOL chatroom on twitter without the need to @ every individual #pubwrite savvy user. When you include a social tag you are saying, “This comment is directed at other tweeps using the same social tag.”

News Stream: This is a hashtag that usually moves too quick to engender conversation and is usually reserved for news and culture niches. #antisec is a good example. When LulzSec made the “Antisecurity” movement popular all articles, posts and information about it generally funneled through the #antisec hash tag. When you use a News Stream hashtag you’re usually giving links, information or commentary about that news item. If your content is good or your commentary relevant you may get a retweet or comments on the link you posted.

Orphans: These are hashtags that people probably don’t have a stream set up to follow and are usually never used again. Most of the time they offer context or humor on the preceeding posts. An example would be: Off to the DMV #seeyounextcentury. No one is looking for the #seeyounextcentury hashtag and no community around it exists, but it does offer a little humor and explains the users feelings about going to the DMV.

Do not cross the streams, guys- if you do you’ll make yourself an outsider very quick. Do not treat Social streams as News Streams and don’t expect a Social aspect to rise in a News Stream. And never think that your Orphans are anything but that.

How do you find social streams? Ask your friends what a good #hashtag for whatever topic your interested is. “Are there any good Hash-Chats for Marketing? Where can I find a good hashtag for journalists to talk in?” For news streams? Just watch your stream, they’ll pop up if you’ve properly developed your community to reflect your interests and work life! If you don’t see useful hashtags on your stream then think about adding different users or using list filters to seperate your professional or personal contacts so you can watch closer.

Social Media Ninja Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 

Twitter HQ in San Francisco - Olaf Koens, http...

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Using your social media to manage and increase your users / readers / market takes time. A good social media campaign should look at months, not weeks or days. The appeal of social media is instant gratification- that like, retweet or reblog feels good. But if you can get past that you can get a longer lasting satisfaction by developing engaged users- engaged in this case means users who interact. A user who interacts is way more likely to be a mouthpiece for your product than other users. So you want users to “engage” so they’ll help grow your user-base.

But social media is not a blitz. You gotta be Seal Team 6.  The big two right now are Twitter and Facebook, though that will change by 2015 (if the planet is still here. Damn Myans!). So let me give you a some basic advice on how to use them.

Twitter:

Its about who YOU follow, not who follows you.  Follows will come- don’t worry about it.

Don’t build a massive random contact list, build a community. Sure, its only a community from your point of view but that’s OK. To manage this community and keep user’s engaged you must give them a sense of belonging, autonomy, and competence.

Belonging: Make sure people know that they are part of a group you find interesting and that you want to serve. If members of your community don’t know each other- they know you, and you are the gateway to that community. Think of yourself as the cool kid in high school who was friends with everyone. Provide links and information and retweets to your friends that serve their interests. This will not only serve to develop the sense of belonging, but also place you as the ‘head’ of what Seth Godin would call your tribe.

Autonomy: Even if they are a member of the group- they need to feel singular within that group. Address them individually and publicly. A brief private message about someone’s interesting link, post or comment will give them a sense of individuality, while a quoted retweet addressed to your community will build the group mentality.

Competence: They need to DO something. The phrase is “Call to action.” Ask their opinions, give them input, ask them to comment on your blog, or share your information with their friends. Let the know when they have accomplished something, provide informational feedback about it.

Facebook:

Likes matter. A user who “likes” your facebook page is 28% more likely to continue to use your product (read your book) than someone who doesn’t. Now, that doesn’t mean that getting someone to like your page will suddenly increase their brand loyalty and level of engagement.

Much like Twitter the secret to success is thinking about it backwards. Facebook is a way to reach out to and manage your existing loyal users. If someone likes your Facebook page it means they already use and know your product- so there’s no need to ‘introduce’ your product / book to them. You’ll need less call to action on your Facebook. You can use Facebook to reach a deeper engagement with your users. You can ask Facebook users to help you with marketing campaigns (help us reach 20,000 followers and we’ll release the new book, product version etc) easier than you can Twitter. Use facebook to take the pulse of the market you developed on Twitter.

There’s of course much much more to it, but this is a great way to start making the most out of your community and your time on social networks.