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Facebook Timeline for Businesses? It’s Coming…

FBTIMELINEWhether you like it or not.

On March 30, Facebook will be rolling out the new “Timeline” for business pages. And, I must say – I’m none too thrilled. And, of course, I will tell you why. At the same time, I’m also kinda thrilled, and I’ll tell you why on that front, too…

First – The Negative:

  • No more landing page. If you have a business with a nice little page that new folks land on – you know, with nice graphics and a special offer – maybe incentive to like your page? That’s gone. Well. it’s still there – it’s just not possible to use that as the “landing page” anymore. Now, when people show up, they go to your timeline. You can use one of your “app” spaces to call attention to your “landing” page, but people are going to have to click to get there.
  • And…
  • Well, that’s really all that I don’t like.

Next – The Positive:

  • Big, fat header. A lot of real estate. Juicy images and slick graphics. (Give us a call, we can help with that…)
  • Sticky posts. You can keep pertinent info at the top.
  • Easier contact. People can contact your page instead of contacting YOU. Nice!
  • Wider tabs. Instead of 520, you now have 810 pixels wide. And – the secondary tabs don’t have as many ads and other Facebook garbage on them. More space, less noise means being able to do more attractive design. That’s ALWAYS good.

Please note – and this is serious: YOU HAVE TO CHANGE to the NEW FACEBOOK TIMELINE FOR BUSINESS. No matter how new or old your page is – on March 30, your Facebook Page will change. This is going to happen.

How do you prepare? Well – the content you already have is safe. The apps you have are safe. The design work you’ve got (and paid for) is safe. It’ll take a little massaging, of course – but it’s still viable. You do need to start thinking a little differently about your Facebook page. A new header image (your face just ISN’T gonna cut it) and a new idea or two on how you’re going to entice people to like your page and consume your content is what you really need to get in shape for the roll-out.

The good news is that we’re ready. We’ve got the low-down on the process and the changes, and we can walk you through it. We can update your graphics, your apps and your page. We can design a new way for your page to work – so you can actually GAIN from Mr. Zuckerberg’s latest “improvement.”

Mostly, though – in the words of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Don’t Panic. This is mostly harmless.

Contact us – let’s get you in shape BEFORE March 30. Proactive is better than panic. Plus, it’s a cool buzzword…

Social Media 101 – Step 7: Even More Facebook Strategies

Well – I’m back on the horse. Now, I’m very happy to have a lot of work coming in and all, but if any of you could share your tips on adding a few more hours into the day, I sure would be appreciative. I’ve been trying to figure that one out for many years now, and I just can’t seem to find the answer.

So – in the interest of keeping it brief and getting back to client work, I present to you even MORE Facebook strategies. When it comes to Social Marketing, Facebook is the heaviest hitter – so you’ll want to focus a lot of your attention there.

If you’re a business – you have to be on Facebook. If you’re not, you’re missing out on a huge market, huge virality and the potential for huge returns. But – you have to be smart about it, and sometimes “being smart about it” can entail some slightly less-than-comfortable actions.

I’m not saying to sell out or do anything seedy – what I’m saying is that you need to approach Facebook with a slightly more “salesy” mindset. I know – that kind of scares the hell out of me, too.

But anyway- I present to you, my intrepid readers:

Lesson 7: Even More Facebook Strategies

The Exercise:

Part 1: Call To Action: Getting folks to your Facebook page isn’t horribly difficult. Folks are on Facebook all the damned time. You think your secretary is busy building links to your business by posting comments on blogs? WRONG! She’s on chatting on Facebook. You think your customers are out there looking at your page and devouring your content? WRONG! They’re really just out there, screwing around on Facebook, wasting their time and – most probably – company time. In a lot of ways they’re being passive consumers, reading updates and messing with their friends and looking for old flames to chat up. So – how do you change that passivity? You give them a call to action. Use a graphic, a landing page, a special offer or some other incentive to click “Like.”

You want them to “Like” your page so that you can tap into their friends and their wall and their life. Them seeing your page once might be good – but getting them to “Like” you will bring you one step closer to being a part of their Facebook life – no matter how sad and unproductive that life might actually be. Give them something to “Like,” and they’re more likely to come back, post to their wall, share with their friends and help you spread like chicken pox in a daycare.

Part 2: Hide from Non-Fans: When you get eyeballs on your page, it can be a good idea to hide some stuff from non-fans. Make them click “Like” to see a special offer, get a coupon code or see more information. Tease them and they’ll be curious. You want your general information to be readily available (website, phone numbers, etc.) but you also want to give them more to pursue – but you don’t have to just give it away. Use folks’ natural curiosity to build your “mailing list” of Facebook fans. That’s a valuable list – very targeted and essentially limitless.

Part 3: Encourage Interaction: Once you’ve got them in, ask them questions. This can serve a couple of purposes. First, it gets folks adding content (answers) for you. This is good – it’ll bring them in, plus their friends will see their posts, helping you grow virally. Second, you can use this information to develop ad campaigns, new products, new ideas, blog posts, etc. It’s like a free focus group. There are lots of ways to encourage interaction – and there are a lot of rewards.

Part 4: Give it Away Now: Want to see lots of fans and some big interaction? Give something away in exchange for sharing. It can be a contest where you pick a winner – or you could give away information, links or special deals for simply sharing or interacting. Be judicious here – and remember that if you give something great away, you might have to give away hundreds or thousands of them. Even at a couple of pennies per item, that can add up if it explodes and grows like it can. 750 million people all wanting a free tshirt can be kind of expensive.*

Next up is Step 8: Twitterification…

*We print tshirts and promotional stuff – and if you have a million piece order, I’d love to talk to you.

Regular Blog Posting is for Sissies…

I’ve been a little remiss on the blog – but it’s for good reason. I’ve got a few projects that are being revived and have demanded an awful lot of my attention this week. It’s good stuff – but time consuming. Add to that an influx of new work, and my ability to keep you entertained has been hampered.

freakFirst up – FreakinAsheville.com. Yes – it’s coming back. Expect a launch on April 1 (no fooling.) I’ve got a few big folks on board (Zen, Bill Kopp, Kat, Mr. 420) and I’m looking for more contributors and folks to add to the craziness. It’ll be all of what you loved about The Freak to begin with – but with technology that will actually keep up with the content. There’s going to be a great calendar, awesome photos of Asheville, news of the strange, message boards (bring it on!) and a whole lot more. If you’re interested in contributing or you have ideas, I’d love to hear from you. We’re looking for a few good men, women and aliens. Join up now. It’s freakin awesome.

aafSecondly – AllAboutFreelance.com. This has been a pet project of mine for many moons, but I’ve really been adding to the site – again, with lots in store. It’s a repository for tips, tricks and resources for freelancers. Since that’s really what I am, I thought I’d share a little bit of what to do – and what NOT to do. I also have a second contributor on this one, so expect more updates there.

Check ’em out. Very different sites, but both with some great content.

And, I promise, I’ll be back here. Don’t you worry.

No – please, tears aren’t necessary. Just send money. And coffee. And tea. Thank you.

Social Media 101 – Step 6: More Facebook Strategies…

luxOk, maybe this is a little more of Step 5(a), but as you’ve probably gathered, I can get a little long-winded. Most folks won’t hang with me long enough to allow me to carry on and beleaguer the point even further. Now, keep in mind that I like to hear and tell a good story – but today, I will get to the point – in a minute.

I guess my love of stories comes from growing up in the home of a musician. My father, bless his crazy soul, is a musician (available for wedding, bar-mitzvahs and playing just about anywhere*) and as such, he had some crazy friends. Some of them were crazy in the sweet, fun sort of Shel Silverstein way. Others, I’m convinced, were a hop skip and a jump from full time murderous rampages using cocktail forks – but, I digress (per my usual.)

There were always people around (in our house, smoky taverns, recording studios, emergency rooms,etc.,) or I was always around said people, who told these stories. Some really cool, some really bad, many set to music, some set to screaming and yelling. I fell in love with stories and story telling. Everyone’s got a story, even if it’s confusing and ultimately surreal to little boys. Dylan-esque stories, beer-filled rants, incoherent gibbering, deeply personal and incredibly shallow conversations – I grew up on them, and they still feed my imagination. Man, I do love a good story.

What’s your point, James? Get to it, man…

Ok – the point is if you build a compelling story on Facebook, people will dig it – and they will come back to hear a little more of the story. How do you do that? Well – you gotta decide who and what you are, who and what your audience is, and what they (and you) are looking for and expect. You know – all that crap that we talked about in the first few steps (you DID follow those first few steps, right?) If you build a compelling story, using compelling content, you have a better chance of “Going Viral,” which is really the name of the game. If you have 2000 followers sharing that story with 120 people (the average number on Facebook) – well, you do the math. That’s what you’re looking for in all of this – and that’s the real power of social media and social marketing.

And, without further adieu – the rest of the story (see what I did there?)

Lesson 6: More Facebook Strategies…

The Exercise:

Part 1: Strictly Business: Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to say – keep saying it. Say it in photos, movies, stories and things that your audience will find valuable. Don’t babble about your dogs or what you had for lunch (unless you’re a vet or a restaurant.) This won’t really help you grow, and personal minutia is far less likely to get picked up and redistributed for you. That sort of thing is best left to your personal Facebook page. Remember, you’re trying to build customers – not impress people and make friends. You want to be friendly, but this is about business. Treat it as such.

Part 2: Add Value: This is the tricky part. You want make your story inviting, interesting and relatable, or it come out as cold and boring or greedy or overly salesy, but you’ll see much larger response if you add some sort of value. Tips, tricks, advice, links, etc. You want to give the viewer something that they can use to better their business or life or whatever. If they find it interesting and it builds your brand’s “story,” they’re a lot more likely to spread it to their friends. Great success!

Part 3: Ask Questions: If you invite interaction, you’ll get interaction. Don’t make all your stories closed-ended: “Here it is – and that’s the way it is. Period.” Leave some room for discussion: “Where it is – what do YOU think about that?”

Part 4: Leave ‘Em Wanting More: Again, this is one of those questions of “closing the loop.” You want to give your customer/liker enough information in your posts to be compelling, useful and valuable – but you don’t have to give them the full story every time. Build up to it – then deliver the hook or punchline later. Think 4-5 posts ahead sometimes and lead your viewers on. Leave them hanging so that they come back. In the words of Lux Interior “How do you keep a moron in red-hot suspense? I’ll tell you that later – but first I’ll tell you this…” Pique their curiosity, set them up and knock ‘em down later. Curiosity is a great sales tool.

Building and telling compelling stories will put asses in the seats and bring them back for more. If you tell a good story, folks will spread that story for you, help you write that story and they’ll come back or hang around to hear the end of the story. How else could Mr. Zimmerman get away with all 10 minutes of “Joey?”

Next up is Step 7: Even More Facebook Strategies…

*My father really is an amazing songwriter and musician. He’s an inspiration.

Is This How the World Sees Web Designers?

WEBDESIGNERADSurfing Facebook early this morning, and this is the sidebar ad. Apparently, to be a web designer, you have to wear big ugly glasses. Is this the most effective ad they could come up with? Should I be offended? I’ve got an impressive Raymond Massey-like physique and I’m as cool as Dylan Thomas. Suck it, Facebook. You don’t know me.

Social Media 101 – Step 5: Facebook Strategies…

mellow_out_manBy now, you’ve either lost interest, our you’re saying to yourself “Shut up, man – let’s get to some good, actionable stuff. Damn.”

Well – I’m getting to the actionable stuff. You know, you’re awfully demanding for someone who’s getting an awesome, free course on social marketing. I DO have a life, and I like to ramble, so you should cut me some slack. I mean, really – if it’s free, why are you complaining so much about my roundaboutness and rambling ways? I eventually get to the point – it’s just that you have to sit through some of my cute colloquialisms and interesting little sidetracks. Is it not worth it?

I’m getting to the point – HEY, MELLOW OUT, MAN!

Here it is – my Horribly Important and Phenomenally Timely Step 5:

Lesson 5: Facebook Strategies…

You’ve got your Facebook page all set up. It looks awesome (especially if we designed it for you) but where do you go from there?

You’ve got to USE your page, understand your page (especially Insights) and you’ve got to be consistent with it. And so – the exercise:

The Exercise:

Use_Facebook_as_PagePart 1: Use Your Page: This one seems reasonably simple – but a lot of folks just don’t know what to do. You’ve got to actually get in there and use your page – not just your Facebook personal account. What you want to do is “Use Facebook As…” your page. This will take you from your personal account to your business account. See that little photo to the right? That’s where you want to go. Click it – and you’re ready to start using Facebook as your business.

“Great,” you’re saying “What should I do now?” Well – there’s a lot to that question. When does your intended audience use Facebook? When are they the most receptive to your posts? What sort of posts are they looking for? Check your Insights for that kind of information. One thing about Insights – if you’re just starting out, you’ll not get a lot of good info there. You’re going to have to “throw it against the wall and see what sticks.” Post photos, post rants and raves and weird links. Post stuff that interests you, concerns your business. Just try a bunch of stuff. You never know what’s going to work. Find a leader in your field – see what they’re doing and steal* their ideas.

That’s for YOUR content. That’ll help entertain the folks who like your page – but how do you get more likes? How do you attract other businesses? The business end of it all is pretty straightforward – go around and find the businesses you’re looking to bring in as clients and customers. “Like” their page and post on their walls. Interact with them. Share and repost their stuff – add value to their pages, and they’ll return the favor. Not always, but it’s reasonably reciprocal…

Getting more public and individual “Likes” is a different thing all together, and that’s really a topic for another post (stay tuned!) – but liking businesses and adding high-value content are the first steps. If you build it, they will come – but you’ve got to build a compelling page with good content that works well and looks nice.

The main point in all this social media/social marketing thing is USE IT! USE IT A LOT! USE IT CONSISTENTLY!

Part 2: Understand Your Page: Read this. It’ll help you understand who’s hitting your page and using your content – and what’s effective. Understand the function of your buttons and different areas of your page. Know what you’re doing. Play around with it. Explore every aspect of administering your Facebook page. Again, this is a huge topic that a 101 course can’t really cover – but stay tuned, I’ll cover it in horribly awesome and generally informative semi-detail.

Part 3: Be Consistent With It: If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it a million freaking times – be consistent with your Facebook page. Hit it often and keep your message consistent and even. This is, like I’ve said, the most important part of all of this – keep it going. Study your demographic, decide on your message and your style – and then stick with it. Post regularly, surf other sites and businesses regularly and use it as much as you can. REMEMBER – THIS IS A MARATHON. Don’t get to the first turn and say “Screw it. I’m tired.” and go and get a cup of coffee while the rest of the runners keep going. You’ll never win the race that way…

Next up is Step 6: More Facebook Strategies…

*”Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” ~ Pablo Picasso (or maybe T.S. Elliott. Nobody really knows. It’s just a great quote that sort of fits here.)

Black Wednesday vs. SOPA

OBAMAI’ve decided to pull the plug on this site tomorrow, and for 24 hours, to join the protest against SOPA and PIPA. I try to keep my morals and politics out of my business (although I will get irritatingly emotional at times) but these bills absolutely must be defeated.

I’m against online piracy and copyright abuse – but neither of these bills will really do anything to actually address the issues. What they do accomplish is essentially the death of the internet as we know it. If you post, blog or tweet anything that you don’t have express written permission for – or if someone just doesn’t like what you’re saying, you can get shut down. Not just the post getting pulled – YOUR WHOLE FREAKING SITE or PROFILE. GONE. No recourse. No trial. Just GONE.

This, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit. It MUST be stopped, or a vast number of us will be out of work and incapable of providing for our families and ourselves. The American economy will be destroyed, and life as we know it will be forever changed for the worse.

This is censorship. This is the death of free speech and open discourse on the internet. Sound like fun? If you think it’s a good thing to have our rights and our free speech completely hosed, just sit there and do nothing.

Don’t let this happen. Click here to visit AmericanCensorship.org. There’s great info there and actionable items that are pretty easy. Get off your duff and do something. We have to stop this – or where will you get your inane banter and superfluous coffee-related rambling?

*see that photo? that could get my whole website disappeared. pretty offensive, huh?