Facebook’s Dislike Button – A Good Idea?

facebook dislike button

facebook dislike button

Earlier this week, Facebook confirmed that it is going to start testing something that it has been asked about for many years – a ‘dislike’ button.

When Facebook introduced the ‘like’ button in early 2009, it didn’t take too long for people to ask where the ‘dislike’ button was – but not necessarily in a negative way. For example, it is likely that you will have seen the Syrian refugee crisis developing in your Facebook feed, but clicking ‘like’ on a story such as this seems inappropriate.

But it didn’t take long for the media to see another side of the ‘dislike’ button – trolling. And this is a very real threat to Facebook. The other major social networks which have dislike functions are YouTube’s thumbs down and Reddit’s down-vote. Now, I am a big fan of both of these networks, but things can get into a spiral of negativity pretty quickly and big fights can break out. However, it should also be noted that both Reddit and YouTube have a strong degree of anonymity built into them – the lack of anonymity on Facebook could just make the dislike button work.

In most cases, Facebook polices itself. People are using their real identities and are connected to people who they know in real life, so if they do start trolling, then their friends and family will see it. This is often enough to stop people going too crazy. Not wanting to share your online behaviour with your connections was one of the reasons why Facebook changed its engagement metrics to include how long someone looks at a post.

The likely recipients of dislikes are predictable – banks, accounts which still engage in click-baiting (one of Facebook’s pet hates), advertisements, public enemies (political parties, newspapers, etc.).  But many of these groups are important clients for Facebook, so why would Facebook take a risk and introduce a dislike button?

When someone engages with some content on Facebook, this gives Facebook intelligence – when the person was on Facebook, what type of content grabbed their attention, what that person has an interest in, etc. This is all information which makes advertising on Facebook very attractive to digital marketers. And the dislike button is another means of Facebook attracting engagement: who said all engagement needs to be positive?

If there is a piece of content that you disagree with today on Facebook, and you can’t be bothered to put your head above the parapet and comment, you will likely ignore it. This is not what Facebook wants you to do as it will not provide information for advertisers. The dislike button should also deliver a better news feed in the long term as Facebook will get an even better idea of what you like and what you don’t.

My personal opinion is that the introduction of a negative engagement tool can only make Facebook a less positive place to be. The threat of increased trolling is very real: most trolls will use a fake account so the theory of Facebook policing itself doesn’t work. But the dislike button is a means for Facebook to drive more a thorough understanding of its users, which will make it a more powerful advertising tool – theoretically improving the experience of all parties.

And most importantly of all, it will also give you a chance to say what you really think about all of your friend’s cat photos.

What effect do you think the dislike button will have on Facebook? Leave a comment share your thoughts.

How to Boost Facebook Reach

Improve Facebook Reach

Improve Facebook Reach

For some time now, Facebook’s organic post reach has been in decline. You may have 1,000 likes to your business page, but how many of the people who have liked your page are actually seeing your message? Well, it depends on how often people engage with your content, but the figures are alarming: estimates are around 10% but some writers put the number as low as 1%. So your 1,000 likes may result in 10 people seeing your post.

With this in mind, how can you boost your Facebook post reach without breaking the bank?

Create Great Content – OK, this is a tough one. But there is nothing more effective in maximising your Facebook reach than excellent content. If you produce content that is fantastic, then people will engage with it: and if people engage with your content, they are more likely to see your posts, thus boosting your reach.

Ask Questions – You would be surprised with the effect that asking questions has on your engagement levels. People enjoy being asked their opinion and are often happy to share it. So use content such as asking open questions, caption competitions and fill in the blank competitions: a good way to drive your reach not only to your existing audience, but to new people too.

Know Your Analytics – There is no excuse for not knowing your numbers on Facebook. The insights section has improved dramatically over the years and you can now easily find out what time is best to post your message, what type of content works best and what your audience looks like (gender, age, location, etc.). You can also send messages to targeted areas of your page – for example, you can send a post to an audience segmented by location, gender, age or language. The more specific the message, the better the engagement.

Stop Selling – A lot of businesses go wrong with Facebook right at the start: they see it as a good way of selling more. But Facebook is not about that, it is about engaging an audience. If you were catching up with your friends and someone who you didn’t know interrupted and started selling something to you, how would you feel?

Advertise – I know that I said there were ways of boosting your Facebook post without breaking the bank, so why mention advertising? Well, Facebook advertising doesn’t need to be expensive. You can run a full campaign where you can select your audience and budget, or you can choose to ‘boost’ a post. This is where you can choose to spend a small amount of money to reach an audience that you select with one of your posts. You can see the amount of people you are reaching as well as how that changes if you amend your budget.

How do you boost your Facebook reach? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Facebook News Feed Changes

Facebook News Feed Changes

Facebook News Feed Changes

Last week, Facebook announced some changes to the way that news feeds will appear for its almost 1.5 billion accounts. While the announcement created something of a fuss, it shouldn’t be too surprising.

Facebook has been filtering what you see for a while already. And there are good reasons for that. Facebook is a commercial organisation with demanding shareholders, so one of the reasons is to encourage businesses to financially promote their posts. Another reason is to stop users being overwhelmed by their news feed: without any filters, your Facebook experience would be very different, and if people start to leave Facebook, those advertisers and shareholders will be looking to spend their money elsewhere – not what Zuck wants at all.

At the moment, the average Facebook user sees 300 posts per day, a mixture of friends, companies and adverts. But without a filter, the user would see 1500 posts per day – so if you think you see too much on Facebook, it could be a lot worse!

But how does Facebook decide what to show you in your 300 posts? Previously, it was based on the engagement that you had on various posts: if you liked, commented or shared an article, Facebook would (rightly) assume that you find this content interesting and will give you more content in a similar style or subject. If you didn’t do any of these things, Facebook would start to filter the content from a page as it would assume that you weren’t interested.

But what if you were interested in a subject, but didn’t want to publicise to your friends and family your interest in it? For example, if there was a sensitive political issue that you felt strongly about, you may not want to like or comment and share your views with the world.

That’s why Facebook has decided to take a look at a different metric – how long you spend looking at an update. It would be easy to interpret this as rather Orwellian and you may have a point, but Facebook’s argument is that this information is being tracked elsewhere anyway (true!) and they are doing it to provide a better quality user experience (TBC!).

They would not do anything to consciously jeopardise user satisfaction in the long-term.
It’s interesting to take a brief moment to see how much perception of privacy has changed – not so long ago, someone asking for your email address was invasive, now people are having the time they spend looking at an article tracked! Theoretically, this will mean that you don’t necessarily need to like a page to see their content – if you stare at a sponsored post for long enough, you may start receiving their posts.

So what does this mean for marketers? Not a lot has changed from a marketing perspective. You should still be creating interesting content, using impactful and relevant images and crafting enticing headlines. All of these will drive engagement for your Facebook content. The one change is that the competition just got more challenging. The drive for engagement is still the most important element of social media marketing and now there is a new metric on Facebook; time spent looking at post.

What Facebook really want marketers to conclude is that they should use sponsored posts more to ensure that their messages are getting out to the largest proportion of their audience as possible. And they are entitled to drive that agenda; we are using their platform after all.

Just don’t be surprised if businesses and users start to questions whether this is improving the experience or detracting from it.

Facebook Promotional Posts

Facebook Promotional Posts

Facebook Promotional Posts

Facebook make a pretty significant announcement last Friday which will attract the attention of marketers: Facebook it is not going to share ‘promotional posts’ onto its users’ news feeds.

What?!

Before you start to panic let’s take a closer look at what Facebook mean, and how marketers can adapt.

It should not be a shock that Facebook is already being selective about what appears in your news feed – the average Facebook user would see 1500 posts per day, but Facebook’s algorithm selects the top 300 or so for your attention.  Facebook bases its selection on the posts that you are most likely to enjoy (or the ones that will keep you on the site for the longest amount of time!).

And it is not surprising that in a survey of “hundreds of thousands” of Facebook users, that hard-sell promotional posts were not very popular.  In this context, Facebook defines promotional content as one of the following:

  • Posts that solely push people to but a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from adverts

But, Facebook has made some changes to news feeds before, so why should you listen this time?  They warn that brands that choose to post promotional content “should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time” – so, if you want your audience to see your posts, do as they say!

But what does ‘real context’ mean?  Only Facebook truly knows the definition of this, but what I think the rule change does is force marketers to up their game, which a quick glance at most brand posts will tell you is long overdue.  My understanding of context would be to wrap any promotional posting in a more subtle wrapper – as part of an interesting, informing or entertaining post, the soft-sell.

This does not affect advertising on Facebook (shocking, right?!).  You can still overtly promote when you pay Facebook, but anyone with experience of Facebook advertising will tell you that the more promotional your post is, the less engaging and effective it is.

This rule change is where your Facebook content should be heading anyway, so for better marketers, there is little change.

Facebook are a commercial organisation, and will make decision based on keeping shareholders happy.  But to keep shareholder happy, they need to keep users happy as well – it is they who click on ads and buy products, so you can expect Facebook to continue to develop their proposition for businesses into 2015.

Will this change affect the way that you market your product or service on the world’s largest social network?

Facebook Engagement

Facebook Engagement

Facebook Engagement

So, you’ve got a Facebook page and even spent a little money advertising to grow your audience, so it’s just a case of posting content now and getting your money back, right?  Well, you need to spend some time thinking about engaging your audience, but why?  If you can encourage your audience to like, comment or share your Facebook content then there are two important advantages:

1)    Your content is more likely to be shown to your audience if you are receiving high levels of engagement – if not, then your audience reach will not be as high as you would think.
2)    If your audience engage with your post, your post will be seen by the friends of the sharer – and with each Facebook user having an average of 338 friends, this is quite an opportunity

So, how do you achieve Facebook engagement?  These tips should help you out:

Get the basics right – A surprising amount of business pages don’t have all of the right information available: make sure that you include your website address, phone number, location, opening hours, etc.  You want to engage your audience ultimately with the objective of generating business – so help the user out by providing contact info.

Post at the right time – Posting when is convenient to you is not necessarily the best time to post.  There are a lot of great articles about when best to post, but it will differ depending on your audience demographic and the industry that you are in.  The best way of optimising your timing is trial and error: try posting at different times and check out how many people see your post and what level of engagement you receive.

Consider why people share – If you regularly use Facebook, then you will be familiar with the thought of ‘should I share this article with my friends?’  People will engage with content which they would like their friends to see them post on – it’s all about perception.  For example, if you post controversial content, you will risk alienating your audience and they may not want to put their name to it.

Entertain or inform – People on the whole use the internet to become informed or be entertained.  You should have a mix of both types of content, and have a plan behind this.  There will be times of the year when you are happy to entertain with caption competitions and the like, but there will also be times when you want to inform with high quality blog content, or actually promote your product directly with a promotional code, e.g. at Christmas.

Measure your progress – The best Facebook pages use data to make their proposition stronger.  And there are a lot of metrics that you can track to see whether your posts are working.  Audience growth, audience engagement (likes, comments, shares), audience reach, referrals to your website, redemption of Facebook promotions codes, etc.  Spending a little time gathering this data will help you provide an engaging page for your audience.

What is your favourite Facebook engagement tip?

Image via business2community.com

Facebook Competiton Ideas

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising

Over recent months, Facebook is being more selective in which posts it displays from business pages to its followers.  In years gone by (it seems ridiculous to talk like this about a social network!), if you liked a page, then you would see all of the posts which a page you like would share.

However, Facebook realised pretty quickly that this was an opportunity to generate some revenue and keep their shareholders happy.  Now, they will only show posts from pages which you regularly engage with, and, of course, posts which are sponsored.

So, when you are actually going to spend money to share your competition, you really need to make sure that it is going to work.  So, here are 5 Facebook competition ideas to help you get the most bang for your buck.

Caption competitions – these are as old as time itself, but a great way of encouraging your audience to display their creativity.  A smartly chosen photo that would ideally have some connection to your product can generate some funny comments from followers.  Also consider fill in the blank competitions which are fairly similar, e.g. ‘this weekend I want to relax with my *insert product* and ________’

Comment to qualify – a good way of getting your audience to effectively share their competition entry with the rest of their friends.  You can steer what type of comment you would like, or even offer a voucher to everyone who comments (although this could be open to abuse as not everyone will be complimentary!)

Best photo using your product – this is a fairly common competition, but does feel fresh with different products as they bring a different perspective.  This also allows you to unleash your follower’s creative side, so it is a good way of starting a conversation with the audience and building engagement.

Which design do you prefer – when done genuinely well, this is a really powerful mechanic.  To offer the final choice of design sign-off to your Facebook audience shows a lot of guts from a company, but also a huge amount of trust.  The secret here is to allow yourself to be steered by your audience and follow it through by implementing their choice.

What does this describe – if you have a range of products which have a lot of features which you think are unknown to your audience, this is a good way of showing off the product without overtly selling.  For example, which product of ours has the following features…

One of the most important parts of a good Facebook competition is to target your post and prize effectively, i.e. don’t give away tickets to the ballet when trying to advertise toolboxes.  This can alienate your audience and encourage them to think there is no good reason to follow your page.  The second factor (and this is a big one) is to think your competition through – are there any loopholes which could mean it will fail, or is the competition exposing us to too much risk?  Important questions for any marketer.

And don’t forget to keep measuring your competitions – are they successful, and more importantly, are you getting what you want out of them?

Facebook ‘Like-Gate’ Ban

Facebook Like Gate Ban

Facebook Like Gate Ban

One of the big stories in social media this week was Facebook’s announcement that it is going to ban the ‘Like Gate’ from November 5th 2014.

A valid first question to ask, however, is what on earth is the Facebook Like Gate?!  When a Facebook page holds a contest, promotion or has an app which is only open to people who like their page, they are, in Facebook’s eyes, forcing people through the ‘Like Gate’. From 5th November, Facebook will not let you do this on your page. To quote Facebook:

“You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, check-in at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.”

Is this an example of Facebook flexing its muscles (some would say again), or is this a reasonable move by the world’s largest social network?  I think that this is a reasonable move by Facebook.  I don’t think that there are millions of Facebook pages which do this and most marketers would like to see as many people enter their competitions as possible, and forcing a ‘like’ a barrier to entry.  But there are more reasons why I think the way I do.

You need to be smarter to attract ‘likes’: We all know that social media is incredibly popular across virtually all demographics.  But this means that consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated.  So, unless they really, really want to win the prize, forcing someone to like your page to enter a competition is a bit of a blunt weapon to attract likes.
Why attract likes anyway? Traditionally, Facebook page owners wanted likes because they drove the size of your audience.  But it is no secret that Facebook organic reach, i.e. the number of people who like your page and see your posts, is in decline – Facebook would much rather you promote your message.  So, smart marketers are asking themselves ‘what is the value of a Facebook like’?

Like, wait, unlike: Unless you can demonstrate in a very short space of time that it is worth the new follower’s time to keep following you, they may like your page, enter the competition and then unlike your page – a waste of time, right?

Likes are a means to an end: While many CEOs would disagree, likes are not the key measure in social media.  It is all about engagement and communicating with your audience, not talking at them, talking to them.  It’s easy to lose sight of this, but it is important.

What do you think about this change?  Will you be forced to change the way that you market and communicate on Facebook?

Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram is not only responsible for people adding filters to images of their car park space / view from the office / colleagues / lunch, but it is also a very cool platform to engage audiences on.

There are more than 130 million active users on Instagram every month, so it’s likely that at least some of your audience is spending time on Instagram.  But unlocking the business opportunity takes a bit of creativity, so here are my top 10 tips for Instagram marketing success:

1) Integrate your content: It is likely that you already have a presence (and an audience) on Facebook, so integrate your content with that of Facebook.  You can easily add a tab within your Facebook page which populates with your Instagram images.  A quick and easy way to get your Facebook audience to engage with you on Instagram.

2) Hashtags: Like in Twitter, hashtags are a great way of connecting to new people and new content.  You should use them, but like Twitter, you should also use them in moderation.

3) Engage your audience: Appreciate that this is an obvious one and it’s easier to say than to do, but competitions are a great way of building engagement on Instagram.  Asking your audience to take photos of them creatively using your product is an excellent way of opening the door to interaction with your customers.

4) Share your follower’s content: You should show your appreciation for your followers by liking or commenting on relevant posts on Instagram, but you can also embed a post onto a website.  So why not create a page on your site that contains the best of Instagram from this month.

5) Use @mentions to drive engagement: This is a really nice feature on Instagram, you can use @mentions to direct people to your posts.  This is a powerful tool, so use it wisely, you don’t want to be accused of spamming.

6) Think outside the box: I know, a cliché, but the more creative you can get, the more likely your image will stand out – and no, that doesn’t mean awful stock images.  Think of different ways that consumer use your product, and have a play with the filters, they are there so utilise them!

7) Show off your brand values: A big chunk of the benefit that you will get on Instagram is in brand awareness and brand value, so your content should very clearly illustrate your brand and the values that your company stands for.

8) Use video: Instagram is not just for images – you can upload up to 15 seconds of video into your Instagram feed, so you can use your Vine content here too!

9) Geo-tag your posts to tag where the image is: Tagging your posts geographically is a great tool regardless of the type of business that you have – it’s useful for large scale businesses for engaging locally, or very local businesses as it makes them very relevant locally.

10) Keep testing: This is a social network, so you should always be testing – post different styles of content, post at different times, use new features, and track your results – it’s the only way you will get better.

Image via slashgear.com

How to avoid social media mistakes

Social Media fails

I saw some research earlier this week which showed that 18-39 year olds are more forgiving of brands, and I wondered if this was a result of social media – after all, it’s very easy to quickly make a mistake on social media, so today’s consumers need to be a little more pragmatic.

However, the same mistakes keep happening on social media.  Here are some of the more popular ones and how to avoid them:

Poorly timed Q&As:

  • Issue: JP Morgan’s ultra-optimistic #askJPM session attracted 8k responses, virtually none of which were constructive – the Twittersphere decided to take JPM to task for its part in the banking crisis of 2008
  • Solution: Ensure you get the timing right – it should follow some good news, not a PR catastrophe (British Gas held a Q&A the day after announcing a 10% price rise).  Also, it needs to be monitored closely by a team of people (not just those answering the questions), and have the relevant stakeholders to hand to answer any curve-balls

Scheduled Problems:

  • Issue: Marketing automation is a great help in social where the tasks can feel overwhelming.  However, Tesco had an issue with a tweet sent in the midst of the horse-meat scandal (“It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay. See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets”).  They took out full page adverts in national papers to apologise.
  • Solution: Check all of your scheduled tweets the morning that they are due to land – in many industries, things can change overnight, so make sure your post is still appropriate

Changing Passwords:

  • Issue: In January 2013, HMV made 190 staff redundant with immediate effect…including someone with access to the Twitter account.  So they live tweeted from the meeting, ending in the legendary “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks!) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?”
  • Solution: It’s a really simple one here – firstly, change your passwords regularly and only share them with the core people who need to know.  And if someone leaves, make sure that you change the password and revoke access to any social media and content management systems.

Keep your views to yourself:

  • Issue: In 2012, Chick-Fil-A got into hot water after the company’s founder spoke out against same-sex marriages – cue the Facebook page being flooded about non-clucking content.  However, what they did next was probably the biggest error of judgement in this article: it was accused of creating a fake Facebook which defended the company’s position.  While Chick-Fil-A deny that they created the account, the damage was done.
  • Solution: You need to really think before you post.  It is easy to react quickly to a critical post, but you should take a deep breath and remember that you are talking to a group of potential customers – treat them as you would in the off-line world.

And if you do have a problem, admit it, hold your hands up and say sorry – mistakes will happen, but trying to cover them up in a world of transparent communications will rarely work.  What are your favourite social media howlers and what can we learn from them?

Image via dashburst.com

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising

Following on from my post last week about Twitter advertising, I thought that I should also cover advertising on the other major social network, Facebook.

As the world’s largest social network, just over 1.2 billion members at the last count, and with each user having an average of 338 friends, the news feed is a tough place to get your message to stand out – particularly if you only have a small number of likes on your page.

Facebook is a commercial organisation, and it is entitled to start to monetise the network.  That’s why the only way to guarantee that people see your post is to advertise.  If you have people who have liked your page, they will see every post that you make only if they regularly interact with your content (i.e. like, comment or share).  Otherwise, Facebook will ‘filter’ the amount of content that is seen by your fans.

So, what are your options when advertising?  Helpfully, Facebook starts (as all good marketers do) with what results you would like:

Page Post Engagement: if you have a particular post which you think is great and sums up your page, then choose this option – it will promote an individual post, so make the media interesting (e.g. video, infographic, etc.)

Page Likes: a great idea if your audience is relatively small – get your page seen by people who don’t like your page yet – a quick way to get targeted followers (you can target later in the process)

Clicks to Website: these ads appear in the right hand column and will take users directly to the URL of your choice; a handy display advertising tool

Website Conversions: to use this, you will need to add some tracking code to your website to measure the results, but this tool will help you drive people to a particular action

App Installations: this tool will help you to drive the number of people using your Facebook app up…

App Engagement: …and this tool will encourage people to use your app more!
Event Responses: if you have an event already created in Facebook, you can create an advert to support this event – very useful in specific industries

Offer Claims: this has been growing in popularity over the last few months.  If you have an offer that you would like to promote, this will appear in news feeds and show users who in their network has already claimed the offer.  As ever, be careful of over-redemption!

I think that at the moment, many people baulk at the idea of spending money on social media: after all, it’s meant to be free isn’t it?  But I think the sheer size of the networks, the amount of content being shared (i.e. noise) and an improvement in the tools provided by the networks themselves will make social media advertising the norm by the end of 2014.

What do you think?