Facebook

Facebook Advertising Campaign Management Enhancements from Marin Software

For those of you running Facebook Advertising, you’ll want to listen up to the recent updates Marin Software recently announced. Perhaps, better known for their paid search management software, Marin’s partnership with Facebook has put them at the leading edge of performance marketing tools. Facebook advertising tends to require more time and upkeep due to the quick stagnation of ad copy and plethora of targeting options available. The use of an automation tool, such as Marin, to manage your Facebook advertising is a smart move – especially after announcing their most recent updates.

Facebook Zip Code Targeting

Advertisers can now target Facebook users in the US by zip code(s). The desired zip code(s) can be set onn the Group setting page as well as in the Audience Template setting page. The application also supports bulk upload of zip code(s) to both Groups and Audience Templates, with values separated using semi-colons.

Facebook Zip Code Targeting in Marin

Facebook Topics Targeting

Topics targeting (indicated by #) is a new variation of interests targeting. Facebook aggregates sets of overlapping interests into single, targetable Topics, allowing advertisers to reach more of their desired audience no matter how Facebook users may have chosen to express their interests. For example, “#Cooking” lets the advertiser reach interests like “cooking”, “cooking tips”, and “cooking and eating”. In contrast, “cooking” includes only the precise interest “cooking”.

Contrast that to the previously released Broad Category Targeting (which are Facebook-defined “targetable categories” that are composed of likes and interests, apps people use, Pages they like, and other profile content FB users have provided), advertisers can reach people who like “Cooking” with a single broad category selection rather than adding every culinary activity individually, as precise interests. A key usage difference between Topics and Broad Category Targeting is that the latter has been optimized only to reach English-speaking audiences.

The “Precise Interests” section of the Group settings page has been renamed “Precise Interests & Topics”. Advertisers can input Topics targeting in the same text field as Precise Interests. Facebook-recommended Topics are included in the Suggested Likes functionality.

Facebook Topics Targeting in Marin

Add Multiple Facebook Precise Interests & Topics

Quick Add button is a companion feature to the “Precise Interests & Topics” section of the Group settings page. Rather than having to input and select each term individually from the Precise Interests/Topics typeahead, the Quick Add feature provides a time-saving alternative that allows advertisers to input or paste in previously prepared and optimized lists of precise interest and topics targets when they are ready to create ads.

The terms should be comma- or line-separated. The App will automatically match and validate them against the available precise interests and topics from the Facebook API.

For those of your currently using Marin, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new features and any impacts they may have had on your campaigns. For those of you considering a advertising management vendor, I hope this provides some helpful comparison points.

Making Your Facebook Profile Appropriate for Employers

Facebook is an incredible place to connect with friends, communicate with your favorite brands and catch up with far-away family, but it can also work to your advantage in your career and other areas of your life if you use it correctly.

With the explosion in popularity of Facebook in recent years, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to get a job, enrolling in an online education program or applying for a law degree program, you better believe that someone is taking a look at your Facebook page. Thus, it is imperative to present yourself on Facebook in a respectable manner.

Clean Up Your Photos

The first thing that people see when they look at your Facebook page is your pictures, so that is the first area to clean up and make sure looks polished. If you have pictures of you and your friends out on the town partying or embarrassing pictures of yourself you might be hurting your chances of networking successfully. Remove any comprising pictures, and replace them with respectable images that represent your life in an honorable way. Keep in mind that any picture you put on the internet is essentially there forever.

Clean Up Your Content

Next to the importance of pictures is the importance of content. The information you provide on your Facebook page gives visitors insight into your life. They will see your likes, dislikes, group associations, activities, interests, and will essentially get a feel for who you are. In essence, feel free to talk about your recent camping trip, but leave out the fact that you consumed far too much alcohol or participated in otherwise comprising activities. Be mindful of every piece of information you put on the site, keeping in mind that once you put something on the internet, it is on there forever, even if you delete it!

Highlight the Positives

It is also very important to highlight your positive qualities and accomplishments that would make you a great fit for any potential employers or school recruiters. Join Facebook groups of volunteer organizations you have worked with before, and be sure to list any relevant groups you are involved with to maximize your appeal to those looking at your page to get an idea of the person you really are.

Also, don’t speak negatively about groups or associations because you never know the loyalties the recruiter or employer looking at your page may have.

Whatever you do, just be sure to be very selective over what type of information and pictures end up on your page because it can be more influential than you probably think!

Facebook Posting via Apps Cuts Likes & Comments by 88%

Does posting to Facebook via third-party apps make any difference on the number of ‘Likes” and/or comments your posts receive? What about Facebook’s algorithm? Does the algorithm discriminate or suppress content management applications?

The Facebook Posting Test

The creators of Edgerank Checker, Applum, decided to try and find out by reviewing more than a million Facebook updates across 50,000+ Pages. The goal? To test the theory that posting to Facebook via third-party apps will not generate as much engagement compared to posting directly on Facebook.

The Results

Applum’s test results showed that posting via one of the top ten third-party APIs resulted in an average decrease of 88% fewer comments and likes when compared to posting to Facebook directly.

Why the Decrease?

Applum speculates that Facebook penalizes third-party apps within its complex algorithm. As you may have also noticed, some third-party Facebook updates are condensed into a single News Feed story.

This condensing action alone eliminates opportunities for the impressions and engagement you would normally get on separate posts.

Something else to consider is the simple fact Facebook users can decide to block all updates from any third-party app – which I know I have certainly done in the past.

Is the Content to Blame?

What about the content itself? Many posts generated via third-party apps tend to be scheduled or automated. This can certainly lead to weaker engagement as the content tends to be off-topic or poorly timed. Even worse, content from third-party apps is often not optimized for Facebook. For example, Twitter posts (which is arguably the most popular of third-party apps) do not normally include links with descriptions and thumbnails.

So is Facebook deliberately downgrading third-party apps? A Facebook spokesman told Mashable,

“We’re focused on ensuring that users see the highest quality stories in News Feed. As part of this, related stories are typically aggregated so users can see a consolidated view of stories from one app. In some cases, we work closely with trusted partners, such as Preferred Developer Consultants, to test new ways of surfacing stories, and gather feedback to improve the Platform experience.”

What have your experiences been? Do you work hard to post to Facebook yourself or do you use third-party apps? Will you be changing your strategy based on any of this data?

Facebook Product Updates: News Feed, Ticker, Timeline and More!

If you’ve logged into your Facebook account lately, it’s likely you’ve taken notice of a number of new features. With that in mind, I wanted to share some updates about Facebook’s most recent product launches and provide you with details to share with your colleagues and clients.

Facebook believes that businesses will be better in a connected world. With that in mind, it makes sense that they are pushing features and product enhancements that will connect their 800M members to their friends and the things they care about in all new ways. This initiative starts with the News Feed making it faster and easier to find and engage with the things people care about.

Facebook News Feed and Ticker

It will now be easier to keep up with the people in your life no matter how frequently or infrequently you’re on Facebook. All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are the top stories posted while you’ve been away. If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories at the top of News Feed. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy. Finally, you’ll start to see a real-time ticker on the right side of your home page that makes it easier to see what your friends are up to and join in the conversation.

Because these changes will help show people the most relevant content at the right time, we fully expect that the engagement on Page posts will stay constant or increase with this update. However, you might see some variations in the distribution the Page posts are getting in Page Insights.

Ads and Sponsored Stories will now be located right below ticker on narrow screens. On wide screens, they will remain where they currently are, while ticker will appear on top of the chat in the sidebar. Facebook has been working hard to improve the Facebook experience for users and advertisers and it is likely there will be new iteratations on the placement and behavior of these ads on the Home Page in the coming weeks.

Facebook Timeline

Timeline, a new kind of profile, allows people to tell the story of their life and share the things they do on their favorite websites and apps. This enables businesses who have Facebook apps to communicate with people and their friends in even more relevant ways. Facebook launched new features that make apps a bigger part of the Facebook experience. When people add your app to their Timeline, they create a permanent connection, which lets them include the activities they do on your site or app in their Timeline – pretty cool!

And because it’s always better when people talk about you than when you talk about you, you can make sure more friends see what people share from your apps using Sponsored Stories. So if someone reviews one of your products or watches a movie on your site, you can make sure that his friends will see it on the right-hand side of Facebook.

Product Update Summary

News Feed

All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are the top stories posted while you’ve been away. If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories at the top of News Feed. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy.

Ticker

Ticker will make it easier to see what your friends are up to in real time and join the conversation by simply clicking on one of the stories. Please note that ticker will only appear to people with enough friend activity (~75 friends).

Timeline

Timeline represents a new kind of profile for people to express themselves and will be rolling out in the coming weeks.

Open Graph Targeting

Facebook will enable businesses to reach out to people with ads that are more relevant for them based on the activities they take in apps, that have been added to their Timeline. For example if you are an entertainment company premiering a new movie, you can target all the people who have added a movie app to their Timeline and who are “watching” romantic comedies.

Sponsored Stories

Facebook will allow businesses to promote stories coming from their apps.

What is your take on the new Facebook features and layout?

Facebook Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Timeline Recap from F8

As you probably already know, Facebook made some major announcements during their f8 developers summit in late September. The important question resulting from these announcements is, what does this mean for advertisers? I will personally wait until some of the dust settles to make any hasty judgements, however, one thing is for certain: Brands will have to work harder at creating better content and experiences to get impressions and value out of Facebook.

Here are a few bits of info cobbled together from the f8 conference for your reading enjoyment:

Facebook Timeline

At a high-level view, Timeline seems like an interesting new way for Facebook users to explore their own content. The most common comparison is that it is “an interactive scrap-book of your life.”

What does Facebook Timline look like?

“Wow, that’s a great way to make my Facebook more relevant to me” You might be saying. You’d be right. There are some really interesting opportunities for making ALL content (both from the friends and brands that you follow) more contextual, where only the most relevant updates are given the most coveted Facebook real estate. Everything else is relegated to the ‘Ticker.’ A continually updating iFrame that pulls in lesser updates, likes, and other small actions your friends are publishing in ‘real-time’.

Whose Timeline is it Anyway?

For those who regularly work on trying to get brands more visibility on Facebook, this changes the game slightly. Context and relevance will be determined by engagement and sharing. One positive change is that from now on, Facebook users will not only ‘Like’ your content, but they can also ‘Watch’ it, or ‘Read’ it, or [noun] ANY [verb]. This is called “GESTURES”. That means that the simple act of participating in what we produce is now inherently a social thing.

Take for example, Washington Post’s Social Reader, launched yesterday in conjunction with the new FB rollouts. Social Reader allows users to share recommendations simply by reading. Be careful what you read, though, because it WILL share everything.

What else does it do? It displays content based on past articles you’ve read, and compares your listed interests (as well as your friends’ interests) to display contextual stories and articles it deems relevant to you.

What are your thoughts on Timeline? Do you think it will provide an advantage for brands advertising on Facebook?

Facebook for Business Launches Education Center Online

There has been a lot of press and conversation around the launch of Google+. One thing that has been glaringly missing from the new social network, however, is a ‘place’ for businesses to promote their brands – such as Facebook Pages. To make that issue even more obvious, Facebook has just released Facebook for Business – an online resource to help companies grow their business with Facebook’s powerful marketing tools.

Facbook for BusinessA Facebook spokesman says:

Facebook allows small businesses to create rich social experiences, build lasting relationships and amplify the most powerful type of marketing—word of mouth. We created Facebook.com/Business to make it even easier for people to reach these objectives and grow.

With Facebook’s amazing targeting features and improving reporting capabilities it makes sense for them to continue to push their marketing capabilities and continue to build the divide between themselves and Google Plus. Facebook for Business will provide details on all of the marketing options available including:

What are your thoughts – will you leverage this new Facebook business marketing resource?

Facebook Static FBML App Decommission Roadmap

I recently wrote about a Facebook security update for apps that kicked in on October 1st. It looks like Facebook will be making some changes to FBML as well in the near future. While you haven’t been able to create FBML apps since March, they still work.

That’s not going to be the case in the future. If you currently have old FBML apps which are currently grandfathered in, they will need to be rewritten or replaced by next June. Our recommendation is to make the updates even sooner.

From Facebook:

  1. January 1, 2012: FBML will no longer be supported. We will not fix FBML bugs after this date with the exception of security and privacy issues
  2. June 1, 2012: FBML apps will no longer work on Facebook. All FBML endpoints will be removed.

What this Means to You:

  1. Broken FBML apps will likely stay broken. You should no longer promote or depend on any FBML apps.
  2. FBML apps go away completely. At this point, any FBML apps should have been completely decommissioned or rewritten as HTML5 iFrame apps.

Resources to Migrate to an iFrame Solution:

  1. The Preferred Developer Consultant Finder on Facebook is a great tool to find Facebook Preferred Developers to help guide you through the upgrade process.
  2. Facebook and WildFire have created a step by step tutorial to guide your migration.
  3. Lastly, visit the Facebook Developer Blog to learn more – https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/568/

Do you use FBML apps? What are your migration plans?

Major Facebook Security Changes Oct 1 Audit your Applications Now!

On October 1, 2011, Facebook will make a mandatory change to all applications, as per the Facebook Developer Roadmap. Any affected application not updated before the change will become inoperable.

It is imperative that you audit any/all client Facebook apps/experiences in order to ascertain if they will be affected by these changes. Again, these changes must be made to existing Facebook applications (or inserted into current build plans for applications) – if not, these client applications will be rendered inoperable as of OCT 1.

We are sending this out now as the supported toolkits from Facebook were just updated and released and are now ready to be implemented against.

Recommended Audit steps:

  1. Identify and list all programs with Facebook integrations.
  2. Identify programs that will continue to be live after September 30, 2011.
  3. Work with your program’s associated tech resources to identify if program will be affected.

Facebook Security Update FAQ

Why is this happening?

Facebook has recently been the subject of many concerns about the level of security around the exchange of personal information with applications. This is an effort by Facebook to shore up their interfaces to prevent any exploitation.

Is this optional?

Unfortunately, Facebook has made this non-optional. Historically, Facebook has basically had the approach that changes like these have been part of the ‘cost of doing business on Facebook.’ They move fast, and expect you to also.

What will be affected?

Any application on:

  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Canvases
  • Non-Facebook site (minisite, client’s .com) using Facebook Connect

and using:

  • IFrames
  • OpenGraph
  • Facebook SDKs
    • Official
      • PHP
      • Javascript
    • Unofficial
      • Java
      • .NET
      • Ruby
      • Etc.

What will not be affected?

  1. Much older FBML applications – predating IFrame switchover.
  2. Site integrations limited to Facebook Social Plugins (Like buttons, Send buttons, etc.) that don’t do deeper Connect/OpenGraph integration.

What changes need to be made?

All applications must have valid SSL certificates and be configured to use HTTPS. This requires acquiring certificates and working with associated IT resources to install on the servers where the program is hosted. These certificates cannot be “self-signed” and must work with any modern browser without it complaining.

Integration code must upgrade to OAuth 2.0 and associated new Facebook authentication:

  • Apps using PHP SDK update to latest official Facebook PHP SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using Javascript SDK update to latest official Facebook Javascript SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using other SDKs must update in whatever manner appropriate.

In the Facebook developer console, under “Settings -> Advanced”, enable “OAuth Migration”.

What do we do if our app is hosted by a social app vendor (Involver, Buddy Media, Wildfire, Vitrue, etc.)?

Reach out to the vendor and ask them if they have a plan in place for the “Facebook OAuth 2.0 and SSL changes”.

It might be an annoying change to have to make but it’s nice to see Facebook putting some thought into privacy protection. What are your thoughts on the upgrade?

Facebook Marketing Ideas – 5 Tips to Generate Business Leads

Businesses have discovered Facebook in a big way, and are becoming quite adept at establishing their presence on the social network, both as a way to broadcast their messages, and also as a way to engage and interact with customers, or “fans.” However, only the savviest recognize Facebook as a way to generate leads.

Establish your B2B presence on Facebook, by all means, but don’t miss out on the opportunity for lead generation as well. Below are five simple ways to accomplish just that.

1. Link Your Content to Your Facebook Wall

The very first thing you need to do is to create links on your Wall back to your own content, thus providing your Facebook fans a way to convert into leads. The best way to do this is to establish a conversion form on the landing page, which will lead to some kind of downloadable content, such as a Webinar, or an eBook.

2. Use iFrames to Embed Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons

You used to be able to add CTA buttons on the sidebar of your profile in Facebook, but that is no longer an option. No worries—use iFrames to add custom tabs with CTAs, and then make sure they point fans to your landing pages for your special offers and downloadable information.

3. Increase Your Fans

According to a recent study, there is a direct correlation with the number of leads a company’s page generates and the number of Facebook fans they have. Think of it this way, every new fan you acquire and every “Like” you get represents a potential new customer and therefore a new lead. Hold contests or ask questions to generate more “Likes” and consider adding a button on your own Website that will link your customers to Facebook and recruit more fans.

4. Add Like and Share Buttons.

Make it as easy as you can for others to spread the word about your content and business by adding a share button to your content pages, allowing them to link your content back to their own networks. Along the same lines, add a Like plugin to all of your content as well, increasing your visibility and thus your leads.

5. Make it Difficult to Not Convert

What if you could offer conversion opportunities to your fans without ever requiring them to leave Facebook to do it? There is a way! Create an app for their customers that present fans with a conversion form immediately upon clicking Like, which will consequently increase your opportunities for generating leads. This is very innovative, and worth the download.

Have any tips of your own? Leave them in the comments!

Facebook and Social Networking Tools for Mac

Looking for places to market your products or services? While Facebook is the clear leader in targeting and reach, be sure not to overlook additional social networking sites such as Twitter and YouTube!

Just what is a social networking site and how can it help you?

It is a place on the Web where people of all ages go to chat with friends, interact with associates, or just browse. Such sites can be used to interact with people in all fields of interest, but they seem to be a particular lure for young people.

It’s not hard to see how a social networking site can help to market an online business. If your business were offline, you would want to place your ads in areas where the greatest number of people could see them, such as in a shopping mall. Simple put, a social networking site is a lot like a mall.

Social networking sites appeal particularly to young people and those with plenty of disposable income. This is probably the reason why bands and other entertainers have such a strong presence on the social networks. Authors, software developers, game makers, really, people from any industry can be found there. If you want to reach a target audience, you will go where the people are. After all, Twitter has 200 million members as of this writing and Facebook has 600 million. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at!

The right way and a wrong way to utilize the social networking websites.

Like other places on the Internet, neither users nor administrators like those who go around blatantly advertising their businesses on the social websites. This is not to say that you cannot advertise your business on Facebook, but you should remember that the site has an advertising program and you will have to pay for the privilege.

There are free ways to advertise on the social websites, but you must go about it in the right way. This means adding value and interesting content to your own page, as well as spending plenty of time interacting with others so that they are motivated to see what you have to offer.

Mac Tools to manage multiple social networking sites

There are programs for Mac that can help with this, and some applications work with more than one social network.

  1. Facebook Desktop from Bit Per Second – A browser-based application that provides an alternative way of accessing both Facebook and Twitter that some users may find more convenient.
  2. Seesmic – One of the more popular tools that allows you to manage multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  3. Socialite From Apparent Software – Provides an attractive interface for accessing Digg, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds.
  4. Yoono Desktop – Similar to Socialite, Yoono Desktop, which has a version for Mac, Windows and Linux and also allows connection with multiple social networks.
  5. RockMelt – A browser for Windows, Mac, Linux and the iPhone that also has social networking capabilities built in. It is the defacto successor to the Flock browser (which recently announced its end of support).

No matter how you participate, if you want to market your business, you will want to go where the people are, and nothing fits that description better than social networking websites.

Tim Arends authors Internet Mac Marketing where he offers a FREE 75-page ebook that covers everything you need to know about running your Internet business using a Mac, iPhone and iPad.