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ATTN Small Businesses: Major Changes Coming Soon to Facebook Fan Pages

December 15, 2009
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Scheduled to occur sometime between late 2009 and early 2010, some major changes are coming to Facebook Fan Pages. My first instinct is that the changes below are going to significantly impact small businesses and in some cases, not in a good way. I think those businesses with national and international brand recognition, lots of fans, and technical resources will benefit and the changes will hardly affect them. But small businesses are going to have a harder time with the new Pages, at the very least initially, because:

1) Status Updates showing up in the News Feed to all fans is no longer guaranteed.

90% of the power of a Facebook Fan Page is being able to post Status Updates that can be viewed by fans in their News Feed. People don’t seem to read “Updates” much and don’t generally of their own free will visit and participate in your Page, so the vast majority of participation happens in the News Feed via regularly posted Status Updates.

When the new Pages launch, if your business’ Status Updates will show up in the News Feed will depend upon one of those mysterious Facebook algorithms. The Status Update algorithm will be based mostly on how many “Thumbs Up” or “Comments” your Page gets. Purchasing advertising from Facebook will also increase your odds of showing up in the News Feed more often. But if you don’t purchase advertising, or regularly receive Thumbs Up or Comments, then your Page and your Facebook strategy could easily stagnate. Engagement is now a lot more important. Having a good community builder as your Facebook Admin will be essential.

There is one possible silver lining here, and explains now why Facebook launched the “Live Feed”. Hopefully when the new Pages go live all Facebook Page Status Updates will continue show up in the Live Feed. At this point there is no way to know for sure, but Justin Smith of Inside Facebook says: “Even in the new Live Feed, Facebook chooses a subset of friends and connections if you have more than 250 overall, though you can increase that default number – to see all Pages updates, users will need to click on the “Pages” filter in the left hand menu.”

Thus, there is a good possibility that all Status Updates will continue show up in the Live Feed, but it might require your fans with more than 250 friends or connections to changes their Live Feed Settings and opt-in to receive your Status Updates in their Pages filter. It would stun me if Facebook completely shuts out small businesses and other less known brands from the News Feed and Live Feed. I know Facebook needs more revenue, but this would be detrimental to their long-term brand. They have to know that. The question now becomes will Status Updates in the Live Feed be as valuable in terms of ROI as the News Feed?

2) The Boxes Tab will disappear.

I don’t think many fans actually click on the “Boxes” Tab on Facebook Fan Pages. As I mentioned above, I think 90% of the power of a Facebook Fan Page is in the Status Update. That said, under the new design Boxes and the Boxes Tab will be removed and any current content offered in them will disappear immediately upon the new Pages launch. It’s unclear what will be in the left column of your Facebook Page when the new Pages launch (or if there will even be a left column), but from what I am reading, the new Facebook Fan Pages will be built entirely around Tabs. For small businesses that means your Facebook tech skills are going to have to get much more advanced. You are either going to have to learn html to be able to utilize the Static FBML App to create your own customized Tabs, hire someone to do it, or you’re going to have to utilize services like Involver and Sprout.

I haven’t heard an outcry from developers about these upcoming changes, so perhaps the Boxes Apps will live on? [UPDATE: Most Boxes Apps will become Tabs] Facebook has said that all the content of the Boxes App will disappear (html, graphics, RSS feeds, etc), but the question remains are the Boxes Apps gone for good, or are they just be shifted around? Again, we will just have to wait and see.

3. The Tabs width will shrink from 760 pixels wide to 520 pixels.

This means if you currently use the Static FBML App to create custom Tabs, such Honda and Coca-Cola, then you are going to have to re-design your Tabs. If not, they might look broken or poorly designed. I have never actually found a small business that knows how to use the Static FBML App to create custom Tabs… the webinar How Small Businesses Can Successfully Use Facebook Pages and Twitter is essential.

4. The ability to extract the e-mail addresses of your Fans will become available… maybe.

If your small business has created a Facebook Page App or plans to, then there is a new API which your App developer can tap into to prompt users of the App for their e-mail address. This will initially only affect a very few businesses, but down the road my guess is a company will use this new API to create a Facebook Fan Page App that will allow small businesses to extract e-mail addresses of fans for free or for a low-monthly fee. Such an App does not yet exist, but has been something small businesses have wanted for almost two years… wonder who will do it first? My guess is Involver or Sprout.

What do you think? Will small businesses will adjust to these changes like they have to previous changes before, or are these changes so dramatic that small businesses will abandon Facebook or at the very least, less likely to put so much effort into building their fan base? Or will it prompt them to become better at using Facebook? Do you think these changes could help small businesses in the long run?

Related Articles and Resources:
Webinar: How Small Businesses Can Successfully Use Facebook and Twitter

5 Things All Page and Brand Managers Should Know
Alert! Facebook Pages Are Changing: Are You Ready?
Note to Agencies and Page Managers:

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100 Word Review: Google’s Real-Time Search for Small Businesses

December 9, 2009

Many businesses still struggle with how to measure Social Media ROI and are not so clear on what exactly the benefits are of utilizing social media. An obvious benefit is about take front and center stage in a few days when Google launches their Real Time Search to the public. If your business is not utilizing social media, then the only content that will show up is what others are saying about your business. Businesses that do utilize social media will have more control and will show up in real time results more often. Here’s a video demo from Google:

HOW TO: Create Videos for Your Small Business Without a Video Camera, a Budget of $0, and Little-to-No Tech Skills

December 3, 2009

Animoto is a service that allows you to easily create videos about your products or services simply using a selection of your best photos. Within a few minutes and a couple of clicks, your business could have a new promotional video that you can use on your Web site, your Blog, in your e-mail newsletters, and on social networking sites. An Animoto video created by Herman Chan of Prudential Real Estate  is great example of how to use Animoto videos:

The first step is to create an account. Then click “Create Video” and upload 15 photos for a 30-second video. Then choose a song from Animoto’s music gallery and finally click “Create Video”. That’s it! Animoto automatically then creates a slideshow of your photos synchronized to the tempo of the music you have chosen. You can also embed text in your Animotos videos.

A couple of things to notice:

1) People can “Share” your videos on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and via E-mail with one-click. People can also copy and paste embed code for the video allowing them or you to post the video essentially anywhere on the Web.
2) People can leave comments.
3) You can see how many people have viewed the video.

Animoto also offers  Pro Accounts which allow businesses unlimited use, YouTube integration, and the ability to create videos longer than 30 seconds.  Animoto also has an iPhone App that allows you to create videos on the go, and a Facebook App that creates videos for your Facebook Page using photos from your Page’s albums. You can also easily create an “Animoto” Tab for your Page under “Application Settings”.

Finally, for those businesses that have video clips, you can use Animoto to create videos that combine photos and video clips. See Mashable’s Animoto Now Lets You Remix Video Clips; It’s Simply Awesome for more information and an example.

To learn more about how to use Animoto for your small business, Small Business Tech 2.0 offers a webinar on How Small Businesses Can Successfully Use LinkedIn, YouTube and Animoto.

Twitter Best Practices for Small Businesses

November 22, 2009
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Please Note: Three new best practices are added each month. Please subscribe to the Small Business Tech 2.0 e-newsletter to be alerted when new Twitter best practices have been posted.

1. Authenticity before marketing. Have personality. Build community.

Those small businesses who are most successful at utilizing social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace know from trial, error, and experience that a Web 1.0 marketing  approach on social networking sites does not work. Traditional marketing content is perfectly fine for your Web site and e-mail newsletters, but Web 2.0 is much more about having personality, inspiring conversation, and building online community. Nowhere is this more true than on Twitter. Relax, experiment, let go a bit… find your voice. Be authentic.

2. Be nice. Be thankful. Reply and ReTweet!

Twitter is a great exercise in practicing Karma. The nicer you are to people in the Twitterverse, they nicer they are to you in return. The more you ReTweet (RT) others, the more they will RT you in return. And whether it’s Twitter, MySpace, Facebook or YouTube, if someone does something nice for you in the online public commons, it is always a good practice to send them a message of “Thanks… much appreciated!”. Kindness and appreciation will make you stand out from the others and makes an excellent impression.

3. Don’t Tweet about your coffee (unless you sell coffee), the weather, or how tired you are.

Provide value to your followers, not chit-chat! It’s one thing to chit-chat about the weather, your headache, or how you need coffee to wake up in the morning on your personal profile on Twitter, but it’s quite another if you are active on the Twitterverse via your business profile. The messages you send reflect upon your business. Example of what not to Tweet: “Got stuck in traffic this morning. Ugh! I need coffee and a vacation… and I think I am getting a headache!” No one likes a whiner. Let me say that again. No one likes a whiner. People follow you because they want good content from your business and updates about your products and services. Make sure your Tweets provide value and are Re-Tweetable.

4. Don’t only Tweet your own content.

Twitter is a news source. Participate in spreading the news. Tweet articles or blog posts by your favorite newspapers, bloggers, or  local Chamber of Commerce. If is a good read or a good resource, it reflects well upon your business that you Tweeted it. There is also a good chance you might get ReTweeted if the article is deemed timely and worthy by the Twitterverse. The more often you are ReTweeted, the more often potential new customers see your brand on Twitter.

5. Send messages, but not via auto-responders.

There are tools out there that will automatically message your new followers. Don’t use them. It’s Spam. It’s not authentic. It’s robotic. It’s lazy marketing. I think this cartoon sums up auto-responders perfectly.

6. Create an account on Bit.ly and track your Twitter referral URLs.

After you have created an account on Bit.ly, every website address that you shorten can be tracked. It allows you to view stats on exactly how many people click the links you post on Twitter, what country they live in, and then how many people RT your link and share it on Facebook. This is a crucial best practice so you can track ROI and discover what content your followers are most interested in reading.

7. Poll your followers to increase participation.

Twtpoll.com is a free service that allow your to create polls with your Twitter ID. Folks on Twitter love anonymous polls, especially if they are bit controversial. Polls often get ReTweeted which can be great exposure for your business. Also, keep in mind that the polls can be posted on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.

8. Promote your Twitter profile on your website , Facebook Page, blog, etc. and vice-versa.

If your business has a website and/or blog, grab the Twitter icon and put it on your website (Example), Facebook Page (Example), etc. Most blogs also offer Twitter widgets (see right) that post you most recent Tweets directly on your blog.

9.  Use #hashtags strategically.

If you use hashtags too often, then you dilute their usefulness. If every one of your tweets has a hashtag, some people will question your intentions for using them. There is such a thing as hashtag spamming. In the case of hashtags, I am a firm believer in less is more.

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10. Get professional training on how use Twitter!

Knowing how to use social media in your personal life is quite different from knowing how  to use it professionally. Training is essential for launching and maintaining a successful social media strategy for your business. Be sure to take Small Business Tech 2.0’s webinar on How Small Businesses Can Successfully Use Facebook and Twitter.

Four Most Common Mistakes Made by Small Business Admins on Facebook

November 19, 2009

As I was browsing through Facebook today looking at Pages created by small businesses, I was quite surprised to see that many still really don’t understand the Facebook Page tool set. Here are four of the most common mistakes being made by Small Business Admins on Facebook:

1) Not knowing how to use Apps on Facebook Pages.

When you create a new Facebook Fan Page, the page automatically comes with 6 native Apps: 1) Photos 2) Videos 3) Discussion Boards 4) Notes 5) Links and 6) Events. Facebook Pages don’t really get interesting or fun until you start adding and using the Static FBML App, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr Apps, the Social RSS App, the Flash Player App, etc. There are thousands of Apps in Facebook’s Application Gallery.

If you have never added an App to your business Facebook Page, then you still have some work to do. Also, if you are not dragging and dropping boxes/Apps on your home view, or dragging and dropping Tabs, and if you have no idea what I am talking about, then you need to get some training on how to use Facebook Pages. :)

2) Not understanding the value of community building on Facebook.

If you aren’t getting any “Likes” or “Comments” on your Wall in response to your Status Updates, then you haven’t found your Facebook voice and you need to be posting a different kind of content. Facebook is not about one-way communication. It’s not just about pushing out information about your product or service to your fans. It is about interaction and engagement. The best community builders understand this and pose questions to their fans, stimulate conversation on their Wall, and rarely post press release-like content on their Facebook Page. 90% of the power of a Facebook Page is in the Status Update, and if yours aren’t getting any action, then you need reevaluate what kind of content your posting.

3) Posting too many Status Updates.

Small businesses shouldn’t be posting more than one or two Status Updates a day. Some are posting three to four Status Updates a day, sometimes one right after another. It is way too easy for individuals to “Hide” a business from their News Feed and nothing will do that faster than posting too many Status Updates.

4) Not reserving a Facebook Username for your Page.

I guess a lot of smallbusinesses haven’t heard the news that after your page reaches 100 fans, you can reserve a Facebook Page Username at www.facebook.com/username. I saw at least 10 well-known national brands today on Facebook that had not yet done this. You better hurry. Over 80,000,000 usernames have been taken already!

Five Fun and Fabulous Twitter Tools for Small Businesses

November 16, 2009
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The number of third-party Twitter Apps has exploded over the last year. Twtbase currently lists over 500 of them, and I have highlighted five of my favorites for small businesses:

1) TwtQpon: TwtQpon is an online coupon creator that helps you to create and distribute coupons on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

2) Twilk: Twilk allows you to create a Twitter collage of your Followers that you can upload as a new background to your Twitter profile.

3) Trottr: Trottr allows you to record brief audio messages with your cell phone that are then hosted on the Trottr Web site. After you record a message, you are given a URL for the message that you can post on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. It’s a unique way to offer special promotions and occasional Tweet Outs.

4) BubbleTweet: BubbleTweet allows you to embed a video directly on your Twitter profile. It can be very annoying to go to a website that starts talking at you [even worse, plays music], so use BubbleTweet sparingly. Perhaps to post a holiday message or announce a new line of products?

5) TwitPay: TwitPay allows small businesses to accept micropayments from individuals on Twitter. Both the business and the individual needs to have a PayPal account.

In my webinar covering Facebook  and Twitter, I cover all five of these tools, as well as 10 others that are useful to small businesses. Tweeting and ReTweeting is powerful in and of itself (that’s been my experience), but using some of these third party tools can really transform your Twitter strategy!

Webinar: How Small Businesses Can Successfully Use LinkedIn, YouTube and Animoto

November 14, 2009

Date: Thursday, January 7, 2010
Time: 10am PST
Duration: 2 hours
Individual Price: $60
Group Price: $249 for special login to project webinar in a conference room with unlimited attendees.

With a network of over 50 million professionals worldwide, LinkedIn has become an immensely powerful social networking website. Small businesses are increasingly participating in the LinkedIn community through LinkedIn Groups, Company Pages, and Personal Profiles. This Webinar will teach you how to successfully create, manage, and promote a LinkedInGroup for your small business, highlight best practices and demonstrate click-by-click how to manage subgroups and announcements, as well as how to inspire news, discussion, and participation in your LinkedIn Group. The webinar will also cover Company Pages and how to use your personal profile on LinkedIn to benefit your business by utilizing Network Updates, Answers, and Apps.

In addition, the webinar will demonstrate how to create and design a YouTube channel and demonstrate and demonstrate Animoto’s video creation service for small businesses. By 2013, Cisco predicts that 90% of all consumer IP traffic will be video, so make sure your small business is prepared.

The webinar will be given by Heather Mansfield, creator of the the Small Businesses Twitter Profile, Small Businesses Facebook Page, the Small Businesses MySpace, and the owner of DIOSA | Communications. Heather built her business using social media and has become a leading expert on how small businesses and nonprofit organizations can utilize these powerful new tools. As one of the first social media trainers in the United States, Heather has given over 300 webinars and trainings on how small businesses and nonprofit organizations can successfully utilize social media.

To Register for this Webinar:

1. Email the name, title, business name, and email address of each person attending to: heather@diosacommunications.com

2. You will then be sent an invoice via PayPal. You can pay with Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, or PayPal. Sorry… no checks.

3. Once payment is confirmed, each participant is then emailed their webinar login and conference call information.

Please Note: There are no refunds, but if your schedule changes and you can not attend the webinar, you will receive a credit for a future webinar. Please email us before the webinar to let us know that you will be unable to attend.

Also, no toll free number is provided for the audio portion of the webinar. In the case of technical difficulties, registrants will be able to participate in a future webinar.

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