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Category Archives: social media

The basics: Facebook timeline for brands

It has been just less then two weeks since Facebook Timeline rolled out to the general public, but as marketers we have been working with Timeline since it was first unveiled on February 29th. So, we have had a couple months to digest everything and while a lot of the basics are still there, it is essentially a complete remodel of pages as we knew them.

Here is your Facebook Timeline 101.

Customizing Your Timeline Page

Cover Photo

The Cover Photo size is 850 pixels X 315 pixels. Facebook has restrictions on what can be shown on your cover photo. You can read all about them here. The things to be noted are:

All covers are public. This means that anyone who visits your Page will be able to see your cover. Covers can’t be deceptive, misleading, or infringe on anyone else’s copyright. You may not encourage people to upload your cover to their personal timelines.

Covers may not include:

i.    price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;

ii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;

iii.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or

iv.    calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

In general the cover photo should be something that speaks to your brand. There are a ton of blogs out there showcasing the best and the worst of what brands have done with their cover photo. SocialTechPop.com has a good list, but maybe I am biased as I love their reason behind the fact that Virgin Airlines cover photo made #16 on their list.

Profile Picture

The profile picture that rests inside the cover photo is sized at 180 pixels X 180 pixels. In general most brands should consider using their logo for this piece of real estate. This profile picture is what will be seen in your activity stream and therefore is branding reinforcement. When the photo is seen in an activity feed it will be 32 X 32 pixels so ensure that your profile picture works at that size.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Proceed with caution though as even brand powerhouses can forgot that branding 101 rules should apply.

Tabs

Your tabs, which Facebook now refers to as apps, run along the bottom of your cover photo. You can have up to 12 apps shown, with four being on the first line. The Photos App and Likes App cannot be changed although the location of the Likes App can be. The Photo App will always be the first app you see.

Custom App Thumbnail

For any pages that have custom apps you have the ability to use your own image as the thumbnail for your tab. Simply hover over it, click edit, and upload the image of your choice. Image size should be 111 X 74. While you are in the Edit mode you can also change the display name that is shown below your app.

Your profile picture, cover photo and custom apps (tabs) are the basics of what makes up your Timeline landing page.

Content

Composer

Your composer or sharing tool is where you can post your status update, a photo, ask a question or record a milestone.

Highlighting a Post

When you look in the right upper corner of your post you will now see two options: 1.Highlight and 2. Edit/Remove

Highlighting a post is simply doubling the width of your post to have it span two panels. If you use this feature strategically you can really highlight the most important posts for your company. Personally, I also think that this feature has more impact when used along side posts that contain great images or video.

Wildfire App recently released data that showed that while the old Facebook pages showed the most engagement with status updates the new Timeline is showing increased engagement with photos.

Pin a Post

Pinning a Post should be used when there is announcement or communication that your company deems important enough to reside above all other communication for that point in time. Pinning a post, does just what it sounds like, and pins a post to the top of your status updates for up to 7 days. Even if you update your status within the 7 days your newest status updates will be posted below your pinned post. This is a fantastic feature for brands and I feel one of the positive improvements that we have seen from the new Timeline. It is recommended that you have pin a post at least once a week for maximum effectiveness.

Milestones

Milestones are key moments that you wish to highlight on your Page. This type of post is automatically expanded to widescreen and visible to all traffic visiting your Page.

If you wish to add a milestone, simply click in the composer/sharing tool and click Milestone. Add a headline, location, date and any details you want to communicate for your milestone. Select add a photo and then click save.

You can navigate to the location you wish your Milestone to be posted and click the + to post.

To add a milestone:

  1. Click Milestone in the sharing tool at the top of your Page’s timeline
  2. Add a headline, location, date and details for your milestone
  3. Choose to add a photo
  4. Click Save

From anywhere on your Page’s timeline, scroll to a spot and click  to post a milestone or other type of story to a particular date.

Milestone photos display at 843 pixels wide and 403 pixels tall. At this time, January 1, 1000 is the earliest date a milestone can have.

So, there you have the basics that can get you and your Facebook Timeline page up and running. Experiment with your page to see how Timeline changes affects your brand. Do you find that you are getting more engagement on pinned posts? Or highlighting posts? We are all entering the Timeline world together so if you have a tip or trick that people should know about Timeline pass it along!

Thanks to my clients Photos By KathrynFix Auto Canada and Willowbrook Shopping Centre for letting me share screen shots from their Timeline Facebook pages.

Social media & marketing strategy: 5 things to consider for the new kid on the block

Social Media is at an interesting junction right now. People that are in it have jumped in with both feet and fully immerse themselves in it. They have arrived at the party and are busy networking, making connections and strengthening their brand and client relations through Social Media. Those that have not jumped in are, well, thinking about it. They often realize that it is an important part of their business, but they don’t know where to begin, and in many cases are intimidated to enter a party where it seems everyone already knows each other.

If you have thought about what Social Media can do for your business. Consider the following 5 points about how to be successful in your efforts:

1. Social Media is part of your marketing strategy, not independent of it.
Don’t let the hype scare you. Social media is simply another channel you can use in your marketing efforts. Beware of anyone that tries to sell you otherwise. Your marketing plan should include social media as part of your strategy and ensure that each channel is consistent with your brand messaging. Many firms out there deem themselves as social media experts. That they may be, but if they don’t spend the time to understand your brand or ask about your existing marketing mix, so social media can be integrated appropriately, then buyer beware. They may just be a predator for those intimidated by Web 2.0.

2. Wallflowers need not apply. Engagement is critical to success.
Our world has rapidly shifted from a push strategy to a pull strategy. Instead of the company controlling the message, most successful social media strategies are engaging conversation with the customer and using the client as a brand ambassador.

If you cannot commit the time to properly managing this side of your business then maybe now is not the right time for your company. Social media is about immediate connection. Replying to a tweet that is one day old in the social media world is like replying to a customer complaint a year from now in the offline world.

A report released April 2010 by Social Media Examiner reports that the more than half of the marketers using social media are spending on average 6 hours or more each week. Each company is different, but ensure before you jump on board that you have the resources to commit to this time.

3. Don’t dilute your brand. It is not an all or nothing channel.
One of the common mistakes when making the decision to come to the social media party is to sign up for everything. People come to me, so proud saying holding their Twitter handle, Facebook Page, Linked In account, blog and You Tube account. Not every channel is right for your company. In marketing we often say that the smaller the niche, the stronger the brand. It does not necessarily make sense for a company to be everywhere. Analyze your company’s building blocks*, what are your objectives? Presence, relationships, conversation, identity, groups, sharing or reputation? Each social media site can fulfill different needs. Make sure you have a need that needs to be fulfilled and that your niche market is an active participant there, before signing up.

4. Be real. Authenticity will take you far.
Twitter and Facebook are not the platform to post your latest press release. They are meant to create conversation with your customers. Educate, engage and inform, don’t preach. Corporate speak and buzzwords online can be a faux pas. Save those for your brochure.

The greatest thing about social media is how genuine and authentic it is. Ensure that whomever is representing your company understands and can properly communicate the brand. Whatever individual manages your social media is essentially one of the most important people in your organization. They have the power to respond as the voice of your organization. The main point here is to not delegate this to the summer intern. Whomever handles this should be able both online and offline properly communicate your brand message.

5. Bad things can happen to good companies. Plan for crisis management.
We can’t always assume that things are all rainbows and sunshine in the online world. A company is putting themselves out there for the world to potentially see all their dirty laundry. Ensure that you have a plan in place for crisis management.

Decide how much control you are going to give to the person handling your social media. What level of authority do they have to solve or resolve a complaint or problem? What will the steps be in this process? In speaking with one individual who handles the social media for a software company, he spoke to the fact that he is given all authority to do whatever takes immediately to make that customer happy since words written online can never be erased. He laughed saying, mail us your complaint it will sit in the pending file for months—online, immediate response.

Whenever or however you decide to embark into the world of social media know that there are plenty of resources out there to make sure that you can be successful in achieving your goals. Perhaps even reaching some of the 105 million Twitter users, 60 million LinkedIn users, or maybe even one of the 350 million Facebook users. Look forward to seeing you at the party!

Additional Reading & References:

The Building Blocks original list was assembled by Matt Webb (who was expanding on a list created by Stewart Butterfield).

HOW TO: Implement a Social Media Business Strategy

2010 Social Media Examiner Report

Bar code marketing for small business

There is nothing more exciting than the feeling of possibility. I seem to be feeling that a lot lately, and when I started to analyze why, I realized that it is because I find myself always cheering for the underdog. Even when I moved to the consulting side I was very conscious of wanting to work for the little guy. All small businesses should have the possibilities that exist for mega corporations.

Platforms like FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, have all given the sideline player a chance to really get in the game. If that is not exciting in and of itself, the newest game changer comes in the form of 2D Barcodes (QR Codes). While QR Codes have been in play for sometime, Vancouver based company Mobio Identity takes it up a notch, by allowing consumers and merchants to purchase/sell using your iphone. They are set to expand to include Blackberry and Google Android clients in the fall. Each payment transaction contains unique “one-time” data that verifies the user but does not expose actual identity information to fraudsters.

If you are like some of my clients, who glazed over, right after I said Twitter. Let me give you a couple examples of how QR Codes and 2D Codes can be integrated into your marketing strategies and plans.

I have used a basic QR Code to generate the code pictured above. If have an (FREE) app like Mobio Identity on your phone, you simply open the app, select scan and hold the camera as if you were taking a photo of the code. It will ask you want to open the following URL in your browser. It will immediately bring you to the home page of my website so you can obtain further information. This is a basic way of how you can use QR codes in your advertising to drive web-traffic and provide information that maybe too lengthy or complicated to communicate in a traditional advertisement.

For the example of the 2D Barcode to facilitate a transaction, let’s say that you are a small business that sells a unique baby product. For this purpose we’ll use the example of a baby bottle. You have created a niche for your product and find that most of your sales come from word of mouth referrals. The problem is how to turn every interaction a prospect has with your product into a potential sale. Well, what if on your bottle, on the bottom you add the Mobio Barcode. Now, at the next playdate, when all the moms and dads are raving about your cool bottle, you simply flip over the bottle and show them the code. They hold their phone up, scan the code, and are instantly taken to the website to purchase one.

For non-profits the possibilities truly are endless. I had enough knowledge of the product going into my meeting with Mobio Identity today that I invited along someone I knew from a non-profit. This individual had a hard time containing their poker-face when discussions surrounding how easy facilitating donations can be with this technology. Typical example would be when sending out any communication, newsletter, and business card etc, your barcode is on the back. A donor just has to scan with their phone and can instantly make a donation. There is no downtime between evoking that emotion into an action.

Regardless of your business platform, one thing is certain; the analytics that will be present from this type of technology are endless. A company is not limited by the number of barcodes it has, which translates into accurate tracking of individual campaigns and strategies. Since your data can be pushed to you daily, the opportunity to adjust in real time is another key feature of the barcode.

One of the largest opportunities, I believe, lies in loyalty programs. Platforms likeFoursquare with over 600,000 users, needs a way to create the connection between the business and the user. There is an interesting article by Jack Aaronson that discusses just that and the foursquare business model.

It will be exciting to watch this company grow and see just where this technology can take us. Perhaps it will give an opportunity for your small business or non-profit to have your “Rudy” underdog momen

Creating Excellence dives into social media

Social Media has been part of my Marketing Plans for clients for a while. But, I don’t like feeling like “dabbling” in something gives me the right to consult my clients on how it can play into their business. In late 2009, I decided that I would pursue further education in this area and enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s Award of Achievement in Social Media. I firmly believe that Social Media is here to stay. What it will look like 2 months or two years from now, I am unsure. The one thing I can be firm on is that is has changed the way we communicate. We are an instant gratification society and social media is only fueling this further. We can ignore or worse yet, fear the unknown world of Social Media or we can decide to educate and embrace this new channel. For clients of Creating Excellence, social media has now officially been added as one of our core offerings so that we can continue to provide you with the highest level of knowledge and expertise in all our core offerings.

If you have a minute watch this fantastic video on the social media revolution.