facebook

It seems like even the laggard brands are now finding their way on Facebook. And what better way to kick things off than running a big promotion with a big prize. Wrong. Brands are relying too heavily on "going viral" and "amplification through social networks" and "sharing". As a result there are far too many social media promotions happening at the moment producing less than average ROIs. Big budget promotions are only receiving very little uptake. It's pretty much the reason I recently won a car. In fact right now I am in with a pretty good chance to win $10,000 in a video competition...

About a year ago, I wrote how it was possible to merge unofficial Facebook pages if you had a big enough media buy.However a recent change now means that anyone can apply to have fans migrated from an unofficial page over to an official one, even without a contact as Facebook. Although they don't promote it much, the steps are quite simple and are as follows:You will need to 'authenticate' your official page by submitting it for review here (it doesn't look legit but it is!). This may take up to a few business days to complete.Once authenticated, you can request that the fans from unofficial pages be migrated across to the official one here. Again, this may take a few days.This is not normally the type of content I post here, but I figure it's a great piece of knowledge to have and is usually an easy way to get some fan growth. And at the same time you're reducing the potential risk of your brand in someone else's hands.If it works for you, be sure to buy me a beer sometime....

'Move fast and break things' is a philosophy I've stolen from Facebook's work culture. Anyone who's seen The Social Network movie will know this ideology is at the core of everything they do, demonstrated by the regular Hackathon events they host where programmers stay up all night building for the purpose of building. The outcome isn't necessarily important. It doesn't have to be perfect, nor necessarily functional. But by moving fast and breaking things, they approach problems in a different light that creates new solutions and new ideas. Many of Facebook's features have come out of these Hackathon events. So why am I writing about it? Well, I think it lends itself to great advice for graduates looking to land themselves a gig in digital; Build something. Building something these days generally costs next to nothing. A lack of technical skills is no excuse either given Google is at your finger tips. And the only thing you'll need you should have plenty of as a student; time. Time to move fast. Time to break things. Time to learn. Time to build something. As an undergraduate I built this blog. Everyone's got one now (not to say you shouldn't build one too), but you could build a YouTube Channel. Or an online store that sells socks. Or a video that gets 1,000,000 views. Throw yourself in the deep end. If it fails, pull the plug and build something else. Six months ago I started a website called Angry Birds Blog. Like me, I realised people were searching for walkthroughs, Golden Egg locations and information about the game. The website now receives 95,000 hits and brings in $150 a month. But that's nothing compared to what I've learned over the past half year about SEO, SEM, AdSense, affiliate marketing, design, coding, ad placement and more. And I reckon if you can build something, that's probably more impressive than talking about your empty resume in a job interview. Edit: I sold Angry Birds Blog in September 2011 for a nice little sum....

So how much is an invite to a Facebook page worth? I'm sure there's various conflicting studies out there, so I thought I'd do some research of my own. I asked people how much they would charge a brand to invite all their friends to the said brand's Facebook page. Some said flat out they wouldn't do it, others said they would do it for free and quite a few people said it would depend on the brand. With a sample size of 15 of my Facebook friends, here are the results. So there you have it, conclusive research suggests on average, an invite to a brand's Facebook page is worth 13 cents per friend. If you're taking this seriously (you shouldn't be), this figure is of course from the point of the consumer, not the brand. But what this does mean is that if a brand can offer something worth more than 13 cents for each of their friends, it will be worth an invite. Also, some of my friends are sellouts. ...

Here's some fun statistics for you that I promise I didn't make up. 71% of peeps are becoming more selective regarding the pages they Like on Facebook The two main reasons people leave pages are because updates aren't relevant or are posted too often. When this happens 19% of peeps do nothing, 38% block the posts from their News Feed and 43% unlike the page. As more and more brands jump on the Facebook bandwagon, the market gets to a point of saturation and fans start to get choosey. There's only so many times you can click the Like button. The first-mover advantage was a win if you got there, but you probably didn't which means you really need to be doing something of value on your page. Most brands think the solution is to launch with a campaign and a media buy to build a foundation audience. Which usually works. But once that's over, they spend the rest of the year when their budget runs out pumping out pointless status updates. There's only so many times you can ask someone to Like a status or fill in the blank. I know I'm guilty of it, where you write bait posts to crack a good level of engagement. But at some point people are going to start seeing past these shitty pointless status updates that don't mean anything. Instead, you need to be entertaining or useful. There's enough brands trying the former (most of them failing), but not enough for the latter. And I reckon one really useful post does better things for your brand and page than 20 pointless ones....

I'm going to call it the popularity paradox, where something becomes too popular and peeps turn away from the lack of individualism. It's in every aspect of our lives from avoiding mass fashion and art to paying out on mainstream music to not buying an iPhone even though you secretly want one but everyone else has one therefore you can't. Here's some interesting examples from Facebook...

Stephen King wrote the novel Misery that later became a movie of the same name. Although I've not read it, Wikipedia tells me it's a story about a women who rescues an author after he crashes his car in the snow. She recognises him as her favourite author of a series she's obsessed with. Locked in by the snow, she takes him to her home and nurses him for months. However she discovers a manuscript of his latest novel and doesn't like it. Her series is ruined and it eventually leads her to cut off his foot, holds him captive and forces him to rewrite the ending. I think social media, particularly community managers, are increasingly going to have the same problem. Social media is great for building a community around your brand, or bringing together an already established one. What you can then do with this group of evangelists is limited only by your creativity. But by bringing together this group of hardcore fans, you also bring in the fans that are a little too hardcore; the fans whose obsession with your brand becomes harmful. They don't quite fit the mold of your perfect target market, where their social awkwardness is not limited on platforms of such an impersonal nature. Their constant activity becomes spam and a slight wrongdoing in their eyes creates an unwarranted response. These obsessed lovers become haters. I have a friend who does promo work, usually giving away free samples. I found it amusing when she told me she was only allowed to approach consumers who were in the target market, but never to turn down anyone when they approached her, no matter who they were. Many of those who approached her would not reflect positively on the brand. But she dealt with them by keeping them happy, allowing them to move on. But with social media these people don't have to leave. These crazies can continue to interact with the normals and when you create a branded community, they think they're being encouraged to do so. And dealing with these people can be difficult. Particularly if you like your feet....

Google changed everything. Suddenly, everything became about search. You could find anything with Google.But this is changing. It is no longer about search. That takes time. Time to decide what you're looking for. Time to find the right key words. Time to filter the results.Instead, it's now about discovery. Where the content finds you.Where is this most prevalent? Your Facebook News Feed and your Twitter stream. And with the recent implementation of Facebook's Open Graph, content will come better recommended to us, with more relevance, drastically reducing the need for us to search.Eventually, everyone will have their own personalised Digg where the content is almost perfectly relevant, recommended from the people you want on the topics you want....

In one day, a Facebook page of ours went from 11 fans to 3,440. How did we do it? Well it's another benefit you have access to if you're willing to spend some money that earns you a relationship with the Facebook team. From there, all you need is an existing fan created page. Unless it's already being well managed (see how Soap approached the Bubble O'Bill page) a dead community on an inactive page is a waste. As it stands, these fan create pages are technically not allowed and are a breach of copyright/trademark/legal stuff. Facebook will delete the page and migrate the fans across to yours. You can expect a small drop off from fans who haven't heard from the page in potentially years, but also a fantastic response from a now ignited community who have been otherwise dead. And that's the quickest way to grow your fan page....

As I've said before, Facebook can continue to push users around with design changes and even privacy and get away with it. My opinion is that if you don't like it, don't use it. However they're in one of those unique situations where they have such a critical mass and consumer investment that no one is going anywhere fast. This is why they'll last far longer than MySpace. However, the people you can't push around are the advertisers, those that fund the social network. Facebook recently decided to make some significant changes to official page structures, and were fortunately forced to revoke them immediately due to backlash. And at some point in the indeterminable future, they're going to adjust the width of tabs. Nearly every brand will be caught out, and the agencies will be forced to fix them on their on dollar. While Facebook is happy to deal with those willing to spend some solid dosh, everyone caught in between aren't getting the love. And they may just think about asking their clients to invest elsewhere....