Facebook Graph Search Optimisation Hacks

This is part two of my Facebook Graph Search Optimisation series, here you can find my Facebook Graph Search Basics post.

Facebook’s Graph Search tips for businesses post gives Facebook SEO ninjas a number of key areas to hack away further to dominate Facebook Graph results. Initially I expect the low hanging fruit with the fastest return on investment coming from the following areas:

Content Optimisation

Screenshot-SearchBar-Photos

Because of its semantic nature, Graph Search initially limits the query strings to a set number of content types. Content that includes photos and keywords related to locations, times and events all adhere to the suggested query string format. Creating photo albums on your Page that mash up the semantic query types is the most obvious way to generate ROI from minimal effort here.

Likely long term wins, worth initial and ongoing effort.

Screenshot-PhotosOfFriendsBefore1999

Keyword Spam

Facebook gives Page owners the following tip “The name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.”

This presents an opportunity to attack the Graph Search algorithm through keyword optimisation in the above Page sections – the expectation here is that at least initially, the Algorithm will suffer from a lack of data to calibrate how it determines spam keyword practices vs genuine content. This Graph hack will likely require constant maintenance to stay ahead of algorithm changes similar to spammy SEO techniques for Google/Bing’s algorithm, in addition to detracting from the perceived value of Pages by fans, so use this sparingly.

Easy wins, but likely only temporary. Worth some attention.

graph-search-body-Inline

Sponsored Search Results

The hidden gem in the announcement was: “Pages and apps can still use sponsored results, which appear to people whether or not they have Graph Search (sponsored results have been globally available since August 2012). There are no new ad formats available today. Here is more information on creating a sponsored result.”

In my experience, the sponsored search results ad unit has been super cheap on a CPC basis. The new Graph Search results page style is likely to increase the quality of clicks and decrease your CPA from campaigns using this ad unit (Sponsored Results Ads in the drop down search box tend to generate a high percentage of accidental clicks). Being a first mover to adopt Graph Search PPC while demand from competitors is low is key to extracting the highest potential ROI while costs are at their lowest.

This Graph Search hack is more involved, and requires ongoing maintenance to ensure ROI as the demand for ad inventory increases, but is likely to be a massive area for growth for Facebook as they release additional Graph Search ad units as they attempt to expand revenue, opening up opportunities for Pages with experience optimising Graph Search Sponsored Result campaigns.

 

 

Facebook Graph Search Optimisation Basics

Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ feature will unlock new discovery opportunities for brand pages to reach those who are demonstrating engagement ‘intent’ with their Facebook Graph search query. Pages that optimise both their organic and paid content strategy for Graph Search’s semi-structured queries will out perform those who continue to optimise for Edgerank alone.

Screenshot-SearchBar

While this feature is still in beta, Facebook is priming brands for Graph Search’s full launch with a number of suggestions:

  • As always, continue to invest in your Page by making sure your Page is complete and up-to-date.
  • The name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.
  • If you have a location or a local place Page, update your address to make sure you can appear as a result when someone is searching for a specific location.
  • Focus on attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving your fans a reason to interact with your content on an ongoing basis.
  • You can learn more about fan acquisition and Page publishing best practices here.

Screenshot-SearchBar-Places

The above tips are the ‘bare minimum’ required to bring a Page into the Graph Search era. For first movers, there is a window of opportunity here to gain valuable insight in how to optimise Pages for Graph Search while it’s a novel feature for users and fans will tolerate your attempts to hack the algorithm through trial and error.

Make sure to check out my Facebook Graph Search Optimisation Hacks for Brands post for more optimisation tips.

 

 

 

 

 

2013 is the year of the social customer

In 2012, social media presented new challenges in delivering effective customer service. In 2013, the social customer will emerge as a true collaborator, and help you unlock the hidden value of your customer service.

As companies like GE have found, when your customer community grows, collaboration also grows between customers, partners and third parties alike. Key to GE’s success has been the implementation of Salesforce Chatter Communities. Unlike existing self-service online communities, this platform allows GE to bring together customers, partners, and internal resources to unlock a customer ecosystem with positive network effects.

 

Key Benefits of an online customer community:

  • Increased customer satisfaction and evangelism (+revenue)
  • Knowledge base increases product value (+revenue)
  • Fewer customer service interactions “call/email deflection” (-costs)
  • More “no contact” issue resolutions (-costs)
  • Crowd sourced and curated content for inbound marketing (+revenue)
  • Organic inbound links as part of your search engine optimisation strategy (+revenue)
Forrester - The ROI Of Online Customer Service Communities
Forrester – The ROI Of Online Customer
Service Communities

Sounds great, let’s do it!

Before jumping in, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Internally, has your organisation embraced the ENGAGE framework?
  2. Would stakeholders be resistant to publicly sharing your product’s issues? If so, develop a plan to achieve buy-in and overcome concerns.
  3.  Is your customer community network a ‘matrix’ or evangelist ‘hubs’ with spokes? (A matrixed community is more likely to be self-sustaining).
  4. Measure twice, cut once: Will you use cost deflection metrics? Net Promoter Score? Leads from community content? At the very least, collect the data to make these calculations from day one, even if the final metrics evolve over time.

Where now?

With these pillars in place, you’ll have a solid foundation for success. You may even consider opening up the planning process for your social customer platform to existing customers and potential community members – since they will ultimately determine its success in the end.

Make sure to check out Salesforce’s Chatter Communities and share your favourite online customer service communities in the comments below. Who are the standout performers? Are there any ghost towns out there to learn from?

Top Facebook Mistakes made by SME’s

It seems like almost everybody is urging business owners to jump into Facebook. The appeal of a free way to market to your customers seems like a dream to a cash strapped small business. Diving into Facebook isn’t risk free, but if you learn from the mistakes of others, you can avoid making a mess of it.

It’s a long-term commitment, and your time is money.

Like your business, you need to establish a solid foundation and a clear track record on Facebook so your customers see the value in becoming a fan of your page.

This means investing valuable time over a long period in something that may not reap immediate dividends. If the time you would need to spend working on your Facebook page could be better spent on your business fundamentals, get these right first, as social media is not the silver bullet that will save an underperforming business.

Don’t run from negative feedback

So you’ve set up your Facebook Page, posted some great content, only to have a customer spoil it by posting about a negative experience. Some business owners then run away and abandon Facebook entirely, or worse yet, begin playing a game of whack-a-mole by deleting the comments and hoping the customer won’t repost them or tip off the media about your censorship. Instead, this is an opportunity to demonstrate your business’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

If a customer cares enough to reach out to you through social media, they aren’t lost forever – dealing with this negative feedback and resolving the customer’s issue will not only repair the relationship, but in the long run it will establish a track record of your commitment to your customers.

Facebook is not all about sellingIt can be tempting to use social media to sell to customers. This is ok, but needs to be the exception rather than the norm. Your customers will engage with your Facebook page because they feel a connection with you, while pushing sales messages can be seen as spam.

Instead, give your fans an inside look at the personality of your business (or your personality as the owner). Once you have this foundation laid, the occasional deal or sales-related post is often welcomed by your fans (though your fans will be the first to tell you what they do and don’t like).

Things to avoid when running promotions

 

  • Tagging other people or pages in posts or photos. This is often seen as spam, and it is very easy for someone to report your page to Facebook for review.
  • Requiring fans use Facebook “features or functionality” as an entry mechanism. For example, requiring a fan to share a photo and tag their friends for an entry to be counted.
  • You can use Facebook features such as the ‘Like’ button as a voting mechanism in promotions ONLY if you hosted outside of Facebook on your own website (or as an iframe app within Facebook)

 

These aren’t the only things to watch out for, your best bet is to fail fast and iterate what you do to establish a feel for what works for your brand.

 

ADMA Forum 2012 – Managing Relationships in an Online Socially Connected World

Here’s my slide deck from my talk at ADMA Forum 2012 – Mostly just key stats and infographics that might be hard to follow without the audio. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Facebook advertising for arts organisations

Facebook advertising is a simple way to dip your organisation’s toes in the online advertising space. Organisations can either opt for cost-per-click (CPC) advertising or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) options for their Facebook ads. As a general rule, CPC based advertising on Facebook is the ‘least-risk’ option, with the maximum bid per click a safety net against running up CPM advertising with no guarantee of clicks.

Facebook offers both ‘Premium’ and ‘Marketplace’ ads, with Marketplace ads most commonly used, giving your organisation the opportunity to ‘self manage’ ads in much the same way as Google Adwords. Facebook’s premium advertising offers options such as ‘event’ ads that are ideal when looking to build audience numbers for an event (see example below) but require a Facebook account manager to place the ads in addition to a larger minimum ad commitment ($10k) to use this option.

Much like Google Adwords, Facebook ads are ranked on a number of factors, including ‘Maximum bid’ (either on a CPC or CPM basis) and ‘ad quality’ (Click through rate) determining whether your ads appear over your competitors’ ads.

Facebook has strict guidelines concerning what is and is not permitted in advertising on the site, in particular ‘illegal’ items such as guns and tobacco. For an arts organisation you are unlikely to run into problems with the guidelines, but they are worth examining to ensure your campaign complies and are ‘approved’ by Facebook’s advertising team (approvals can take 48 hours, but are usually less than 6 hours).

Examples of Facebook ads:

1) ‘Event’ premium ad, offering users who see the ad the opportunity to RSVP to your event, with Facebook users already RSVP’d increasing the ‘social peer pressure’ on the ad viewer to engage with your event.

2) Marketplace ads directing users off-Facebook to engage with your website. While directing people ‘off-Facebook’ leads to lower engagement (as most Facebook users prefer to stay within Facebook), this marketplace ad, because it is directing people to an ‘external URL’ lets the organisation use a custom headline (in this case ‘Win Kylie tickets!) as a strong call to action.

3) Marketplace ad with ‘Like’ option: This ad uses the ‘only show this ad to friends who like my page’ targeting option, with the ad-copy playing to that strength. The ad fails however by using an image that isn’t landscape in orientation, Facebook ad images need to be 110 x 80 pixels to best use the space available.Facebook advertising for arts organisations

Originally part of my blog series commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Facebook Applications

Facebook Applications or ‘apps’ give Facebook Page owners the ability to create a Facebook Page that is more engaging than the basic Facebook experience. Facebook apps’ primary benefit is that rather than sending fans away from Facebook to your own website in order to provide them a ‘rich experience’, you are able to keep your fans on your Page within the ‘Facebook environment’, with the result a ‘fan’ who is more likely to be engaged with your Facebook Page who interacts with it after using the app contributes to your Page by either posting a comment or Liking something on your page’s wall.

Importantly, Facebook apps give Page owners the ability to run contests and competitions within Facebook in accordance with Facebook’s Promotion Guidelines. Facebook mandates the use of an application to run contests within Facebook, explicitly prohibiting the use of Facebook features or functionality so people can enter your competition.

Facebook depreciated the Facebook Markup Language (FBML) that was previously used to create apps in March 2011. All new Facebook apps need to be HTML, JavaScript and CSS code that runs in an iFrame on your organisation’s page hosted on your own server. If you don’t have the resources to build a Facebook app internally within your organisation, you will will need to hire an external developer or agency to code/build you a ‘custom’ app (Prices range from $1,000 upwards of $10,000+ depending on complexity) or you can use one of the many ‘off the shelf’ platforms available for a more modest fee.

Among the best value ‘off the shelf’ Facebook app platforms are Wildfire and North Social, with prices from as low as $5 per campaign for Wildfire and $19 per month for North Social.

North Social’s app platform is more advanced, allowing your organisation to run up to 15 of their ‘apps’ on Facebook at once. North Social’s apps include apps that let you run your Youtube Channel within Facebook, display your Twitter page, as well as photo and sweepstakes competitions to mention a few. North social is harder to setup, and ideally requires custom design and artwork created to use it best, but delivers very good results for such a modest cost.

Facebook apps are a great way to create an enriched experience for your Facebook fans. Don’t use them as a substitute for getting the basics right, but rather as a way for taking your organisation’s Page to the next level.

Originally part of my blog series commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Facebook: One size does not fit all

Facebook offers two distinct ways for your organisation to engage with its community, that of Facebook ‘Groups’ and ‘Pages’. While similar, both offer distinct advantages and disadvantages worth considering before your organisation dives into Facebook.

Facebook Pages

Facebook Pages are becoming the de-facto standard on Facebook. If your organisation is looking to ‘own’ its official space on Facebook that lets you leverage Facebook advertising and applications you would opt for a Facebook Page over a Facebook Group.

If your organisation has its own website and is able to integrate with Facebook’s ‘Open Graph’ API, a Facebook Page gives you the opportunity to use Facebook’s social plug-ins the “Like Box” and “Like button” to link the two properties for maximum effect.

Facebook Pages also let your organisation target its wall updates so that the post is only visible to fans in the locations you choose or who speak certain languages by clicking the ‘Everyone/Custom’ button next to the ‘Share’ button on your post to wall box.

Facebook Pages are always public, with no option to ‘close’ them or make them private, unlike Groups below.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups, while similar to ‘Pages’ are ideal for building support around an idea or issue among a tight knit group (less than 5,000 members). With the key distinction of ‘Groups’ being the ability to send a private message or event invite to all members as a ‘rally cry’ or call to action for your organisation/event.

There are three types of Facebook Groups: open, closed, and secret. ‘Open’ groups are much like Facebook Pages in thatanyone can see/join them. ‘Closed’ groups are publicly visible, but group administrators can approve/deny all requests to join the group. ‘Secret’ groups are entirely invisible to people not within the group and are invite only.

Conclusion

For most organisations, particularly over the long term, Facebook Pages offer the best way to establish your “official Facebook presence”, however before establishing your place on Facebook it is important to consider the options for best targeting your audience, as switching between Pages and Groups will result in you starting over from scratch as there is currently no easy way to convert between the two options.

 

Originally part of my blog series commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Facebook 101

Facebook is a ‘social network’ that lets individuals, groups, or businesses establish their own ‘Pages’ in order to connect with others within the Facebook social network to share information about “what’s happening” in regard to upcoming events or to share photos, videos or links to websites.

As an organisation Facebook offers two primary benefits:
It allows you to manage your own Facebook ‘Page’, which can be a cost effective substitute to a website for organisations that don’t have one.
It lets you connect with fans and establish an online social network of advocates for your organisation, helping to spread the word about upcoming events, causes, or issues your organisation is involved in.

Establishing a Facebook Page is easy, simply sign into Facebook then visit the Facebook Page creation screen. Alternatively, visit the official Facebook Page for Facebook Pages, where Facebook communicates everything that is happening with Facebook Pages to its users.

Once you’ve created a ‘Page’ you will need to fill out the page with details of your organisation, starting with a Facebook Page picture. Your Page picture is taller than it is wide and will be located on the top left of your Facebook Page with a smaller square subsection of this image used as the ‘avatar’ that represents your page when admins authorised to post for your Page add posts or comments on Facebook.

From there, you will be required to fill out your page’s info, post an update to your Facebook ‘wall’ and ask your friends on Facebook to ‘Like’ your page using the ‘Suggest to Friends’ link for your page. This is an important tool that lets you leverage your personal network to help your organisation’s Facebook Page gain a ‘critical mass’ of followers.

Once your Facebook Page has attracted 25 ‘fans’ you can create a “custom Facebook URL” by visiting the ‘Edit Info’ link on your Facebook Page. Once you have claimed your custom URL ie: Facebook.com/myorganisationisawesome you are in a much stronger position to use this URL to promote your Facebook Page over the temporary URL Facebook gives your Page when you first sign up (eg facebook.com/pages/Cool-arts-organisation/123456789012345).

After you have secured your ‘custom URL’ start publishing updates about your organisation’s activities, and post photos/videos accordingly, asking for comments from your fans. From here, build your Facebook fan numbers by running Facebook Ads (if you have the budget) that leverage the Facebook apps you run on your Facebook Page.

Originally part of my blog series commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Second impressions on Facebook UI changes (Facebook un-screws advertisers)

Facebook Activity Feed Advertising Changes

 

1) Facebook just screwed advertisers over by making the ‘friendfeed’ hover over the ads when you scroll (Expect ad CTR to fall – why Facebook didn’t make the ads hover with the friendfeed as well I have no idea)

2) Edgerank optimisation of page posts seems less important now – with all news posts being shown most recent first (unless you can make that coveted top most relevant post position)

3) Looks like the experience will be best enjoyed by those with a Dunbar ‘normal’ 150 friends or so – those with large networks will be swamped with updates.

The changes are definitely aimed at Google+, which is more information sharing centric (in order to power Google’s social algorithms behind the main search engine results) – and is key to Facebook making the move to ‘social search’ and taking the battle to Google proper.

Overall I don’t mind the changes (but will have to adapt to them still), what are your thoughts?

[UPDATE] Second Impression: Looks like Facebook listened to advertisers – now the entire right hand column/activity feed/ads hover as you scroll down the page – keeping the ads visible, i’d be interested to see whether this actually improves CTR with the ads now visible the entire time people are looking at their news feed. (if anyone has any numbers – I’d love to see them)

Social networks and the age of the hyper connected disrupter.

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