Category Archives: Discussion

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Google+ is not Facebook

This is a guest post from Nathan Statz aka @Sephyre.

There has been a lot of people throwing around ‘Google+ doesn’t seem to be happening’ or ‘I don’t see Google+ taking off’ of late. Usually this will be a Facebook junkie who thought Google+ was going to be this magical land that replicated Zuckerberg’s playground with a different logo at the top.

A no-talent hack writer over at Forbes went so far as to write a eulogy for Google’s upstart social network. There’s no need to point out what is wrong with the author wondering why nothing was happening on his Google+ stream, because he was smacked down by such a large collection of G+ users that he already wrote a retraction of sorts.

The thing is Google+ isn’t Facebook, and it’s not trying to be. Do you remember way back when you first started out with Facebook? You might have been one of the millions (myself included) that had a MySpace account, but your eyes started bleeding from all the animated gifs and bright colours. By comparison, Facebook was a grown up, clutter-free, and simple paradise to do all the things you could do on MySpace. It also didn’t have the stigma of being ‘for teenagers’. Suddenly being on a social network wasn’t just something kids do, it was starting to become mainstream.

When you started building your Facebook up, likely you added your real life friends, imported a few contacts from Hotmail or Yahoo, and used the feature to find other people that went to the same high school you did, or were in that university club you liked so much. Not only were you connecting with your mates, you were reconnecting with those you hadn’t seen for ages. It was like going to your school reunion, only without the awkward small-talk and forced smiles.

Now that almost everyone is established on Facebook, it’s always going to be tough for a new social network to lure people to it. LinkedIn did it by focusing on building professional relationships, and Twitter did it by focusing on small amounts of information and nothing else.

Even with Twitter’s popularity, it’s nothing compared to Facebook. There is still that reluctance for a lot of people to embrace Twitter, I myself took a while before I ‘got’ what all the fuss was about.

When Google+ first opened the floodgates and throngs of people poured in, there was thundering herd of Facebook fanatics that expected everything to be the same. They no doubt make up a large chunk of that ’25 million’ figure that is floated around all the time, but they also never really tried Google+.

It’s kind of like logging onto Facebook for the first time, wondering why all of your MySpace friends aren’t there telling you how great their background update is, and then never logging in again because ‘it’s not happening’.

You have to put a sliver of effort into populating your Google+ stream, but once it’s up and going, it’s so much cleaner, bloat-free, and just generally better than Facebook.

A lot of the confusion comes from the Google+ ‘circles’. I never quite understood what was so hard to get with that. I only have two circles. I have ‘Friends’ which is basically a copy of my Facebook contacts, and ‘Acquaintances’, which is for all the folks that have come across from Twitter, or I have found posting interesting things on Google+.

To be honest I just post everything to ‘All Circles’, but if I got around to putting up holiday photos, which I have to Facebook in the past, I would send that out to my ‘Friends’ circle.

In effect Google+’s circles let you use the network however you want. It gives you all the functionality of Facebook without random updates about how ‘Soandso needs 50 magical beans for ‘ or how ‘Otherguy got a high score on ‘.

When I first signed up to Google+ I wasn’t expecting much. I usually sign up to whatever social media network is getting hyped, grab my username, and then never log into it again. It took me a couple of years to start getting into Twitter, even longer for LinkedIn, but something about Google+ reached past my social media fatigue to motivate me to actually post and interact.

Maybe it’s the lack of bloat, maybe it’s the fact that it posts all the information anyone posts without an edgerank, or maybe it’s just the fact that it isn’t Facebook.

My letter to all the #telstradesire haters

Telstra gave me a HTC Desire to review as part of their ‘Social Reviewers Program’ this week, and what is most interesting is not the phone itself (which is certainly interesting), but the reaction to it by some pockets of the social media landscape.

As a background, Telstra chose 25 people (out of more than 2,000) from an application process to be a part of the program, looking at the list of reviewers it’s reasonably clear that while certainly a cross section of people have been selected, many at the very least have significant reach via social media or are influential to others through their medium of choice.

Now seeding products with ‘influential’ people is not something new, ‘cool’ marketers have been seeding the latest products with teenage influencers for years, be it sneakers, music or the latest Xbox game. What *is* different about the Telstra Desire review is the company is not seeding products surreptitiously with influencers, but doing it out in the open as part of a larger social media campaign.

Transparency is in my opinion, the only way to maintain credibility with an initiative such as this, and Telstra has been very clear from the start with reviewers that we are to make certain those with which we are communicating with understand that yes, we got a free phone, and that the company has asked to give our honest and forthright opinions through the process.

Now many have been critical of the #telstradesire (twitter hashtag for the program) review process, with participants being labelled as “selling out” or “prostituting” themselves to Telstra for a free phone. Participants in the program have felt it necessary to defend their participation as a social reviewer, including @trib and @mpesce, who both maintain that they aren’t in this for the free phone (And I honestly believe they aren’t).

Me, I’ve a long history with HTC phones, having had 3 (Windows Mobile) based handsets in the last 5 years, I’ve had my eye on the Desire for some time, but been cautious about splashing down the cash on an Android handset. Being a part of this program solved two problems, I get to try Android to see if I like it, and I get a free phone if it turns out I like it. (or don’t like it as the case may end up).

My point being, rather than attack the people who are participating in the social review program. Listen to what they have to say, understand that yes, their opinions may be influenced (even subconsciously.. it’s impossible to be completely unbiased, we all carry existing biases) by the free phone, but take that into consideration when asking whether you can trust what the person is saying.

Then make up your own mind taking into account any perceived bias, don’t be a hater.

I have been given a HTC Desire handset by Telstra free of charge to review. The comments expressed by me reflect my user experience and personal opinion.

When a company actually *gets* social media, it creates more than a customer for life.

 

My better half bought me a shirt a few months ago from ThinkGeek with a slogan on the shirt that read: When in Doubt, Try Another Hole (Tongue in cheek geek humour). When a hole developed in the shirt after only two months, my instinct was to extract the last value from the situation by making a joke on Twitter given ThinkGeek was an online retailer based outside Australia. So I tweeted the irony..

 

Thinkgeek shirt

 

 

To my surprise, 8 hours later I received a tweet from @Thinkgeek offering me a replacement shirt. Now I wasn’t angling for a free shirt, I didn’t even know @ThinkGeek was listening,  butby contacting me (a slightly frustrated customer) in my medium of choice (I was venting on twitter) they effectively neutralised what could have been a serious venting of outrage by a customer and returned me firmly into the happy ThinkGeek supporter camp. I certainly won’t be badmouthing their products or service in the future, and if anything I have become a brand evangelist for ThinkGeek (As is indicative by this posts existence).

Moreover, given the rapid pace of social media, ThinkGeek understood the importance of acting promptly and from when I Dm’d @ThinkGeek with the orders details, to the time the replacement T-Shirt arrived, was no less than 72 Hours. Given that there was a weekend in the middle of that, and I’m in Australia, this is an amazing response to what was a relatively minor issue.

Thinkgeek gets social media and the importance of doing the little things right. Creating goodwill amongst your existing customer base is one of the best ways to create brand evangelists who will create positive sentiment ripples for your brand when using social media. Monitoring social media with tools such as Radian6 to pick up mentions of your brand in order to act fast on issues raised in social media is an essential part of creating a social media army willing to put their reputation and social capital behind your brand.

**Update** I’ve talked to @ThinkGeek and they have confirmed they use a combination of Google Alerts and Tweetdeck to monitor and track their social media presence. Social media monitoring doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, these tools are a great first step to managing your brand online.

Why the language of #nocleanfeed dooms the movement to failure. **Updated**

With the Australian government seeking to push through their ‘clean feed’ legislation and effectively censor chunks of the internet from the public, an important fight over our rights as citizens has broken out taking the form of the #nocleanfeed movement.

A movement which suffers from a PR problem.

While the majority of the ‘internet savvy’ can wrap their heads around the lingo of #nocleanfeed, to a layperson, it would appear strange to be arguing that we want a ‘dirty’ feed. For this reason, the language of #nocleanfeed is unclear and does not serve the purpose of the movement. To succeed, the greater populace needs to get behind the idea, and to do that, we need language that they understand and can relate to.

A perfect example of this phenomenon comes from US political pollster Frank Luntz who when working with the republican party, nailed the language required to change support for what was the ‘estate tax’ (which a large % of the population supported, since they didn’t think taxing an ‘estate’ was such a bad idea) but when relabeling the estate tax to a “Death Tax’ (ie: you were taxed on your death..) it changed the support for the tax considerably as people realised this tax applied to them on their death, not some abstract concept of an ‘estate’.

This is what #nocleanfeed needs, the movement needs to engage with your ‘average’ voter and speak with them in their own language about how this will impact them in their daily lives. Pushing the idea of #nocleanfeed is too abstract a concept for these people and will not result in their support for the campaign.

My currently preferred choices for branding the campaign include #openinternet and #netneutrality, but these would require a wholesale reworking of all the efforts this far. Is the disruption worth it to change direction with the campaign? Maybe not, but I can’t see the movement succeeding in its current incarnation.

**Update** Some people are confusing my post as simply a call to change the hashtag and continue as we have been campaigning online. This is not my intent, fracturing the existing movement is counterproductive and would only be useful if an overwhelming number of people supported it.

What is necessary though, is the #nocleanfeed campaigners, when transferring their action offline, is a concerted effort to frame the language  in a way that appeals to Joe Public, saying #nocleanfeed to a these people conjures up the following:

1) Something that won’t affect their browsing, because they are ‘not paedophiles’
2) Something that will protect the children

But as we all know, this isn’t the case. Framing the issue instead as something (for example) that will affect their download speeds for legitimate sites, and due to errors in the system see their favorite overseas sites ‘accidentally placed on the list (as with that Dentist in QLD) is needed to communicate the everyday impact this will have on *everyone*.

I also really like the approach in the comments by @nicwalmsley below, so I’ve cut and paste his comment here to highlight his point.

Everyone still seems focused on the internal process within the various internet-based movements that oppose the government’s censorship policy. We need to forget that, and move onto the details of how we can build this into a popular civil rights movement.

Forget the internet angle – it doesn’t matter which form of communication is censored, it is the censorship that is the issue; the average person doesn’t care if the net is a bit slower; just drop the whole “free internet thing” – it’s not the point

Some censorship is right and proper and is widely supported – you can’t just say “no censorship” because it goes against hundreds of years of political philosophy and practice; don’t get bogged down in the technicalities of whether the government can or cannot block bad porn, just say “yes it is great you are trying to block that stuff, we all agree with it, but that is not the problem with your plan”

Focus on the fundamental problem with the Government’s plan – they are going to open the door to banning political content! Every conversation should quickly drift you, “yeah, but they are gonna ban political stuff like euthanasia and abortion and who the hell knows what else – you might disagree with it, but we don’t need to ban that stuff?”

We need the Liberal party to come on board. Sorry but they are the opposition and so if they say “sure” to the Govt then we have lost before the whistle’s even blown, but if the Libs see a sensible civil movement building up against this, and they can see that there are weak points in the Government plan (ie, political censorship), then they will do what oppositions do – seek amendments and frustrate the government’s agenda.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the idea of banning discussion of criminal activity, because it presupposes that the law will never change. If it is black and white, sure, but if it is conceivable that the law could change, then we should never accept a prohibition on discussing it.

What about fiction: are they going to ban a story about abortion or euthanasia or drug taking?

So it should be “No to Political Censorship in Australia” and the main argument we should be driving is, you can try and block bad porn and terrorism, great, but don’t start banning political stuff because there’s no saying where that will lead.

I still think the language used online needs to change, but doing so in a fractured way is only going to hurt the #nocleanfeed movement. @DarkStarSword created Twibbons for #netneutrality and #openinternet that you can use if you like. However I would like to see a phased transition to something like #openinternet with both terms being used for a time to see if #openinternet gains traction. But most importantly, what I want you to take away from this post, is that preaching to the converted isn’t the answer, we need to make noise in spaces other than Facebook and Twitter, that will reach the average voter in language that is appropriate for them, to create a groundswell of support sufficient to convince the Liberal Party and Independents that the clean feed is a bad idea.

Social media is not just another media channel, so don’t treat it like one.

I attended the SME technology summit last week where I sat through a presentation on managing brand and reputation online. The presentation dealt with such things as leveraging ‘new’ opportunities such as blogging for a branded media outlet (NineMSN for example) in order to manage your reputation online. The presentations content left me feeling that this was just old media PR in a shiny ‘new media’ jacket. Pushing out press releases to social media platforms is not an effective use of social media.

While it is important to engage your publics in their preferred environment, with social media platforms the preferred platform for many. Treating social media as just another channel for your brand fails to acknowledge how social media reverses the balance of power from your brand placing and gives it to your customers.

When I posed a question of how would you manage a crisis for your brand online, the old rules of PR crisis management came out. Simply publishing a press release on your companies blog is insufficient to manage a crisis with social media.

Why?

It comes down to trust.

Over time, those participating in social media have earned social capital with those in their networks, those people trust their opinion. Often to a greater degree than information from authoritative sources such as your brand. Working to overcome this trust differential begins long before a crisis starts, establishing a dialogue with members of the social media community is a critical step in your preparedness for managing a crisis online.

The motivations for people acting as evangelists for your brand is different than journalists acting as conduits for your information to traditional media. Journalists are only looking for the scoop in the short term, another notch in their belt, they have no strong relationship with your brand, they will push your story only when it benefits their needs as a journalist.

Social media brand evangelists have an all together different motivation, they have an intimate connection to your brand which has evolved over time, they feel like your brand is a part of their life and who they are as individuals. As such they are compelled to defend your brand in the same way they would defend their own reputation. That said, there will be varying degrees of relationship along a continuum from highly engaged to not engaged, however when crisis hits, it will always be those most engaged with your brand who will create the most noise in social media, acting in your brands best interests.

Failing to leverage the social capital of these brand evangelists will leave your brand high and dry when a crisis hits. Have you changed your PR crisis plan to account for the risks and opportunities social media carries?

How the Liberal Party just undermined the climate change skeptics.

If you live in Australia, it’s hard to have not been exposed to the turmoil sparked last week by the factional fights within the Liberal party over the ETS/CPRS legislation that was defeated in the senate today. With the leadership spill driven by the climate change skeptics within the party who believed that Malcolm Turnbull was doing the wrong thing by brokering a deal with the Labor party over the ETS legislation, believing the science needed more analysis or at the very least, needed to wait until after the United Nations Copenhagen climate change conference. The Liberal Party has in the process of electing their new leader Tony Abbott just ruined the best chance the climate change skeptics had in clawing back this issue from the hands of the Labor party.

Given the Liberals poor showing in the polls even before the ETS issue erupted (Worse than at the last election) the Liberals were likely to lose their majority in the senate at the next election. The Liberals only have a majority in the senate still due to the half senate elections cycle and the large number of seats Howard won in the 2004 federal election. With this in mind, the path Turnbull took in regards to the ETS was very sensible, he understood the likelihood of losing the ability to block the legislation after the next election, and regardless of his position on the science behind climate change knew that now was the time to negotiate a deal that would best serve his constituents. This opportunity existed because the Labor party is keen to be seen as a world leader with the ETS  and use it for political gain  around the Copenhagen conference, the time was right, Labor wanted action on the legislation before the next election, and the Liberals held the majority in the senate. But instead, by imploding over this issue the Liberal Party has ensured that after the next election, the Labor party will be in a position to pass whatever legislation they want without amendment.

While the climate change skeptics in  the Liberal Party never held a strong enough position to block the legislation past the next election, they held a strong enough position in the short term to win a number of important concessions from the Labor party to benefit their members. The Liberal Party has squandered this position, and ensured the worst possible outcome for their members and the climate change skeptics alike.

Critics argue Twitter is 99% noise, and they’re right.

This is a complaint that I often come across when discussing Twitter with non-users, they cite media hype and their own experience with Twitter claiming that the majority of tweets on the service are of no interest, or simply “people telling the world about their breakfast” or some variant on the inane comments theory.

They are right.

But they are also missing the point.

For any individual 99% of the internet will always be useless noise. For instance, when was the last time you went to YouTube and watched all the top videos and were interested in them all? I’m guessing never. Does this mean that YouTube is useless because so little of the content is of interest to any particular individual? No.

In reality you filter the videos you watch on YouTube by search, by channel, or by receiving the video as a recommendation by a friend. Twitter is much the same, You cut through the noise by following those users who match search criteria, by following twitter lists or by following those other users/friends recommend.

The critics have made the mistake of confusing the Macro-Twitter environment (ie: All the tweets from every user) with the Micro-Twitter environment that an individual user experiences (Only tweets by persons of interest/value) when they are discriminatory in how they use Twitter.

It’s up to the users of Twitter to explain this important error in perception to non users, or risk the continued alienation of a large segment of the online community.

So how will you do this?

Tiger Airways: Why treating customers like farm animals helps build their brand

In a recent trip to Melbourne, I thought I was taking advantage of Tiger Airways extremely low prices and landing myself a great deal on airfares. Sure the process seemed smooth enough (despite the extra wait time required at Sydney terminal before the flight at check in). The flight itself was straightforward and the extra fee we chose to pay to get seats in the exit row was worth it for my 6’4″frame.

Although once you add in charges for ‘extra’ luggage (above your included carry on allowance) and the ‘exit row’ suddenly the $25 ‘bargain’ tickets no longer look like such a bargain (Approaching, but not quite at VirginBlue or Jetstar rates for a comparable flight). This was not entirely a surprise, as there is always a catch somewhere, and we felt like taking a punt on a new airline “for the experience”.

What was a surprise though, was how Tiger Airways treat their customers once they arrive at their terminal (T4) at Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine).Tiger Airways Terminal Melbourne

The baggage claim area for Tiger Airways was essentially a tin shed with chicken wire walls on a concrete floor.

Tiger Airways Terminal Melbourne

The exit to the terminal/baggage claim area.

I couldn’t help but feel like I was being herded through the terminal like a cow to the slaughter by Tiger Airways. What was interesting on reflecting on the experience was that Melbourne Airport is Tiger Airways primary hub for operating in Australia. This struck me as odd that they would construct their premier hub in Australia in such a cheap and nasty way.

On further analysis though, it is entirely reasonable for a cut price operator in any industry to ‘dress’ the part. If the visual cues when flying Tiger are true to the sense that you are saving money, this reinforces the purchase decision and acts as a feedback loop to solidifying the perception that the customer has managed to purchase a ticket on the cheapest airline around.

Does this ‘build’ Tiger Airways brand? It certainly acts as an important differentiator to the other airlines offerings in Australia, that in itself is important in carving out a niche  for the brand against a market that has two strong ‘value’ offerings in Virgin Blue and Jetstar. Being ‘value’ isn’t enough of a differentiator. But being ‘cheap’ is. I’d call it a success, though I’ll be flying another airline next time.

iSnack 2.0: What Kraft should have done.

isnack20

Kraft finally decided on a name for their new Vegemite product. The name, ‘iSnack 2.0’ has been universally panned by the mainstream media and social media alike. Where the naming competition process fell down, was not that it was crowd sourced as many are suggesting, rather that it was not crowd sourced enough. Sure we can all understand why agencies and brand custodians alike are both hesitant to completely open their brand up to the wisdom of the crowds, it makes the brands feel naked and exposed as well as making bringing the value the agency brings to the brand into question (Since they arguably aren’t doing anything creative in their work for the brand.)

Kraft would have struggled with almost all of the names they chose for the new Vegemite spread. With the brand being so close to the hearts of  many Australians, a large number would have reacted to any name chosen regardless. Unfortunately for Kraft they chose a name most likely to offend those with a voice in the social media and from that point on it was game over for iSnack 2.0.

What Kraft should have done

Run a more open competition, either completely open with a digg style submission and voting system. (which would have opened the competition to being ‘gamed’ to the point where the poll looks something like Time Magazines ‘hacked’ 100 most influential people results) Or a partially open competition, where they could have let the competition run as it did in for iSnack 2.0, come up with a shortlist of 10 (or less) from the crowd sourced entries and let people vote on their favorites.

It is entirely possible that if the competition is gamed you will end up with a result less optimal than had the competition been totally fair and all votes represented the true wisdom of the crowd. But at the very least, if you let the voting run for a period of time, you have introduced the potential product names to the population over time via the short list and the final result will not shock the loyal customers who with iSnack 2.0 were so outraged at having this name thrust upon their brand. With Kraft caving to the pressure and declaring they would rename the product before it has even shipped to retailers, this is a victory for the crowd, and evidence once again that “The mob is faster, smarter and stronger than you are.”