December 2, 2011

Helping your Facebook fans help you – with engagement

2011 has been a big year for Facebook. New features were launched to make the world’s largest social network an indispensable tool for companies and to monetize its continent sized fan base via new forms of engagement and advertising. A few weeks ago, I asked whether the new Timeline, which appears to be still rolling out slowly, would help PR Pros or not.

More recently, I argued that using social media exclusively as a short-term branding tool was dangerous for corporate reputation management, that engagement is key to long-term social media success and that PR should always be involved in defining the organisation’s social media strategy.

Facebook F8 presented new features for PR and marketing

In this post, I’d like to examine some of the other news from Facebook to determine whether and how these may impact PR and reputation management.

What makes your fans tick ?

Among the slew of new features announced at Facebook’s F8 conference last September are new buttons that go beyond the LIKE action. This is Facebook’s first step towards making fans share more and in more varied ways. VIEWING, SHARING and others are being made possible, and content publishers are even able to create their own button through apps to suit their own publications.

More significantly, and far more controversially, Facebook introduced the Ticker on the right hand side of the page, to show you what your friends are doing, who they are friending, what cafe they are checking into and what brands or products they are liking.

The facebook ticker

The ticker was met with almost universal criticism. From users, who claim it simply provides too much information into their friends’ lives. And from many many experts denouncing privacy scares.

Since the introduction that feature, many articles have been written to explain how to protect yourself from it and even how to remove it altogether (thanks to a Google Chrome extension, how surprising ;)).

But Ticker is amajor component of Facebook’s business plan, along with Top stories and Sponsored Stories.

Beyond the obvious personal branding/reputation associated to ticker, its significance is due to the fact that it now integrates Sponsored stories in its feed. Sponsored stories are adverts in which the text is not written by the advertiser but is extracted from a fan’s update or action: Eric LIKEs the latest news from your company and all of Eric’s friends will see an advert for your news containing his “this is really interesting” update. This is significant because, according to Facebook, sponsored stories have much more impact than conventional advertising.

Top Stories, the final element in Facebook’s engagement trilogy, may be even more important to PR and reputation management professionals. Indeed, while the news feed on your Facebook page has always been presented in chronological order, top stories can be pushed up to the top of your feed is enough of your friends have liked it or commented on it. I already mentioned EdgeRank – Facebook’s feed filtering algorithm, that determines what friend and brand updates you actually see in your newsfeed – in 5 reasons not to count Fans on Facebook. The algorithm strengthens the visibility of brands you engage with and reduces it for others. Top stories push this idea one big step forward.

Finding engaging content to publish

Obviously, producing and publishing engaging content on Facebook is key to starting engagement. How do you know what your fans like best ?

Smart Insights recently published an interesting infographic describing the basic types of sharers in the UK and what content they like to share best.

But this is generic and the best way to understand what your community wants is to … listen to discussions. Listening will give you insight in major issues, major likes and dominant speakers. But I’ll tell you much, much more about this in my next post ! Stay tuned :)

1 Comment

  • This is exactly the information I was looking for. Thanks a lot for posting!

    Social James - December 15, 2011 at 18:36

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