The answer is Facebook. Now, what is your question?

Facebook, Inc.
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A recent study by Business.com said that 83% of respondents said that Facebook is their favorite social media tool for reaching customers and no wonder — when Facebook recently passed 350 million members after gaining 250 million members since August 2008 [yes, that’s right — the Facebook ‘nation’ is larger than the United States and growing at an incredible rate] it became clear that if someone was online, you’d probably find them in Facebook…

Yet, as a social media consultant I see so much confusion around the topic of personal profiles, groups, and [fan]pages that I thought it might be time to share THE single best post I’ve found on the topic and share some of the practical experience I’ve gained over the past year working extensively with people and brands in Facebook. I agree with internet marketing expert Dan Zarella when he says “If I could give you only one piece of Facebook marketing advice, it would be: People have profiles. Brands have pages.” He goes on to say…

Social networking profiles represent people. From your Facebook profile, you declare personal relationships, grow your network by manually accepting friend requests, and discover other people in your network to add as friends. Your Facebook profile includes facts about you including your favorite movies, what schools you went to, and your favorite quotes.

Your brand isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a favorite quote or book. You can’t friend a brand, and it certainly can’t friend you back. Brands don’t have friends. Brands have fans. Fans have discussions about your brands, share news about them, and share information about your brands with others.” Source: On Facebook, People Have Profiles, Brands Have Pages.

Here’s the part where it really gets good…

“Profiles are for People. At this point in Facebook’s community’s development, you do not want to keep a profile if you are a brand. Keeping a brand profile is a surefire way to come across as totally out-of-touch. And worse, even if you were to pull off a successful corporate profile, Facebook has been known to suspend profiles for “too much marketing activity.”

Groups are for People. Groups really aren’t suitable for a serious marketing effort. They originally were created as a place for like-minded people to communicate outside of their immediate network and never were intended for brand use. There is very little time and energy required to make one and consequently, users do not value them as much as pages. How many I-lost-my-cellphone-so-I-need-all-your-numbers-again groups have you been invited to?

Pages are for Brands. After setting up a page for your brand on Facebook, use applications to pull in content from your blog and Twitter account (you do have those too right?) to keep your page full of fresh, frequently updated information. Resist the urge to turn your page into a watered-down version of your website. Include some offers, media or conversation on Facebook that does not appear anywhere else. Retail brands like Victoria’s Secret are especially talented at this. I recommend viewing their Victoria’s Secret Pink Facebook page and see how their brand interacts with fans.” Source: On Facebook, People Have Profiles, Brands Have Pages.

Hopefully, that clears everything up from a strategy perspective. Now, a few of my favorite tactics for those who have read this far…

The phrase ‘fan page’ is a misnomer and needs to be addressed. Facebook calls them PAGES, plain and simple, but people refer to them as ‘fan pages’ because they have to ‘become a fan’ to interact with the brand — the correct terminology, however, is ‘page‘. Frequently, when working with someone who wants to become a thought leader, I’ll get a statement like “Well, I’m just a _______ [business owner, politician, teacher, etc. – insert thought leadership role here] — I don’t have any fans. My advice to you? Get over it! Why? Because if you are attempting to create any kind of thought leadership position that evokes a response from people, you have become a brand and brands have fans. When Facebook gives you the ability to build a page [which is really a free mini-website] in the middle of the biggest social media group in the universe, they’re doing you a huge favor!

I recently spoke to a LinkedIn group in Green Bay on the topic of “Facebook for Fun and Profit”. At the time, I advocated using a Facebook primarily as an outpost for your website in order to draw people in. Good strategy, yes, but here’s the part I missed: a Facebook page may be all the website an entrepreneur or organization needs in the beginning! Why? Try these reasons…

  • Facebook pages are indexed by Google so the content is searchable; group pages are also searchable, but many Facebook application such as Social RSS only work with Pages, not groups — groups are not good tools for BRANDS
  • Facebook pages are visible to non-Facebook members [they just can’t become fans or interact with the brand or other fans if they are not a member]
  • You can assign your own url to a Facebook page; see http://e1evation.org
  • Facebook page urls can be modified to something more manageable and referenceable to the outside world; see http://facebook.com/skittles. You cannot do this with groups.
  • Facebook pages are highly customizable; see http://facebook.com/victoriassecret. You cannot do this with groups.

As I read back over the five bullet points, it occurs to me that the primary value of groups is for INTERNAL communications within an organization while pages are EXTERNAL. I think that about sums it up but if you’re still confused, leave a comment or contact me and we’ll get you straightened out!

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Tactic #10; Do it on the go!

Finally! The final post of the “Top 10 Tactics and Tools” series and we’re ending on a high note in conjunction with the Mobile World Congress. I’m going to let “guest quoter” Chamath Palihapitiya of Facebook set the table…

“Yesterday, in a session on ‘Mobile Communications 2.0′ at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook’s VP of User Growth, Mobile and International Expansion Chamath Palihapitiya shared the social networking giant’s current mobile strategy and its plans for the future.

It was in this session that the company for the first time talked about its latest product, Facebook Zero, which is essentially a stripped down, text-only version of the mobile website for the social networking service. The product aims to give mobile carriers a way to offer a basic Facebook experience to their subscribers free of charge and later convert those users into premium data service customers.

We recorded the entire 16-minute session and uploaded it to our YouTube account – these are the highlights of the presentation:

– Facebook believes 2010 will be a watershed year for mobile
– The service is now actively used by more than 400 million people
– They want to make Facebook even more ubiquitous and reach billions of users
– 100 million users (25% of total number of users) actively uses Facebook’s mobile products at least once a month
– 200 million people have interacted with Facebook on mobile at least once” Source: Facebook’s Mobile Strategy Condensed Into 16 Minutes (Video)

Here’s a 16 minute video that spells it out…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VVHWQQPUc0

What does this mean for you? You’d better make it mobile! Whatever you’re doing internet-wise [snap! I went there, Clay!] you’d better take mobile platforms into consideration. The great thing is that it’s easy to do. Every site I set up automatically features WPtouch iPhone Theme, a plugin which formats your site with a mobile theme for the Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android and other touch-based smartphones. Try it! Enter e1evation.com in your smartphone browser and see how nicely it functions! Please don’t get sucked into spending a lot of money building a proprietary iPhone app — especially when Google’s Android OS is seriously cutting into iPhone market share! Use WordPress combined with this plugin and you’ll have all the mobile app you need. btw, as you look back over this series almost every single tool I recommend has a mobile version — I don’t recommend anything that doesn’t!

I hope you’ve enjoyed and implemented some of these “Top 10 Tactics and Tools for Tightening your Tribe” and I’d like to take this opportunity to make three big announcements. Ready?

I’m always harping about the value of blogging, but did you know that blogging has great benefit for the blogger as well, especially when it comes to ‘finding your voice’ and finding your passion. I started out writing about marketing, sales and technology for small business owners and other thought leaders. Over time, I realized that one of my targeted audiences is the marketing professional that is struggling to add social media to the mix. I’d like to think that few people have a better handle on what tactics and tools a person in that position might need to actually save time as they add additional marketing channels. While I do offer what I call a “social media integration” package for my customers, I’m announcing today that this series will now be available in the form of an online instructor-led [me!] training course called the Social Media Academy. In addition, there will also be a weekly podcast that focuses on social media tools as well as an ebook which is currently under development as “The Damn Good Social Media Guide”. These three products — the course, the podcast, and the ebook — will be available April 4, 2010. If you’d like to help with beta testing [which translates into great savings!] comment, call or contact me!

While you were sleeping 2/23/2010

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Short and sweet today…

“Nielsen knows what you spend your time doing and it involves a lot of tweeting and Facebooking. New data from the media research firm reveals that the average social-networking user spent five and a half hours on sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009. That marks an 82 percent increase in monthly usage from December 2008.” Source: Twitter, Facebook use jumps 82 percent – Holy Kaw!

Now why would I want to master Twitter again?

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Facebook Ads for Your Church

Pound for pound, this may be the most effective advertising a church can buy. Because of the demographics, it beats the snot out of the Yellow Pages and other traditional forms of marketing. You can follow the ‘via’ link above to go to the source and read the rest of the article if you’d like to dig a little deeper…

Pastor Bans Facebook to Stop Adultery

Facebook logo
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“I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half,” he said in an AP story. “What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.”

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of its members have either used or been faced with evidence from social networking sites in divorce cases in the last five years, including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. A do-it-yourself divorce site in the UK has reported that one in five petitions it handles cited Facebook.

Let’s just say it: “People are getting divorced because of Facebook.”

It’s How You Use the Tool
I say that’s ridiculous. Fun fact: Facebook is neither good nor evil. It’s just a tool. It’s all about what you do with it. Let’s not condemn the entire tool because a few people don’t know how to use it.

It’s easier to live in extremes when there is confusion, and the church is really good at condemning things because they’re too hard to control: books, movies, television, the Internet, etc. What if we had abandoned those mediums because they were occupied by darkness? I shudder to think where we would be without being able to use those tools in today’s world. The church is called “light” for a reason. There have been some courageous, Bible-believing followers of Jesus who took a stand and demanded light in the dark places, and I’m thankful because now it’s our turn.

Facebook for Good
Here are some ways a tool like Facebook can be used for good:

  • Be Real: Let your staff and team be the genuine people they are. Don’t use them as promotion robots. Release some control and let them use Facebook naturally.
  • Remove Barriers: Connections through Facebook tend to break down barriers for people. I know several folks who attended a church already knowing several members. It really helps.
  • Have Conversations: Everyone is busy, but there’s something about a Facebook conversation that most people make time for. Whether it’s four sentences back and forth or month long messages, it can all serve to shine a light in dark places.
  • Evangelism: I think this is an obvious one, but there’s another layer. If you are living a compelling, God-honoring life through Facebook, people will reach out to you with faith questions. We don’t always have to do the pushing.

Author Danielle Hartland brings a great perspective to this issue. I believe Shakespeare was right when he said “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so”. You can follow the ‘via’ link above to go to the source and read the rest of the article if you’re interested in learning more…

Information Streams Accelerating the Attention Crisis

This icon, known as the "feed icon" ...
Image via Wikipedia

More people are creating more content of more types and sharing it with more connections in more places than ever before – not just text, but photos, audio and video as well. Every second of every day comes with more opportunities to be off task, distracted, and interrupted – with something new fighting for your attention. It might be the arrival of new e-mail, or a new RSS feed, a bombardment of new tweets, a text, or a push notification, but the interruptions are increasing – forcing you to make a choice oh where to put your attention and how to use your time.

A never-ending stream of updates on your favorite social networking sites may be full of interesting links to check out from your friends, with photos of where they are that day, and location updates telling you exactly what they were doing.

You are likely being bombarded with new demands on your time and your attention that weren’t there last year, and if you were one of the elite few who had opted in to this interruption firehose a year or so ago, there is no doubt the velocity is stronger than ever, and there is no end in sight – for the tap continues to be opened.

Follow the ‘via’ link if you’d like to read the entire article…

While you were sleeping 3/20/2010

The Nielsen Company
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While you were sleeping, social media usage is surging…

“According to the Nielsen Company, the global average time spent per person on social networking sites is now nearly five and half hours per month (February 2010 data), with Facebook accounting for the majority of that time. That’s up more than two hours from last year.

In arriving at that conclusion, Nielsen measured social network usage per person across 10 countries and compared that to data from the same time last year.

When looking at specific countries, Italy tops the charts with social network time per person just under six and a half hours per month (6:27:53), and Australia (Australia) is a close second (6:02:34). The United States — which has the largest unique social networking audience — ranked third in usage with the average person spending just over six hours (6:02:34) on social networks.” Source: Social Networking Usage Surges Globally [STATS]

How are you using social media to build your brand?