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

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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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While you were sleeping 2/25/2010

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It’s all about social media today with an emphasis on roi…

“While companies are starting to adopt Social Media for online marketing campaigns, and even letting employees participate, the question of ROI (Return on Investment) arises, along with doubts about what metrics to measure. How do you know how effective your social media campaigns are if you’re not measuring any metrics, let alone an overall ROI? Below, we discuss ten important Social Metrics for companies.” Source: The 10 Social Media Metrics Your Company Should Monitor

Next? How are Fortune 100 companies using social media?

“A useful survey from global PR firm Burson-Marsteller this week looks at the ways in which the Global Fortune 100 companies are using social media. The tools they are using and how they are developing a social media strategy. The survey looked at 100 firms in the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and examined how these firms are using social media.” Source: How the Global Fortune 100 are using social media: some statistics | FreshNetworks Blog|Social media agency|Online communities

Finally, a look toward future developments in social media…

“While I don’t have a crystal ball, here are some developments that I think are worthy of our attention and will affect how we do things in the social mediasphere over the next few years. Many of the things on this list will not be news to the very well-informed social media consultant types who live and breathe this stuff. But for the rest of us, there are seeds of opportunity here that should not be missed.” Source: 8 Significant Developments in Social Media You Should Watch – WebWorkerDaily

I close with some words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson…

“He who knows most, knows how little he knows.” Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), 3rd president of the United States

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A solid majority opposes FFC regulation of the internet

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I’ve lessened my involvement in politics over the past year, but here’s an issue that both sides can agree is important regardless of party affiliation, especially if you’re an internet professional…

“Just 27% of Americans now believe the Federal Communications Commission should regulate the Internet like it does television and radio. That marks a 22-point drop in support for federal regulation of the Internet since June 2008.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 53% of adults oppose FCC regulation of the Internet, with another 19% not sure whether it’s a good idea or not.

Among those who use the Internet every or nearly every day, opposition to FCC regulation rises to 63%.” Source: 53% Oppose FCC Regulation of the Internet – Rasmussen Reports™

Go to the source for the rest of the article and educate yourself on the issues…

Thought for the day…

“If you work just for the money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”

Ray Kroc (1902-1984)
American businessman, founder of McDonald’s Corporation

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Home bases and outposts…

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has been reading my mail. Or attending my seminars. Or both. Seriously, he does a great job in this video of explaining some of the tactics that I use to drive traffic to my blog…

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Why should I care about Foursquare?

Because Forrester has some interesting data to support it…

“While only 4 percent of US online adults have ever used a location-based service, like popular check in app Foursquare, data from research firm Forrester shows that young adult males with college degrees appear to be the main user group.

In addition to being the main user group, the group may also be heavy online influencers as 38% of them claim that their networks ask them for their opinion before making a purchase decision. It would be interesting to know what types of products their networks ask them about before a purchase. Most likely, it’s probably electronics.

Finally, the data shows that the group may also be heavy mobile researchers, meaning that they are more likely to search for information on products or services as well as look up ratings and reviews. If the user group is constantly checking in to locations, then they are probably also using their smartphones…” Source: Forrester reveals who uses location-based services the most | VentureBeat

While the Pew Internet Study reports that only 4% of smartphone users are ‘checking in’ — it’s a pretty awesome and influential 4%. Wouldn’t you agree?

What REALLY Matters in a Website Redesign

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Do you run for the hills when it’s time to bust out the wireframes and discuss redesigning your website? It’s okay, not everyone was born to be a designer.

Creating a new website can potentially be a long and arduous process – but it doesn’t have to be! So many businesses get stuck on ‘form OVER function’ when trying to design or redesign a website. What’s “under the hood” is just as important – if not more – when you main goal is turning your site visitors into customers.

With that said, it’s still important to have a site that makes a good first impression. For example, when we helped create Website Redesign LITE, stripping down the design process to the fundamentals was a key part of the plan. There are three fundamental aspects people should consider before engaging in a new web design process.

The homework looks something like this…

You’ll have to follow the ‘via’ link to see what the homework looks like! Comment or ‘connect with me’ so we can talk about how this applies to your business…