October 10, 2009

The “I Need a Facebook Page” problem

Posted in Facebook, Social Media at 12:15 pm by SD

According to a recent research study by Citibank Small Business by GFK Roper, three-quarters of small business say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business in the past year. While I don’t know the exact reason for why small businesses aren’t finding their forays into social media successful, I have a hunch that they may be approaching it the wrong way. I like to refer to this as the “I need a Facebook page” problem that is plaguing small businesses across the world.

If I had a dollar for every time, I heard someone say “Our business wants to use social media so we set up a Facebook page,” I would be able to do a lot of shopping. Hearing this statement makes me visibly cringe especially when I ask them if any research has been conducted to see if their customers are using Facebook.

You can have the best Facebook page in the world but if you’re customers aren’t on Facebook, then it is a waste of valuable time and resources.

To all the small businesses out there, before you jump on the Facebook bandwagon, take some time to conduct a little research. And, I don’t mean spending a ton of money on a research study. Simply, ask yourself these critical questions:

1. What audience do I want to engage with online? Is it current customers? What is the demographic profile of this customer?

2. Where does this audience spend time online? Are they frequently using Facebook or Twitter? Are they reading blogs or visiting local social networks such as Yelp?

3. What message do I want to share with this audience?

4. What do I want this audience to do as a result of my business’ presence online?

Only after you have answered these questions, can you begin determining your strategy to engage in the online conversation. By not answering these questions, you are setting your social media campaign up to fail. Avoid the “I need a Facebook page right now” mentality and take the time to do your due diligence to find out where your customers are really spending time online. This approach will allow you to actually engage in the online conversation and be among the 25 percent of small businesses that are finding value from social media.

For some helpful tips on social media for small businesses, check out this Mashable article.

– Shannon

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August 11, 2009

The changing face of Facebook

Posted in Facebook tagged at 10:21 am by R

Way, way back in 2003, I was a junior at Gonzaga University. At the time, Facebook was a brand new way to communicate about parties and events, to see pictures of the parties you couldn’t make it to (or couldn’t remember). It was a way to keep up with your friends from other schools. Facebook was our own safe little network where we shared our college antics, thoughts and other information with peers.

Six years later, those early adopters to Facebook are professionals working hard for a living. Six years later, bosses, managers, clients and other work related individuals are signing on as well and — if your profile is not properly managed — have access to some of those less-than-professional photos, posts, etc.

According to a study from Printproof, eight percent of U.S. companies have dismissed an employee for behavior deemed inappropriate on social media. Mashable gave a hilarious example in their post on the study yesterday.

So what does it mean for the average Facebook user? Get in control of who sees what in your profile.

Just as you’re not likely to share money woes, relationship troubles or many other personal matters with a boss or other person with authority in your office (though that closeness does sometimes exist), don’t allow them access to the really personal stuff on-line.

Facebook has settings which allow you to control who sees personal information, photos, specific photo albums, videos, status updates and links. You can even create lists to categorize and easily manage how different categories of contacts view your profile content.

It comes down to a personal branding issue really.

Think about the sub-brands you personal brand is comprised of:

  • Friends (college, high school, etc.)
  • Family (mom, dad, bro, sis, etc.)
  • Work (clients, boss, colleagues, outside associates, etc.)

Think about the brand perception you want to have among certain groups:

  • Should mom, dad and your boss be able to see all your photo albums?
  • Do you want your colleagues to have access to that status update rant?
  • Should your clients be able to access links to news stories on politically sensitive topics?

Establish and maintain the characteristics you wish to present to each of these groups. And keep in mind that while you may limit the access of some, it’s important to be your own editor on appropriateness and language (and even grammar!). It can feel like an overwhelming and unending task but it is worth the diligent work.

Facebook is no longer just a college playground. Facebook has become your face to all the worlds you participate in — with HR managers, bosses and other professional contacts watching your every status update.

Fortunately, you do have some control. So take it! Brand yourself well.

~R

July 16, 2008

Social Media Milestone

Posted in Facebook, Social Media at 10:12 am by R

I had a first the other day. I got my first professional friend request on Facebook.

My first thought was: “Oh wow. That’s kind of cool that Facebook is branching out like this.”

My second thought was: “Oh S***T! I’ve got to take some photos down!”

If my memory serves me correctly, Facebook made its way to Gonzaga in 2004. Which made me a junior in college. Which made me less responsible and probably less modest than I am today. And all those photos still exist on my account…

It just gave me pause, because in its beginnings, Facebook was about connecting people on campus. It was about connecting friends at other schools. Now I’m friends with publications and Public Relations pros I admire. Now I have to act with some discretion and reel in some of the snarky comments, less than flattering photos and inside joke wall posts.

And at the same time, part of me says, “No! That’s who I am, this is where I come from. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve got posted for the world to see — except that Mariah Carey costume from that Halloween party.”

I suppose we’ll see what comes of it.

Many companies use MySpace and Facebook as a form of background check. Will clients and media do the same? Will it impact who they choose to work with?

There are two old sayings that come to mind as I think about the consequences of my on-line life and representation:

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words. (Or in my case several Mariah Carey albums)
  2. Your friends are a reflection of you. (Note to my nearest and dearest: can we collectively edit the photos we’ve posted and only leave the ones that are (mostly) respectable?)

It used to be that Facebook profiles had an air of privacy, some exclusivity to them. Now, it’s clear they are public forum, and as such available to public scrutiny that may have bearing on our careers.

Compared to many, I’m sure that my profile is tame. But it might be time to take the “Ass Hat” pin down from my pieces of flair application…sad.

July 8, 2008

Sticking a Toe in Social Media Waters

Posted in Facebook, Media, Social Media tagged , at 10:44 am by R

Christina Leonard, Editor of bizAZ and Arizona Woman, has done something brilliant. She posted both her publications on Facebook.

The Web sites for both publications leave a little to be desired, so social media is a great way for this savvy editor to beef up the contact, outreach and circulation for these well-respected pubs. (Sort of the Mountain-to-Mohamed principle at work here.)

I’ll be checking back often, to see who bizAZ is in a relationship with.

(Oh, come on! Don’t tell me that’s not the first thing you look at on a profile too!) 🙂

~Robyn