When Facebook rolled out their latest changes, a lot of longtime users did some major eye-rolling. "Here we go again," a lot of users thought. At first the changes seemed confusing and a bit of overkill.
I sat in a session at BlogWorld taught by Amy Porterfield and she began digging into the new changes. She asserts that regarding the "Facebook changes for businesses, the changes are good -- if you leverage the new features fully."
Additionally, she stated that: "The more robust personal Profiles make it possible to combine our business and personal lives intelligently for the first time on Facebook. Plus, Facebook is introducing its most graphically superior layout yet. It doesn't just look good -- content and data are easier to understand. Considering that there are 800 million global users and counting, this puts business owners in a great position to showcase their content, grow their audience and increase exposure."
First and foremost though, Amy said that the new changes are very, very content driven. So, in order to maximize these, you'll need to be very content focused.
1) Facebook has a new subscribe button, can you tell us how best to use that?
There are still two primary platforms for communicating on Facebook -- your Profile, which is your personal page (originally designed to maintain personal connections), and business Pages, which are more like digital storefronts for brands.
I used to tell my clients to spend 80 percent of their Facebook marketing efforts on their business Page. Now with the rollout of the new Subscribe button, some of that energy needs to go to your Profile too.
Implementing the Subscribe button which you can do here allows users, including non-friends, to subscribe to your public updates in their News Feeds. Subscribing is just like following someone on Twitter or adding them to a Google+ circle; it doesn't need to be mutual. If you add a Subscribe button to their Profile, anyone can subscribe without any approvals needed.
You choose what content to make public from a drop-down within your status update box. Existing friends are automatically subscribed to your updates, but now, potential clients, readers, and fans you've never met can subscribe to your public updates. It's the first time Facebook is addressing the fact that some "Friends" aren't friends at all.
Consider it a welcome update: You can now combine your business life and personal life without sacrificing privacy. I have almost 5,000 Friends on Facebook, largely because I didn't want to turn away potential clients. Now, I can separate the Business Amy from Personal Amy without sacrificing privacy -- and I have a new platform to promote my personal brand.
2) We hear a lot about "intent driven content"; can you tell us what that is and how to use it?
Now that you can have subscribers to your Profile, fans of your Page, and regular Friends on Facebook, you can reach more people than ever before with your content. But users can also tune you out more easily -- so use those public Profile updates wisely.
Highlighted Stories (which have a blue triangle in the upper left corner of the post) have replaced "Top News" in the News Feed. You can still toggle between Highlighted and Recent Stories, but by default, Highlighted are at the top of your feed. These stories are largely determined by our interactions on Facebook. They're also determined by you: you can hover over any recent story and ask Facebook to highlight it. When you do, Facebook will start putting more similar content (and more updates from that Profile or Page) at the top of your feed. The more information you give Facebook, the more personalized Highlighted Stories become.
So how do those of us with products, services and programs to promote ensure OUR content shoots to the top of News Feeds everywhere?
Produce better content. Grab readers' attention with posts that entertain, educate and inspire -- also called "intent-driven content," because every post is crafted with the intent to get readers involved and to take action. Intent-driven content:
- Entertains -- With personal anecdotes, humor, or visuals (photo and video).
- Educates -- Meaty posts include statistics, links, numbers and other useful facts to flesh out your content's purpose and value.
- Empowers -- It gives readers a lesson, direction or takeaway, empowering them to take action.
Plus, Facebook has expanded the post space to 5,000 characters and has made photos and videos larger, allowing you to essentially micro-blog right on your Profile or Page.
But while the potential rewards are enormous, so are the risks -- because users now have more powerful one-click filtering options. For example, you can UN-highlight stories or even hide a Profile or Page's updates entirely, right from your feed. And you can unsubscribe from certain types of content (status updates, activity, photos, games, etc.), un-Like pages or un-Friend Friends just by hovering over the update or poster's name. Users can even unsubscribe from updates from third-party apps -- so if you're using a tool to post and manage your Facebook updates, it may be time to attempt to post in real-time as much as possible.
All these new ways to filter posts may sound scary, but ultimately, these new filters are a way for Facebook to make the user experience better. If you're not giving readers value, they will use these filters to tune you out.
Relevant, useful content is your tool -- use it wisely, or get booted off the island.
3) Can you explain the Real-Time Ticker and how best to use it?
Another important feature of the updated News Feed is the real-time Ticker -- that streaming, chronological accounting of your Friends' and Liked Pages' activities in real-time, scrolling in the top right corner of your News Feed.
By simply hovering over a Ticker story, a user can comment, like your Page, subscribe to your Profile, view the photo or status update, and even watch videos you post, in a pop-up window. It's easier than ever for people to interact with your content -- and every time someone interacts with a Page, Profile, event or piece of content you post, it appears in the Tickers of every single one of their Friends and subscribers.
So the more engagement your content inspires, the more exposure it gets, and the longer it lives on in the Ticker. Your exposure can multiply exponentially -- if it inspires engagement.
Focus on creating well-written headlines and intent-driven content. Remember, the more people interact with a post, the more exposure YOU get.
4) Can you explain how to use the Timeline Profile? What are the benefits?
The new Timeline Profile layout is currently rolling out to Facebook users -- if you don't have it yet, you will soon. (To activate the Timeline now, follow these instructions.) If you do not have the new Timeline layout activated on your Profile, you won't be able to see any of the Timelines on Facebook. Once you switch over, you'll begin to see all the Timelines of your Friends as well.
The new Timeline Profile layout gives businesses even more ways to market content on Profiles. If you have the new Timeline, hover on any post's top right corner. You'll see a little star. Click on it -- the post expands across the Timeline layout, while everything below it remains in the two-column Timeline format. This new feature allows you to make some posts stand out more than others -- giving you more opportunities to feature your best content.
To maximize your results, get strategic about which posts you feature. Spend a little extra time crafting a great headline, and use a compelling photo so the post stands out even more. Give people just enough information that they're compelled to click -- especially if you're sending them to your blog or a landing page.
And, as with all social media, mix it up and keep your content fresh. Combine featured posts with smaller posts throughout the week so the featured content clearly stands out.
Your subscribers will appreciate the gesture. Like a "Top Posts"plugin on a blog, you're helping people quickly find your most valuable or newsworthy content.
5) Can you explain the new Timeline Photo and how can we use it to maximize our work on Facebook?
The first thing people see when they visit the Timeline version of your Facebook Profile is an image across the entire top of the page. And here's what's great -- it's a large image and if you want to get creative, you can design the image and then upload it. The branding opportunities with the Timeline image are endless. To see some fun examples of some Timeline photos, click here.
For most of us, life has two dimensions: personal and business. If you want to use your Timeline Profile to highlight your personal life as well as gain exposure for your brand, the new Timeline image can give you a unique visual opportunity to highlight both.
Facebook calls the Timeline a "living scrapbook." I think that's a great description; the Timeline is all about the real you, and that's why I encourage you to use this image to highlight both work and play. If you have already installed the Timeline on your profile, check out my own Facebook Timeline profile image. I created an image that includes a montage of photos from my personal life as well as photos related to my business: http://www.facebook.com/amyporterfield. It might just spark some ideas for your own Timeline image!
(Aside: If you want to design your own image, the specs are 851 x 315 pixels.)
As with every one of the changes we've covered here, the Timeline photo is a way to expand your Profile's reach. Keep it fun and authentic. After all, your Profile may become your brand's new hub.
Instead of fearing every Facebook rollout, it's time for us to focus on creating content our fans and subscribers care about. That's what will keep you ahead of the curve -- and it's what content marketing is supposed to be about. These changes only emphasize that reality.
The only question is, will you take advantage of the opportunity to grow your own audience? Give us your thoughts below!
Here's more about Amy:
Amy is the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies and a Social Media Strategist for entrepreneurs and small businesses. With 12+ years marketing experience, Amy has worked with mega brands like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, along with Tony Robbins International where she oversaw his content marketing team and collaborated on multiple online marketing campaigns. She currently creates online programs to teach entrepreneurs and small businesses how to leverage social media to gain greater exposure, attract quality leads and turn their fans and followers into loyal customers. To learn more about Facebook and social media for your business, check out Amy's blog. : http://www.amyporterfield.com
Follow Penny C. Sansevieri on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bookgal