Despite a shaky IPO last spring, Facebook remains the 800-pound gorilla of social media marketing, as it now approaches the billion-user mark. Though often associated with bands and brands, Facebook is viewed as the most effective social media tool (by a fairly large margin) by both B2C and bB2B marketers.
So what are the best tactics for marketing and advertising on Facebook? How can marketers best utilize social plugins for the platform? Which apps are still worthy (and functional) in the Timeline interface? How can brands most successfully drive fan engagement? Will Facebook continue to grow and dominate the web, or is it headed for a fall like AOL and MySpace before it?
Find the answers to these questions and many others here in more than 20 of the best Facebook guides, tactics, observations, tools, stats and rants of 2012 thus far.
Facebook Guides, Tips & Techniques
7 Unbelievably Cool Facebook Ad Tactics by AllFacebook
Dennis Yu provides an outstanding set of techniques to use in various circumstances, such as when you hosting an event, promoting a video, or if your customers are other businesses: “If you know the names of the actual companies you’d like to have as clients, include them in the your list of workplace targets. But be careful to attract only decision makers. If you’d like to get the attention of Walmart executives, narrow down to folks age 25 and up who live within a 25-mile radius of Bentonville, Arkansas, or else you risk targeting employees in stores across the country.”
15 Ways To Use Facebook Pages for Business by Social Media Today
Matt Hamilton lists “some great ideas for your own business Facebook use,” such as for product testing, news release promotion, customer service, ideas to feed your new product development process, employee recognition, and even growing your email list: “it is important to make sign-up very easy. Using a software service such as MailChimp allows you to add a simple sign up form to your Facebook business page and also get some great tools for creating the newsletter.”
28 Things You Need To Know About The New Facebook Pages by KISSmetrics
Though this post is now old news for many Facebook marketers, this piece by frequent best-of contributor Kristi Hines nonetheless provides a great review of Timeline features to go back to and make sure nothing was missed or sub-optimized from Facebook brand timeline pages. For example, “While you can have a total of 12 custom tabs (including your Photos and Page Likes), only four are showed at the top of your page. This means visitors to your page have to be savvy enough to click on the down arrow to find the rest. You can swap the position of your custom tabs to make sure the best ones are up top by clicking on the down arrow, hovering over the tab, clicking on the pencil, and selecting which tab to swap it with.”
The Complete Guide To Facebook Timeline Pages by AllFacebook
As with the post above, this post is pretty much old news at this point, but still worth a quick skim to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything important in your brand’s Facebook Timeline development.
Dan Stagen walks through a dozen steps to create a Facebook ad campaign, from determining a call to action and writing an ad through all of the various targeting criteria to pricing, review and launch.
Facebook Apps and Tools
25 Timeline Ready Apps for Enhancing Your Facebook Page by Social @ Blogging Tracker
Ching Ya reviews more than two dozen helpful (and Timeline-compatible) Facebook apps for functions like providing FAQ information, creating contact forms, displaying a Google Map for your business, showcasing your YouTube videos, encouraging discussion and sharing, integrating Twitter, and more.
6 Tools Social Media Experts Use to Update Facebook Pages by KISSmetrics
Kristi Hines (again) presents the pros and cons of updating Facebook using third-party apps (e.g., the impact of Edgerank: “One thing that EdgeRank has the potential of doing is lowering the value of an update from a third-party tool and prioritizing updates that are made directly on Facebook. This means that pages with updates from third-party apps may not get as much engagement”), then reviews six such tools, including HootSuite and Buffer, for those who choose to go the third-party route regardless.
Explaining that “a Facebook Social Plugin is basically a widget you can add to your website to extend the benefits of your Facebook marketing efforts beyond Facebook. It’s a way to get more marketing mojo out of Facebook on your own website,” Pamela Vaughan reviews 11 of these plugins, explaining what each one does, its marketing value, and how to install and use it.
18 Tools to Develop Your Brand on Facebook by Practical eCommerce
5 STARS *****
Sig Ueland showcases 18 tools for engagement, promotion and monitoring on Facebook, including the Wildfire (now owned by Google) suite of apps for social media promotion, the Forum for Pages discussion board app, and EdgeRank Checker for post optimization. Missing from the list though is Workface, the first non-Facebook-owned interactive profile and multi-format chat tool to be fully functional in Facebook.
The evolution of Facebook features by EngageSciences
A fantastic infographic illustrating the history of Facebook feature changes from 2006 through the beginning of 2012. The narrative also points out why keeping up with Facebook’s constant changes, though maddening, is essential: “the introduction of the Facebook Mobile App has been fantastic as it is now the worlds largest mobile app with 400m users, which has stimulated more people to use the site more often, but businesses have been caught out as they have not realised that apps and tabs they create currently cannot be accessed by users of the Facebook Mobile App. With up to 40% of traffic coming from smartphones that is a lot of lost interaction.”
Facebook’s biggest change yet: Actions are here by VentureBeat
Jolie O’Dell explains what Actions are and why they matter:”Actions are kind of the Holy Grail of semantic data, defining relation types between people, objects, content, places, businesses, and so much more. If users warm to the idea of Actions, it might also be one of the most valuable and lucrative move Facebook will ever make.” But she concludes by writing “As Facebook executive Bret Taylor explained it, with the addition of Actions to Facebook profiles, ‘You can see everything you have ever done in any app.’” Do Facebook users really want that?
Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Complete Guide by Mashable
Christine Erickson puts a positive spin on the March Timeline change and provides an extensive list of Timeline-related resources from Mashable, including Timeline for Brands: How to Prepare for Your Company’s New Facebook Page and Facebook Timeline: 10 Fresh Designs for Creative Inspiration [PICS].
Facebook is telling businesses to become better content marketers by iMedia Connection
According to Doug Schumacher, the “big story” of Facebook’s switch to Timeline format “is that Facebook is essentially telling all marketers that they’d better get their content game on. That’s because your paid advertising on Facebook and the content you publish on Facebook are now one and the same, from a messaging standpoint. The focus on Facebook paid ads won’t be on crafting individual messages that you then optimize, as it’s been in the past. Instead, you’ll simply pipe your best content pieces into different ad units, and measure performance based on how your content attracts interest.”
Facebook Opinions, Observations and Stats
Diane Mermigas is bullish on the long-term value and potential of Facebook, and explains how the social networking behemoth could develop a “torrent of new revenue and value that eventually will make its $100 billion IPO valuation look like child’s play” through a combination of mobile, social search, its relationship with Microsoft / Bing, gaming, and image sharing.
Matt Creamer reports on data showing that the most engaging brand content is generally, well, content closely related to the brand. Attempts to “humanize” the brand through off-topic surveys, questions, and recommendations don’t increase “likes” or grow a brand’s following. And if you want to use questions to drive engagement? “Buddy Media found that brand fans are more willing to comment when asked a question, especially if the question begins with ‘where,’ ‘when,’ ‘would’ and ‘should.’ But other interrogatory words don’t work as well. Avoid asking ‘why’ questions,’ advised the Buddy Media paper. ‘Why’ has both the lowest ‘like’ and comment rates and may be seen as intrusive and/or challenging.”
Facebook on SecondMarket (Infographic) by SecondMarket
An interesting graphical depiction of the rise in Facebook’s value from early 2008 (when the social network had a mere 145 million users and had just introduced Facebook chat) through the company’s IPO in May of this year. In terms of the dollar volume of shares traded at the IPO, 79% of sales were by former Facebook employees, while more than half of purchases were by hedge funds and asset managers.
Facebook Skeptics and Rants
Why there will never be a Margie Clayman Facebook Fan Page by Margie’s Moments of Tiyoweh
The delightful Margie Clayman uses her dagger-sharp pen to skewer the concept of personal fan pages, observing for example, “Isn’t your profile on Facebook kind of a fan page already?…even though the word ‘friend’ is used rather loosely these days, isn’t it more comforting to think that you have 500 friends versus 500 fans?”
Facebook: Why is nobody listening? by ComMetrics
How much is your brand spending on its Facebook strategy? You may want to reevaluate that after reading this scathing but meticulously data-supported post from Urs E. Gattiker. “Facebook status updates are similar to broadcasting a message to an empty football stadium…900 out of every 1000 people do not even see your status update or tweet. Only 0.05 percent (1 person per 2,000 readers) engage by joining the conversation with a comment on your blog or Facebook page.”
14 Ways New Facebook Betrays Small Business by Convince & Convert
Jay Baer contends that “the new design and rules accompanying the new Timeline version of Facebook pages is a boon to big business, and a blow to small business,” for 14 reasons he details, including the death of the landing tab (One area where small businesses could excel in ‘old’ Facebook was with the default landing tab. This became a de-facto landing page/microsite for many companies, and made it relatively easy to drive fan behavior – especially when using inexpensive software. Of course, Facebook killed it in Timeline”) and the penalty on third-party apps.
Why Facebook Could Disappear by MediaPost
Contemplating the future of Facebook in the wake of losing advertising dollars from GM (and potentially other large brands), and the fate of predecessors like AOL, George Simpson writes “MySpace was well on its way to becoming that iconic, can’t-live-without-it kind of company, and Facebook came along and cut its legs off. As soon as the aunts and uncles and grandpas showed up on MySpace, the kids that were the cornerstone of their business hit the exits and ran straight for Facebook. I contend the exact same thing could happen to Facebook.”
The Facebook Fallacy by Technology Review
If you are having too nice of a day, or perhaps even feeling a bit optimistic about the future of online marketing, Michael Wolff will bring you back to earth with his explanation here of why “Facebook not only is on course to go bust but will take the rest of the ad-supported Web with it.” Stock up on canned goods and ammo.