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July 19 2011

7 Things Facebook Should Do To Increase Security [OPINION]

This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Eugene Kaspersky is CEO of Kaspersky Lab, the company he co-founded in 1997, which is now the world’s largest, privately-held anti-malware company. You can follow him on Twitter @e_kaspersky and his blog at eugene.kaspersky.com.

For the past seven years we have seen how Facebook has dramatically changed the way people communicate while it has formed a new culture of online socializing.

For most people, Facebook has been about keeping in touch with friends and family in a totally new way. But for security researchers, such as myself, it has led to seven years of new challenges for the security industry. The main issue with social networking and security is that social networks are, well, social, and when the human mind gets involved, vulnerabilities can be exploited. I’m talking about human vulnerabilities, those against which it’s hard to defend.

Many Facebook users lack knowledge and experience about how to protect themselves in the social networking environment, which has made the situation worse. Facebook appeals to new Internet users who often lack the computer savvy to identify online threats, and the most vulnerable segment of the audience — kids — have little life experience required to make reasonable decisions.

Because of this, I believe Facebook needs to enhance the security and privacy features of its site so the problems don’t escalate out of control. With the help of my colleagues, here are seven key recommendations I believe will make Facebook a safer place:

1. Enforce Full HTTPS Browsing

This way, all users can make sure no one is snooping into their conversations, even if they’re browsing Facebook through an untrusted Internet connection. Additionally, it will render attack tools such as Firesheep completely useless.

I admire the fact that Facebook has enabled optional HTTPS browsing in its recent security features roll-out. However, I don’t think the option is clearly marked enough for most users to find and utilize it. Therefore, I feel that this feature should be made mandatory for everyone.

2. Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Banks are offering e-tokens to their customers to safely access their online banking accounts; but in a world where social networking sites are becoming more and more important to what we do online, users should also have the same technology available for protecting their Facebook accounts.

This option should be enforced and mandatory, otherwise it may easily be lost in the depth of account settings. Following Facebook’s initiative to send verification codes via SMS, I suggest the company develop a mobile application that will generate a one-time password in addition to the master password. This way, an attacker would have to compromise not one, but two devices to access a Facebook account. This is not an easy task even for an experienced hacker.

3. Make Clear Which Facebook Apps Are Trusted

Malicious Facebook apps are being analyzed and reported by researchers on a daily basis. Facebook needs to perform a thorough security check and approve all incoming applications to make sure no malicious app makes its way onto a user’s profile.

At the very least, allow users to add a list of trusted/approved applications to his or her profile. If the person wants to use an application that is not trusted, they should be able to run it in some sort of “profile sandbox,” so that any malicious activity would not affect their friends and family.

4. Tighten the “Recommended” Privacy Controls

Currently, Facebook’s recommended privacy settings easily allow for an attacker to become the friend of a friend of a target, and consequently to access data needed to reset a password for an email account, or to misuse other personal information. Why does Facebook allow “everyone” to access status, photos, posts, bio, favorite quotes and family and relationships by default?

In the security market we follow a simple rule that works: “Disable everything, then enable the things you really need.” If Facebooks wants to take steps to actually make its site safer, the default setting should make personal information visible only to friends. Allow the users to decide later whether they want to change their data exposure.

5. Allow Permanent Deletion of Facebook Accounts

Permanently deleting a Facebook account should … permanently delete the account. Respect the user’s will to entirely wipe out his presence on Facebook, without worrying that some materials have been left available on the Internet, and make permanent account deletion a simpler process that doesn’t require a special request to Facebook customer support.

6. Commit to Parental Controls

Allow parents to set up limited-access accounts for their children, as sub-accounts under their own Facebook presences. The limited sub-accounts could automatically be turned into full-access accounts once children reach the age of consent.

My colleagues and I support initiatives to protect users under 18, as expressed in California’s SB242, which extends the opportunities for parents to control their children’s social media accounts.

7. Better Educate Users

I value Facebook’s commitment to educate users about security and privacy in social networks, including the initiative to set up dedicated Pages to these topics (Facebook Safety, Facebook Security and Facebook Privacy). However, no matter what sort of protection surrounds Facebook users, those privacy features will remain useless should users lack the awareness.

For this reason, I recommend extending the practice by introducing more opportunities for user education. A good example would be to launch daily webinars that cover the most important aspects of Facebook security in the clearest and simplest way possible for the general public.

It is also the belied of myself and my colleagues that a closer interaction with security vendors will assist in building a stronger community to bolster critical Facebook initiatives and allow for more informed decisions. An advisory board consisting of the most authoritative experts in the security community, and regular summits to review past and future initiatives could bring additional value to the development of a safer Facebook.

These are seven realistic, doable and actionable steps that can dramatically increase the safety and privacy of Facebook’s users. Of course, no technology can guarantee 100% security as long as the human factor is involved. Still, Facebook can and should do everything it can to protect its users and keep them safe.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, malerapaso

More About: facebook, letter, mark zuckerberg, op-ed, Opinion, privacy, safety, security, social media

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July 09 2011

40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Whew! This week was awash with news. So, we transformed that news into advice, tips and how-to’s that you can reference for years to come.

Take Facebook’s video chat launch — we’ll guide you in setting it up. Or the space shuttle launch — we provide the Twitter accounts for dozens of astronauts and space experts. And Google+ has been on the minds of millions — we present its pros and cons. Mashable not only releases breaking news, we help you learn how to apply it to your business, your interests and your personal life.

If spare time for reading didn’t exactly factor into your busy week, here’s a roundup of resources that appeared on Mashable.

Editors’ Picks

Social Media

Sponsored post

July 06 2011

Facebook & AMEX Team to Give Small Businesses a Social Media Makeover

Facebook and American Express’s small business division, American Express Open, are teaming up to give five companies a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses.

The contest is part of American Express Open’s Small Business Saturday initiative, which encourages shoppers to support small, independently owned businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Last year was its inaugural and largely successful year, which American Express is working to develop into an even larger movement across the U.S. this fall.

More than 11,000 small businesses entered the contest, from which 10 finalists, profiled in the gallery below, have been selected. Users can cast votes for their favorites from now until July 20 on Facebook. The winners will then head to Facebook’s headquarter’s where they’ll get advice from the company on how to best tailor their Page, Ads and social plugins.

The partnership between the two makes sense given each company’s aggressive focus on the small business market. Facebook has partnered with major companies on small business initiatives before, including a 2008 campaign with Visa that awarded $100 in Facebook credits to the first 20,000 business owners to sign up for Visa’s Facebook application.

Facebook and AMEX also recently announced a deal that allows businesses to buy Facebook Credits to use on advertising through AMEX’s membership rewards program.

The Bandee - Weston, FL

The Bandee, which began as a class assignment, is a stylish hair band optimized for sports and outdoor activities.

Bear Creek Tackle - Bend, OR

Bear Creek Tackle offers more than rods and reels. It's a complete online resource on how and where to fish, educating anglers at all levels.

Big Daddy's Bar-B-Que - Gary, IN

Big Daddy's Bar-B-Que started out selling barbeque at a flea market and evolved into a full-fledged restaurant dedicated to giving back to its community.

Distinctive Gardens Inc. - Dixon, IL

Distinctive Gardens Inc. is not a typical nursery. It's a garden center that unites those passionate about plants, gardening and community.

Fat Brain Toys - Elkhorn, NE

Fat Brain Toys is a wholesale toy company that creates toys, games and gifts designed to challenge children while they play.

HOPELights - Plano, TX

HOPELights prints customized magazines for kids with special needs and develops communities for their families. The goal is to build confidence in young readers by making complex messages simpler.

Modmarket - Boulder, CO

Modmarket makes fast food that's good for you. They serve up sustainable grub from local growers that's healthy, delicious and affordable.

Parkwhiz.com - Chicago, IL

ParkWhiz.com takes the hassle out of parking at sporting events, theater, concerts and more. Drivers reserve hard-to-get spaces online, and save time to enjoy their experience.

Spoonflower - Durham, NC

Spoonflower is a far-from-average online fabric store. Customers can design, print and sell their own designs to create truly unique quilts, blankets, toys, clothes and more.

Viesso - Santa Monica, CA

Viesso is a modern, eco-conscious furniture company that allows you to customize one-of-a-kind furniture both online and in store.

Disclosure: American Express is a Mashable advertiser.

More About: american express, business, facebook, facebook page, small business, social media

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July 04 2011

The History of America, As Told by Facebook [PIC]

In honor of Independence Day, The New York Times visualized America’s would-be Facebook profile in its Op-Art section, translating the history of the U.S. into Facebook’s iconic narrative structure.

The piece (below), “Like It or Unfriend It?” was created by novelist Teddy Wayne, Vanity Fair staffer Mike Sacks and designer Thomas Ng.

The graphic recalls a similar piece published by Slate‘s Christopher Beam and Chris Wilson in May, which chronicles recent U.S. events in an imaginary Barack Obama Facebook feed.

Last year the Washington Post published pieces of a real Facebook feed in “A Facebook Story: A mother’s joy and a family’s sorrow” to tell the tragic story of a young mother’s illness and subsequent death.

All three pieces acknowledge a new kind of plot structure told through the incremental and often brief updates we post on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Notably, all three pieces subvert the reverse-chronological order in which these updates are normally displayed.

Image courtesy of Flickr, ladybugbkt

More About: america, art, facebook, facebook page, social media, the new york times, united states

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July 03 2011

June 29 2011

5 Innovative Facebook Campaigns to Learn From

The Social Marketing Series is supported by Campaigner®. Campaigner® email marketing enables small, medium and large businesses to strengthen customer relationships and drive sales by connecting to their customers quickly, simply and affordably. Visit www.campaigner.com to learn more.

If you’ve tried to run a campaign on Facebook and were frustrated by its poor results, you’re not alone. Facebook‘s ads have a pretty poor performance record and its ads continue to be cheap, though plentiful.

The good news is that Facebook is working hard to improve its ads’ performance. The company continues to experiment with new ad formats and has lately cozied up to the ad community with Facebook Studio, a forum for new campaigns that features a directory of ad agencies.

The idea is that marketers can learn from each other as they try to navigate Facebook, which is terra incognita for everyone since it’s so new. In that spirit, here are five recent Facebook campaigns that offer some instructive examples on how the platform can be used to amplify a message or interact with consumers in a new way.

1. “Infinity” — Batelco

Bahrain Telecommunications Co., a.k.a. Batelco, isn’t going to give Apple a run for its money in the name-recognition department anytime soon, but for those interested in social media marketing, it’s the little brand that could. You may recall that Batelco’s “Infinity” video made the short list of favorite TED ads earlier this year, but the Facebook aspect of that campaign is just as notable.

Batelco aired two trailers for the video in movie theaters and online in September 2010. To spread the video even further, Batelco’s app included a prompt for users to activate their webcams and take pictures of themselves reacting to the video. The picture was then posted on Facebook (with the user’s permission). Next, the company and agency FP7/BAH disseminated information about the making of the video. Realizing that all the target customers were online, Batelco also set up kiosks in malls and airports letting consumers see the video. As a result of the exposure, Batelco gained more than 200,000 fans on Facebook. More than 70% of Bahrain’s Facebook community are fans.

The Upshot: Batelco bet heavily on a viral video and it paid off, partially because the video itself is so compelling, but also because it provided a means for people on Facebook to add something to the experience.

2. Fashiontag — Flair Magazine

Flair, a Belgian women’s magazine, observed that women check out each other’s wardrobes in real life and figured that might be the case online as well. That reasoning prompted the creation of Fashiontag, an app that lets users identify their friends’ clothing in Facebook pics and ask a question about the item. The question also was posted on the friend’s wall.

Those conversations then ran on a Fashiontag Page on Facebook. The best ones ran in the magazine. According to Advertising Age, after the app launched on March 22, the magazine’s Facebook Page got a 35% bump in fans, to 23,000. Best of all, this was done on the cheap: The app only cost about $35,000 to create.

The Upshot: Flair created a genuinely useful app and one that tied in with its brand mission. As a result, the title not only got attention, but found a new way to interact with readers and create content.

3. Comida Kraft — Kraft Foods

Kraft introduced Comida Kraft, a recipe website targeted to Hispanic consumers, in 2001. Nine years later it launched a Comida Kraft Facebook Page as well. Kraft stepped things up in May 2011, by enlisting Mexican celebrity chef Alfredo Oropeza, which boosted the Page’s fans by 38%. But Oropeza isn’t just lending his name. In July, Kraft is planning three livestreamed video chats with the chef, during which participants can ask questions in real time. In November, Kraft is planning to give Latina moms who subscribe to Comida Kraft recipes by email — those who subscribe to the Comida Kraft Mobile Club will get free exclusive access to additional recipes and videos on their mobile phones.

The Upshot: Kraft, working with digital marketing agency 360i, has added new activities to engage its Facebook fans. The addition of a celebrity chef and exclusive access gives consumers a reason to become fans and gives fans special access.

4. The Squeezing Smiles Machine — Prigat

The problem with a lot of branded Facebook Pages is there’s nothing to do there. Israeli juice company Prigat not only gave its fans something to do, it put them to work. Prigat set up an app that let fans activate an orange juice machine by smiling. (The company used face-recognition technology to recognize those smiles.)

It turns out, a lot of users were up to the challenge. More than 20,000 users uploaded photos of themselves, which led to 30,000 “likes,” (a 300% jump in growth). More than 40,000 oranges were also squeezed during the effort — the juice was given to charity.

The Upshot: Bridging the real and the online world can spark some interesting ideas. Asking users to smile also ensured that the program was fun.

5. Your Very Own Mad Men Ad — Mad Men Season 4 in the Netherlands

Here’s the pitch: Don Draper and his team have a new assignment — an ad about you. But first they have to know a bit about you — what kind of car you drive, what’s your drink of choice, that kind of thing. Next, they need a picture of you. Then you get to see a few mockups of ads about you. When you settle on one you like, you post it to your site. The best ads will run in the Dutch magazine BLVD Man and on billboards in Amsterdam.

The campaign, from an agency called Greenberry, launched in June to promote the premiere of season 4 of Mad Men in the Netherlands. So there you have it: a promotion for a show about advertising that creates advertising about you that might actually run as a real ad somewhere. Is your head spinning yet?

The Upshot: This promotion stays true to the concept of the product it promotes, but involves consumers in the process as only Facebook can.

What other innovative Facebook campaigns have you seen? Let us know in the comments below.

Series Supported by Campaigner®

The Social Marketing Series is supported by Campaigner®. Campaigner®’s Smart Email Builder makes it easier than ever to create professional looking email marketing campaigns and affords multiple ways to grow and manage lists, integrate with CRM, and utilize campaign metrics and reports to increase results. For more information, please visit www.campaigner.com or watch a product demo today.

More About: 360i, facebook, MARKETING, Social Marketing Series

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June 27 2011

HOW TO: Claim Your Business On Facebook Places

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Facebook Places is essentially free word-of-mouth advertising for your business. When customers check in, they’ll automatically be telling their Facebook friends about it. If you run a small business with a street entrance, there’s a good chance that it’s already a part of Facebook Places — with or without your input.

By claiming your Page, you have the opportunity to customize that free advertising. It also makes it easy to purchase pay-per-click advertising for your Places page.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Add Your Business To Facebook Places

Open the Facebook app on your mobile phone. Depending on which device you have, you'll either hit "Places" or "Check In" on the home screen of the app. Type the name of your business in the search bar. If there's no listing for your business, there will be an option in the search results menu to add it. You can do so by adding a description and selecting "add."

If your business has already been added to Facebook Places, you can skip this step.

2. Search For Your Business On Facebook

Open Facebook on your desktop and search for your business. Click on the Places result.

3. Claim Your Place

Beneath the image on the Places page there is a hyperlink that says, "Is this your business?" If it is, you can click it to start the verification process.

4. Verify Your Listing

Before Facebook will let you edit the page, they ask for either a business email address or a document that has your name and business' name on it. After you supply either, it can take as long as a week for Facebook to confirm your request.

Important Questions

June 24 2011

June 20 2011

How Movie Marketers Are Innovating On Facebook

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Fans see when you post content on your brand’s Facebook Page, right? Wrong. Cut through the mystery of Facebook’s Edgerank — download the white paper now.

Early on in Facebook marketing history, movies had a minimal presence on the platform. Usually, film pages listed rudimentary information. Sometimes a marketer would create pages for individual characters in a movie, but that’s about as innovative as it got.

Since then, however, the platform has grown into an important tool for connecting with movie fans before and after a premiere.

“Now when we market on Facebook, it’s a full relationship with the fan group,” says Relativity Media president of marketing Terry Curtin. “If you think about the way that movie marketing has worked, for years and years and years we’ve had an indirect relationship with our audience. We sell our tickets through a third party, we advertise through a third party. So this is the first time that we have a direct interface.”

Movie studios use Facebook Pages to listen to movie fans, engage superfans who crave more information than can be crammed into trailers and spread the word about a movie in an organic way.

In the process, many have expanded well beyond a Facebook wall — they’re transformed Facebook into a movie-viewing experience for the fans who want that. Here are some examples of how the makers of a handful of recent and upcoming movies are using the platform.

Immortals, November 2011

In order to acquaint fans with the mythology that will be incorporated into Immortals, Relativity Media is creating a graphic novel. A "Become Immortal" section on Facebook allows fans to apply to have their images used for one male and one female character in the book.

"When you have a movie that has a mythology and the mythology is not already known," Curtin says. "It would be really expensive to orient the fan base to mythology through traditional means. So going to the fan base through Facebook allows us to give them a lot of early information."

Cars 2, June 2011

Similar to the way the characters in Immortals have a mythology that Facebook is helping to explain to interested fans, the characters of Cars 2 have a backstory that its creators use Facebook to help explain. On the Facebook Page, fans can meet and share each character, in addition to sharing scenes from the movie and posters.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, June 2011

The Transformers webpage lets users gift Transformer images to friends.

Tron Legacy, December 2010

From the “Tron Hub” on Facebook, fans can give friends virtual Tron gifts, take and tag their photos in a Tron scene, visit the Tron soundtrack Facebook Page, enter a sweepstakes, buy gear and order the movie - all while listening to Tron music.

Tron Legacy, December 2010

Tron’s Facebook app allows anyone to star in a mini-Tron movie and share it with their friends.

Tron Legacy, December 2010

"Troniverse" is an interactive globe that fans can use to see posts on Twitter and Facebook from around the world.

Winnie The Pooh, July 2011

The Winnie the Pooh Facebook Page also gives fans a creative reason to share with a quiz that looks like a storybook. At the end of the quiz, fans find out which character they are most like and can post a customized video about it on their Facebook profiles.

The Twilight Saga, 2008 -- 2011

Before Relativity Media, Curtin worked with the Summit Group on the social media efforts for Twilight. "They had a project that was so particularly owned by their fans," she says, "to take it over in any particular marketing way would have really upset the balance. They filled out the fan base by enabling the uberfan. Instead of doing the corporate Facebook Page, they let the lead fan stay in control of that page. And then they let that fan be the one who broke the exclusive information and content."

On the current page, fans are still the focus with a real-time feed of Facebook and Twitter posts. Several other movies set for release this summer, including Green Lantern and Harry Potter take a similar approach.

Twilight Breaking Dawn, November 2011

In case you don't know any Twilight-obsessed adolescents - newsflash: Edward and Bella are getting married! The Facebook Page for the movie allows fans to spread the word by signing into a guestbook for their wedding and inviting guests.

X-Men: First Class, June 2011

Marketers gave fans an opportunity to connect with X-Men cast members and filmmakers (“x-perts," if you will) in this Q&A section of its Facebook Page. Even though producer Bryan Singer has only answered 10 of the 28,033 questions he’s been asked so far, that's more interaction fans might have had with him otherwise.

Series Supported by Buddy Media

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Fans see when you post content on your brand’s Facebook Page, right? Wrong. Cut through the mystery of Facebook’s Edgerank — download the white paper now.

More Facebook Marketing Resources from Mashable:

- 4 Ways to Set Up a Storefront on Facebook
- HOW TO: Create a Facebook Engagement Policy
- HOW TO: Engage and Mobilize Facebook Fans Beyond the “Like”
- 5 Creative Facebook Places Marketing Campaigns

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, brentmelissa

More About: facebook, Facebook Marketing Series, MARKETING, Movies, relativity media

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June 06 2011

4 Facebook Marketing Tips for Entertainment Brands

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Fans see when you post content on your brand’s Facebook Page, right? Wrong. Cut through the mystery of Facebook’s Edgerank — download the white paper now.

While some businesses are still figuring out the value of building a fan base, entertainment brands have long understood that a vibrant fan community is critical to their success. Perhaps this why entertainers were among the first to embrace Facebook as a way to attract, engage and communicate with fans. And because the most effective Facebook marketing programs often combine compelling content with personality, entertainment brands are uniquely positioned to succeed with this medium.

But even for the most popular entertainers, creating a robust fan base on Facebook requires more than just creating a Page and posting content. Here are four ways entertainment brands can accelerate their Facebook success.

1. Use Questions, Polls and Quizzes to Engage Your Community

If you post a piece of content on your Facebook Page, you might generate a good number of comments. But if you post your content in the context of a question, a poll or a quiz, you make your content interactive and provoke viral distribution.

Sarah Hofstetter, SVP of brand strategy and emerging media at digital marketing agency 360i, recommends trying out the new Facebook Questions tool to engage users around a question. 360i is using Facebook Questions in its work with BRAVO Network. For example, this recent Facebook Questions post on the Real Housewives of New Jersey Page encouraged fans to pick a side in a family feud that has emerged in the show’s storyline, generating over 15,000 votes.

GLEE is also a fan of this approach, posting a poll every Tuesday to spark conversation around the show prior to its airing that night. These weekly polls routinely generate thousands of interactions.

Also consider embedding a promotional offer or a download in a poll or a quiz — this tactic can work to drive very high conversation rates, since fans are already actively engaged with your brand.

For example, Glenn Beck is promoting his magazine Fusion through a series of polls and quizzes on Facebook. After taking the poll or quiz, fans are presented with a custom page promoting Fusion and enabling fans to click through to subscribe.

2. Reward Your Fans

Engaging fans is one way to keep them happy; rewarding them is another. While there are many ways to reward your Facebook fans, many entertainers have found that sharing exclusive or free content gives fans a reason to come back time and again.

“I think the best piece of advice to give someone who is looking to build a fan base on Facebook is to tell them to figure out what they do best and give it away for free,” says Chris Taylor, co-founder of MicControl, a blogging platform for the emerging music community. “Social media has made ‘free’ a word that consumers have begun to expect.”

Taylor points to Chris Webby as a great example of how this strategy can work. Webby, an up-and-coming rapper, regularly releases free mixes via Facebook. This approach has helped Webby reach the 100,000 fan mark.

Webby’s fans “are some of the most dedicated fans you will see in the emerging music industry — they buy all of his merchandise, they buy tickets to shows and will travel hours to see him perform,” says Taylor. “By giving his fans free music, interacting with them on Facebook and Twitter and showing how much he truly cares, his fans are more than happy to show him how much they truly care.”

Rewarding your fans can also be as simple as making sure your Page provides valuable information, such as upcoming show dates or releases. For example, DJ Jody Wisternoff keeps his fans current with custom tabs for both his gigs and new music releases, and he posts personal updates in the run-up to each show, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at the highs and lows of life on the road.

3. Let Fans Behind-the-Scenes

Letting fans get behind-the-scenes is not only an effective way to reward them, but also a great way to take more ownership of your personal brand.

Jessica Sitomer, CEO of TheGreenlightCoach.com, encourages entertainers to use their work as an opportunity to promote themselves creatively on Facebook. Sitomer suggests doing a “behind-the-scenes” video before a shoot or a show.

“Get creative with your videos; they can be of you getting ready at home, getting your make-up done in the trailer or prepping your equipment on set,” says Sitomer.

Sitomer points to Juliet Landau, best known for her work as Drusilla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, as a great example of this approach. “Landau wanted to break out of her genre,” says Sitomer, “so when she got a job as an action hero in a film, she leveraged her connections from her Drusilla promotions and contacted a magazine to do a shoot of her as the action hero. She then had a cinematographer film the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of the photo shoot.” Landau then shared the video broadly on her own Facebook Page as well as the fan pages her fans created.

Some entertainers are even tying this behind-the-scenes content to becoming a fan, requiring that fans Like their page to access it. For example, actor and author Rob Lowe created a custom “Fan Wall” on his Page, where he shares exclusive content and excerpts from his new book Stories I Only Tell My Friends with people who “like” his Page.

4. Use a Facebook Storefront to Turn Fans into Buyers

According to Sumeet Jain, principal at CMEA Capital, more business will be done on Facebook than Amazon within the next five years — which means that the value of transactions completed within Facebook may exceed $34 billion within five years.

But there’s no need to wait; many entertainers are already tapping the tremendous value of their existing fan base today by launching a Facebook storefront, turning their fans into buyers and product evangelists.

“Shopping on Facebook is the next step in the evolution of e-commerce,” says Christian Taylor, co-founder and CEO of social commerce company Payvment. “Facebook is the perfect place for musicians, comedians and other entertainers to promote and sell their content and merchandise. Their fans are already there, and Facebook users don’t like to leave Facebook … so why send them to a separate website to transact?” he says.

Actress Molly Sims is using Payvment’s free Facebook commerce storefront to promote and sell her “Grayce by Molly Sims” jewelry to her more than 150,000 fans and others on Facebook. The storefront also includes Sims’ personal posts, updates and pictures to create a more integrated and social shopping experience.

Other entertainment-focused applications, such as Nimbit, offer musicians, managers and independent labels a storefront for Facebook. Nimbit’s free store allows musicians to sell or give away digital music, and for an additional subscription fee, they can also sell CDs or vinyl, merchandise and e-tickets.

“We’ve found that musicians who use Facebook to launch their releases can benefit greatly from the viral nature of the sharing that goes on,” says Carl Jacobson, VP of marketing at Nimbit. “Fans become promoters, and we’ve seen some artists more than double their expected sales as a result.”

What other best practices have you come across on entertainment-related Facebook Pages? Let us know in the comments.

Series Supported by Buddy Media

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Fans see when you post content on your brand’s Facebook Page, right? Wrong. Cut through the mystery of Facebook’s Edgerank — download the white paper now.

More Facebook Marketing Resources from Mashable:

- 4 Ways to Set Up a Storefront on Facebook
- HOW TO: Create a Facebook Engagement Policy
- HOW TO: Engage and Mobilize Facebook Fans Beyond the “Like”
- 5 Creative Facebook Places Marketing Campaigns

More About: ecommerce, facebook, facebook marketing, Facebook Marketing Series, facebook pages, Glenn Beck, payvment

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

May 31 2011

4 Creative Ways to Reward Your Facebook Fans

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

A key part of your Facebook marketing strategy is figuring out how to build and engage your fan base — and one of the best ways to do this is by rewarding your Facebook audience for becoming and staying fans.

“Fans have signaled a level of passion or connection with a brand, so rewarding that acknowledgement only further endears the brand to those fans,” says Blake Cahill, principal and president of social media agency Banyan Branch. “Giving fans what they want can vary from discounts, to empowering them to support causes, to providing them with exclusive content and information. In many cases, success is a mix of all of these.”

Here are four great ways to reward your Facebook fans for their continued engagement and support.

1. Offer Exclusive Discounts, Coupons and Content

Discounts and specials are definitely among the most popular ways of rewarding Facebook fans, says Ron Schott, senior strategist at the Spring Creek Group.

“One of my favorite hotel chains, Provenance Hotels, offers specials to their Facebook (and Twitter) fans: If you book rooms through those channels, you can receive a percentage off your stay as well as free Wi-Fi access,” says Schott.

Schott also notes that there are a number of restaurants offering a special reservation opportunity to Facebook fans. “This can be accomplished as easily as displaying a tab on your Facebook Page with a special number or code to use when booking,” adds Schott.

Some companies tie discounts and coupons to engagement activities. Capriotti’s, a popular chain of Italian restaurants, gives out free sandwich coupons to fans who correctly answer questions about Capriotti’s history or participate in online contests. For example, the restaurant recently posted a clip from a local TV appearance on its Facebook Page and asked fans if they could spot the two wrong facts in the piece. The first person to do so was sent a voucher for a free sub.

There are also low-cost applications you can use to create custom fan-only tabs for your Facebook Page. For example, actor and author Rob Lowe used Fan Tabz to create a custom “Fan Wall” on his Page, where he shares exclusive content and excerpts from his new book Stories I Only Tell My Friends with people who “like” his Page.

2. Help Fans Give Back

Many companies also reward fans by helping them give back, tying charitable donations to the growth of their fan base. Hosiery and legwear company No nonsense recently kicked off a program in which it is donating one million pairs of socks to needy children and families across the country. The campaign, called “Socks for America,” allows consumers to donate a pair of socks in their name to a person in need simply by becoming a fan on No nonsense’s < a href="http://www.facebook.com/#!/nononsense" target="_blank">Facebook Page.

Another great example is Idaho-based Dynamite Specialty Products, which makes all-natural dog food. Last year, the company pledged to give a pound of dog food to the Idaho Humane Society for every new Facebook fan. It ended up donating 2,800 pounds, which is worth $4,200 and is enough to feed 200 dogs for almost six months.

“We wanted to spread the word about Dynamite, and we knew that for many of our customers, giving to a charity actually would be more of a motivation to help than a personal prize or special offer. People who buy our products are passionate about their animals and about making the world a better place,” said Callie Novak, Dynamite’s CEO.

3. Show You’re Listening

One of the best ways to reward fans for their continued support is by showing them you’re listening to their opinions and feedback. Tony Pham, VP of marketing at family safety startup Life360, notes that building an authentic rapport with customers is a big part of the company’s success growing to over two million families using its products.

“The company has seen that providing targeted content and resources is appreciated because of the trusted relationship we have with the families using Life360,” says Pham. “We figure out what our users want to learn about by taking polls and hosting quizzes. Then, when we provide material that delivers what they said they wanted, it demonstrates that were really listening to our community and providing them with added value.”

Showing you’re listening can be as easy as responding to each and every comment and question on your Page. Social media strategist Alex Levine notes that, “Attention is a highly undervalued reward to Facebook fans. Reward your Facebook fans by acknowledging each comment people post to your questions. Not only does this provide (nearly) immediate gratification for fans, but it also encourages the behavior, thus greatly improving the probability and volume of their future engagement with your brand.”

Want to take it up a notch? Honda really showed it was listening during its “We’re Fans of You Too” Week on Facebook, during which it recognized some of the innovative ways fans have shown their love for the brand over the years by mirroring these activities on their own.

For example, a fan carved a Honda logo into their lawn, so Honda carved that fan’s name into their corporate headquarters’ lawn at the main entrance. A fan revealed his love for Honda with his Honda logo tattoo; Honda’s vice president of marketing got an airbrushed tattoo of the fan’s name and face. A fan requested a special Honda haircut at his barber; a Honda associate got that fan’s name carved in his hair, too.

4. Recognize Individual Fans

One completely free way to reward and recognize fans is to showcase an individual fan on your Page. Social media consultant Sarah Evans of PR and new media consultancy Sevans Strategy suggests that you “select a fan of the week. Interview the individual, post it on the Page and encourage dialogue around the person, not your brand. You can reward people with this honor who frequently contribute to the page or are loyal customers.”

Schott agrees. “Recognizing individual fans is a great way to reward users for being a part of the community and also [for brands] to show that they care at the same time. The user gets a kick out of it because their friends now see them displayed in all their glory and the business climbs a couple notches higher on that brand preference ladder.”

Finally, Evans recommends not calling your fans, “fans.” She suggests giving them “a much cooler or more unique title.”

“Make them feel like the special customers they are,” says Evans. “They did take the time to ‘like’ your page.”

Disclosure: Fan Appz is a client of the author’s company.

More About: facebook, loyalty program, MARKETING

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May 18 2011

5 Tips for Building Vibrant Branded Online Communities

Justin Fogarty is the online community manager at Ariba, a leading provider of collaborative business commerce solutions. Follow Justin on Twitter @justacio or join the thousands interacting on his community, the Ariba Exchange.

The goal of many companies is to facilitate a vibrant online community around a brand or product. “Engagement” is a refrain we’ve all heard time and again, but it is crucial if you want to gain traction on the social web. We can look to the undisputed champ of engagement, Facebook, to inform our own strategies, communities and web presence.

This isn’t just about creating better Facebook ads, or even in getting more “Likes.” The bigger question is, what can our brand communities take away from the success of Facebook’s platform?

1. Facilitate What Customers Already Want to Do

It’s not about ROI or advertising dollars at the beginning. It’s not about messaging and positioning. Customers will come back to a place with a compelling reason for going there in the first place. Let the user determine the model, and look at the type of user that you want to attract as the primary driver behind the online presence.

In Facebook’s case, they started with simply facilitating the sharing of information — from personal profiles to pictures. They’ve kept that same core model but expanded into everything from shopping to events. What can you facilitate that will help your customers?

2. Extend Traditional Success

Most communities, like Facebook, are natural extensions of what happens in the real world. Facebook mimics personal relationships. Your online community should mimic the positive interactions traditionally formed within your company. If connections are made at trade shows, then start discussions online that would typically take place at a trade show. If your company’s growth is from sales in a particular vertical, then facilitate connections with influencers in that market.

3. Keep it Clean

If there are two things we learned from MySpace, not everyone is a web/UI designer, and people prefer a clean community. This is online design 101, but it applies to your brand as well.

The web has the power to infinitely enhance your capabilities online, but start small. Keep a simple, clean interface with a clear direction for a user to personally benefit. It will keep your brand’s image in focus, and give users a sense of the benefits they’ll get from engaging with you.

4. Treat Engagement as a Long-Term Process

Your content should be short, frequent and easy to engage with. Facebook’s News Feed is effective because of these principles. This keeps visitors coming back and spending more time with your community.

If done right, these returning visitors will slowly phase out some other older, inferior communication tools. For example, think about the things that Facebook has trumped — from classmates.com to that old personal blog you haven’t updated in months.

5. Make Engagement Easy

Generally, most people online are “lurkers,” viewing sites and communities without ever interacting with them. Enter the “Like” button, which made engagement quick, easy and approachable. With your business, create a community of quick and easy participation. This will get people invested in your message and enable continuous interaction.

Keeping these tips in mind, your business will be well on its way to creating unique experiences, increasing engagement and enthusiasm for your brand, and developing a truly interactive and meaningful community.

For more lists, how-tos and other resources on this topic, check out Mashable Explore!

More About: branding, community, engagement, facebook, List, Lists, social media, social media marketing

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May 10 2011

10 Proven Strategies for Greater Likeability on Facebook

Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable, a social media agency that has worked with more than 200 leading brands including 1-800Flowers.com, Verizon and Neutrogena. He is author of Likeable Social Media.

We all intuitively know what likeability means. We have friends who are easygoing, good listeners and there when we need them. But what does it mean for a brand to be likeable online? Now more than ever, when a “Like” is arguably more important than a “link,” brands must demonstrate core values of responsiveness, transparency and likeability across Facebook and other social networks.

Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement and surprise. And most importantly, truly engage your customers and help them spread the word. Here are 10 universal laws for brand likeability in social media.

1. Never Stop Listening

The number one benefit of a brand’s involvement in social media is the ability to listen to conversation about its brand, competitors and target audience’s wants and needs. Listening is 50% of communication. Just as nobody wants to be out on a date with someone who isn’t a good listener, consumer don’t want to feel ignored by brands on social networks.

For a good case study on how listening in social media has impacted millions of dollars worth of sales, check out IBM’s Listening for Leads program.

2. Leverage Facebook’s EdgeRank Formula

EdgeRank, Facebook’s algorithm for determining what appears at the top of people’s News Feeds, might be the single most important online innovation of our time. EdgeRank uses multiple factors to determine what’s relevant and appealing to users. So unlike email, through which we receive a constant barrage of pushed messages all day, every day, Facebook updates surface to the top of our feeds based on how likeable and relevant the updates are.

At any given time, as a brand, you’re competing with all of your fans’ friends and other brand pages for attention. This is a great thing for consumers because it means they’re not spammed with irrelevant, sales-heavy messaging. But it’s also a challenge to marketers. You’ll want to use photos and videos, keep the text short and drive as many Likes and comments as possible.

3. Improvise Your Engagement

There is a difference between talking at people and engaging with them. I often use the analogy of a Broadway show versus an improv show. TV advertising is like a Broadway show — a one-way communication in which a huge production and great creative can make a strong impact. Social media marketing is more like improv comedy — a back-and-forth between performers and audience, different every time yet totally effective at a fraction of the cost, when done right.

One brand that does an excellent job of engaging in social media is Zappos. Zappos goes back and forth with customers on Twitter and Facebook, discussing its product — shoes — or anything else customers want to talk about.

4. Respond Quickly to Negative Comments

Customers have taken to social networks to share their frustrations. Unlike 10 years ago, when you could get away with putting people on hold for an hour or responding to letters on your own schedule, negative sentiment can spread lightning-fast on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The faster you can respond, the better.

The best practice is to respond publicly, indicating that you’re addressing the issue through a private message. The customer will feel that he or she is heard, and most important to your brand, the public sees that you care and are responsive. “I’m sorry” are the two most powerful words for brands in social media.

5. Respond to Positive Comments, Too

Many brands are not yet leveraging this opportunity, but your positive comments on Facebook and Twitter are likely from your biggest brand advocates, capable of spreading your messages far and wide and defending you against naysayers at no cost. If you owned a retail store and a customer walked up to you and said, “I just love all your products and have been shopping here for years,” would you ignore them? Don’t ignore them on Facebook either. “Thank you” are the other two most powerful words for brands in social media.

6. Be Authentic and Transparent

Take a guess at what actor has the most likes on Facebook. Is it the most famous, most talented or best-looking actor?

With more than 21 million fans, Vin Diesel is the most-liked actor on Facebook, probably because he’s the most authentic. He shares pictures of his family, videos and inner thoughts. Brands can learn from Vin: Share insights from real people, behind-the-scenes footage, and your brand’s personality.

7. Provide Value (for Free!)

Brands that provide real value to consumers will see long-term dividends, build trust and credibility, and grow contagious excitement. While 10% off is not value (it’s marketing), 50% off is value. Free is value. Business-to-business brands can give away white papers, share articles or do free webinars. Business-to-consumer brands can give away products or deep-discounts, hold contests and share entertaining content.

Extra Gum gave away a pack to every fan on Facebook — now that’s value.

8. Share and Inspire Stories

Stories bring brands to life in a way that nothing else can. Stories can be about the founding of the company, an employee who has overcome struggle, or a customer experience with your product. In order for brands to tell a story at scale, they used to have to buy a 30-second TV commercial. Today, you can tell a story through tweets, photos and Facebook groups.

Check out this Facebook group, inspired by a local McDonald’s employee in Chandler, Arizona. More than 1,000 people sing Mary’s praises and organically spread the word about McDonald’s.

9. Consistently Deliver Surprise and Delight

This is a marketing principle more than a social media principle. When brands surprise and delight on social networks, it’s public and part of an ecosystem where things can spread very quickly. When Cumberland Farms’ Chill Zone Facebook Page had 30,000 fans, they announced that if the page topped 75,000 fans, they’d give away a free Chill Zone to everyone on the Page. A few weeks later, without any advertising, the page was at 100,000 fans.

10. Don’t Sell

Just make it easy and compelling for customers to buy. While it’s essential for brands to create likeable, engaging communities on social networks, every CMO needs to move the sales needle. But there’s a huge difference between using social networks to aggressively sell versus making it easy for consumers to buy.

Flash sales provide urgency and excitement on social networks. One way to make it easy is in-Facebook commerce.

Ultimately, the most important rule for brands to remember is the Golden Rule: Take off your marketing cap and put on your consumer cap — would you click Like or RT?

Disclosure: Cumberland Farms is a client of the author.

Interested in more Business and Marketing resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: business, facebook, like, MARKETING, social media, twitter

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5 Killer Social Media Tips for PR Pros

The Social PR Series is supported by Vocus. Vocus helps businesses get heard and talked about on social media and beyond. It brings you all the conversations that matter, without information overload, and lets you find influencers fast. Take a quick online demo and see what it can do.

So you’ve got the social PR basics down, and you’re following and engaging with relevant media and influencers. Maybe you’ve even developed a few social media campaigns for your company or clients. What are some other ways you can give your PR efforts an added social boost?

Here are five social media tips for PR professionals.

1. Anticipate and Join Twitter Conversations

While you can’t always predict what news or events will become a #hashtag that people will follow, it’s a pretty safe bet that events like the #Oscars or #adtech will have a large group of people following the hashtag before, during and shortly after each event. PR pros should consider timing news or relevant content around these events so they have an immediately engaged audience for tweets about this content.

For example, indie fashion site Moxsie.com timed a Twitter-based “Fashion Police” contest around the #Oscars conversation, inserting contest-related tweets into the mix.

One thing to note: You can certainly drop your tweet into the fray and hope people will retweet it, but to truly participate in the conversation, you should actively engage — retweeting good content, following interesting people, replying to questions and posting more than just links to your brand content — so the community recognizes you and values your contribution.

2. Write Tweetable Press Release Headlines

When you use a news distribution service such as PR Newswire or PRWeb to issue a press release, you typically see a large number of tweets that feature your press release headline once your news hits the wire. Writing your release headline with “tweetability” in mind can impact the number of tweets and retweets of your release.

This is not only a great opportunity to get your company, product or client’s name out to the social community, but also to drive views of your release. According to data from Crowd Factory, whose technology powers social sharing functionality on PRNewswire.com, press releases that are shared bring an average of six people back to the site to view the release.

Four key things to ask yourself when writing a tweetable press headline are:

  • Is it short enough to fit into a tweet that also includes a Twitter handle and a link?
  • Is the company or product name in the beginning so it won’t get cut off?
  • Does it contain relevant keywords to make it searchable?
  • Is it punchy enough to generate retweets based on the headline alone?

3. Turn Your Blog Into a Social News Wire

Blogs have become very powerful tools for sharing news and multimedia content that doesn’t necessarily warrant a press release, but still may be of interest to the media.

For example, the New York Public Library (NYPL) uses Tumblr as a makeshift “news wire,” sharing stories about NYPL continuously. According to Angela Montefinise, public relations director at NYPL, “Many of our followers are reporters, and we’ll often find stories we posted on Tumblr in news outlets. For example, Gothamist often uses photos we blog, and it has picked up stories we’ve run. A short, fun piece we ran on Keith Richards ‘killing’ an employee’s orchid while he was at the Library got picked up by The NY Daily News, and then eventually around the world.”

4. Develop Social News Backgrounders

When pitching a story, it can often be tough to pack all of the background information into a single email or touch on everything over the phone. Reporters also have less time than ever to conduct thorough research into a topic and will appreciate content that makes their job easier. So consider creating a “social news backgrounder” to accompany your pitch, using a site such as Delicious.

Serena Matter, social media account manager at Peak Communicators, says that she uses Delicious to create social news backgrounders that consist of links to current articles and information on the topic she plans to pitch to media.

“I provide this resource to reporters I’m pitching so they can familiarize themselves with the topic and cut down on their research time,” notes Matter. “They can also refer to the backgrounder in the future in the event that they are writing another article on the subject.”

5. Use News Aggregation Services

If your PR program involves keeping Facebook and Twitter feeds updated with relevant industry news, you know how time-consuming it can be scour the social feeds and run news searches looking for daily content. Matter recommends using a blog aggregation tool such as Netvibes to create a dashboard of relevant content sources.

“I use Netvibes as a tool for updating clients’ social profiles by creating custom dashboards to amalgamate relevant content sources,” says Matter. “The dashboards allow me to easily find industry-specific information which I can then post to a client’s Facebook Page or Twitter feed. Updating my clients’ social profiles with the latest news and information helps to establish them as a reliable go-to source for industry intelligence, which in turn builds their reputation as an industry thought leader.”

Series Supported by Vocus

The Social PR Series is supported by Vocus, the software that helps businesses get heard and talked about on social media and beyond. It brings you all the conversations that matter, without information overload, and lets you find influencers fast. Take a quick online demo and and see what it can do. Follow Vocus on Twitter.

More About: delicious, hashtags, Netvibes, nypl, PUBLIC RELATIONS, Social PR Series, tumblr

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May 05 2011

The PR Pro’s Guide to Facebook

The Social PR Guide Series is supported by Mynewsdesk. Our online newsroom makes it easier to exchange news with key influencers, reach top of search engines and automatically update your social media channels.

Facebook is about sharing. We share updates that reveal little pieces of our lives, and we check out our friends’ updates to share in little pieces of their lives. And when there are pictures, links, comments, companies and various other things that we like, we share that as well. Companies and brands have a wonderful opportunity to participate in this give and take, and engage in real conversations with their customers and fans on Facebook. As PR professionals, how can we help our clients connect with their communities through Facebook? Here are some tips.

Get Started (It’s Super Easy)

Setting up a basic Facebook Page for your client is really simple. Just go to this page and follow the prompts. Note that you’ll need a personal user account to set it up, but most of us already have one. Once your client’s page hits 25 likes, you can secure a vanity URL (facebook.com/yourbusinesshere) for it. And that’s pretty much it. The rest of the Facebook game is about content and community building.

Set the Stage

You can put all sorts of stuff on a Facebook Page — but know that there’s a fine-ish line between a nicely organized variety of content that will engage your audience on an ongoing basis and a random mishmash of bits and pieces that doesn’t do much of anything. Jamie Tedford, “chief evangelism officer” at social marketing company Brand Networks, recommends starting with a content calendar. Include information such as what percentage of posts will be brand messages, community messages and promotional messages, how many promotions will run and how they will be incorporated, what kinds of things you’re going to link to, who’s posting and how often, he says.

That brings us to the obvious next question — how often should you post? Unfortunately, there’s no magic number, though there have been studies about the best times for Facebook engagement. Advise your client to start with a post once every two days, use Facebook’s built-in Insights app to track likes and audience engagement, and then adjust the schedule as needed.

Decide What To Say

Next, focus your client’s attention on the content itself. My colleague Jason Throckmorton, a partner at the San Francisco-based PR firm where I work, offers a clear-cut rule of thumb: “Each and every post you publish should give your fans a reason to engage.” Facebook is about sharing our own experiences and responding to those of others, and so the Facebook community has a built-in thirst for engagement.

Bonobos, an online men’s clothing retailer, posts to its Facebook Page two or three times daily, and keeps things organized with a set theme for each day of the week. There’s “Monday Man-Style,” for style-related posts and “Tuesday Threads” for product posts. Wednesdays are an open forum, and fans can ask Bonobos customer service “ninjas” anything they want. And they do –- from “When are the seersucker jackets coming out?” (Answer: “In the next week or so.”) to “When is the cut-off age for dressing ‘hip’?” (Answer: “Whenever you stop being able to pull it off…”)

Richard Mumby, VP of marketing at Bonobos, explains that a company’s Facebook Page shouldn’t be about selling. When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to skew early posts to a more salesy, product-centric approach, but this can be counterproductive, he says. Your newly minted fans won’t be interested in a hard sell, so don’t start that way.

Get People to “Like” You

It‘s no fun to create a client Facebook Page only to find that only “4 people like this,” no matter how many how enthusiastically (or repeatedly) you hit refresh. To build your base, start with your client’s most loyal fans — the ones that already exist. Place a call to action in email newsletters and make sure the Facebook Page is visible on your client’s website, blog, Twitter and on all physical promotional materials, especially those given out at offline events. If appropriate, place hyperlinks in press releases and other PR-related materials. Note that Facebook has specific rules about how it can be referenced and linked. For example, you cannot connect your client’s company name and Facebook in the same hyperlink. Be sure to read through Facebook’s brand permissions guidelines.

This past November, St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY ran a campaign with a goal of reaching 2,011 fans by New Year’s Eve. The day they launched, they had 1756 fans. In order to make it to “2,011 by 2011,” they kicked up both the frequency and quality of their posts, incorporating more dynamic content, such as photos and video. During a big offline annual event in December, they also handed out Facebook “business cards,” directing attendees to Facebook for post-event photos and posts. They achieved their goal a few days ahead of time — by December 26.

Let Them Win

There are plenty of benefits to running Facebook contests. Most importantly, they give people a fun way to interact with your client’s brand and a reason to come back to visit and see who gets the prize. But if you’re going to run a contest, Jim Belosic, cofounder and CEO of ShortStack, a self-service Facebook tab building platform, says that Facebook has some strict rules that your client must follow:

  • Companies are not allowed to run contests in which people enter by commenting or posting to the wall.
  • Companies are not allowed to use the newsfeed to announce contest winners.
  • Companies are not allowed to notify winners through Facebook, such as via Facebook messages.
  • Companies must run their contests through a third party app.

ShortStack allows users to build custom Facebook tabs without any developer experience. You can easily create branded pages using a template, and then there are a host of customization options from there. Using ShortStack’s contest widget, which launched earlier this week, you can quickly set up a contest and not worry about figuring out how to follow Facebook’s rules, as the ShortStack platform takes cares of meeting those requirements for you. ShortStack’s interface allows you to design a contest submission form, customize the look and feel with images, incorporate contest rules and other information, set launch dates and duration and manage several other contest functions. Within the next few weeks, ShortStack will also roll out photo-upload submission capabilities.

Note that beyond contests, ShortStack also lets you add a range of other tabs to your client’s Facebook page including contact pages, YouTube channels, Flickr feeds and polls. Service plans start at $9 per month.

Make Your Fans Feel Special

This May 16, Freedom Riders, a documentary that tells the story of the men and women who participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961, will premiere on PBS’s acclaimed history program, American Experience. In advance of the broadcast premiere, PBS is offering a special preview to its Facebook fans: A 35-minute excerpt of the film debuted exclusively on the PBS Facebook Page this past Monday, and will be available for viewing until the film airs on the 16th. American Experience has offered exclusive content to its Facebook community in the past as well. One week before the broadcast premiere of documentary Earth Days in April 2010, the film was live-streamed in full exclusively on the American Experience Facebook Page. During the screening, viewers were able to live chat with each other and with the director.

Once you have loyal Facebook fans clicking around, commenting and participating on your client’s page, reward them with something special that they won’t find anywhere else. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a movie screening, it can be as simple as a coupon code. And the allure of exclusivity will attract new fans, too, so make sure you let people know what’s going on through other channels.

Parting Advice For Your Facebook Page

  • Ask tons of questions.
  • Incorporate upcoming events, product launches and other happenings into your client’s content calendar.
  • Use third-party apps to build out tabs, but remember that the newsfeed is the vehicle for your client’s call to action. Let fans know about new contests, events and other tabbed content by posting to the wall.
  • Even if multiple parties and admins are posting, assign one person as the primary lead to make sure that the general calendar is being followed and the content of the main posts is in harmony with the voice of the brand.
  • Take a read through of the Facebook promotions guidelines, Pages guidelines and brand permissions guidelines.
  • Make sure that people have to “like” your client’s page before they get to enter a contest or get access to a promotion. ShortStack and other third-party apps offer this option.
  • Give fans a bit of power. If appropriate, consider posting a picture of a new product and letting the community decide what to name it. Or if that’s too risky, try crowdsourcing something a bit safer, such as the flavor of the CEO’s birthday cake (and make sure you post pictures afterward).
  • Let fans know that you’re listening. Make sure someone is there to monitor for comments that your client should respond to — and respond fast.

Series Supported by MyNewsDesk

Mynewsdesk’s social media newsrooms makes it easier to exchange news and multimedia content with key influencers, reach the top of search engines and automatically update your social media outlets and homepage. Learn more.

More Social Media Resources from Mashable:

- The Pros and Cons Of Tumblr For Small Business
- 4 Innovative Ways to Use Web Video for Small Business
- 10 Online Strategies for Your Next Product Launch
- What to Look For When Hiring a Community Manager
- 8 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Get More Out of Twitter

More About: facebook, facebook pages, MARKETING, pr, social media, social media marketing, social pr guide series

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May 02 2011

5 Best Practices for Travel & Tourism Brands on Facebook

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media. Eight of the world’s top ten brands use the Buddy Media Platform to power their social marketing on Facebook. Find out why here.

I spend a lot of time browsing travel sites for vacations I’d love to take if I had time (well, and the funds) to do so. As Facebook Pages become more widespread, many of these hotels and airlines are actively luring me and other wayfarers to check out their Pages, win free flights and enjoy complimentary perks at trendy hotels.

Here are some best practices for travel and tourism brands on Facebook — borrowed from the big players in the industry — that will help you attract gadling jetsetters and secure more reservations.

1. Brag About Your Brand

Facebook offers engaging ways to play up your brand’s strengths. Custom landing pages enable brands to let users know what’s new with the company. For example, Delta’s landing page is essentially a glorified press release — it’s a visually pleasing panache of Delta news and developments. It lets fans know that more jets are getting Wi-Fi, more routes will be available, and first class is coming to regional jets — and it allows users to “like” each piece of news.

2. Host Contests and Giveaways

Everyone loves #winning, so give your fans something to win. Whether it’s a free flight, a free night at a hotel, a discount or free miles on an airline or hotel credit card, contests are a great way to engage your community. Asking fans to submit things as part of a contest entry — photos, video, feedback — are even better, as they generate content and weed out the lazy people who might only be there for the prize.

For Kimpton‘s 30th anniversary, it’s running a “Write Here, Right Now” contest. Fans can share a memory of their favorite birthday with Kimpton — via haiku, poem or sonnet and a photo — and the top 30 submissions will win a free night at a Kimpton hotel.

Virgin America‘s Chicago Contest is hosted through a special tab where viewers can upload a video in which they “put the smackdown on ordinary.” The winner wins a flight from Chicago to California on a competitor airline, and then a free California getaway and a trip back to Chicago on Virgin America’s inaugural flight to the Windy City. Virgin’s banking on the hope that one leg on a cramped “other guy” flight followed by the Virgin experience will convert a few fans.

3. Diversify Your Content

Status updates are great, but you should also provide a mix of content to keep your audience engaged. Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, posts videos from the weddings that have happened on the beachfront property, which shows that the resort is an ideal wedding site and a perfect spot for a West Coast getaway. The video above was provided by a happy couple, while this one was produced by Terranea and includes footage of several weddings that have happened there. Try mixing it up with videos, photos, reviews of the hotel and of restaurants within the hotel (from sites like Yelp), as well as travel tips and exciting updates from the brand.

4. Offer Booking On Facebook

Consumers want travel planning to be easy — make it that way by letting them book vacations without having to leave Facebook. Travel brands like W Hotels and Delta Airlines do it, and the booking module is usually located on the main landing page. The most effective marketing happens at point-of-sale, so if you can make a hard sell on a decked out Page, you’ll want your consumers to be able to make their reservation without batting an eye. Embedding a booking widget can make that happen.

5. Have Killer Photography

Whether people are traveling for work or play, it’s nice to be around beautiful scenery. Show consumers what a stay at your hotel would offer — spa rooms, pools, beaches, wildlife, local sights, fancy restaurants — and use excellent photographers to make it irresistible. Great photography is also effective for airlines, which can highlight the scenery in various destinations.

Travel deal site Jetsetter always has amazing photography, and it is using those photos to the fullest on its Facebook Page. It’s hard to imagine that giraffe photo not making someone want to go on safari.

What other Facebook tips do you have for travel brands? Let us know in the comments.

Series Supported by Buddy Media

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media. Eight of the world’s top ten brands use the Buddy Media Platform to power their social marketing on Facebook. Find out why here.

More Facebook Marketing Resources from Mashable:

- 4 Ways to Set Up a Storefront on Facebook
- HOW TO: Add Social Sharing Buttons to Your Website
- The Future of Social Search
- 5 Creative Facebook Places Marketing Campaigns
- Dog: Man’s Best Facebook Friend, Too? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Disclosure: W Hotels is a Buddy Media client.

More About: facebook, facebook marketing, Facebook Marketing Series, travel, virgin america

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

April 26 2011

How Schools Can Use Facebook to Build an Online Community

David Hartstein is a partner at JG Visual, an Internet strategy company that works with organizations to develop and implement their online presence. You can connect with David on the JG Visual Facebook Page.

The word “Facebook,” so ubiquitous across the world, is enough to make any educator uneasy. When I was teaching at an elementary school in New York, the topic of social media came up from time to time. And generally when it did, it was about how teachers were being fired for posting too much information or were receiving disciplinary action for an ill-advised status update. The prevailing thought was, “better safe than sorry.” Basically, we were advised to be very careful when mixing our professional and personal lives in our use of social media.

Such an approach seems to be quite common and is understandable to a certain extent. When dealing with children, it is especially important to be mindful of protecting their well-being in whatever ways you can. There is always the possibility that teachers will say something that is inappropriate or share too much information. But “being safe” shouldn’t mean missing out on a key opportunity to engage the community.

It makes sense to have a policy to discourage individual teachers from posting specifics about their students to their personal profiles. But schools should counterbalance such a policy by setting up a Facebook Page to represent the school. Students, families, and faculty members are going to use Facebook regardless of whether or not schools choose to do so. By setting up a Facebook Page, schools can establish a controlled, professional presence that allows them to capitalize on this social space in many important ways, while still protecting their students. It’s important to note that while a Facebook Page is an excellent opportunity for schools to supplement their web presence, it doesn’t fully replace the benefits of a robust website.

Here are some ways that schools can benefit from establishing an effective Facebook presence.

A Quick Note on Protecting Students

As we discuss the potential benefits of using Facebook, it’s important to frame the discussion with a warning about protecting our students. Before launching a Facebook Page, school leaders must ensure they’ve thought through the types of content they’re going to share with the world. Before sharing any information about any student (including pictures, videos, first names, work samples, etc.) school leaders must ensure they’ve obtained consent from the child’s guardian. Additionally, schools should avoid sharing last names of students as this can potentially jeopardize their safety (and in some cases is actually illegal). With a little forethought, Facebook can offer a variety of benefits without risking any safety to students or members of the school community.

Share School News

Facebook is an excellent opportunity for a school to connect with families and share information rapidly. If a school is consistent in keeping the information updated and accurate, students and families will likely come to rely on the Facebook Page as a resource to find information about what’s going on at the school. There are many different types of information that a school could choose to share on its Facebook Page.

Share What’s Happening

A Facebook Page is a great place to post noteworthy happenings around the school via a status update that posts on the Page’s wall. This is an easy way to keep families informed as to what’s going on during the school day. Additionally, it only takes moments to do (which in a school is always a good thing). If an event is particularly exciting, take some photos to share. For instance, Citizen Schools shared photos of a recent visit from Arianna Huffington and Tim Armstrong.

Share Upcoming Events

A Facebook Page is an excellent opportunity for a school to post upcoming events using the Facebook Events app. This app not only allows people to RSVP, but also makes it easy for them to share that they’re attending. Utilizing Facebook Events can potentially lead to increased attendance at school functions. A school can also update attendees about any change in plans and send out a reminder as the event approaches.

Make School Announcements

Facebook is a great space for schools to make announcements to parents and students. For instance, if there is an ever-coveted snow day, announce it on the Facebook Page. If a school shares the snow day on its Facebook Page, the news will be sent to the walls of everyone that has Liked the page. Consistency is the key here. If the page is consistently updated with school news, followers will develop an expectation that they can count on the Facebook Page when they want to learn about something concerning the school. I’d also bet that news like a snow day will get plenty of Likes, which will spread the news quickly across the community’s social graph.

Use Media to Showcase School Culture

Many schools pride themselves on creating a unique culture that promotes not only academics but also the social development of its students. Facebook provides an opportunity to showcase this unique culture with those who can’t be in the building during the school day.

Share Photos

Photos are an excellent way to showcase school culture. A school may choose to use photos to highlight a variety of aspects of the school, including:

  • Students exhibiting values the school encourages
  • Celebrations of student work
  • Field trips
  • Experiential learning activities
  • Assemblies or school-wide celebrations
  • Recognition of individual students for excellence

Share Videos

Videos can be an incredible way for a school to personalize its online presence and actually demonstrate what it is that makes it special. A school may add videos that showcase a lot of different things, including:

  • A variety of learning, including different subjects and age groups
  • Assemblies or school-wide events
  • Community meetings
  • High caliber teaching and student engagement
  • Students, teachers, and members of the community discussing what makes the school special
  • Share songs, chants, or cheers that are used as a part of school culture or academics
  • Sporting events
  • Plays, concerts and other performances

Use as a Recruitment Tool

Facebook has potential to help a school attract talented teachers and school leaders as well as raise the overall level of awareness surrounding the hard work it’s doing. By using Facebook, a school can add another layer to their recruitment efforts and help attract staff and, if applicable, attract students as well.

Using Facebook to Attract Staff

Facebook is a logical place for schools to focus some of their efforts when recruiting talented teachers and school leaders. For starters, the aforementioned use of media to share details of the school will provide potential staff members a glimpse inside of the school. I know if I was torn between applying to work in two schools, I would likely favor one that was providing me with photos and videos to complement their description of what they’re doing to support students. As long as a school actually has a strong culture and learning community, sharing it effectively can significantly bolster its recruiting efforts.

Additionally, Facebook is a great place for a school to post its job openings. Facebook makes it incredibly easy to share content, which means if I know someone who’s looking for a certain teaching position and come across such a position on a school’s page, I can easily send it his or her way. Current teachers can also share job openings with people in their network that may potentially be interested in applying.

If a school has an online system for accepting job applications, it should include the link on the Facebook Page. If a school doesn’t have such a system in place, it may want to consider using an application that integrates with Facebook. Here’s an example from TEAM Schools, a Network of KIPP Schools, which is using the Job Magic Facebook app to recruit and accept applications.

Using Facebook to Attract Students

For schools that also focus on recruitment of students or enrolling students in a selection lottery, Facebook can be an excellent resource. First of all, a school can share the aspects of the school that make it appealing through photos and videos. But it can also share key information about enrollment, including deadlines, links to an online application, and links to resources that may be useful for a family that is interested in enrolling a student. The fact that information is easily shared via Facebook again bodes well for a school interested in recruiting students.

The Power of Data

Many schools use their strong academic results as a key to their recruiting efforts. Facebook provides a great opportunity for a school to share their aggregated academic data with the world. Not only is it available to those interested in potentially becoming a part of the community, but is also accessible to students and families that are already in the school. These results are easy for students, teachers, and proud family members to Like and share with people in their Facebook network.

Get Feedback from the Community

Facebook allows a school to lower the barriers to participation for members of the community. By effectively leveraging Facebook, a school can make it easier for community members to get involved and share their opinions on a variety of fronts. While some schools may fear this increased participation, others will embrace it as it not only increases involvement, but can also lead to a healthy discourse about what’s happening at the school.

Use Facebook Discussions

One opportunity lies in the Discussions tab on the Facebook Page. A school can create a discussion about a specific topic and allow members of the community to share their thoughts within the thread. Admins will be able to moderate the thread and remove any posts that are inappropriate.

Use Polls

Polls provide a chance for a school to solicit feedback directly from its followers. The nice thing about using a poll is that a school can limit the choices available and, with a few simple clicks, blast it out to all of its followers. It’s a great way to quickly collect data that can help inform decision making.

Use Facebook Questions

An alternative to polls, Facebook Questions allow a school to solicit feedback from the community while being a little less restrictive. Questions provides the option for a school to allow users to write in answer choices as well as share the question with others in their network. However, it’s worth noting that Questions opens responses up to friends of friends, which may not necessarily provide the best sample if a school is trying to poll just members of its community. If only sampling those in the school isn’t a priority, Questions could be a good fit. For example, YES Prep Public Schools used Facebook Questions to help determine what mascot they should use for a new school they’re opening in the fall. As of the writing of this article, “Titans” is winning handily.

A Note on Settings and Privacy

Once a school has set up a Facebook Page, there are a few settings it may want to consider to ensure it’s easy to monitor. Please note that in order to do any of the following you must first be logged in and designated as an Admin of the Facebook Page.

Posting Ability

It’s a good idea to control the permissions regarding what content users are allowed to upload. To access permissions, do the following:

1. Click “Edit Page” in the upper-right of the Facebook Page
2. Select the “Manage Permissions” tab on the left side of the screen
3. Uncheck “Users can add photos”
4. Uncheck “Users can add videos”
5. Leave “Users can write or post content on the wall” checked
6. Click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

It’s a good idea to start off by limiting these permissions. If a school ultimately decides it would like to expand the permissions it offers its followers, it’s easy to do so. It’s better to become more permissive than more restrictive.

Also, it’s worth noting that unlike with personal photos on Facebook, followers won’t be able to tag people in the photos that the school uploads to its Facebook Page. As discussed above in the privacy section, this is a good thing when children are involved for many reasons.

Profanity Blocklist

Facebook allows the Admins of a Page to enable an automatic screener for profanity. To enable this profanity blocklist, do the following:

1. Click “Edit Page” in the upper-right of the Facebook Page
2. Select the “Manage Permissions” tab on the left side of the screen
3. In the dropdown beside “Profanity Blocklist:” select “Strong”
4. Click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

If there are specific words that a school would like to prohibit from being used, it can write them in the box beside “Moderation Blocklist” on the same page. If a user tries to use one of these prohibited words, it will automatically be marked as spam and won’t show up on the Facebook page.

Enable Email Notifications

To prevent page Admins from having to constantly be checking the Facebook page, it’s a good idea to enable Email Notifications. To do so, do the following:

1. Click “Edit Page” in the upper right of the Facebook Page
2. Select the “Your Settings” tab on the left side of the screen
3. Check the checkbox beside “Email Notifications”
4. Click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the page

Now, whenever a user posts or comments on the Facebook Page, the Admin will receive an email letting them know that the interaction has occurred.

Make It Personal

The key to any school successfully leveraging Facebook is finding what fits the personality of the individual school. The above ideas are merely suggestions as a way to get started. The important thing is that each school makes their Facebook Page an extension of the amazing things they are doing every day in the classroom.

While Facebook is at times a bit daunting, when used effectively it can provide schools with an excellent opportunity to engage the communities they serve and act as a key component in a school’s online presence.

Is there a school in your community using Facebook to its full potential? Do you have any additional tips? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Interested in more Education resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RichVintage

More About: education, facebook, family, Kids, List, Lists, parents, privacy, schools, social media, teachers

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April 06 2011

HOW TO: Improve Engagement on Your Brand’s Facebook Page [STATS]

If you’re looking to boost engagement on your brand’s Facebook Page, a new report from Buddy Media has some key findings for you. The social media marketing company collected data from 200 of its clients’ Pages* over a 14-day period and found that time is an important factor in determining the success of a Facebook post. The study reveals that more often than not, a Facebook post is ill-timed — in fact, office hours could be the worst time to blast content.

“While marketers may work Monday through Friday, Facebook is humming with activity 24-hours a day, seven days a week,” says Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow. And so, brands must adapt to their consumers’ schedules in order to optimize their engagement.

Here are the findings, along with tips about when and how to make the most of a Facebook post.

Be Timely

The study found that daily Facebook engagement has three peaks: early morning (7 a.m. EST), after work (5 p.m. EST) and late at night (11 p.m. EST). Therefore, posting all of your updates during the workday means you’re missing key opportunities to engage fans at non-work hours. However, not all brands’ engagement peaks at these three times — Playboy engagement peaks in the wee hours of the morning, for example — so you must work on a case-by-case basis.

Good timing on Facebook depends on the day of the week, too. Thursday and Friday have 18% more engagement than other days of the week, suggesting that Facebook is a procrastination tool when people are itching to get out of the office. But don’t start stacking all of your Facebook updates on Thursday and Friday — the study found interesting user patterns and engagement trends throughout the week that are unique to particular industries. Below, the findings are broken down by market so that you can see where entire industries are missing the mark and where — or rather, when — there’s room for improvement.

  • Entertainment: Friday, Saturday and Sunday are huge, as that is when people are most inclined to see a movie or go to a concert. However, entertainment brands post twice as much content on a weekday than a Saturday or Sunday.

    Tip: Take advantage of the weekend.

  • Media: Weekends have strong engagement for media brands, but Mondays are weak. During the study period, most posts went out during the week.

    Tip: Avoid Monday.

  • Automotive: Auto brands see the most engagement on Sundays, but less than 8% of posts go out on that day.

    Tip: Capitalize on Sunday.

  • Business and Finance: Engagement peaks on Wednesday and Thursday, though this industry tends to spread its posts even on Monday through Friday.

    Tip: Post on Wednesday.

    The findings for the retail vertical.

  • Retail: Sunday is a big day for engagement on the shopping and retail front, but only 5% of entertainment posts go up on Sunday. The industry’s posts lean heavily toward Friday, which has below-average engagement.

    Tip: Target shoppers on Sunday.

  • Fashion: Engagement peaks on Thursday but dips on the weekend. The industry pushes the most content on Tuesday, the day with the lowest engagement.

    Tip: Optimize engagement on Thursday.

  • Healthcare and Beauty: Like fashion — perhaps because consumers are shopping and preparing for the weekend — healthcare and beauty brands see the most engagement on Thursday. But a lot of content is posted on Mondays and Fridays, when engagement is lower.

    Tip: Post content on Thursday.

  • Food and Beverage: More than the other verticals, the food and beverage brands do a good job of spreading their posts throughout the week and weekend. But in this case, engagement peaks on Tuesday and Saturday and dips on Monday and Thursday.

    Tip: Target Tuesday.

  • Sports: Not surprisingly, especially during football season, Sunday is king for sports brands and teams on Facebook. This data is affected by the fact that Super Bowl Sunday fell during the data collection period, but Sundays remain strong during other weeks, too.

    Tip: Increase your post volume on Sunday.

  • Travel and Hospitality: The highest engagement occurs on Thursday and Friday, when the week is winding down and people are looking to escape from the office.

    Tip: Get these eyeballs at the end of the week.

Joe Ciarallo, Buddy Media’s director of communications, says a lot of smart brands already target their audiences when they’re most engaged. For those who don’t, Ciarallo says they should consider scheduling Facebook posts to go live during times of high engagement at night and on weekends.

Be Concise

The data indicates that the length of the post can determine engagement just as much as the time of the post. The bottom line: Keep it short and sweet. Posts with 80 characters or less — the length of a short tweet — garnered 27% more engagement than posts that were more than 80 characters. But brevity is far from a common practice — only 19% of posts in the study were shorter than 80 characters.

And while the content should be short, the URL probably shouldn’t be — posts with a full-length URL had three times the engagement of their shortened bit.ly, ow.ly and tinyurl counterparts. The reason is likely because readers want to know where the link will take them. Ciarallo says a brand-specific URL shortener, like bddy.me or on.mash, keeps a post short while also providing context.

Ask For Engagement

Words ranked in order of their effectiveness at converting Likes and comments.

If you’re looking to get Likes on a post, all you have to do is ask. Ciarallo says simple, outright instructions — “Like us if … ” — are much more effective at getting a Like than a post with a long explanation of why you should “like” something. Remember, “liking” only takes one click and then the “liked” item is syndicated on a user’s own page, so don’t be afraid to ask for the thumbs up.

The same goes for comments — outright saying “post,” “comment” or “tell us” motivates fans to engage. If you’re seeking answers, put a simple “where” or “when” or “would” question at the end of the post — you’ll get 15% more engagement than if the question is buried in the middle. Shy away from “why” questions, as they seem invasive and ask much more of a user than a “what” question, Ciarallo says.

Advice for Smaller Brands

These findings are insightful and can help brands better target their consumers, but it is important to note that the brands studied are all large and well-established. While URL shortening is a good idea for all brands, the day and time findings may not apply to businesses of all sizes within each industry.

For small businesses, it’s important to balance the data above with what you know about your own brand, based on Facebook Insights and your own experiences with your Page. “Small brands can take away some best practices from this, but remember that the data set is all large brands,” Ciarallo says. “Still, a boutique hotel owner could look at the hospitality section and see how it can help his Facebook marketing.”

He also says it’s important to realize the social marketing space is constantly evolving, and these statistics can change in a matter of months. If every brand begins to post when the engagement is high, then engagement either will increase because of the optimization, or it may decrease because there’s so much noise at the high-engagement times. Only time will tell for the long term.

“This is 200 large brands over two weeks, so it’s a large data set, but things are moving fast,” meaning your Facebook marketing program must be flexible, Ciarallo says. Though this is the first study of its kind that Buddy Media has publicly released, Ciarallo foresees future reports like this one to help brands maximize engagement in an ever-changing marketing environment.

What engagement tips have you picked up from your Facebook Page? Tell us in the comments.

Disclosure: Buddy Media is a Mashable sponsor.

*Buddy Media did not disclose which of its 600 client brands were included in the study, but the company has a lengthy roster of enterprise clients, including W Hotels, Target, American Express, Playboy and the Food Network.

More About: automobile, Buddy Media, business, engagement, entertainment, facebook, Facebook Like, facebook marketing, fashion, hospitality, media, retail, small business, sports, travel

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February 28 2011

HOW TO: Implement a Social Good Campaign on Facebook

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to launch a new product or service on Facebook with this webinar.

You want to do good, and you want to use Facebook. Good choice. Facebook has a couple of things going for it. First off, there are a ton of people that use it — more than 500 million to be precise — so you’ve already set yourself up to hit the largest social network audience. More over, even people without Facebook accounts are used to visiting landing pages on the site for events and causes, which make the potential reach even larger.

Second, Facebook is an informal place to launch serious things. Most actions on the site take place within networks of friends (however disparate they may be in real life). As such, campaigns and projects inherently feel less “corporate” or cold when they’re spread virally from friend to friend.

We’ve outlined five ways to take advantage of these elements, whether you want to register as a charity or just lend a digital hand without the rigmarole.

1. Causes

causes image

This should be a no-brainer. Non-profits and supporters can set-up campaigns through Facebook Causes. Non-profits can create a page and accept donations directly, while everyday users can set up a page in support of non-profits already on and approved by Facebook. There’s a handy help page to answer some more in-depth questions about conditions and how donations are handled.

Important note: Before you start to donate to any campaign on Facebook, make sure the money or support is going to the right place. If you’re giving money, make sure the root organization is a registered 501(c)(3) or appears on a registry site like GuideStar.org.

These are actually required conditions to sign up, but it’s always good to do some research, especially if you’re not familiar with the non-profit. You want your money to be doing the most good possible.

2. Create a Social Media Hub

Facebook Pages have a lot of benefits over a website created from scratch. They require less work to set up, and you don’t have to fuss over complicated or glitchy backends. Creating a Facebook Page (whether on Facebook Causes or not), is a great way to establish a web portal even if you don’t know how to use WordPress, Tumblr or other free blogging platforms.

For casual users passionate about a cause, a Facebook Page allows you to post videos, photos, updates and relevant links while having immediate access to your group of friends. You can also add apps to your Page to link up social tools like Twitter.

Be cautious about asking for money or donations, especially if you are not a registered non-profit. The best bet is to provide a link to several charities where your (hopefully millions of) fans can help out.

3. Create a Forum

livestrong image

Too many numbers and conditions? Don’t worry, there’s a way to launch a campaign without all the paperwork. Take a note from Livestrong and start a forum on your Facebook Page. Livestrong has used its page to create a safe space for cancer survivors to share their stories and offer support.

It’s not enough, however, to simply let a forum run wild. Livestrong’s page is moderated by Brooke McMillan, the non-profit’s online community manager. She makes sure the comments stay on topic and she helps to drive the conversation forward. While there aren’t many spammers or trolls, she makes sure to weed them out; the site only functions because of the safe and supportive community she has developed.

Try creating a Page where supporters of your cause can start a conversation. It obviously won’t work for every type of campaign, but see if there’s a way to engage your audience and create dynamic, productive discussions.

4. Picture & Media Hosting

aspca image

Facebook enables you to post media to your Page without much effort. The social network recently updated the look of its albums and photo pages, offering a richer media experience. If you own a camera or video camera, this is especially good news. Consider setting up a Facebook Page as a photo album or photo blog where you can post updates, much like the ASPCA does.

Your friends and fans don’t want to see more PR, so think about how you can add value. Supporting a building project? Grab your camera and post some shots every day to show how the organization is using donated funds. Is your cause holding a fundraiser? Ask if you can take pictures or video so your fans can participate by proxy.

As always, it helps to get permission from the non-profit you’re supporting. Most will be happy to have your support and will welcome your efforts to grow their exposure.

5. Interact

If you’re not going to interact with others, there’s no need to be on Facebook. From a user perspective, the site was built for people to see and interact. You have to be willing to regularly devote time to moderating comments, answering questions and updating content if you want your page, cause or campaign to be a success.

People will join you because they want to feel like they are part of the cause. If you don’t create that community, your fans will have no reason to stick around. Simple things — such as asking what fans would like to see pictures of or what hot topics should be in the discussion — will help you create a dialogue and develop passion around the cause you’re supporting.

Launching a campaign on Facebook is easier than it looks, whether you’re a charity greenhorn or an established organization. Before you start, take a minute to think about what you want to get out of Facebook: Donations? Conversation? Advocacy? Once you’ve decided on your goals, jump in and see what Facebook can offer.

We’d love to know if you decide to start a campaign or if you have any other tips or advice. Share your experience in the comments below.

Series Supported by Buddy Media

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to launch a new product or service on Facebook with this webinar.

More Social Good Resources from Mashable:

- 5 Creative Social Good Campaigns for the Holiday Season
- Why the Web Is Useless in Developing Countries – And How to Fix It
- 5 Facebook Giving Campaign Success Stories
- 4 Innovative Social Good Campaigns for Education
- How Online Classrooms Are Helping Haiti Rebuild Its Education System

More About: charity, facebook, facebook causes, Facebook Marketing Series, non-profit, online giving, social good, social good lists

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February 27 2011

Facebook’s Growing Role in Social Journalism

A Facebook-only news organization? It was only a matter of time.

The Rockville Central, a community news site in the Washington D.C. area, will move all its operations and news coverage to its Facebook Page starting on March 1. This risky move by the site’s editor, Cindy Cotte Griffiths, highlights Facebook’s growing role as a platform for journalists to use for social storytelling and reporting.

When it comes to journalists using social media, Twitter has been the go-to platform for real-time reporting and reaching out to sources, largely because it’s a public platform and most of its content is accessible. But with Facebook continuing to scale and in some ways become more public, it offers journalists an arsenal of content types beyond 140 characters and an alternative destination to connect with new sources of information.

Though Facebook did receive a lot of credit and praise in aiding Egyptians in organizing themselves during what’s become known as the January 25th Revolution, it has also been highly utilized by journalists reporting on the events surrounding the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. Riyaad Minty, the head of social media at Al-Jazeera English, said the events have demonstrated Facebook’s important role in journalism by enabling reporters to actively monitor the unrest and situation on the ground.

Minty said it has helped Al-Jazeera English track what is about to happen, such as planned protests, gather valuable information in real-time and find valuable sources who can then talk on air with Al-Jazeera journalists. Though Twitter remains the prominent social platform for journalists to adopt into their toolkits, a quiet shift is taking place toward Facebook as reporters discover its utility and application in their work.

A 500+ Million-Person Directory of Sources

One of the key advantages of Facebook over other social platforms is the sheer number of potential sources it presents for journalists. At National Public Radio, its 1.5+ million-member Facebook community is invaluable for finding sources, said Eyder Peralta, an associate producer on NPR’s social media desk.

“There hasn’t been any query that we haven’t gotten good sources for,” Peralta said. From finding high school dropouts to people who have recently been laid off from their jobs, Peralta said the organization regularly posts inquiries for sources as status updates on its page and receives hundreds of valuable responses. “We’re using it as a megaphone, and people have always been extremely helpful.”

An advantage of Facebook is that users are able to privately message anyone on Facebook without having to be their “friend.” So after a reporter or producer sees a source they want to interview, they’ll contact that person through a private message from his personal Facebook profile. In some cases, users will even volunteer their phone numbers in the comments for a reporter to get in touch.

However, searching Facebook for a specific kind of source can be difficult, Peralta said. The search functionality is time-sensitive, and doesn’t include many targeting options. Although for stories in which journalists are trying to learn about a specific individual, the search functionality and learning about a source’s network of friends or their activity can be helpful. With more than 500 million people on the platform and 70 percent of them being outside the U.S., the chances of finding and contacting a source are quite good.

“Facebook provides reporting at scale,” said Malorie Lucich, Facebook spokesperson. Lucich explains that journalists have always listened to the people in their communities and brought together their collective voice by telling those stories. Facebook just makes it easier to bring this practice online, and makes it more accessible and efficient, she said.

Minty at Al Jazeera English said its reporters used Facebook to get a “pulse on reality.” While covering demonstrations and unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, they were able to track activity on Facebook to see what protests were being planned and immediately connect with people involved as sources. “It has allowed us to get a true sense of what average citizens in some countries are thinking and planning,” he said.

Social Storytelling

There are 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook each month. That includes news stories, links, notes, photo albums and more. With so much content flowing into the news feed, journalists are finding a voice by amplifying and reporting quality content to interested readers.
“Facebook has dramatically transformed the way journalists do their jobs.”
- Ian Shapira, Washington Post

Journalists such as Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times have expanded their distribution and sourcing to Facebook. Kristof, who has more than 200,000 people who like his page, has used the page to post regular updates from his reporting. Starting with the Egyptian Revolution to his latest coverage of Libya, Kristof has posted detailed descriptions and reports about what he’s seeing and information he’s receiving.

Kristof isn’t the only example, however. Ian Shapira, a staff writer at The Washington Post, used Facebook status updates to tell a moving story about a family’s sorrow. Explaining the process by phone, Shapira said he and his editor decided the story of Shana Greatman Swers, who had died due to unusual pregnancy complications, was best told through her status updates, which had a natural and powerfully personal narrative to them, enabling him to tell the story in a way that a standard print piece would not have been able to.

“Facebook has dramatically transformed the way journalists do their jobs,” Shapira said. “It’s become an essential tool, making our jobs far more efficient.”

Shapira’s reporting shows that sometimes Facebook activity is at the core of the story. Jennifer Preston, social media reporter at The New York Times who has experience in managing the news organization’s Facebook Pages from her previous role as Social Media Editor, tracked the activity around the We are all Khaled Said Facebook Page to investigate how it fueled outrage in Egypt and contributed to a bigger movement. Preston said she went back and read the status updates over last six to seven months from the page, using Google Chrome and Google Translator and could see how this page evolved into such a highly engaged community nearing one million members, and learned that the death of Khaled Said created tremendous outrage over police abuse.

“Understanding how these tools work so that you can listen in on the conversation and understand what is going on is key,” Preston said. “That said, there is nothing like shoe-leather reporting to get the story and get it right — and to be there to capture the voices of the people in real life.”

Community Content & More Tools

In some cases, news coverage would have been impossible without Facebook. Libya is a great example of that, Peralta from NPR said. Even while its own reporters and other foreign press were banned from the country, NPR was able to get photos and videos posted by users in Libya, Peralta said.

“Having the power of a very big community you can tap into, take their pulse very easily and quickly is quite powerful,” he said.

Although Facebook is focused on personal relationships, it has been gradually inching to a more public platform in part due to changes to its privacy settings.

By using tools such as Openbook or FBInstant that enable easy searching for public information on Facebook, journalists are able to find information they are looking for that is tied to specific news events or people. And the trend toward more public information with new features on the site, such as Facebook Questions, which is entirely public, will only further Facebook’s utility as a tool for journalism.

Features like Questions and Facebook Places will offer journalists more tools for their reporting. Questions, for example, could be utilized to find specific sources, poll a group of people for their opinions, or find experts on topics and, well, get questions answered.

Minty said Al Jazeera English used Facebook to encourage users to submit content from demonstrations and protests directly to Al Jazeera, which they would publish through its citizen journalism platform, Sharek.

However, Minty also cautions that journalists still need to verify information being received or posted on Facebook to make sure that it’s reliable. For example, in some cases protest pages and information was set up by immigrants living abroad and the information wasn’t coming from people living in the actual countries where the events were taking place. Journalists need to fact check by getting in touch with people on the pages to get a better understanding of who is behind the online identity, he said.

Facebook-Only News Sites?

Whether it’s through a Facebook Application — built to be a destination for news and discussion — or a Facebook Page that users can subscribe to and receive posts in their News Feed, news organizations are experimenting with building Facebook-only news portals to take advantage of the social distribution on the platform and an existing audience.

The Rockville Central is taking its community news site to Facebook and will focus on curation and civic engagement, instead of duplicating content others have produced. Of course, the big disadvantage is it can’t host its own ads, which isn’t the site’s goals. A larger news organization, Boston.com, which is dependent on ad revenue, has built a Facebook News Application called “Your Bostonusing NewsCloud’s Open Source application platform.

In many ways, the application functions like a news site of its on within the Facebook platform. Users are able to comment on and share stories, ask questions, contribute to a calendar and even post ideas. The most active participants are rewarded by being featured as top users.

‘Incredible’ Distribution & Community

With so many users on Facebook, it serves as a great distribution platform. Minty from Al-Jazeera English said each of its Facebook posts gets a lot of feedback, often receiving more than 1,000 comments. But more importantly, he said, Facebook makes it easy for readers of their content to connect and engage with one another.

“The interactivity and ability for people to discuss the news is what is most beneficial to us,” Minty said.

Al-Jazeera English also added its live stream to all of its Facebook Pages, and the number of views has been “incredibly high” since launching, Minty said. It doesn’t force its readers to go to a site, instead encouraging them to consume the content where they are most comfortable — on Facebook, he said. When breaking news happens, they post an update notifying its readers that a live event is happening and they can watch it directly on the page. The page also became an alternative destination when people in the U.S. were unable to access its website’s live stream. Minty said they took to Twitter and Facebook, letting readers know they could still access its live stream on its Facebook Page.

“Facebook is an incredible distribution platform,” Minty said. It is indeed, as evidenced by the fact that Al-Jazeera English‘s Facebook Page has had 150 million post views since January 25th, according to Minty, and its Arabic page has been growing at a rate of 10,000 new “likers” per day.

Training Journalists

Facebook has been ramping up to improve its relationship with media organizations and journalists. Last July, the company announced its efforts to help media organizations make better use of their products to increase engagement, traffic and more. Since July, the average media organization has seen more than a 100% increase in referral traffic from Facebook, Lucich said.

The company is also looking to work directly with journalists by providing training and resources into how they can best utilize the platform, and by taking feedback on how the platform can be improved, Lucich said. With that in mind, the company recently posted a new position for a Journalist Program Manager, which will be in charge of programs and projects that help journalists use Facebook as a reporting tool.

“We’re only just beginning to see what’s possible with social journalism, as innovative journalists are reporting, finding sources and engaging with readers through Facebook Platform and Facebook products,” Lucich said. “The possibilities are endless.”

More About: facebook, journalism, social media, social networking

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