Archive for December, 2012

New Facebook Rules Limit Use of Text on Images

It’s nearly impossible to be on your Facebook page these days and not see images and photos with marketing messages in them. It’s become a savvy way for brands to catch consumers’ attention and promote their business. But as we enter the New Year, make sure you’re familiar with Facebook’s updated policy concerning text overlays on images and photos.

Starting on January 15, Facebook is restricting the amount of text you can use in your Page’s cover photo and News Feed ads to no more than 20 percent of the image’s area. This includes Page Post ads and sponsored stories, but only applies to those ads in the News Feed, not the marketplace ads in the right column. This 20 percent limit also includes any text within logos.

Facebook has had a policy that restricts the use of URLs, calls-to-action, contact information and references to Facebook actions such as Like or Share in your Page’s cover photo — but has rarely enforced it. With the addition of this text overlay rule, Facebook is promising to be more diligent with its enforcement by developing an automated tool that can quickly review and determine whether each cover photo or post that you want to promote is compliant.

Related: How Facebook’s Updated ‘Nearby’ Tool Can Boost Your Business

How this can affect your brand’s Facebook strategy: It looks as though Facebook is trying to improve the quality of people’s News Feed, minimizing marketing messages and images that look like banner ads. To help maximize your brand’s exposure on Facebook while staying compliant with the new policies, here are a few helpful guidelines:

1. Images remain an important strategy. You can still post images with more than 20 percent text as long as you don’t promote them in the News Feed. You can also use these posts for Page Post ads so long as they only appear in the marketplace area.

2. Tell a story with your cover photo. Choose a unique image that represents your brand, such as a picture of a menu item or someone using your product. Switch out your cover photos periodically to keep it fresh. Facebook’s guidelines detail what can and can’t be included in your cover image.

3. Test. Keep track of the types of posts and images that resonate with your fans. Facebook’s insights can give you an overview of what your fans are responding to the most.



Why Facebook’s ‘Poke’ App Couldnt Kill Snapchat

This week’s need-to-know social-media news.

If you’ve spent much time around Millenials or reading the tech press lately, you’ve probably heard of Snapchat, a popular app that lets you send photos that automatically delete from the recipient’s phone after a matter of seconds.

Seeing Snapchat’s popularity, social networking giant Facebook hastily tried to copy it, releasing an app called Poke — which users found to be an exact clone of Snapchat. But after rising to No. 1 in the iTunes app store, Poke has since sunk to No. 70. Snapchat is No. 4 among free apps. Facebook’s creation was, in Om Malik’s words, an act of “wanton xeroxing.”

In postmortems around the web, people are now speculating about whether Facebook’s lack of originality and apparent willingness to “rip-off a hot startup” in its product development signal deeper problems at the company. — Business Insider and GigaOM

Analytics are coming to Google+.
Social media marketers have been pushing lately for analytics to be made available to businesses using Google+ and Pinterest. While it remains uncertain if or when Pinterest will introduce such tools, Google offers hope, informing enterprise users that Google+ will soon introduce analytics “to help you learn how social campaigns affect your bottom line.” — SocialTimes

Pinterest drives traffic to niche retailers.
Anyone familiar with Pinterest’s majority-female user base won’t be surprised by the results of a recent study showing that arts-and-crafts site Etsy gets twice as much traffic from the social pinboard as ecommerce giant Amazon. If you own a boutique fashion shop or ecommerce site for clothes and accessories, consider spending a significant amount of your social-media marketing energies on Pinterest. — SocialTimes

Mark Zuckerberg’s sister gets a privacy lesson on Twitter.
After a family photo Randi Zuckerberg posted to Facebook was shared publicly on Twitter, the sister of Facebook’s founder berated the hapless woman who shared it. Apparently, thanks to Facebook’s byzantine privacy settings, the photo was visible to the woman, who thought it was public, while Zuckerberg thought it was more private. The lesson: Be careful when tagging Facebook photos. The default privacy setting makes the photo visible not only to your friends and colleagues but also to the friends of anyone tagged. — AllTwitter

Has-been Hollywood stars find new life on social media.
Move over Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber. Former TV-show host Sally Jesse Raphael and actor George Takei of Star Trek fame are only two of a growing army of past-their-prime celebrities who have reinvented themselves on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. That’s right. Sally Jesse Raphael. Just goes to show that even seemingly tired brands can get a second wind with some creative use of social media. But audiences can be fickle, so make sure whoever is manning the controls for your business knows how to handle them.

What You Need to Know About Facebook’s New Privacy Controls

Just when you thought you had a handle on posting content and growing an audience on Facebook, the giant social network has changed its rules again. This time, though, it says its goal is to make it easier for users to manage their content.

Today, Facebook announced a number of changes to its privacy controls, planned to go into effect in the next few weeks. Among the more significant changes are Privacy Shortcuts, an easier-to-use Activity Log and a new Request and Removal tool for managing photos you’re tagged in.

“We continue to strive toward three main goals: bringing controls in context where you share, helping you understand what appears where as you use Facebook, and providing tools to help you act on content you don’t like,” Sam Lessin, Facebook’s director of product, wrote in a post.

Here’s a look at some of the new changes coming before the end of the year and what you need to know.

Related: New Facebook Option Can Help Brands Regain Fan Engagement

1. Updated Activity Log. Released last year, the Activity Log allows you to review and choose who sees everything you’ve shared. Facebook says the updated Activity Log has new navigation that will allow you to more easily track likes and comments, photos and posts you are tagged in. For busy entrepreneurs who use the Activity Log to schedule posts and manage content, this update presumably makes things easier by centralizing more features.

It also offers new ways to sort information, Facebook says. “Now you can quickly see public photos you’re tagged in and have hidden from your timeline, but which still appear in other places on Facebook,” Lessin wrote.

2. New Request and Removal tool. As a business owner, you should be aware of and carefully manage the photos that others can tag you or your business in. With the new Request and Removal tool — located in the updated Activity Log — simply go to the “Photos of You” tab, select as the photos and ask your friends to take down the shots you don’t like. You can also “untag” yourself from multiple photos at once.

3. Privacy Shortcuts. No longer will it be necessary to navigate through a string of pages to get to your privacy and timeline settings. Facebook is rolling out shortcuts that will allow users to manage “Who can see my stuff?” “Who can contact me?” and “How do I stop someone from bothering me?” all from shortcuts in the top toolbar.

Related: How to Promote Your Business Events on Facebook

4. App permissions. A new feature will allow you to manage the permissions that you grant to apps separately, instead of together on the same screen. This can allow you, for instance, to grant an app the ability to read your public profile and friends list but decline to allow it to post your activity on the app to your News Feed.

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How Facebook’s Updated ‘Nearby’ Tool Can Boost Your Business

Social network giant Facebook announced yesterday that it has updated its “Nearby” feature, which is accessed through the Facebook iOS and Android mobile apps. With the update, Nearby now helps people find local businesses based on feedback from their Facebook friends. The feedback can be in the form of recommendations, a star rating system where friends rate a business from 1 to 5 and where friends have checked into or liked on Facebook.

Unlike other review applications, people need to have checked into a business before they can rate it.

This update could be a boon to local businesses that have a presence on Facebook as hundreds of millions of people access Facebook on their mobile devices. People can use Nearby to search for specific businesses or search by categories such as Restaurants, Coffee or Shopping. They can also search on sub-categories such as brunch or clothing. The suggestions people receive become more personalized the more they and their friends recommend, rate and check into places.

Related: What You Need to Know About Facebook’s New Privacy Controls

Facebook says it’s an early release of the new local search tool, and improvements are planned. The social network intends for results to get better the more people use it. Facebook also says it plans to add data about places from third-party services in the near future.

As Nearby rolls out, there are a few things that your small business can do to become more visible on Facebook:

1. Update your Page. Assuming you’ve already set up your company’s Facebook Page, make sure it is completely updated with your latest info. This should include all of your basic information like your address, store hours, phone number and details about your business in the About section.

2. Update your Category. Ensuring your business is properly categorized can allow you to appear in the results when people are looking for your specific type of business. To update your category, go to your Page’s Admin Panel, click Edit Page and then select Update Info. You can choose your category under Basic Information.

3. Talk to Your Customers. Since results are based on customer feedback and ratings, encourage them to like, check into, rate and recommend your business on Facebook whenever possible. This, again, can help you appear higher in the search results.

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How Instagram’s New Terms Ignited a PR Debacle

This week’s need-to-know social-media news.

Instagram’s latest move was a bridge too far. The company announced this week that a new privacy policy and terms of service agreement would take effect on January 16. Buried in the documents was legalese allowing Instagram to sell your photos — not to mention your own likeness — to advertisers without notifying or paying you.

This move could have turned Instagram into the world’s largest stock photo library, and a potential cash cow for its parent company, Facebook. Many users and major brands who were lulled into a false sense of security by Instagram’s free service, clean interface and Twitter integration felt buyer’s remorse — or whatever you’d call the remorse of a free app user — and canceled or suspended their accounts.

Before deleting your Instagram account in a fit of anger, try downloading your photos to your hard drive with Instaport and re-upload them elsewhere. Better yet, Instagram has seemingly bowed to user outrage and agreed to remove the offending passages from its terms of service to clarify that users own the rights to their own photos. — CNET, Wired and SocialTimes

Starbucks’ Twitter hashtag campaign hijacked.

The global coffee franchise became the latest company to watch a marketing idea fail, after it chose to display live tweets featuring the #spreadthecheer hashtag on a large screen outside London’s Natural History Museum. Starbucks haters promptly took over the hashtag, referencing a U.K. tax controversy in tweets such as, “I like buying coffee that tastes nice from a shop that pays tax. So I avoid @starbucks #spreadthecheer.” Lesson: negative feedback is part of life and business, so don’t give your critics a platform to embarrass you. — The Consumerist

Get ready for video ads in your Facebook News Feed.
By next April, video ads are expected to begin appearing in your Facebook News Feed on both desktop and mobile versions of the social network. Business owners should take note: These new ads — which industry executives believe will play automatically — could be an effective way to reach customers. Facebook users now number more than one billion worldwide. — AdAge

You’ll soon be able to download your entire Twitter history.
Can’t remember all those great tweets your company sent months and months ago? No problem. Over the coming months, Twitter will be rolling out a new feature allowing you to download a searchable archive of all your tweets. Such an archive could be a useful analytics resource, allowing you to study which of your tweets have been most engaging and look for patterns. — The Verge

Social media: like a controlled substance.
A recent study of social-media use has led to shocking revelations, including how, for many, resisting the urge to use social media is more difficult than resisting more natural, critical urges, such as eating food. Apparently it’s the dopamine release triggered by sharing about ourselves online that keeps us coming back. — Mashable

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Instagram, Pinterest, Aviary: The Social Photo Feud Heats Up

This week’s need-to-know social-media news.

Some of the hottest social companies have been acting lately like fickle teenagers. Last Sunday, Instagram broke up for good with Twitter, making it impossible to embed Instagram photos in tweets. A couple of days later, Twitter users started noticing that photos posted to Pinterest’s pinboards were displaying within their Twitter stream.

It didn’t end there. Twitter later announced a suite of its own photo-filtering tools, powered by New York City-based startup Aviary. It remains to be seen whether the new service will replace Instagram among camera-happy mobile users, but Twitter’s new image filters are certainly worth a test drive. — Wired and SocialTimes

Amazon and Facebook partner for social gifting.
Online retailing giant Amazon has partnered with Facebook to launch a “Friends and Family Gifting” feature, which allows you to track your Facebook connections’ birthdays and anniversaries on Amazon, and view their Amazon wish lists. Not only can this help with your holiday shopping, it might help influence the greater gifting market, including startups such as San Francisco-based Wantist and Wantful. — Mashable

Facebook users reject privacy changes.
In a move potentially surprising no one, Facebook says it will not be bound by its users’ vote against the proposed privacy changes it plans to make. The social network sent an email to users, inviting them to vote on the changes. And while a resounding 88 percent of the 750,000 or so respondents voted against the changes, the vote was all for naught. Facebook said the vote would be non-binding unless at least a third of its active users — some 300 million people around the world — participated. — SFGate

Ads may be coming to Instagram.
Instagram users who are enamored with the photo-sharing site’s clean interface may be in store for some less-than-appealing changes. A Facebook executive this week confirmed that it is developing a strategy to make money from the popular photo-sharing tool it acquired earlier this year. While the executive declined to offer specific details, a good bet might be that ads will be involved. If so, could ads lead to a fall in user traffic? — BetaBeat

‘And now the pope will tweet!’
Yes, Pope Benedict XVI is now officially a tweeter. The leader of the Catholic Church joined Twitter (@Pontifex) and sent his first tweet this week. In just a matter of days, His Holiness has already racked up more than a million followers, despite sending only seven tweets (so far). His latest tweet received nearly 20,000 retweets. — Business Insider

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The 5 Biggest Twitter Marketing Fails of 2012

Social media marketing can be hard to master. When done right, it can strengthen your brand value and ideally even your bottom line. When done wrong, it can alienate consumers and thrash your reputation.

Here’s a look at five of the worst corporate mistakes over Twitter this year, and what other business owners can learn from them:

January 18: McDonald’s hashtag gone wrong. McDonald’s (@McDonald’s) created the #McDstories hashtag on Twitter to inspire customers to share personal stories about their favorite McDonald’s moments. What McDonald’s didn’t bargain for was that customers would share both good and bad stories. And share they did — everything from allegedly crunching on fingernail clippings in Big Macs to getting food poisoning. The fast food mammoth yanked the #McDstories campaign only two hours after launching it, but a quick search on Twitter shows that the hijacked hashtag still goes on strong.

Lesson: You can’t control what consumers will say using your hashtag, and they can be hijacked by negative comments that can never be taken back.

January 27: Snickers gets caught paying for celebrity tweets. Marketers from Snickers’ U.K. branch (@SnickersUK) were hungry for retweets when they hired British model and reality TV start Jordon (aka Katie Price) to tweet about topics she likely would never normally tweet about, including Eurozone debt and China’s gross domestic product. Jordan followed up her rash of out-of-character tweets with a message about feeling like herself again thanks to Snickers. The stunt left many of Jordan’s followers reeling for thinking her Twitter account had been hacked.

Lesson: Pranking consumers in clever ways can draw attention to your brand, but usually not the right kind.

February 5: Toyota Camry drives away potential drivers. The Japanese car giant created nine Twitter accounts to get the word out about the new Camry during the Super Bowl. Toyota (@Toyota) then tweeted — in this case, spammed — unsolicited messages about a Camry giveaway contest to anyone using a Super Bowl-related hashtag. The ensuing consumer backlash prompted Toyota to close all its “The Camry Effect” promotional Twitter accounts and issue an apology.

Lesson: Impersonal mass marketing tweets can alienate customers. Stick to unique, personalized messages that engage consumers one-on-one.

October 3: KitchenAid cooks up a half-baked political tweet. On this day, KitchenAid’s Twitter feed (@KitchenAidUSA) wasn’t about cooking with the company’s famous kitchen appliances. It was about politics. After Barack Obama mentioned his late grandmother during a presidential debate earlier that evening, the person running KitchenAid’s Twitter feed tweeted an insensitive comment about her and his campaign. The individual responsible for the inappropriate tweet was relieved of his duties and the company was forced to clean up the mess.

Lesson: Your social media manager should adopt a tone that reflects your company’s image and keep his or her personal (and political) opinions out of your social media marketing.

October 29: Retailers’ Hurricane Sandy sale slip-ups. During the storm, Urban Outfitters (@UrbanOutfitters) tweeted: “This storm blows (but free shipping doesn’t)! Today only… #frankenstorm #ALLSOGGY” An email promoting the sale included an image of Frankenstein with the word “Frankenstorm” on it. American Apparel, The Gap and Sears got in on the Sandy storm sale action on Facebook and Twitter, too. Angry reactions to these inappropriate sales still continue on Twitter.

Lesson: Attempting to make money on and exploit others’ suffering in times of crisis can cause serious backlash. Just don’t do it.

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