Inside Facebook Insights

Previous posts on How to build a succesful Social Network and Social Media Campaign Fundamentals both stress the importance of understanding how to measure the effectiveness of the network and campaign used to build it. Facebook Insights is one of the tools provided specifically for the purpose.

But Insights are not easy to interpret and I am glad that the Product Guide for Facebook Page Owners is an excellent document for anybody who wants to make sense of the numbers.

For example, one would ask: how well am I doing with the increase in people who “like” my page? Where are they coming from? You can tell how many people liked your page after they found it linked on another person’s profile (who already “likes”your page). You can tell how many people arrived directly to your page, and so understand how effective the link in your email signature, or on your blog, actually is. There are other monitored sources such as stories displayed in people’s news stream, ads, suggestions people make to their friends and recommendations made by FB.

But “likes” are hardly the only important thing! What is the conversion rate to page views and active interactions? How do you know if activity is happening on your page or outside and does it matter for you? Do you want to bring followers and fans closer to you – directly to your page? Then maybe you should be considering ways of growing your Facebook page following.

Good luck! Post this post to your Facebook and encourage people to comment!

How to build a succesful Social Network

In my post Social Media Campaign Fundamentals I spoke about how to start the journey and how to monitor the success of that journey. Enhancing the chances of success of that journey is the purpose of this blog post. A journey in social media is as succesful as one’s “social” capabilities – the art of living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups[1].

Let’s figure that you start a Facebook page and start posting interesting content. Naturally, you will speak about with your friends and they will come and visit. They will like your page. And they will return every now and again to monitor what you’re saying, because your activity alerts others when you post. This is presumably not the only thing you want because as we go along in time only the friends who are really interested in your area of activity will come and visit.

What you want is social networking and thus, to put together the largest possible following from the extended community around you. This is where your friends, and then their friends, bring others and your online community extends beyond those people that know you directly. Use your activity in the community to indirectly bring in members of that community to you by linking to your page and building your own succesful social network:

  1. Do not spam or harass people as this is counterproductive.
  2. If you are active in the online community already, it’s easier. But if you aren’t, you will easily integrate especially if you are already known offline. Join the online communities that matter – ask yourself and your friends which are the relevant existing pages or groups on Facebook; people you should link with on LinkedIn and Twitter; blogs that already discuss the subject.
  3. Become active by commenting positively on other people’s activity, contributing useful content you find on the web, and posting links to your blog (if you set one up). You may be recognised as an expert in your physical community and this gives you an edge on a newcomer to the area because you will know how to tackle an argument and building a followup. It will be a challenge to extend or replicate this on the Internet, just like building a community of followers on any open broadcast medium like TV. Be selective and sensitive to the nature of a blog when deciding what to say in your contribution to it because you are doing this to attract (not push away) people to your own page or blog.

Good luck building your social network!


[1] Definition thanks to Princeton WorldNet – a lexical database for English

Election monitoring using facebook

Just over a week ago I read this brief note on facebook that explains how a simple screen was used on election day to remind people to vote and asking them to click on a button if they had already voted.

Of course I couldn’t not reflect on this and how facebook is becoming a platform that promulgates openness at all levels of society. People who went out to vote just had to say they did, and others who hadn’t, saw it and were teased about their responsibility towards the nation.

What is certainly interesting is that the facebook tool combined these people’s interactions with age and political views stated on their profile. The numbers showed that a 65 year old was almost three times as likely to vote as an 18 year old, and this matched CNN’s traditional exit polls based on over 17,500 respondents coming from the voting booths. This is the thing which struck me most, and which we could certainly learn from again – almost exactly two years after Obama engaged social media and social networks to win the United States presidency.

Information, obtained through open/public data does not lie. It’s reliable. Does it follow logically that, thus, the medium which is the Internet is worth working in one’s favour all along?

 

Finally – a word before I close this post. This time of year is that time when Wikipedia reminds us that we all use it, and so few of us ever donate anything to keep it free. Please donate $20, $35, $50 or more by following this link. Thank you.

 

Google Instant.. another breakthrough for users to experience “common intelligence”.

 Google Instant was launched in the US on Wednesday.

Marissa Mayer VP for Search Products and User Experience says.. “It provides the user with an easier way to enter a query, with a lot of feedback and awsomely makes search very very efficient.”

Google co-founder Sergey Brin says “I think it’s a little bit of a new dawn in computing”.

One more intelligent step in the direction of user experience by Google! On the 30 August I wrote about the future of a child of Google and facebook. Google is the strongest search engine by far, taking 92% of  the market in te UK and 83% in the US. Facebook has over 500 million users and over 1 million websites have integrated with its platform. Yet, we have seen many a social network come and go without even a gravestone left in its memory. However encouraging these numbers may be, the future lies not with them but with whoever is innovating, making his offerings obsolete before the competiotion will. Users need products that evolve and adapt to their individual specific requirements.  The personalised experience that we as users really need is to know enough when we need to, and without having to ask for it. I call this “common intelligence”. We do not want to log in to five websites to get all the information together: we want them to talk to each other and present the information without as much as an extra click.

This is why Google Instant is another important step. It gets the search results out to you as you type. It is not just a drop-down box under the search box… the results page changes as you type so that San Francisco Museum comes up as the first result after the user has typed only sfm and has not yet pressed enter.

google instant

But we need yet to see more networking between Google users and the providers of Web content. Will Google (or indeed search) ever become everywhere on my Internet space? Will it be integrated with with my computer, my email and my Facebook so that, when I am writing a short message to my friends, it brings up in my Compose screen all that I need to know? As I type… “Will be in San Francisco and would love to see if there are any works by Picasso at the museum of modern art…” … will it bring up San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in a little box, a link to its website and its position on Google Maps (just in case I need attach them). I would then love it to also bring up some relevant information such as the fact that Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (’55) is exhibited there.

Common intelligence… isn’t it?

Learn more about Google Instant

Socialising with your clients!

Socialising with your clients is not as we know it any more. Instead of bar rooms we use chat rooms, instead of meeting up we use social media. Do you want proof? Flip through your digital equivalent of your address book and see just how many of your contacts you have never met in the flesh.

Mark, the copywriter and usability “scholar” at the office, pointed me to i-Tech’s latest piece about the applicability of social networking to businesses. Gege Gatt is one of the founders of ICON, one of the web solutions companies in Malta, and i-Tech’s interview with the man gives plenty of good advice to anybody who is thinking to put his business online. The article in i-Tech should in fact have spelt this clearer – do not go online just by having a website.

Social Networking is now essential to any business, not just those whose business channel is the Internet – like Ryanair, but also Ford and Coca-Cola. It’s also as valid for the very small companies. And, that’s why it makes sense for Malta-based companies to take the plunge. Plenty of Web-marketeers on the islands and, if you are reading this and you haven’t started looking, then you should. I just thought of telling you to go to yellow pages and type “Internet Marketing” but sadly, there is no such section (what??!!). So try Google.

I must refer you to a relatively old online post which talks about the full cycle of engagement in social networking. And, that is one written by Valeria Maltoni. It is based on the work that Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth did in 2008 and I find it very useful as it tells you where to start and follows the path all the way to measuring how good you’re fairing. The steps are Involve, Create, Discuss, Promote, Measure and you should read more about them here and here.

Good luck :)

About facebook and open government

When back in November, I blogged about the Lisbon Treaty possibly instigating a paradigm shift in public consultation, I was wondering if the European Commission would ever be forced (as in: would not have any other option!) to consider Facebook. I could see how difficult it would be if there was no means of authenticating Facebook users as being EU citizens, or if one could not prevent one citizen creating a hundred profiles!

Nothing has changed to bring a Facebook-login closer to personal authentication. But, just days ago Facebook and AOL agreed that Facebook  users could now chat with their friends right through AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). This is an achievement from Facebook’s perspective under many counts. Not least, is the one that was pointed out by Mike Melanson in his post on ReadWriteWeb:

   “The partnership reinforces the idea that our Facebook profile is at the center of our online existence. Whether or not someone is signed into AOL is no longer what’s at stake here, it’s whether or not the user is logged into Facebook.”

In January, Mike had revealed how statistics released by widget-maker Gigya showed that 65% of its traffic came from Facebook.

A look at data published by Experian shows that, for the week ending 20th February,  6.98% of visits were to Google and that this was followed closely by 6.77% of visits going to Facebook. This of course excludes the number of people that have Google as their homepage and the ones that go to Google to type “facebook” and click on the first link! The Experian data dashboard also shows that over 49% of social network hits were to Facebook. Google must have been aware of this when, on the same day as the Facebook/AOL deal they launched Buzz. I remain unimpressed by this last addition to Google’s portfolio and so I am not going to waste your time by linking to it. :)

   Fact 1:  Facebook Connect is free and easy to implement, allows any website to link to 350 million facebookers and is steadily being implemented by all those who would like to stay alive.
   Fact 2: Facebook Connect is part of the Open ID project. Simply put, OpenID allows you to use an existing login account from any participating partner to sign in to multiple websites [read more]

If Facebook Connect is becoming so important, when will it go the next level and start offering to authenticate the identity of its users? How would this affect open government initiatives?

Following the launch of the OpenGov initiative in the US, ten industry leaders (including Google) had come forward to take part in a pilot that would allow the American public to participate in Government through Web 2.0. Why is Facebook not one of them?

Open theatre

The curtain goes down to never, never come back up. The stage, the whole theatre, the square in front of the theatre and the streets leading to the houses with the flickering white lights coming from TV and computer screens spilling outside onto the dark alleys — all has become one. The roles have been reversed and the king is on stage singing to an audience that can’t be bothered to listen and be moved.

Spun into one big act, where there is a place for everybody, this is the setting which allowed the world to welcome social networking. A social leap, rather than a technological leap as it is frequently perceived. There is only place for those who understand this reality and will play this game.

“Open” is in because “open” is everywhere and synonymous with that theatre that has dropped its boundaries. It is one big act and if you are not playing or singing, you are dancing to a beat which you can make your own.