What Businesses Need to Know about Facebook Timeline

March 21, 2012 by  
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Facebook timeline for businessesBusiness owners, you may have noticed that your personal profile switched over to a new format called “Timeline” recently. It’s graphically a more attractive format with a large cover photo and a sequencing of posts and activity on Facebook by date. Facebook is now requiring that all business, or brand, pages switch to Timeline by the end of March.

Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know to get your page switched to timeline and begin to maximize the new format:

Photos

New Profile Picture – 851 by 315 pixels
This is a large wide photo that cannot include any calls to action. You can embed some badges or accolades atop the photo if you wish. We suggest something very eye catching for this photo that will set the tone for your page.

Inset photo – 180×180
There is an inset photo on the new profile picture; we generally recommend your logo for this.
Milestones
You can now “backdate” important dates in your business’ history on the Timeline. Include any milestones on the page, such as founding dates, opening new offices, new services, awards won, etc. Review what Facebook defaults for you in the Timeline and see if there’s anything you want to delete.

Messaging
Individuals can now send messages to a brand page and a brand page can respond. This feature can be disabled but we don’t recommend it. This now gives a more private venue for any negative issues that come up and gives people a chance to interact with brands in a more personal way. We like it! In fact, we already got a resume submitted that way :).

“Friend Page” Goes Away
The page that people land on when they are directed to your page will now be the main Timeline wall. However, you are still able to redirect people to specific friends-only tabs for contests and other promotions. Don’t let someone tell you this is a big deal; because it’s not. We’re already seeing scams where people are sounding the alarm saying, “Hurry, you won’t be able to get any more friends after this changes! Let us build your friends for you for INSERT RIDICULOUS COST.”

Tabs/Application Boxes
You are now limited to featuring four tabs, which you can order however you’d like. Be sure to review which tabs are most important to your business (look in Facebook Insights to see which get the most visits) and reorder to feature those.

Featured Posts by Fans/Friends
This will now be listed at the top right and will feature posts from your fans. This is optional but we recommend leaving it so long as you manage your page daily and have a good level of engagement (which we know all of our clients have :)).

Feature Page Posts at the Top
This will allow you to feature content that you want to have the maximum exposure. We can choose to “pin” a post at the top for up to 7 days. Posts that are good candidates would be those promoting a contest or a call to action.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about Timeline and we’ll be happy to address. Thanks and good luck!

How Facebook’s Changes Affect Businesses

October 2, 2011 by  
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Facebook changes for businessStep Ahead’s Lyn Mettler recently talked with two different media outlets about how the new Facebook changes — from Timeline and the ticker to Smart Lists and the Newsfeed — affect businesses and their Facebook marketing strategy.

On the WISH TV interview, she quickly hit the highlights of the updates to educate the viewers about what to expect and how to make changes to the settings.

On INside Indiana Business, her article addresses specifically how each of the updates impact businesses and how they should alter their Facebook strategy.

Get a Grasp on Facebook’s Changes at Step Ahead Brown Bag

September 30, 2011 by  
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Facebook changes for businessStruggling to get a handle on all the changes Facebook recently made? Not sure how it impacts your company’s business page? We’ll walk you through the changes and answer any questions you have about the updates at an informal brown bag lunch at the Step Ahead office’s at the downtown Flagship.  We’ll also share with you our thoughts on how the changes affect your Facebook strategy.

The nitty gritty details:

Get a Grasp on Facebook’s Changes Brown Bag
Oct. 12  11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Flagship, 475 E. Bay Street (Corner of Calhoun & East Bay)
Parking: Gaillard Auditorium garage or Aquarium garage
$15/per person payable at the door, cash or check
RSVP to hold your spot by emailing info@stepaheadinc.com  (limited to 25)
Bring your own lunch!

Measuring Social Media Results Beyond Engagement

August 25, 2011 by  
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Social Media Results

 

I have read one too many articles lately that claim you just cannot measure success on social media, at least not yet, but rather it’s more about awareness, engaging loyal fans and customers, creating goodwill, etc.

While, yes, social media is about that, it’s also about RESULTS and yes you can measure that. I’ll tell you how in my weekly SocialMoms.com post. Read on!

Step Ahead Takes Facebook Step by Step in Charleston Seminar

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under All, social media, Step Ahead Info

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Convinced your business needs to be on Facebook but not sure HOW to accomplish that? Or, do you have a business Facebook page but you’ve been stuck with only 20 “likers” since you started the page a year ago? Let us walk you through the start up and management, step by step. No convincing you WHY you should use Facebook, we just want to focus on the HOW.

After hosting a broad Charleston Social Media Step by Step seminar this spring, we got lots of requests to spend more time on specific tools, so we’re starting with the king: Facebook!

In two half-day sessions this month, Aug. & Aug. 23, you’ll learn everything from the basics of page set-up and posting etiquette to more advanced information like page customization, Facebook analytics and all about apps. You can attend one or both sessions based on your comfort level in the social media platform! We’re also offering several 30-minute one-on-one sessions after the seminar for those who would like more personal attention.

We love talking about social media and these seminars give us a chance to share some of our Step Ahead secrets to success when it comes to social media management. Seats are limited so make sure to sign up soon! Both sessions will be hosted at the Charleston Digital Corridor Flagship downtown Charleston at East Bay and Calhoun.

Click here to sign up and for complete details. Hope to see you there!

Social Media for Hotels: Filling Rooms with Facebook

July 25, 2011 by  
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The hotel industry has changed dramatically over the past decade, first with the introduction of online booking sites such as Expedia.com, then with the increased popularity of review sites such as TripAdvisor.com and now with social media.

Step Ahead Inc. demonstrated the power of social media for hotels with a group of Myrtle Beach area hotels, for whom we managed all Facebook pages and a single Twitter account for the group. The results we saw over time were astounding including dramatically increased web traffic, revenue in excess of $14K per month directly trackable to social media and an ability to handle some 15-20 major customer service issues per month.

We were able to increase Facebook friends from just a few hundred in 2009 to over 47,000 for all pages together by early 2011. We turned their pages into a source of helpful information about theMyrtle Beacharea, literally turning each Facebook page into a virtual “front desk” for the hotels. People loved it.

The Power of a Review

Facebook, it turns out, is a place where people feel very comfortable sharing positive and negative reviews. We saw lots of positive reviews on theMyrtle Beachpages and the occasional negative review, as well.

Some argue they don’t want a Facebook page, so as to avoid negative reviews, but people will share them whether you want them to or not. If they’re on your own page, at least you can monitor and respond to them. If they get posted somewhere else in Cyberspace, if you don’t have an active online monitoring service in place, you’re likely to miss it and it could easily spiral out of control.

Positive reviews, on the other hand, are a great selling point for your hotel, and can help sway potential customers. We found that often when someone said something negative about the hotel, other people would come to the defense without us even asking. What a powerful testimonial!

Beyond 9-5

A big key to successfully managing social media for hotels is being present outside of office hours and that means more than scheduling posts outside those hours. You have to be on and engaging.

If someone posts a complaint or negative review, you need to respond within a couple of hours max. Twenty-four hours is a lifetime in the world that is social media.

Also, don’t forget that people are very active on Facebook over weekends and holidays, often more so than during the week. That’s the time when they tend to be planning trips, doing research and booking hotel rooms. If you’re not on, you’re missing a key chance to engage your prospects.

This constant monitoring may seem tedious, but when you make your Facebook friends feel special and important they become even more loyal brand ambassadors and return visitors.

Social Media as a Money Maker

Who says you can’t make money on social media? Hotels who offer online booking certainly can and we proved it!

In early 2011, Facebook was averaging $14,000 per month of bookings for this hotel group directly trackable to Facebook and Twitter. This more than covered their social media fees, making social media a very profitable endeavor for them indeed.

Keep in mind, this number only includes direct traffic to their website, not phone calls from Facebook or Twitter friends. They did not have a tracking system in place to track phone calls that may have been generated from a visit to their page and we can only imagine how many of those originated on Facebook.

Traffic, Traffic and More Traffic

On a monthly basis, the Myrtle Beach Facebook pages were sending more than 5,000 visits to the websites, making Facebook one of their top referring sites.

We also noticed that the quality of traffic sent to the sites was very high, with a lower than average bounce rate and people stayed on the sites longer than average.

An important thing to note here is that in order to get the traffic and get the booking, your Facebook page should be made up of friends who are the right target, not just anyone you can get to click “like”. We take a very targeted approach to building a friend base and we believe that’s critical to generating these dramatic, measurable results for our hotel clients.

Social media has become a must-do marketing strategy for hotels, enabling them to be more effective at customer service, generate more revenue by providing followers with information for booking online and a way to get more eyes on your hotels as people research where they want to stay. Take a dedicated, consistent, targeted approach to social media and see if you don’t see your results from social media take a sharp turn upward.

 

Social Media Day: Round Two

July 1, 2011 by  
Filed under All, social media

Yesterday was the 2nd annual Social Media Day, and for all of us in the social media marketing field it’s nice to have that recognition. I (personally) spend the majority of my life in Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and writing blogs so it was nice to actually get out from behind the computer and be social!

This year we held our get together at Uno Mas in Mount Pleasant, keeping to our Mexican food theme (last year was at Taco Boy)! We had a great turnout, great food and even better happyritas!

Thank you to all those who came and a big thanks to Dine with Sal and everyone at Uno Mas for hosting the party! Here at Step Ahead we’re already looking forward to next year.

*** For more pictures visit our Tumblr account!

Holy Twitter!

June 29, 2011 by  
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We all know that if you want to stay connected online with friends or colleagues, the place to do it is through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other social media tools. But what about staying connected to your church? Or the Pope?

On March 14, the rumors were confirmed that a Facebook profile had been created in honor of the late Pope John Paul II. The Vatican launched JPII’s page as a part of their social media initiative to create an online presence for the Catholic Church. Now, another Pope has decided to create his own social media presence.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI made history by becoming the first Pope to utilize Twitter by sending a tweet with his iPad to promote the Vatican’s new website. The tweet said “Dear Friends, I just launched News.va. Praised by our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI”

Although Pope Benedict may be new to social media, the Catholic Church is not. With more than 40,000 followers and some 1,200 tweets, The Vatican’s Twitter account is thriving along with the launch of their new interactive website.

News.VA is a mothership of real-time information for the Catholic follower. It’s comprised of the latest news from The Vatican Radio (with plenty of social media sharing options for readers), a real-time Twitter feed, a Vatican Events page, a Facebook updates section and a YouTube video channel.

This past year, the Catholic Church has truly brought religion into the realm of social networking. With this “old school” institution embracing and understanding the importance of new media, it seems that online networking has no limits. If the Pope can tweet, well so can you! No more excuses…

Social Media Synergy

March 30, 2011 by  
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The list of social media tools available to small businesses these days is overwhelming and growing everyday, but that’s not an excuse to ignore all the social media opportunities out there.

Many businesses are on Facebook now and may even be dabbling in Twitter, but if you’re not exploring all the different ways social media can build your business, then you’re just plain missing out. I recently met a small local business owner who was smiling ear to ear as he told me about the success he had with group buying sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial. After hearing about all his new customers, I asked how he intended to spend the rest of his budget. The answer shook me to my core. He said YellowPages! That was it!

Okay, so after regrouping and pulling my jaw up from the floor, I tried to explain that he should try to retain contact with the new customers he gained from group buying with social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, geo-location tools and blogs. He thought that since he had so much success with one tool, there was no point in pursuing others. What??

So why does it really matter if you use just one or several of these social media tools? Well, being on one is a great step for any small business, but as you continue to add different tools, your reach grows exponentially. You’re able to cross promote with different tools and reach more of your target market. Some folks out there will be active on Twitter, but not Facebook, and vice versa. Once you’re active on Twitter and Facebook, you can talk about the interesting posts on your blog, thus driving traffic to your blog and website. It’s a never ending circle of cross promoting and driving that always-important traffic.

That said, there will be certain social media tools that fit your business and others that don’t. Not sure what they are? Just ask us!

Quality vs. Quantity in Social Media

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under All, social media, TwitterMoms.com post

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So you want to be the Starbucks of Facebook do you? 20 million plus fans? Sound awesome?!

It may be “new” media but the “old” adage holds true: quality beats quantity every time! Read my new Social Moms blog post to see why I’ll take 10,000 fans over 100,000 any day of the week.

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