Useless Facebook features for brands…. and a useful one.

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March 28, 2012 by dannybishopcreative

Facebook is King.

There’s no denying it. It will reach 1 Billion registered accounts sometime this year and delivers massive traffic to brands that know how to engage on it. Facebook is more than just the elephant in the room, it’s a behemoth! And like any behemoth, there are lots of things to try and take in.

Facebook landing pages, custom URLs, regularity of posting, apps, tabs, open graph integration, timeline… you could spend all day, every day working on your Facebook profile.

But is it worth it? What things give you ‘bang for your buck’? What things are nothing more than impressive to other web geeks?

What’s useless?

The first thing that falls into the “Useless” category, right at the top of the pile, are Landing Pages. Sure, Landing Pages look pretty, and might give some added visibility to that promo you’re running trying to sell hemp baskets woven in special workshops… but your Landing Page is seen by so few people, so infrequently that the hemp baskets may as well be considered at best ‘below the fold’, or at worst invisible.

Landing Pages are served up to people who come to your Facebook URL. But that’s not how your 100,000 existing fans interact with you.  Without revealing who, I looked at one of our clients with a large Facebook following. They average between 90 and 200 new likes a day during their sporting season. Looking at another client who has a more modest Facebook following reveals an average of between 10 and 20 new likes each day.

It’s these new likes that are the bulk of people who are seeing your Facebook Landing page.  Further data reveals that on average less than 20% of new likes come from people visiting the Landing Page, the rest come from various organic places, such as the Timeline, Facebook profile or like boxes and so on.

That means that your Facebook Landing Page might be being seen by 1 or 2 people a day. Unless of course you’re a massive organisation, in which case your Landing Page might be being seen up to 40 times a day.  Those aren’t big numbers! Certainly when it comes time to decide where to spend your limited budget for development, those sorts of numbers just don’t stack up!  Sure, make your brand a landing page, but don’t spend loads of money on it.

Thankfully, with the release of the Timeline, Facebook killed the easy way to create a landing page. And good on them I say! Spend your money elsewhere! Don’t look to developers to give you work-arounds or provide indecipherable links that take you to a Landing Page.

The newest place to spend your money is on Timelines. Smart companies have realised that Facebook can become something like a cross between a website, wikipedia and a school playground. The wikipedia part is served by dropping in history to your timeline, rather than just pretending that your brand only started doing interesting stuff the day it joined Zuckerberg’s runaway train.

So why not spend some of that budget (or hire an intern) on going back through your organisations history and updating it on Facebook.

Why do I recommend this? Because it can have three main benefits:

  1. Building engagement, specifically giving people a reason to spend time on your timeline, focusing on the things they find interesting (as opposed to just interacting with you via the News Feed)
  2. SEO – Putting more information on Facebook will only help people find you, no matter what they search for.
  3. Potential revenue opportunities!

It’s this second one that’s the most interesting, of course. “But HOW?” I hear you ask.  Before you drop a comment into the box before asking, here are a couple of ideas.

  • Update every important game with links to purchase a DVD from your online (hopefully Facebook enabled) store
  • Show club milestones, with links to purchase related merchandise.
  • List previous club champions, with links to this season’s “Best & Fairest” ticket purchase page
  • Highlight your traditional rivals, with links to buy a seat for the next rematch
Imagine, Barry searches for Kevin Bartlett’s 400th game. In the first couple of searches is Richmond’s post from their Timeline on Facebook. Barry, already following the Tigers, clicks through and reads a post about KB’s 400th game. He marvels at the picture of the comb-over and then notices the link to buy a bobble-head doll in the Richmond online store… click!
These are just a couple of quick ideas. I’m sure some smart people will begin to really utilise the Timeline to great benefit.  You will need to keep these links up to date, but when it comes down to where to spend your Facebook budget, why would you choose to spend your limited money on a Landing Page when you could attack the Timeline and improve your bottom line.
Remember: everyone gets switched over to Timelines on Facebook as of March 30! A few organisations have already  updated their timeline with quality historical information.  If you want a great example, just visit the AFL’s Facebook Timeline.  A screen grab from the 1993 portion of their 120+ year history is shown below…
AFL Facebook Timeline from 1993

AFL Facebook Timeline from 1993

Update: Looks like I’m not the only one seeing worth in Facebook Timelines – the folks at Simply Measured tracked the activity of fans with 15 well known brands who have switched over to the Timeline and saw an increase of 46% in engagement. With hard evidence like that, what’s stopping you from getting your old-school updates written?
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