Archive for December, 2012

“Nearby” – Facebook Mobile Strategy Comes Into Focus

By: David Koroghlian

Earlier this week, Facebook hit the reset button on their failed “Places” venture with a complete overhaul to the Facebook “Nearby” feature in their mobile apps.  The updates to Nearby position Facebook as a serious competitor in the check-in and local discovery engine space.  The move is not only a direct and powerful strike at Foursquare, Yelp and Google Local, it is also a potential boon to local businesses, as well as Facebook users.  The move comes at an important time for Facebook, as they continue to be challenged on how they can use mobile as a revenue-driving channel and ultimately further monetize their massive 600+ million-user base.

What is Nearby?

 

Nearby is a feature within the Facebook for iOS and Android apps that is intended to help users find and discover local businesses and signals a major push forward from Facebook into the local search space.  With this newly released update, in addition to showing which friends have checked in at a particular establishment, Nearby will help people discover places near them based on their interest graph, as well as their friends’ recommendations. People can search for local businesses by category as well as provide star ratings and recommendations for places they have checked into.

Once a user has clicked through to a specific business page, they will be shown basic information about that business, including location, phone number, their timeline, recommendations, and friends that like the place.  While Nearby will help users to find new places, the true power of the discovery engine comes in the form of personalized recommendations which will become refined the more users and their friends rate, recommend and check into places.

Brand Implications – Things to Keep an Eye On

For brands with physical locations, this will be an important channel of focus, but one that will take attention to leverage most effectively.  Facebook has pointed to an almost EdgeRank like algorithmic approach to surfacing local establishments based on check-ins, star ratings, and friends recommendations.  To that end, businesses should consider updating their pages to be fully optimized for discovery with Nearby.

Facebook has offered the following tips on their blog for local businesses looking to benefit from its new functionality:

  • Include basic information such as your address, store hours, phone number, and details about your business in the about section.
  • Update your category. For example, if you are a sushi restaurant, you will not appear if you do not have the correct category listed.
  • Encourage connections from customers: likes, check-ins, ratings, and recommendations.

In addition to the tips Facebook has offered up, it will be important for brands to drive Facebook activity via in-store promotion in order to prompt and encourage users to Like, check-in, make recommendations and provide ratings of their establishments.  Another area of continued focus for brands should be moderation of comments and activity on their pages.  While this should always be a critical part of any social program, the potential for heightened visibility and eyeballs to brand pages through Nearby, only further underscores the need for prompt and diligent dialogue with fans of brands.  In addition to social moderation, as the platform grows and becomes monetized, brands should keep an eye on the potential for paid media opportunities via promoted places, sponsored results, click-to-call advertising or other mobile-location based ads.

According to Facebook, this is an early release and there will be more to come with Nearby, including the addition of data from third party services.  It stands to reason that Facebook will (and should) provide brands the ability to offer specials, discounts and coupons to users who check-in.  Currently, offers are not part of any visible functionality within the Nearby experience.

One other question that will continue to proliferate is user adoption and why would a user utilize this service over another similar check-in like service?  That is a valid question, which will be answered over time.  At present Facebook has nested the Nearby feature within the left navigation menu, rather than in a prominent location in the header – which could limit user adoption.  While we don’t have stats from Facebook on usage patterns, it stands to reason that most users (outside of power users or community managers) are strictly focused on their news feed and thus might not be exploring outside of this user experience.

The potential for Facebook and brands with the launch of a revamped Nearby is obvious and clear.  The question now becomes, is there room for another horse in the social, local, mobile race and who will ultimately be the last one standing? My chips are on Facebook.

But I want ALL of our fans to see ALL of our Facebook posts…

I used to think everything I published on Facebook reached all of my friends, and I assumed the same for Adobe’s brand page content. Heck, I’d bet many of the executives us social media managers report results to think all of our content reaches all of our fans. But alas, it does not.

Earlier this past Fall, there were lots of discussions about EdgeRank, and how brands aren’t able to get their Facebook posts to reach more fans. Some folks suggested Facebook is nefariously dubious in changing their algorithms. I, however, tend to side with Mike from PostRocket on this: Facebook changes their algorithm all the time; they do it to help the user and not to penalize brands or make them spend more. Mike’s advice is good, “Stop complaining and produce better content. Trust me, you’ll be rewarded.”

So let’s assume you are taking great pains to make your Facebook page posts more readable and followable, but you still want to ensure they are reaching as many fans as possible…what can you do?

Take a look at Facebook Interest Lists

Facebook Interest Lists were launched in early 2012. This feature encourages fans to make Interest Lists for pages whose content they don’t want to miss. It’s like a personalized newspaper of sorts, for users to follow certain topics. (Not far off from Twitter lists.)

It’s important to note that Facebook Interest Lists don’t appear to affect EdgeRank (from what our Edelman Digital agency team saw in their research), but it does appear to be a great way for users to bypass Facebook’s auto-processes to ensure they receive all of a company or brand’s content.

Here’s how:

Step 1: On any page, click the gear icon next to the “Liked” icon (lower right of main profile image)
Step 2: Add to Interest List
Step 3: Like, share and interact with the content!

Simple.

Additionally, soon to be everywhere on Facebook (we think…), the new “Get Notification” feature.

This has been available on personal pages but just recently rolled out for some brand/company pages (though not all pages have this feature yet).

When users click to receive notifications from a brand page, they’ll receive both a desktop notification (if on Facebook) and a mobile alert. Great for fans who don’t want to miss a thing, and incredibly useful for social media managers when there are real calls-to-action posts.

Image from Marketing Land

Image from Marketing Land

Is your company doing anything else to help ensure your fans are getting all your Facebook posts? Let us know in the comments.

Pinterest Rolls Out Official Business Pages

 

With Pinterest recently hitting the top 50 most visited websites in the US and the news that Convertro placed them with the honour of driving more revenue per click than Facebook or Twitter — Pinterest needed to get serious about their business customers. And they have.

Pinterest announced the roll-out of new tools for businesses. Whether you currently have an account or are ready to launch yours, these tools will be a great benefit.

Until now, commercial usage was technically prohibited so the new updates come with their own terms of service for business. Brands also have the option to add a single brand name to their Page rather than using the first name, last name format that was the previous option. There is also now a verification process (much like verified accounts on Twitter) to add validity to the account.

To further encourage adoption, Pinterest has also provided resources for businesses, such as case studies and best practices, to ensure they get the most out of the growing platform.

A business account also comes with goodies, which include ‘pin it’ and ‘Follow me’ buttons for your website. According to Cat Lee, Pinterest’s Product Manager, Pinterest is hoping “to add more tools and features that are geared toward this audience.”

 

So with these extra developments, should your brand be on Pinterest? It isn’t for every business, but if you have visually interesting products and/or are willing to share content that isn’t solely about your business, such as inspirations and trends that will resonate with your branding, then it could be worth the extra time and effort.

According to Media Bistro, “59 percent of Pinterest users have purchased an item they saw on the pinboarding site” and “79 percent of Pinterest users are more likely to purchase items they’ve seen on Pinterest, compared with Facebook users purchasing behaviour”. This clearly isn’t a decision to be taken lightly; it’s well worth giving some thought to whether your brand would benefit from a presence on Pinterest as it could impact on sales revenue for your business.