“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.

 

 

 

 

 

Optimize Your Tweets

Retweets are arguably the most powerful metric on Twitter. Compelling your followers to Retweet (RT) your brand’s message is essential if you want to make full use of the platform. So, how do you increase these shares?

In this blog post, we examine how the average RT/Tweet rate varies based on daily Tweet frequency, post-time, and post-type. Using data from about 7,000 brand Tweets* we looked at how frequency, time of day and post-type effect the average RT rate (%) of a Tweet.

*Methods: Brand Tweets were sampled from ~30 accounts associated with 13 big brands; Twitter accounts used included regional and global audiences; all data is less than 6 months old (11/5/12). RT rates were normalized against the total number of followers on the day of the Tweet.

 Tweet Frequency: 4-5 Tweets/Day

How many times a day should brands be Tweeting? Is it better to under-Tweet rather than over-Tweet, or vice-versa? In order to address these questions, we categorized Tweets based on the total number of Tweets made by the brand in that day (Tweets/Day) and then plotted the average RT rate (%) to see if there was a trend, and indeed there was!

Tweeting four times per day is the optimal frequency in terms of highest RT rate. Tweeting once per day returns the lowest amount of ReTweets. The average RT rate on accounts that Tweeted 5-6 times a day were about 60% higher than those that only Tweeted 2-3 times a day, so erring on the side of over-tweeting is better than under-tweeting.

**Data not shown

The trend seen here complements a recent socialmediatoday post, which also found the optimal tweet frequency peaks at ~4-5 tweets per day.

Tweet Time: Between 7-8am for your target follower base. If you do not know where your followers are, posting at 4, 7, and 11am EST is a good jumping off point.

When is the best time of day to Tweet? Using the same data set as above, we looked at the average RT rate based on the time of day the tweet was posted (EST). The results are shown below:

The data above is plotted as Eastern Standard Time (EST). The largest peaks occur between the hours of 7 and 8 am in three heavily populated time-zones: London, England, and the East and West Coasts of the US.

The largest peak occurred at 7am EST, and was 75-85% higher than either of the other two peak times.

 

 

 

This is likely due to a combination of factors such as:

  • A larger proportion of the follower base is in this geographic region
  • This time slot benefits from being between the other two peak times
  • The followers in this area are more engaged

Based on these results, it is advisable to coordinate your post time with the geographic region of your target audience. Depending on your location, simply posting between 7-8am in your time zone may put your Tweet in one of the ‘lull’ periods between peak morning hours, so be aware of the time change between your area and EST.

Tweet-Type (Link vs. non-link)

Will adding a link to you Tweet significantly affect the number of Re-tweets it receives? Probably not…according to the data there’s almost no difference between the two types in terms of Re-Tweets.

Tweets that contained links got only 3% more RTs on average than just regular ‘Status Update’ Tweets. While adding a link may benefit the site the link targets, it’s will probably be detrimental to the share rate of the Tweet. Users typically perform only 1 action on a post, and if a link is present it competes with the RT functionality for engagement. So use links carefully in your Tweets, as they may be costing you RTs.

Main Take-aways:

Many factors will determine the success of your brand’s Tweets. If changes to content don’t increase the average RTs per Tweet, consider varying other factors such as Tweet frequency, post time (plus location of followers), and post type. Below is a summary of the recommendations for optimizing your brand’s Tweets:

  • Tweet at least 4 times a day! The average RT rate more than doubled when the Tweet frequency increased from 2-3 Tweets per day, to 4!
  • If you are targeting Tweets to a specific region (outside of your timezone), adjust your post time so the Tweet goes out between 7-8am in the area of your audience.
    • If you’re not targeting by region, Tweet at 4, 7, and 11am EST. This will put your posts at the top of users feeds in the most densely populated regions around the world.
  • Use links with caution! Keep in mind that most users will only perform 1 action on a post. Adding a link will likely decrease the number of RTs your Tweet receives.

The Lowdown On Global Facebook Pages

 

A single global Facebook Page or several local Pages?

Until now, if you were a brand posting on Facebook, those were your options.

Historically, this choice has been tricky when deciding on a strategy for your brand, as both came with their own set of pros and cons.

Single Global Page

  • Large global fan count
  • One Page in search
  • One vanity URL

BUT…

  • No way to localize content/look (i.e. cover photo, profile picture)
  • Limited regional insights data
  • Geo-targeting can be tiresome

Local Pages

  • Localized look to Pages
  • Regional insights data

BUT…

  • Search is cluttered
  • Fan counts are smaller (Fans tend to check the validity of the Page by the Fan count first)
  • No global community

Facebook has eliminated some of these pain points by introducing Global Pages for those brands with managed accounts (i.e. those with an Account Manager at Facebook).

What does this bring to the table? Read on…

  • Brands can have a Global Page and localized Pages (Local Pages), all using one Facebook URL.
  • Users will automatically see their most relevant Local Page, determined by a number of factors, including the users IP address.
  • Brands will have the ability to learn about all customers through one set of global insights, which include robust localized data.
  • Aggregated Like count and PTAT stats shown across all Pages.
  • Eliminates a cluttered Facebook search experience by only offering one brand Page option. Which also eliminates the possibility of a Fan liking the wrong Local Page.

Global Pages can…

  • Offer a localized look, such as localized cover photo, profile picture, news feed, apps, milestones, ‘about’ section and even a translated brand name.
  • Direct those fans without a Local Page to the Global Page as the default.
  • Group audiences by language. i.e. All English-speaking fans could be directed to one Local Page for US, UK etc. – N.B. This approach is not recommended if detailed demographic data is important to you
  • Geo-target posts on Local Pages to specific cities

Global Pages can’t…

  • Cover markets, you don’t cover – therefore if you want Local Pages, you must have the support in place in those countries to run those Pages, as Fans directed to Local Pages, will not receive updates posted by the default Global Page.
  • Show Local Page Managers stats from other Local Pages or the Global Page.
  • Publish from the Global Page to all Local Pages – Local Page Managers must post their own separate updates.

One of the major issues when choosing the single brand Page strategy was that brands lose the detailed demographic data they have with the individual local brand Pages. This update means that brands get the best of both worlds, one simple, clean URL and the robust analytics of a local Page.

Aside from a simpler search process, the user experience will remain unchanged. Fans won’t see the redirect; they will automatically see the localized Page. If a Fan prefers to receive updates from a different region, they still have the ability to select an alternative Local Page by clicking ‘Switch Region” in the gear menu near the cover photo.

Brands are now only left asking themselves two questions:

  • Do we have adequate support in local markets?
  • Do we have local audiences, which would benefit from regular targeted content and a localized look?

If the answer to both is yes, then leveraging Global Pages is the solution.

Global Pages are a great addition for large global organizations with worldwide markets and a support infrastructure to match. For these organisations, the decision is a no-brainer. If they have the support necessary to run several Pages and they desire the clout of a global Fan count and a single URL, then this is the obvious choice for them. They can localize the look and the content and keep track of their local audiences’ wants and needs – all without losing out on any Global stats.

For those brands that don’t have adequate support in local markets or don’t feel they could generate enough local content to warrant a separate Local Pages? — The old single brand Page structure is the most beneficial. Local Pages can, of course, be added as the brand and it’s markets change and grow.

For smaller brands, aside from probably having less of a need for a global presence, it is likely that they won’t have a Facebook Account Manager and therefore the Global Pages option won’t yet be available to them.