How Businesses Use Facebook for Business

This is a guest post written by Veronica Clyde. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

Facebook is the social media powerhouse that just about everyone seems to be using. Businesses are making good use of the features on the site, as well. However, it pays to know some of the best practices when it comes to using the site so that it is possible to remain in compliance with the terms and conditions of the site and to gain more friends and followers.

Proper Profile Management

Facebook
One of the areas where people and businesses seem to have the most trouble is with the profile. It is important to manage one’s profile appropriately. You should make sure that you have a business page for your company, and always read the rules and regulations for the business accounts. These rules change periodically, so you will want to make sure that you have the most current information.

Photos on the profile are a great way to add more elements of interest and to humanize a company. It is important to make sure that any photos, graphics, or videos that you have on your profile are image appropriate and that they represent your business. For different businesses, this may mean different things. A law firm might want to have headshots of their legal team. A crafter who sells quilts online may want to have some homier photos for customers to see. The media you show on your site should match your company. Inappropriate content may turn away some potential followers and customers.

Make sure that you have links available for your website, as well as any other social networking sites to which you belong. The more information available for customers and followers the better. They may want to start following your blog or they may bookmark your site. You should also make sure that you have a Facebook vanity URL, which is going to make it much easier for people to find you on FB.

Connect and Engage

When you are posting content on your page, you have to remember that people want to see more than just information about your latest projects, products, or news. They want to have interesting and engaging information. In addition, make sure that you ask some questions and invite discussion on your page. When you do this, you are able to connect with users more easily on a deeper level. This may even make them want to know more about you and your company, which could lead them to your website.

When you add friends and look for followers for your page, you will want to make sure that you are choosing those that have the most in common with what you have to offer. Having high quality followers and friends on FB is going to be more important than having the most followers.

On those days that you do post information about your products or services, you will find that it is often a better idea to make sure that you are running some sort of special or sale. This will help to get people more excited, and they will be more willing to share the information with their friends and family. You should also make sure that when you have any special events happening on your blog or at your company, you let the people on Facebook know well before it happens. Reminder updates are appropriate as long as they are not constant.

Businesses today are starting to find more ways that they are going to be able to connect with their customers, thanks to technology. Facebook has the potential to be one of the most important tools in any business’s arsenal.

Veronica Clyde is a tech writer at VPNServices.net – a place where you can read reviews about the best VPN providers. If interested check out a Private Internet Access review.

Top 5 Essential Tips in Facebook Targeted Posts

This is a guest post written by Celina Conner. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.

By now, you have probably have heard that Facebook has recently released its post targeting feature for fan pages. If not, you might have been sleeping from a coma! Kidding aside, here’s the gist. In an attempt to develop new features for users to enjoy, social networking giant Facebook is gearing toward positioning itself as the top of all marketing platforms on the social web. Its latest innovation is providing advantage to users, specifically retailers or business owners, by allowing them to set targets to page posts thereby reaching their rightful targeted audience segments.

Targeted PostIn this article, we will tackle on 5 essential tips on how you can leverage with this new feature.

1. Target by demographics

Facebook’s post targeting feature now allows you to select options with criteria such as the age, gender, relationship status, education, location, school, workplace, interests and language. Being the page admin, you can manipulate the promotion of your posts by highlighting your posts to certain users with your chosen criteria.

For example, you are selling corporate heeled shoes and want to target female young professionals who reside in Manila, Philippines. Then, you can apply these layered conditions using the targeting tool. In this way, you can look to directly marketing your content related to your offering to a smaller but more aimed subset of likes.

2. Muster longer fan retention

When you’ve successfully done the first step in narrowing the people who see your highlighted posts, you can get them to be more engaged to your updates naturally. When they have seen and acknowledge the level of relevance of the product to their lifestyle, you will have higher response rate. This is because you are speaking to audiences who have more interest in your products rather than pleasing a wider fan base to “like” your posts. By essentially selecting only your most relevant fans, you will gain greater control and ultimately longer fan retention.

3. Improve optimization by scheduling

Facebook Scheduling

As a page admin, aside from targeting users with your posts, you can also schedule your posts. This is important to make sure that your posts will be more likely read by your intended audience. If they are working from 9AM to 6PM, for instance, they won’t log onto Facebook during those hours. Instead, they will check updates after dinner or probably before going to bed. Therefore, study their habits as well and set pre-determined schedules of your targeted content accordingly.

4. Review insights

Facebook gives you access to your page insights on the Facebook admin page itself and/or by email newsletters you can subscribe to. This tool will help you measure what works and what improvements you can make to better your target parameters and tactics. You can watch the trends of the page insights on the graph and you can see the most engaging posts by sorting by the Talking About This column.

5. Interact with your audiences

People naturally love building friendships and establishing good relationships. And as a vendor, having timely responses makes up for good customer service. Connect with this specific audience and reach out to meet their needs and wants as a real human behind the computer monitor screen.

Conclusion

Facebook’s targeting tool is another means of advertising and promoting your offerings through the site and you can do this for free. Remember to use this powerful feature aptly and be involved with actual communications with your audience to a greater sales conversion. By doing so, you’re not only turning your audience to fans but in the long run, also as your friends.

Author bio:

Celina Conner is a Yoga Instructor, an alumna of Marketing Management at Martin College Australia and a mother of a beautiful daughter, Krizia. She has a passion in cooking and formulating vegan recipes.

Social Media Bookmarking

People of all ages are now accessing the Internet, affording us the opportunity to reach a broader customer demographic than ever before. With social media becoming more and more important when it comes to influencing public opinion and creating trends, it’s evident that all online business owners need to get in on the action and have a strong digital media presence.

The rise of Facebook and Twitter, in particular, demonstrates that the Internet has influence and power when it comes to raising public awareness and generating customers. Like it or not, we live in a time where executions are announced over Twitter, and Facebook campaigns can alter the result of which record reaches number one in the charts. As a blogger, there is no more valuable tool to promote your site than social bookmarking. You can harness the power of social media in a number of ways, all of which are free, easy to do, and highly effective.

Social bookmarking is simply the process of a reader sharing your content with a number of widely-used social networks, which you should encourage in order to increase visibility and enhance customer engagement. The entire World Wide Web operates as a linked series of networked applications, all of which offer distinct advantages and services to the business blogger. WordPress is the ideal platform to connect to these services, making it simple and hassle-free to benefit from social networking online.

While it is possible to craft all of your social bookmarking messages by hand, it makes much more sense to take the efficient route to online marketing: Plugins. WordPress deliver a series of simple tools that streamline your communications processes and make it easy to join the online fray with the minimal effort and zero expense.

Link to Your Twitter Account

Twitter is an extremely powerful and convenient way of communicating a lot in a few words. Set up a Twitter account that outlines your products and services, and provides regular keyword-rich updates to your readers. Pick who you follow according to your specialized industry, and people will tend to follow you in return. Every time you update your blog, post the link to your Twitter account.

It has taken the site just five months to double the number of Tweets it had, from ten billion to twenty billion. As of April 2010, there are reportedly over 100 million user accounts. Everything you write on Twitter is indexed and can be found on the web.

WordPress supplies a great ‘Twitter’ application at: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/new-twitter-button/. This is the ‘daddy’ of Twitter sharing, in that it keeps a track of ReTweets and is very easy to add to your site. It is also a visible and familiar tool which visitors to your site will recognize and readily use, encouraging information sharing.

The Power of Facebook

Facebook is the hub of social networking and bookmarking. It’s simple to set up a page linked to your business, and update it as your blog posts go live. People use Facebook to follow products and businesses they like, so it makes sense that if you engage readers then they will follow you… especially if you make it easy for them. When you set up your profile, again use keyword-rich texts and keep your page up-to-date with useful information.

Facebook hosts over 550,000 third-party applications, and boasts 500 million active users. More than 150 million people engage with the site on external websites every month, and there are more than 150 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. A simple tool to benefit from this popularity is Facebook Like.

The new style of the Facebook Like button has spawned numerous plugins, but I like this one the best. You can choose where to locate it and add custom styling.

Generic Social Bookmarking Plugins

The following plugins for WordPress all link you up to a range of social networking sites and take the hassle out of repeat communications to your customers. I recommend all of them as they will each bring specific benefits to you as a business blogger:

Sharebar: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sharebar/
This is what I currently use on my site, the vertical bar on the left hand side with sharing options.

Sociable: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociable/
This plugin features a wide choice of bookmarking icons and you can select and re-order the ones you want to use.

ShareThis: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/share-this/
The ShareThis application reduces the ‘footprint’ of the buttons to a single option with expandable categories. However, in order to get it up and running you will need to register an account when you set up the plugin, by visiting the ShareThis website.

SocioFluid: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociofluid/
SocioFluid creates a great-looking bar of icons that can grow or shrink as you mouse-over each one. While there is a limited choice of icons, the plugin does look good on your site.

SexyBookmarks: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sexybookmarks/
This is one of the most popular applications for WordPress bloggers, as it looks good and is highly visible.

Create Your Own Facebook

It might be a bit of stretch to build a community of 400 million people, but building your own niche social networking site in the style of Facebook is totally achievable. This is something you should seriously consider; social networking has revolutionized the manner in which businesses can market their products and services online. Continue reading Create Your Own Facebook

Comment Terrorism – How to be a Good Blog Citizen

Anyone who runs a blog and modifies the comments which come through to you on a regular basis knows that sometimes, people behave badly online. Unfortunately, the lack of censorship online and the safety of having a screen between you and the world can sometimes lead to rash statements, comments made in poor taste or simply the joy of finding a platform where people can behave badly under the safe guise of anonymity.

Couple the ease with which people can make unpleasant comments with the huge prevalence of spam on our blogs, and it can make it difficult to wade through the feedback which you get on your site to find the truly relevant information. Sometimes as bloggers we need to take some time to look through our spam folders and unearth anything of value, as occasionally great remarks will be relegated to the trash pile unfairly.

As inhabitants of the blogosphere, we also have an obligation to know how and when to post up comments appropriately. Sometimes, the lure of comment terrorism can seem irresistible. Imagine if you have a client who has let you down financially, through, for example, not paying a bill.

The evil side of you understands that as a blogger with a strong following, you have the ideal platform for a naming and shaming exercise which could bring your assailant to their knees with a few choice posts. Add in the power of Twitter and Facebook for reinforcing your campaign, and you suddenly feel a rush of power, knowing that you control your site and all which goes on it, and have the capacity to damage someone’s reputation for good.

A nice feeling? Well, yes. Constructive? Not really! Campaigns like this may be a great way of highlighting the wrongdoings of others, but rarely bring much customer satisfaction when your readers get bombarded with off-target and venomous posts. Apart from looking unprofessional, it makes us seem like people who are not ethical or great to do business with, and a personal rant on the soapbox platform of your blog rarely yields positive results. The most likely scenario is that the subject of your comment terrorism gets off unscathed, while you end up looking like a small-minded bigot.

With all this in mind, here are some tips for playing nicely in the playground of blog commenting and tweets…

Keep it relevant

Never visit someone’s site to post comments which are not related to the post topic. This is the realm of spammers and psychos, and is best left to them as the experts. People aren’t interested in hearing about a great new software download site when they go online to look for tips on dog grooming. Stay on topic, and you’ll gain followers. Deviate, and you run the risk of being added to the trash along with the Viagra adverts.

Keep other people relevant, too!

Support readers on your blog to offer the same courtesy – when people go off-topic, bring them back through a few choice nudges in the right direction. This supports your blog to stay focused even when things have the potential to get heated.

Keep it polite

Don’t ever, ever bring personal or subjective views on to comment boards. The blogosphere is by and large a polite place, and an overly personal rant or attack on another person simply undermines your credibility. Would you want to buy services from someone who can’t rein in their opinions? No? Neither do your customers.

Keep it professional and product or service-related

If you have an issue to deal with professionally, take it off line rather than succumbing to the temptation to air your views through your blog. Your daily ups and downs are fascinating and engrossing for you, but don’t really hit the mark when your customers are deciding whether or not to make a positive purchasing decision.

Blog Comment Tools For The Talkative Blogger

Blog comments are often described as the life-blood of a blog. After all, a discussion is half the point of having a blog and interacting with people is one of the most enjoyable parts (see my post on Why You Should Leave Blog Comments to read more about this part of commenting).

Blog Comment Systems

These systems essentially take over the whole commenting section of WordPress, replacing it with their own features and style. Often they can be a little tricky to get looking the way you want them but offer features and enhancements that you can’t get through the standard WordPress system.

Disqus

Disqus

Probably the best known and most widely used (including on this site) blog comments system, Disqus allows your readers to login to your site using Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID or just leave a comment the usual way. If they sign up for a Disqus account, the beauty is that they will be logged in to any website that uses Disqus. So it saves the pain of having to type your name, email and URL each time you comment on a new site, as your login details are carried over.

You can even set it to update the comments list in real-time, though I don’t have that feature at the moment.

I love how you can set it to auto-tweet out your comment with a link back, so people who are not part of the conversation can join in. It can also send to your Facebook updates, and you get email notifications when someone replies. I like how I can manage them like normal inside my WordPress dashboard, without going to another site (though it technically is loading an external site, it saves me going elsewhere). You can also customize it pretty easily if you know CSS.

That’s not to say it’s perfect. Some people have had problems with it loading correctly, often people can be confused by the new system, and I had problems of my own regarding email notifications when there was a system wide problem with Disqus.

Intense Debate

Intense Debate

Intense Debate is similar to Disqus but it is run by the folks who created WordPress. I used it for a short time but found that not many other sites used it. As it also allows you to be automatically logged in to other sites using the same system, like Disqus, I only found one other site I commented on that used Intense Debate. This massively negated the benefit of the system, and one Disqus has a big advantage with from the sheer number of sites using it.

It actually works very nicely and is easy-ish to customize and integrates very nicely with WordPress. But it won’t get more users until it has more users to make it worthwhile. If that makes sense.
[Just announced: Intense Debate users will be automatically logged in to comment on WordPress.com blogs. That’s one way to suddenly get logged into 10 million blogs…]

Echo

Echo

I actually had Echo (formerly called JS Kit Echo) installed for a while. At first I liked it and then I wrote a post about the ways I thought Echo could be improved. The system has many advantages, it pulls in blog comments and mentions from Twitter and Facebook (so do Disqus and Intense Debate), though it does this in real time without refreshing the page. You can include HTML, photos and even video in comments which is very nice, however it has some major flaws.

– Converting your old comments to the system is not quick, easy or perfect.
– You cannot manage them inside WordPress.
– You cannot edit them. Not even your own!
– You cannot separate trackbacks.
– You cannot have more than one level of threading.
– You cannot disable comments on an individual post or page.

These are hardly earth shattering features and most are ones already built into WordPress so it seems odd to take that functionality away. So it’s not recommended for the lack of basic features.

Overall
Disqus is my favorite choice and has some great improvements over the standard WordPress commenting system. However there are ways to “pimp” that system using plugins, that I’ll take a look at below.

Blog Comment Plugins

While the above are also plugins, they take over the whole commenting system of WordPress. If you’re using the in-built WordPress system then there are some plugins that will enhance your commentators experience. Akismet is the default anti-spam plugin that comes with WordPress, but below I’ll concentrate on functionality changes.

Action Comments

The first option in the image above is a great paid-for plugin called Action Comments (affiliate link so be wary of “upsell” offers on the page to try to bundle in other products you may not need). It’s pretty cheap and easy to install and set up. If the box is checked it will sign the person up for your email list (usually AWeber) and, if you have your list autoresponder set up, send them your free guide. This makes it easy for people to be added to your list, and provides a thank you to first time commentators.

Comment Luv

You may have seen the second item in the above image on many sites, where a Comment Luv check box and logo appears. It will automatically display the latest post from the URL you enter in the Website field of the comment form for other readers to see and potentially click on. There are even versions for Intense Debate and Echo (but not Disqus as far as I could tell).

Subscribe to Comments

One of the best plugins ever, Subscribe to Comments adds a checkbox underneath the comment box that allows the commentator to get emails when new comments are added (the bottom box on the above image). Bear in mind that if you’re logged in to your blog as the admin, you will not see this checkbox on your single post pages, more likely a message saying “You are the author of this entry. Manage Subscriptions”. Brilliant and indispensable.

Do Follow

If you want commentators to receive a backlink from your site as a thank you for leaving a comment, then the Sem DoFollow plugin will remove the default NoFollow attribute applied to links in comments. This may increase the number of messages you get, but also possibly increase the number of spam messages you get too as people comment only in order to gain a backlink.

AJAX Comments

If you feel your visitors will benefit from previewing their comment before submitting, then AJAX Comments Preview is a nice way of doing it without reloading the page. There is also AJAX Edit Comments, that goes even further, adding lots of inline editing options, but the latest version is paid-for.

Comment Timeout

One way of preventing spam on older posts is to close comments after a certain amount of time. Comment Timeout allows you to close them on old posts, but keep them open if they have had recently approved comments and are still popular with readers.

Extended Comment Options

If you feel you need more options for comments, such as editing settings for posts in bulk or automating closure of comments (similar to Comment Timeout), then try Extended Comment Options. It may not work on the latest version of WordPress. It did for me when testing but it’s not officially compatible yet.

Comment Rating

If you would like your readers to rate comments and help moderate them by flagging inappropriate messages, then Comment Rating allows you to allow them to do just that.

Simple CAPTCHA

Some people like to add a CAPTCHA verification form to the bottom of their comments form if they’re having trouble with spam that other plugins aren’t catching. The Simple CAPTCHA plugin easily adds one of these to your site, though beware, it could put people off from commenting. Again, it worked for me when testing but is not officially working for the latest WordPress version.

Blog Comment Hacks

Sometimes plugins aren’t enough, and you need to get dirty with the code to make the comments do what you would like. Don’t worry though, some of these are much easier than you would think!

Change Your Blog Comment Wording

Are you sick of seeing “0 Comments” and want to change it to be something more encouraging? Then follow my guide to changing default WordPress comment wording.

php code

Threaded Comments

Previously a plugin, now it is built in to WordPress (check it’s enabled under Settings > Discussion). Some themes still don’t support this, but you can easily add it with some know how. Kim has a great guide for how to add threaded comments to a theme here.

Change Author Comment Appearance

Often bloggers want to change how their own comments appear on their own blog so they stand out and can be noticed easily. This is now very simple in WordPress, just add a new CSS class and color for the author style. See this short guide on highlighting author comments.

Separate Comments and Trackbacks

I don’t like those nice trackbacks appearing as if they were a normal comment. To separate simply follow this guide to separating trackbacks from comments. Not for those who feel faint when viewing code, but it’s very easy.

Should I bother changing my blog comments?

It’s entirely up to you of course. Check our other people’s blogs, see what they do and see if you like it. Read Antti’s great post on how to get more blog comments and discussion, and then decide if you need to do something that makes it better and easier for you and your readers to get to know each other.

Have I missed any systems? Any other great blog plugins you know of? Are there any other useful hacks I haven’t mentioned?

How To Add An AWeber Form To Your Facebook Page

Adding an opt-in form to your Facebook Fan Page is not something many people think of as a way of gathering more sign-ups. While it’s explained on AWeber I thought I’d repeat the instructions here for you. It’s actually pretty easy, there are a few steps that need to be completed.

1. First, log into your Facebook account. Once logged in, type in “FBML” to the search box in the upper-right corner.
2. Find the application called “Static FBML”. It should be near the top of the page. Click the “Applications” icon, then click “Add to My Page”, found on the left side.
3. A new window will open containing all of your Facebook pages. Click the “Add to Page” button to the right of the page you wish to have this form added to. Once done, look towards the bottom of the page and click on the “Ads and Pages” icon.
4. Look towards the top and click on the “Pages” link. Scroll down until you find the section that reads “FBML”. Click on the pencil icon in that section and choose “Edit”.
5. Now, log into your AWeber account, and click on the “Web Forms” tab. Create your web form, then click “Get HTML”. A new window will open. Click “Raw HTML Version” in the upper-right hand corner, then copy the HTML for your form to your clipboard.
6. Now, go back to your Facebook account, and paste the HTML of your form in the box. Once done, click “Save Changes”.
7. Now, click on the “Ads and Pages” icon at the bottom again. Then, click “Pages” at the top.
8. Next, click “View Pages”. Near the top of the page, click on the tab with the plus (+) sign, and choose “FBML” from the drop-down menu.

If you prefer video, you can watch it on the AWeber site here:

aweber_video

That reminds me, are you a fan of Blog Tech Guy on Facebook yet?