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Are Facebook Pages Still Worth It In 2014?

By | Blog, Facebook, Research, Social Media, tools, Uncategorized, Webpage Monitoring | No Comments

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From occupying a dominant position just a few years ago, Facebook’s fan (business) pages have seen their ‘fan reach’ sink to an alarming low, leading to speculation of their impending demise. If you maintain your own business page, fan reach is defined as the percentage of your fans that see your post after its published on Facebook.

Fan reach falls drastically

From 2009 to 2010, Facebook’s fan reach on its business pages was at 20+ percent, with many pages enjoying record impression results. Since then, page administrators have seen severe drops in their fan reach, so much so that even with significant growth, it would take at least 2 years to recover. Here’s a brief timeline on the problem put together by Just Ask Kim.

  • 2 years ago: Fan reach falls to 16 percent, a reduction but not enough to worry about
  • 1 year ago: Fan reach falls yet again to 14 percent
  • 8 months ago: Fan reach drops to 12 percent
  • 4 months to present: Fan reach has dropped to an all time low of 9 percent, with several pages reporting lower impressions

Of course, the numbers above are simplifications meant to make the downward trend understandable. But, in any case, several marketers have been forced to rethink their strategies, in particular, just how much time and effort they should spend on their FB pages with the start of 2014.

Not all pages are equal

Facebook-paid-advertising

Yet despite the fatalistic attitudes of many online and social media marketers, a subset of Facebook pages have actually been spared from this shortfall in fan reach. Marketers who have allocated a stable budget for Facebook advertising and creating effective ads have not been affected as significantly. While fan reach has fallen across the board, the effects are less consequential because they have a funnel that capitalizes on their ad strategy.

In other words, those paying for ads on Facebook aren’t feeling the decrease in fan reach as much as the people relying on ‘free’ reach are.

 Cough up the money

Similar to how Google had shifted its attention to its paid advertisement system, Facebook is slowly making a compelling case for page owners to cough up the cash and protect themselves from dwindling fan reach. And if your plan is to do it on a long-term basis, you’ll have to come up with a strategy that funnels money out of your leads.

Facebook fan pages have gone from being a free way to market your brand on the world’s largest social network, to joining the ranks of paid media. Facebook is of course, well within its right to do this— and are using this to maximize their revenue.

It’s now up to marketers to respond to this paradigm shift.

No budget? Here’s what you can do.

Facebook-EdgeRank-Formula

Just Ask Kim has taken the liberty of outlining some measures you can take to improve your fan reach without having spend one cent.

  • Study the EdgeRank formula to figure out how Facebook rewards pages with more reach and what they ignore.
  • Use your fan list to your advantage. Use posts that encourage discussions among your fans to show signs of engagement on your page, which in turns increases EdgeRank, thereby letting more fans see your posts.

Do note that if you choose not to invest Facebook’s business pages for your brand, you’ll have to do more research and work. In any case, we here at Enform can help you achieve better results with your social media presence.

 

Optimal Website Hierarchy Design

By | Announcements, Research, Web Design | No Comments

web design website optimise

Flat versus Deep – Choosing Between Website Hierarchies

When it comes to website structure, web pages can be arranged in two ways: in either a flat or a deep hierarchy. Having some sort of system is crucial to organizing content, and arranging them into groups, and then into subgroups, is what’s known as a hierarchy of content. It’s a structure that’s not all too different from what know in organizations, family trees, and even flora and fauna.

So why should you care about content hierarchy?

The manner in which your content is structured can have a major impact on how your website works for users, so it pays to make the right decisions. There are plenty of factors and nuances behind it, so the best way to understand the differences between a flat or deep hierarchy is to give you a bird’s eye view of the structure.

Consider the image below taken from web usability experts the Nielsen Norman Group

On the left side is a flat hierarchy, which as the name describes, is broad and short with 8 categories spread thinly. On the right side is a deep hierarchy, which as you can see, has only 4 categories and 8 subcategories, but cascades down into multiple levels and even more subcategories, giving it a tall and narrow appearance.

Both types of content structures have an equal amount of information, arranged into two different but equally understandable hierarchies. However, a user’s experience when going through these structures will be completely different.

Pros and Cons

The average web user will probably never think of these structures, let alone see it in this kind of visualization. Nonetheless, they will feel it.

Web content is easier to find when it’s not buried under multiple layers of categories, that means deep hierarchies have the short end of the stick.

Likewise, specific categories that don’t overlap against one another are easy to understand, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that flat hierarchies are superior. True, deep hierarchies have tendency to be more generic and confusing due to having fewer categories on each layer.

Brand Relationship: How Consumers Respond to Social Network Marketing Messages

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When was the last time you ‘Liked’ a brand’s Facebook post on your News Feed or followed a brand on Twitter?

http://socialmediaraw.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/112_9_1_16221773.jpg

A recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Pitney Bowes Software delved into how consumers respond to social media marketing messages from the brands they follow. The study shows that while close to half of consumers welcome messages from their followed brands, the response is eliminated when terminating the ‘follow’ or ‘like’ relationship—only 18 percent of online consumers welcome social media marketing messages from brands they don’t like or follow.

On the other hand, 1 in every 5 consumers who knowingly follow a brand, find their social media marketing messages irritating. This figure jumps to 40 percent in people who don’t follow the brand.

The study, titled “Social Media: Contrasting the Marketing and Consumer Perspectives,” involved 300 respondents composed of senior marketing executives working in business to consumer companies in the US, Australia, Germany, France, and the UK, along with 3,000 consumers from similar markets.

Discrepancies

What struck us the most here at Enform is the disconnect between what brands are doing with social media messages and what consumers want. By comparing how marketers use social media messaging for marketing purposes with what consumers like, Bourne’s study uncovers a number of discrepancies.

For instance, the study reveals that 36 percent of consumers are interested in messages about upcoming sales and promos, but only 9 percent of social media marketers report to creating such messages. Meanwhile, 36 percent of consumers expressed interested in receiving messages about new services and products, but only 19 percent of marketers have created such messages.

Marketers apparently use social media messaging as a means of interacting directly with customers, but only 15 percent of those surveyed report to seeing value in this, preferring instead to getting messages about discounts and bargain coupons.

Another discrepancy the study found is how 24 percent of marketers see newsletters as crucial in generating consumer interest, even though only 9 percent of consumers like receiving them.

Social Media Still Not Supreme

When it comes to brand interaction, only 19 percent of consumers admitted to using social media to contact companies online. Instead, 67 percent of users report to using email, followed by 31 percent who call companies, and 30 percent contacting the company through their official website. Of course, these preferences may change over time.

Given these results, we, at Enform believe that a change in strategy as far as social media messages shouldn’t hurt. These results however, do not mean that the best way to use social media, is to inundate customer base with spam; the best approach is, always send something of value to your customers.

 

Australian Brands Hit with Ruling on Facebook “Comment Advertising”

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victoria bitter facebook ruling

The Australian Advertising Standards Board ruled this week that Facebook brand pages (or fan pages) were advertisements, making brands directly accountable for any content on their pages, user comments include. This after the advertising watchdog received complaints lodged against Foster’s Group-owned Victoria Bitter (VB) page on Facebook, which complainants said contained discriminatory user comments against women and homosexuals.

Not surprisingly, Foster’s Group has expressed strong opposition to the decision, saying the court’s ruling is commercially unrealistic. However, the implications of this decision for all businesses and brands using social media are significant.

Foster’s argued that the best way for brands to contain inappropriate comments on Facebook pages was to take their presence out of the site completely (which the company notes is impractical given the marketing value of Facebook) or review each and every user comment before it goes ‘live’ on the page.

The latter option, Foster’s said, flies in the face of the essence of social media, potentially resulting in mass disengagement with the audience. Foster’s also points out that more stringent monitoring of user comments would call for constant moderation by staff 24/7 throughout the entire year.

However, you could also argue that any brand using social media needs to accept the good with the bad and the whole responsibility that goes with it.

The beer group isn’t alone in the matter, as alcoholic beverage company Diageo is also dealing with a similar ruling against its Smirnoff page after complaints relating to similar issues of sexist remarks, irresponsible consumption of alcohol, and obscene language.

Rebuttals of these concerned companies aside, one would be hard-pressed to refute the ASB’s ruling. The ASB states that since it considers a brand’s Facebook page a marketing and communication tool that page administrators have a significant level of control over, it stands to reason that content, whether comments, photos, and videos, generated by both the advertiser and user, can be regulated, making brands responsible for whatever’s on their pages.

For instance, Facebook has “Manage Permissions” section in its admin controls, allowing page owners to block specific terms and block profanity. Likewise, administrators can implement age restrictions in this section to block minors from accessing their page.

The above may be more ammunition for the social media corporate “nay-sayers” to cry “I told you so” but you can’t stop the conversation now, its happening and brands need to be there. However Enform recommends companies and brands engaging in social media need a strategy, training and set of rules to guide them on how best to maximise the potential benefits while managing the risks.

Making Sense of Facebook Geo-Targeting Feature for Posts

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facebook geotargetting

Facebook recently unveiled its geo-targeting feature for Facebook posts. So what exactly does this mean for a marketer’s social media marketing strategy on the site?

To cut the long story short, Facebook now allows users to target their Facebook posts towards specific segments of their audience located in certain parts of the world, or country, on a per-post basis. The update brings to the table a number of useful possibilities for business marketing on Facebook.

Here’s a brief step-by-step set of instructions on how to use the feature.

  1. Write down your post and before posting, click on the “Public” tab in the status box
  2. This will show a dropdown option, click on “Target by: Location/Language”
  3. This will open up a dialog box allowing you to “Control Who Can See Post”
  4. Simply type in your desired location (e.g. country, state, province, city, zip code) and languages
  5. Click on “Gate Post.” The post will then be visible to Facebook users in the targeted location, as well as users using the specified language/s.

For marketers, here are more reasons and ways to take advantage of Facebook’s geo-targeting feature.

Targeting by Time Zone

Marketers know by heart that Facebook posts are most effective when they are “fresh,” or recently posted on the newsfeed. To get your posts on the newsfeeds of your audience in real time and “hit” users when they are most likely on Facebook, regardless of where they’re located, page administrators can send  posts to targeted time zones through geo-targeting.

Local Marketing

For page administrators looking to create events for local customers, it pays to know how to target posts about the event to the intended local users. Using geo-targeting for this purpose also prevents users from being annoyed at posts they can’t relate to.

Facebook’s geo-targeting feature is new and not as utilised by marketers as it should be, but that doesn’t take away from its usefulness in the marketing scheme of things. It clearly helps streamline a social media marketing campaign and makes local targeting easier the way Enform wants it to be.

The Essentials for Engaging Fans on your Facebook Page

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facebook fans

If you manage a fan page or business page on Facebook, you probably know that there are many ways to reach out to your audience. The type of content you can share varies greatly, from simple text-based updates, links to content outside Facebook, to videos and photos. Each type of content has its own strengths and weakness, but it’s not the type of content that matters at the end of the day. It’s how you create your message and send it out that makes your breaks your chances of engaging your audience.

Many brands have successfully developed messaging strategies that increase engagement on their Facebook pages—with results that hit two birds with one stone. On one hand, you have a strategy that instantly triggers engagement in the form of likes and comments; while on the other hand, you have fans who are inspired and looking forward to more content from you.

They key now is to find a Facebook content strategy that works for you. Fortunately, all that takes is looking at what companies have done successfully when it comes to engaging their fan bases on Facebook. It’s as simple as taking a page out of their books.

Take Advantage of your Fans’ Passions

Since your fans ‘liked’ you on Facebook in the first place, it’s safe to assume that you already know what they’re interested in.  If you’re in the restaurant industry, then tap into your specialty—food. Talk about food trends, how you prepare your signature dishes and more. If you’re a fashion brand on the other hand, stream content that talks about style, haute couture, and design.

The key to formulating engagement-fuelling content on Facebook is making sure it matches the personality of your fans. Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds, as even content you may think is stimulating to you audience may be met with a tepid response. Don’t be afraid to try things out—it’s Facebook, not some kind of exam you have to ace.

Ask Questions—Make them Simple and “Stupid”

When it comes to Facebook, users generally want a no-frills experience, especially when it comes to the content they see. Ask yourself how you want to interact with brands on Facebook: do you prefer a quick and easy experience, or one that takes more time and thought? It doesn’t take a PhD to figure that one out.

You see, interactions with Facebook brands generally don’t offer users any reward, so be sure to make things and easy for them as possible. Posting questions are a great way of engaging your audience, but the secret lies in the type of questions to ask. Open-ended questions that require thought and time usually don’t fare well especially when compared to close-ended questions, which take just a few seconds to answer at most.

Give Your Fans Instructions

As crazy as it sounds, telling your fans exactly what you want them to do on your Facebook page is usually effective in getting them engaged. Instructive language such as, “Click on the Like button,” actually gets more likes than messages with a more ambiguous intent. Facebook’s ‘Like’ button is  a feature that’s just begging marketers to be taken advantage of, as it’s so easy to get people to ‘Like’ content. It’s proof that a strong call to action, even in the world of social media, is better than leaving things to the interpretation of your audience.

Fans are VIPs

When you set up a Facebook page in conjunction with your website, what were your goals for creating the page in the first place? Many brands have taken the approach of using their official website as the official catalogue of their products and services, with their Facebook pages serving as a portal to the site and a place where customers can be ‘social’ and get access to exclusive offers.

For many consumers, the goal of “Liking” a brand or company on Facebook is to acquire access to exclusive content, deals and promotions. In other words, your fans want to be ‘in’ on a secret. Offering a VIP experience on Facebook fuels the desire to feel special, so be sure to make your fans feel privileged with content that makes them special. This often entails giving out special deals, but the simple act of creating a community for them and giving them an unofficial name is enough to do the job—just look at how Justin Bieber’s fans refer to themselves as Beliebers.

Invite Personal Interactions

Forming a connection with your community of fans on Facebook is easy enough, but if you really want to keep them committed to following your daily updates, take things a notch higher and respond to them personally. Whenever possible, make it a point to respond to your fans by name and answer queries one by one. Of course, if you have over 20,000 fans, that sort of thing will be easier said than done, but try anyway and apologise for not being able to reply to all messages. Your fans will appreciate the time and effort you spent answering their questions and encourages them to keep posting on your page. It’s this personal touch that many brands on Facebook have tried and failed to add to their pages.

This brings us to the next essential of engaging content on Facebook.

Add a Human Factor to your Brand

Facebook and the social media platform in general gives brands and companies the opportunity to turn themselves from anonymous corporate entities, to organisations with real, actual people behind them. Users love it when brands add a human element to the way they stream content on their Facebook pages, such as by showing behind-the-scenes photos.

Giving your fans access to content that takes them to how a product is made, how a service is delivered, or even how company employees enjoy their employment with a company works wonders when it comes to humanising a brand.

This type of content also serves to give fans of your brand a VIP experience, treating them to an almost firsthand look of the personality and colour of your brand. It also allows users to relate to you better and reminds them your brand is made up of real people whom they can communicate with.

If all these seems a little hazy to you, why not give Enform a call to discuss what strategies might work well with your Facebook campaign?

Study Takes Closer Look at Facebook Users’ Activities and Habits

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Facebook Activity Chart

A recent study done by Pew Internet delved deep into the social networking habits of Facebook users. Unlike other previous studies that only scratched the surface through interviews and surveys, Pew Internet’s study was different because researches were actually given access to respondents’ Facebook logs. Researchers were able to better investigate the different activities of Facebook users, how these activities were linked to the number of friends a Facebook user has, and find better answers to other commonly asked questions.

Unbalanced activities

Pew Internet noted a consistent occurrence in their sample wherein Facebook users received more feedback for their content than what they gave to their friends—feedback comes in likes, comments and shares. However, this imbalance is due to the subset of Facebook ‘power’ users who use the site heavily, liking, commenting, sharing and chatting with friends far more than the average Facebook users, which explains why it appears that they receive more than they give.

Friend requests received outnumber those sent

Pew Internet’s sample shows that around 40 percent of those in the study sent a friend request within the social network during the first month of observation. It’s a big difference to the 63 percent of users who were found to have received friend requests during the same time period. Power users once again, are an exemption, making at least 1 friend request per week.

More likes received than given

Just as with friend requests, users in the sample received more likes than they gave. Liking, by far one of the most popular activities on Facebook, was surprisingly something not everyone in the sample engaged in. About 33 percent were found to have clicked on the liked button once per week, while 37 percent had their content liked by a friend by just as much. The majority of users however, did not engage in using the like feature, nor did they receive likes.

Enform knows these valuable data can help you in your online presence. If you need help in maximizing such, get in touch with us now.
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Enform Offers App that Allows Facebook ‘Likes’ to be Converted into Email Newsletter Subscribers

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For site owners running a social media marketing campaign on Facebook, Enform now offers a Facebook app, or application, that allows Facebook users who have liked their pages to have access to a subscribe form  to your newsletter on the page itself. This feature makes it easier for Facebook page owners and managers such as yourself to convert Facebook likes into email subscribers, a step closer into making them regular customers.

Facebook Like

Enform’s latest Facebook app is a is a blessing for business owners who have been looking to merge their social media efforts with their email marketing campaigns. While having both may seem redundant and counterproductive, integration between the two methods of online marketing significantly expands the reach of your messages. Having a subscription page on a Facebook page ultimately allows you to hit two birds with one stone, increasing both your fans on the social network and your subscribers to your email list.

It’s worth pointing out that email newsletter integration has been present with ordinary Facebook profiles for quite some time. Due to limitations on Facebook’s API, the integration of subscription forms with Facebook pages has only been a recent addition. Still, it’s better late than never, and we know firsthand the demand for such a feature.

Remember that social media is essentially a dependence on email at its most fundamental level. In fact, it’s impossible to create a profile on a social network or social media site without first having an email address. Using both your Facebook page and email newsletters maximizes their effectiveness and allows you to reach your marketing goals faster.

Boost the effectiveness of your newsletters and give them a touch of social media power from Facebook. Try out Enform’s automailer service and see for yourself how it will work for you. You won’t be disappointed.

The Inner Workings of a Facebook Post

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Ever wondered if there’s a secret behind getting the most exposure for your marketing efforts on Facebook? While it’s no silver bullet secret weapon, social media marketing company Virtue thinks that posting images on a Friday morning is the most effective way of reaching out to your audience.

The company also points out that attaching images with your posts is far more effective instead of using video or just plain text. The company’s recently released paper, entitled “The Anatomy of a Facebook Post,” indicates that across all brands and represented business entities, posts with images have the highest success rate of engaging fans. Statistics show that images are 22% more engaging than video posts, and 54% more engaging than text posts.

Analysts from the company feel this is because videos are more time consuming to load and view, whereas an image only requires 1 or 2 mouse clicks to view optimally. And since a good percentage of people are mobile Facebook users, videos, particularly HD videos, are even more difficult to view.

As for the special Friday effect on Facebook, Virtue’s paper suggests that the activity of Facebook users consistently spikes on a Friday. Just like salaried employees and professionals who rejoice the arrival of a Friday, Facebook users also welcome the day with increased “shares, likes, and comments” on other posts. Don’t be surprised if ‘TGIF’ is the most widely used keyword on Fridays.

As for the day of the week that sees the lowest Facebook engagement activity? It’s Sunday, which is not surprising since most people are likely to spend the day away from the computer or internet.

Virtue also analyzed the times in which Facebook posts are most effective. After dividing the day into two 12-hour blocks, it was found that posts made in the morning, or the first 12 hours, are 65% more engaging than posts made in the afternoon, or the second block. It’s suggested that since people are more likely to be busy as the day goes by, Facebook users go online first thing in the morning, right before work or school.

Enform believes that increased social media usage makes it more important to maximize your social media marketing efforts. The space is getting more crowded and solutions based on objective analysis become more important.

Source: http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/friday-morning-facebook-posts-with-images-work-best-14368/