Facebook ‘recommends you create a page instead’ of groups for businesses

“Should I create a Facebook page or group?” That’s a question interactive marketing professionals hear all the time. Well, Facebook just made answering that question easier by announcing they are archiving all Facebook groups created using the old group format (‘old’ meaning groups created before April 1, 2011). In fact, the company has flatly stated, “If you’ve been using your old group to promote your business, we recommend you create a page instead.”

According to Facebook, the archiving process will involve converting all old groups to the new group format–but without several key functions and content. For example, old groups will lose members and will not show ‘recent news’ or information about the group’s network and branding.

Here are three things you can do to avoid losing your community of supporters to Facebook’s archive:

Step 1. Upgrade to Facebook group 2.0. If your old group had a lot of activity, you should be able to upgrade to the new version of group; a notification above your group’s wall will allow you to activate the upgrade. Alas, if your group had a steady following but lacked activity, the next time you log in you’ll get a notice that says, “This group is scheduled to be archived.”If this happens you can do one of two things:

  1. Get some activities going in your group – this might help recover the opportunity to ‘upgrade’ and save your group from being archived.
  2. Jump to steps two and three below.

Step 2. Start the group-to-page migration. If you have been using a Facebook group for your business or organization, you’ll need to create a Facebook Page pronto – and start inviting your old group members to join your page. You won’t be able to interact with your old group members after Facebook archives your old group so you’ll need to act fast!

Step 3. Start a new group. If you have been using a Facebook group to keep up with friends and family, you’ll need to create a new group and re-invite your friends and family from the old group to join the new one. Facebook wants group managers to use this product to communicate with “…small groups of people in your life“, so don’t start a group if you expect a lot of members – start a page instead.

There are lots of cool features in the new Facebook group format; users will be able to post updates, questions, and photos, host group chats, create shared documents and schedule events — plus take advantage of new privacy settings.

How Starbucks Use Twitter

Social media is clearly a great tool for promoting a business or organization. But all business leaders have one concern about social media: What to do about the stream of unflattering feedback in such public forums.

Staying away from Twitter, FourSquare or any of the other social networks is not a good way to manage negative sentiments. A better approach is to take control of the conversation by establishing a presence in the networks so that you can monitor and follow up on negative feedback.

Let’s look at Starbucks as an example, this retail giant is celebrating 40 years of business – and lots of negative feedback! In an interview with USA Today, CEO Howard Schultz described one way the company uses Twitter:

We have a Twitter feed visible in our corporate office that is unfiltered. So we are watching what people are saying about Starbucks. From time to time I go over and look at it, and it’s not always positive. I like that. I can’t answer why people are so emotionally linked to what we do or why they like or don’t like us so much. I do like the fact that they’re talking about us.”
-USA Today

The fact is, you can’t stop people from using social media to say good or bad things about your business or organization, but if you are a part of the conversation you can clarify misconceptions, learn from accurate criticisms, and show off the positive buzz.

What Sucks About Facebook’s Page Design Updates

If you are using a Facebook page to promote your business or organization,  you already know that come March 2011 your Facebook page will have an ‘updated’ layout. Some of the updates are great for page administrators – but from a marketing perspective, some of the updates are a headache. Here are three potential hitches and what you can do about them –

1. Hello photos, goodbye tabs. Info that was once accessible via tabs at the top of your page has moved to the left column – as ‘links’. Photos have taken over the space that was once dedicated to tabs. This might have been a great update for profiles since people enjoy looking at their friend’s photos – but are people as interested in photos from the businesses and organizations they choose to ‘Like’? This update is not going to bode well for businesses that use customized tabs for promotions.
What to do: Set your preferred customized FBML tab as your landing page.

2. Where is my ‘Like’ prompt? Most customized tabs have an arrow or some kind of prompting text reminding visitors to ‘like’ the Facebook page. You may need to update the alignment of these prompts as your Facebook page now has a breadcrumb navigation that pushes the ‘Like’ button to a new position.
What to do: Embed a ‘Like’ button on the customized FBML tab.

3.  They traded my wall size for…? Your wall got narrower – and the ad space to the right got wider. Businesses and organizations are not going to be happy about losing 50 pixels of messaging space to ads from competing brands. Marketers on the other hand will be happy about having more space to promote their wares.
What to do: Run ads to promote your business and organization – social media advertising is always worth it.

What’s Great About Facebook Page Upgrades

Facebook Pages New UpgradesFacebook profiles aren’t the only products getting a makeover. Starting March 2011 all Facebook pages will start looking like personal profiles. If you have a page for our business or organization, you can start enjoying the new layout right away – that’s right, you don’t have to wait till March to test out the new features.

Here are three great improvements to Facebook pages
1. Who am I, profile or page? You can now choose to use Facebook as under a business persona – or as yourself. For example, when managing your page, you can either post updates and comments under your name or your Page’s name. The new “use Facebook as your page” setting will also allow you to promote your page on other pages through comments, get notifications when fans interact with your page or posts, and see activity from “liked” pages in your newsfeed.

2. Show and tell. You can now show off pictures affiliated with your business or organization. Similar to profiles, if you tag pictures with your business name, they will appear in a photo banner on the business’ page. This is a great way to showcase your brand, products, services or community.

3. Popular vs. latest posts. Users will have two wall filters. You’ll be able to feature the most popular posts on your Facebook page versus the latest posts.

Here’s to making your business (or organization) look great on Facebook!

Do you need a mobile phone for facebook?

Do I need a mobile phone to be on facebook?

2011 is a big year for mobile marketing and facebook is gearing up to take advantage of this trend by forcing users to add mobile phone numbers to their profiles.

facebook users are now being asked to enter their mobile phone numbers and enable SMS texting from the social network in order to verify their identities for simple tasks such as logging in or setting up a vanity URL. If you’d rather not enter your mobile phone number in the network’s database, you are simply told to try again “at a later time”.

There is no word from facebook to clarify what “a later time” might mean, but this is proving an inconvenience for businesses that don’t use mobile phones or people would rather not add their mobile phone number to the network.

facebook requests mobile phone number for vanity url
facebook: no mobile phone number? try again at a later time

But let’s be clear, a mobile phone is not a requirement for being on facebook and doing business in the world’s #1 social network – but it’s fast becoming a necessity.

Facebook Vanity URLs – Get your name in there!

Good vain - facebook vanity URLs
Good vain - facebook vanity URLs

There is a big difference between the URLs below – even though they take you to the same place on facebook.

  1. http://facebook.com/marooninteractive
  2. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maroon-Interactive/167733809553

The first URL is called a ‘vanity’ URL, because it gives you the opportunity to say something unique about your facebook profile and help to promote your brand in the network if you are managing a page for your business.

Vanity URL’s are great, they are –

  • Easy to remember.
  • Work better on printed materials than the long-form facebook URLs (see second example above).
  • Makes it easy to direct someone to your page or profile.

But there’s a catch – think very carefully before you set one up because you will not be able to edit or transfer your new username/URL once you set it! That said – it’s fairly easy to set up a vanity URL:

How to set up a facebook vanity URL

  1. Have a list of 3 possible unique usernames/URLs you’d like to use
  2. Go to (or click) the following link – http://facebook.com/username, and follow the steps.
  3. Check to see if any of your unique usernames/URLs are available and if they are – voila! You are ready to be just as vain as the rest of us.

Now go claim your brand name before it’s too late!

What’s Next for Facebook? Games!

What's next for Facebook? Games
Next on Facebook? Games!

How do Facebook’s 500 million users spend over 700 billion minutes each month in that social network? The typical drill is that they log in, skim the ‘latest updates’, browse their friends’ profiles, read emails and follow up on a few leads from people and businesses they ‘like’, then interact with one or more of over 550,000 active applications currently on the platform – i.e. mostly to play games. Continue reading “What’s Next for Facebook? Games!”

Email vs. Social Media – Should you follow Ben and Jerry’s?

social media or email marketing... what should you use?Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream recently notified their UK subscribers that they are dropping e-mail marketing and focusing on their social networks instead. US subscribers will still get the monthly edition of ChunkMail, Ben & Jerry’s e-newsletter. With over a million Facebook followers and a growing Twitter following, the company appears confident that social media can fill all of their relationship management needs – at least in the UK. Continue reading “Email vs. Social Media – Should you follow Ben and Jerry’s?”

Facebook closing Gift Shop – but not for entrepreneurs

Facebook has announced that they will close their Gift Shop on August 1st. But their exit will not end party for others. The company made it clear in their announcement that third party gift applications such as Birthday Cards and Hallmark Social Calendar etc. will continue to work, and gifts received through their own application will continue to be visible on user profiles. Continue reading “Facebook closing Gift Shop – but not for entrepreneurs”

Social Networks: Free R&D for Small Business

How do you keep your products and services fresh? Three words – “Research and Development”. True, R&D can be expensive and time consuming, but without it you could be wasting money trying to convince your target market to buy your products when you should be providing the products and services that they actually want.

Most small businesses think that they have to get to ‘big’ before they can afford R&D – not true. Here’s our quick guide to using social networks for research and development (R&D) on a shoe string budget: Continue reading “Social Networks: Free R&D for Small Business”