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Posts Tagged ‘Privacy Concerns’

Comments Off on Facebook Replaces Profiles with Timelines; Implications for Small Businesses

Facebook Replaces Profiles with Timelines; Implications for Small Businesses

Excerpted from an article by Paul Chaney

Rationale for ‘Timelines’

Facebook says its motivation for the change is to provide users with a storyline of their life’s most significant moments — graduations, marriages, birth of children, a new job and other events worth celebrating. It represents a shift from a focus on transient, real-time events to a longer-term outlook, one that considers the growth and maturation of its original user-base: college students.

“Over time, your profile evolved to better reflect how you actually communicate with your friends. Now you can share photos of what you did last weekend, and updates about how you feel today. But since the focus is on the most recent things you posted, more important stuff slips off the page. The photos of your graduation get replaced by updates about what you had for breakfast,” wrote Facebook product manager Samuel Lessin, on The Facebook Blog.

Timelines for Fan Pages

Though Timelines are currently available only for individuals, Facebook’s development path has long been to take changes to Profiles and incorporate them into business Pages — “Fan pages” — as well. There is already speculation that Timeline will do this, too.

Mashable, the tech blog, cited an unnamed Facebook source in a September 27 post, who said, “Consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook, so we hope to make Pages more consistent with the new Timeline in the future.”

Concerns Over Timeline

The shift to Timeline has been criticized by Facebook users — see the post in All Techie News — primarily over privacy concerns. Detractors allege that Facebook, to appeal to advertisers, is simply seeking to capture more user data.

From the standpoint of usability, thanks to its two-column layout, Timelines takes getting used to. Items appear more random than in the previous version and not just a little hodgepodge. Still, with the ability to feature items so they cross both columns, merchants could keep key content more centrally focused and reduce confusion.

The other concern is that, in an effort to take advantage of the new layout, merchants may immediately opt to use Profiles instead of Pages, which violates Facebook’s terms of use.

Companies that currently now use Profiles may find the visual attractiveness provided by Timelines too much of a temptation and refrain from switching to Pages altogether, even though Facebook provides a mechanism by which to do so.

Read the full article…

Comments Off on Social Media While You Sleep, part 2 of 2

Social Media While You Sleep, part 2 of 2

IconsLast week, I showed how I quickly setup social media accounts and link them all to content from your blog or email message. As promised, this week’s post will advise on how to easily setup the blog-to-email blast function, and offer a few suggestions as to what makes for good content in these messages.

Even if you determine that the social networking part of online marketing is not for you, this part has value independent of that and can be used effectively on its own. Indeed, if you are not using email to communicate with (and sell to) your customers, you are missing a fundamental opportunity in today’s business landscape.

Let’s get into the nuts-and-bolts.

As described in a previous post, you should be gathering an email list and segmenting that list by as many relevant properties as possible. For example, it should be easy to identify which email addresses are those of people who have purchased from you from those that are only prospects. Even if you cannot do that now, you should take a look at how to identify different characteristics of your list so that you can target messages more appropriately to that group.

The next step in the process involves selecting an email marketing service. Companies that lead this field are iContact, Benchmark, and Constant Contact. I advise my clients to carefully choose the right company for you, based on how their features and pricing matches your requirements. A very complete reference for this comparison is here.

A key reason for using one of these services rather than just putting addresses into your BCC field is that many ISPs now tag such large BCC blasts as spam and your messages won’t be delivered. And of course you should NEVER put an email list into the CC field, as this is a disregard of the privacy concerns of all those whose addresses are literally then published to one another. Importantly, these services have business relationships with the major Internet pipeline providers so that mail coming from them is identified as complying with the anti-spam rules in place internationally. This improves your deliverability.

These services all feature premade “templates” which make your emails look snazzy and don’t require design or html skills. They also offer code snippets that your webmaster can implement so that people can signup directly from your web site. Perhaps most importantly for your business, they all offer analytics which allow you to measure how many of your emails were opened, clicked-on, and in some cases even ROI.

There’s that word again. ROI is important and is something I try to tie every project to, in terms of measuring success.

Each of these systems works a little differently, but if you look in the “help” sections, you are likely to find answers to the question, “how can you send a preformatted email automatically from your blog post, or from a plain text email.”

There are some really powerful desktop applications out there for bloggers. For example, Windows Live Writer is a program that you can download, then link to your blog. It’s actually a useful content editor. It lets you do photo uploading (and it integrates with flickr), plus you can create borders and edge/tilt effects. You can plop in videos, and it’ll automatically upload them to YouTube for you. It’ll tweet new posts automatically, add Digg links, handle multiple languages (with spellcheck), and it’s compatible with WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Windows Live, and more.

One of the email services I use (Mail Chimp) has built-in some of these functions to work like blogs. So you can actually use your usual blog publishing software to build MailChimp campaigns. In the Mail Chimp interface, just look for your special “Blog URL” under Lists >> Lists Tools and use that to setup your blog software.

Or of course if you need a hand sifting through all of this, I’m happy to help. Contact me.

Ready to Blog/email/Network…Now What?

Email newsletters can achieve measurable results – contributing to list-building, lead generation, product development, customer acquisition, retention, and much more.

Gone are the days of aimless newsletters. Today’s successful newsletter must have a specific, measurable purpose that provides the extra oomph your company needs. Though the “results” bar has been raised, email newsletters remain a highly-efficient vehicle for delivering marketing results.

I do believe that the subject of what you send out through your email marketing channel is deep enough for its own series of posts, but here are some suggestions that may help to get you started.

1. Your subject line is the most important piece
If you can’t get your email opened, it’s an opportunity lost. Spend the most time crafting a tempting title that your recipients can’t resist opening. But be careful, don’t promise something that the body of your email does not deliver.

2. Keep your text brief and link to site content
The most successful model is a paragraph from your blog post with links back to your site to read the full aticle. Use images judiciously as they slow down delivery, and in some cases do not get seen at all.

3. Intersperse actual ad content between your news items
Be sure to label ad content as such, but put relevant product or service promotions in between the news items in the email. Watch your ad-to-news ration to make sure you keep it reasonable. what’s rerasonable? Depends on your content, but I’d say 3/2 news to ads is a good rule of thumb.

4. Make your news relevant and general
Of course specific news about your company is great to put out, but you’ll build your credibility by including generally intersting info that you learn about. Pass along industry statistics, events, new ideas that some from anywhere you may find them.

Most bloggers and businesses are happy to have you doing some promotional work for their content. Don’t forget to credit your sources and link back when possible. Who knows? You just might find that others are taking your content and doing the same. Now that’s leveraging Social Media!