Thursday, March 15, 2012

Return of the Scary Stuff

Sorry I'm late; been working on communications for a big nonprofit event in my community and it's been keeping me busy. Anyway... let's return to last week's subject: Jay Baer's post, " 14 Ways New Facebook Betrays Small Business. If you haven't read last week's post on this subject, that's where we covered the first 7 Ways. On to the next 7.

8. New Tab Width

 I'm in total agreement with Jay; this isn't really a problem, it's an opportunity. If you're using an app that makes use of the old maximum width, you'll need to get on to changing that, but a wider width makes for better visuals and better visuals make for better storytelling.

9. Premium Ads

The new ads will be larger and more dynamic and less targeted, Jay says. In the pre-Timeline days, this allowed small business to tailor ads to return clicks, likes, leads, and sales. The changes, he thinks, will favor a big business perspective on relationships and engagement. (Since he knows his market better than I do, I will take his word for it, though I think he might also want to remember that in another post he said that the ad market on FB is young and that to suggest that what it is today is what it will be tomorrow is probably wrong.) Fortunately for nonprofits, a market with ads that lean towards engagement is good. Likes and clicks are nice, but what you're communicating is a mission to for social good, and people investing time and energy in talking with you about that mission is great. One-time donations are nice things, but long-term supporters are better. That's if you buy ads on FB, of course, which many small nonprofits can't afford to do.

10. Reach Generator

If I'm understanding Jay right on this, FB says only 16 out of 100 of people able to see your NP's updated status postings actually see your post (and this is larger than the 7.5 - 10 people that Jeff Widman at estimates). FB is now offering to fix that for you - only if you happen to be a large company (mind, I've no data on what constitutes 'large' at this time) - by allowing you to purchase more ads, which will give you a larger 'reach'. Not nice, FB. Even worse, Jay says FB have 'essentially admitted' that they reduced the reach of status updates in advance of their announcement about being able to buy more Premium Ads. That would be extremely not nice. 

How this affects small nonprofits - likely doesn't (see my comment for 9., above). Are there any NPs out there that have bought FB ads? Just sayin'. But if FB actually artificially depressed status update reaches in order to make ad purchases seem like a better methodology - did they do it across the board or only to say, Nabisco and other big brands with thousands of Likes? And does that matter? I think it does. It's likely legal, but it just isn't kosher.

To me this behavior is a warning; don't get too heavily invested in the idea that your NP has to stay on FB forever. The playground belongs to FB and they can rearrange the slides and swings or decorate them in weird ways, if they want to. To paraphrase Jay, to suggest what is favorable to you right now is going to remain that way is probably wishful thinking.

Logout Experience

In an All Facebook post, another new advertising opportunity was announced: an ad displayed when a user logs out of Facebook. In reading this, I got the impression that FB expects to make good on their boast to Premium Advertisers that they can get 75% of user eyeballs to see an ad based on a combination of the new 'Reach Generator" ads and the 'Logout Experience' ad. The writer didn't seem impressed with this idea and neither am I. It used to be that I would have to log out and log back in under another name to update client accounts, but with fan pages, I can just be named an administrator, so if I'm logged out of FB these days, it's usually by accident.

11. Real Time Insights

These are your regular Insights but now shown as they happen instead of when FB decides to collect them. It may be that some small businesses and nonprofits are too busy trying to make a living to spend time making note of who responded to what post when, but it only takes a minute to take a look and you might gain valuable insight into what time of day you get the most engagement. Allocating a week to doing that once an hour during business hours could probably give you a pretty good average for deciding what times of day and what days of the week are busier. Do this every other month or so for a year, and you'll have better data. And if you're not looking at your Insights data, why aren't you?

12. Milestones

This is pretty cool for a nonprofit, I think (or a legacy business, as Jay says). To create a milestone on your timeline, place the cursor somewhere on your timeline as shown by the plus sign inside the red circle in the first pic below. Then a dialog box will display as in the second pic below. 
Your Timeline currently starts on the day your FB account was established. You'll need to enter the date your agency started. Once you do that, you can add updates for any time in the past between your founding date and the the present. For example, the date you broke ground on your new building or the date you had your first major fundraiser or gained your 1,000th Like.

13. Auto-Play Content

Roland Smart of Involver has been reported as saying that FB's long-standing rule against content being able to play without user involvement (e.g., you must click to start a YouTube video) has gone by the boards. Likely this pertains only to 'approved' apps. I haven't seen auto-play on anything my friends have posted, unless the video link takes me to another URL. Maybe I'm just blasé or it's because I used to have to get up to change the TV channel, but I often prefer to click-to-play, so I'm likely not to be happy with something that starts up by itself. And I don't know how this would work. Surely it wouldn't auto-play in my newsfeed - that would be like every picture in a Hogwart's photo album talking at once. Very annoying. Guess I'll have to wait and see on this.

The End Is Near!

14. Rollout Schedule

Everyone who hasn't already moved over to the new Timeline display will be moved over by Facebook on March 30. This is not a lot of time in which to absorb the new changes and make plans for them.

If you're one of those NPs that hasn't done it, you might want to get cookin'. But don't stress over it. Read through things, make a list of things you can deal with and then deal with them. If you want to wait on some stuff until you can learn more, then leave it be for now. It'll still be there when you're ready, and it's doubtful that anything on FB's current rollout is going to be make-or-break for you or anybody else.

Thoughts? Leave a contribution in the Comments.

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