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Facebook Unveils Retail Centre

Two thirds of the UK are now active members of Facebook. That means 27 million people in the UK have an account on the social media platform, with 19 million of this number logging in on our mobile devices. We also spend on average 7 hours on the social site, which equates to 1 in 5 minutes spent online, we’re on Facebook.

The latest stats come just in time and sit in line with a new retail initiative…The Retail Centre. This is a fairly new concept, but one that is already in place in America. Facebook aims to offer advice, useful hints and top tips on how to maximise your use and users on the platform.

It has been proven through statistics that there is a definite correlation between things that your friends online like, recommend and have previously purchased to others purchasing through these channels. Nearly 23% have tried a new restaurant, pub, or bar following a friend’s recommendation, with a larger percentage listening to similar music online to their friends.

The Retail Centre is set to release handy hints of how you can grow readership of your company on the platform, and potentially reach out to those people who are looking at friends profiles to see what they have been buying online.

Facebook targets retail market even more

Facebook is continuing in the pattern of getting more retailer son board, and not just through advertising. Last month we mentioned they were conducting a pilot case study in the states, with brands like Starbucks, where you could buy online to send to your friends as birthday gifts etc. Facebook now seems to have gone a step further in recruiting retail affiliates and companies.

They have recently announced a new ‘WANT’ button. Much like the ‘LIKE’ button that all of us on the social media platform will be very familiar with, the ‘WANT’ button fashions the same sense of personal stampage. Retailer pages will be the first to display the button, as well as another new one called ‘COLLECT.’ These latest pilot additions form part of the new ‘COLLECTIONS’ feature for and designed specifically for retailers online. Retailers will now not only be able to keep tabs on their most popular products, but they will also be able to upload and create a catalogue on Facebook using brand new functionality of the site and its tools. Brands currently involved in the pilot study are Victoria Secret, Neiman Marcus and Pottery Barn – very large chains and brand names in the USA.

We are a little sceptical. It seems Facebook is starting to move away from what it was originally set up for and more into the business market side of things. As if Mr Zuckerburg doesn’t have enough money already, is he trying his hand at something that in future years, could ultimate make company websites obsolete? OK, so you can’t actually purchase anything from Facebook at the moment, it sends you offsite. Does this mean then that they are trying to compete directly with Pinterest, gathering items that you ‘like’ and ‘want’ to put into your sidebar of ‘collections,’ sharing these with the rest of your Facebook friends?

It seems like Facebook has now become a word and a place of ‘normality,’ where it’s almost standard that you’re part of the Facebook family. It seems that the frustration and annoyance of adverts down our sidebar has gone unnoticed and the greedy minds behind the brains are after more…money is the main driving factor here. How it works is a little more difficult, but we’ll try and simplify it as much as we can: Users will basically be offered the chance to make purchases from a retailers catalogue of products when they ‘like,’ ‘want’ or collect’ a product from the ‘collections’ section of the page. Details of product/item/interest is then shared with your friends and associates on the social media site.

Granted, at times it may seem like a good idea to marry up an item seen on the Facebook page of e.g. Topshop to a quick buying solution tab ‘Want’ or ‘Collect,’ but how much will it work? The pilot is under way and we suppose it will only be a matter of time when we can search, stalk, buy and see what everyone else is buying on a platform with over a billion users. Scary or scarily clever…we’ll let you be the judge of this.

Facebook does gifts?

Facebook is gearing up to become much more than the leading presence in social media to date. It seems the social media moguls are ploughing ahead and dipping their toes in the online retail market. A US trial is taking place to send out real gifts from the Facebook platform. You can send gifts to your friends, ranging from cupcakes, stuffed bears and gift-cards for a cost.

Facebook has dabbled with a similar idea before, starting out small with sending virtual gifts to people, some free, and some for a small cost. The team are looking to go big this time, and have got some of the high-end brands on board during the trial. Starbucks – the leading coffee chain, Magnolia Bakery –New York’s most famous bakery (made even more well known through ‘Sex and the City’), and Gund – a huge bear retailer, are all in on the trial act. Only a small percentage of people are involved in the trial, but we’re looking forward to the outcome of this.

It seems like a natural progression for Facebook to take on, what seems like such a daunting task to the rest of us, with the gumption and drive of the big boys in business. With the social media platform notoriously known for working with companies to track what we shop for online, whilst browsing on and after visiting the site, we predict it won’t be long before we start seeing last nights browsing items pop up on the right hand side of our screens.

It has not yet been stated if and indeed when the trial will end, when the scheme becomes multi-nationals and inevitably world-wide. However, we can only assume that with Facebook being as big as it is, that it will only be a matter of time before companies sign up to the project. With shares in Facebook remarkably low considering the wealth the company holds, this is one way they are almost certain to make more on the advertising scheme of things, with top retailers paying above the odds to be listed on the social media pages.

 

 

Facebook Offers

You may have seen some new things appearing on Facebook recently – including ‘Facebook Offers‘. They are Facebook’s new attempt to help page owners drive traffic and sales. Currently free to run, but limited to a small number of pages, they are a great way of raising a page’s profile and gaining new likes.

Once the offer is live, it’ll appear in the newsfeed and in the newsfeed of those who claim it. People can comment on the offer, like it and claim it from the newsfeed.

Once someone has accepted your offer, Facebook will email the customer. They can then use that email to claim the offer!

There are loads of handy hints and tips for creating an offer here.
If your page isn’t yet set up for offers, just let Facebook know and they’ll try and get you the functionality sooner (here)

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO CREATING FACEBOOK OFFERS

1. Go to your page. Then from the sharing tool, click ‘Offer, Event +’ to open up the offers section.

2. Choose an image for your offer – remember that these will be shared, so the image needs to work as a thumbnail.

3. Pick a really strong headline for your offer. Keep it short and sweet and to the point. This will be shared so needs to be attention grabbing!

4. Fix up your small print – how many of your offer can be bought? When does the offer end? Anything else people should know about? Don’t forget to set an expiration date!

5. Preview the post and then post it! Sit back and see what happens. Don’t forget to try different offers and test the results! See what works for your audience!

Pinterest Changes Terms and Conditions

Last week, Pinterest emailed its users with updated Terms of Service expressly changing their policy to remove the clause stating that any content pinned to the site became theirs to sell. For those not aware of Pinterest and the flutter it’s causing across the World Wide Web, here’s a quick breakdown:

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking system that allows you to save an image you see anywhere on the internet to a ‘pin board’ that you create on Pinterest. You can create multiple pin boards to cover any subject you wish, pin as many pictures as you like with each single picture a visual representation of why you’d wanted to bookmark the page. You share every picture you pin with every other user and all your pins can be repined to their own boards without restriction, creating an incredible source for inspirational pictures. Now consider this; as a lighting retailer your website will have good quality pictures of wall lights available. I, as a consumer and user of Pinterest, like one of your products but can’t afford it right now, so I pin it to my dining room pin board along with the price so I can find it again as soon as I have the money. Now, as a Pinterest user, I have over 300 active followers for my dining room pin board. Let’s say that 10% repin that picture. If 10% of their followers repin that picture, your product just went viral. It’s believed that 80% of content on Pinterest is recycled repined pictures and it’s not unheard of for a single picture to generate over a thousand repins. Compare that to the 1.4% of tweets that are retweeted and you can see, as a social media network, people are actively interacting with other user’s content on an enormous scale.

Prior to the change in Terms of Service, that picture I pinned would have been available to Pinterest as a sellable item. The Terms of Service state that users should only pin pictures that are theirs to pin, i.e. only pin your own pictures. Unfortunately, almost nobody who uses Pinterest appears to have taken this in to account and users pin everything they love regardless of copyright issues. Pinterest have made simpler tools available for users to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements but deciding on whether copyright has been breached can be a difficult decision. Pinterest is careful to link back to the original source of the picture, hence the bookmarking nature of the site, but if the user is pinning content from a site such as Tumblr where the source may not be correctly listed it’s all too easy for the copyright link to be lost. With the rise in concern over copyright issues and infringement recently due to America’s attempts to restrict the entire internet, these problems are becoming something that sites such as Pinterest are very interested in addressing. Users will need to take note and ensure they comply with copyright requirements.

Pinterest is a sleek, easy to use site with a great app, making content accessible and repinable on smartphones. A browser plug-in allows you to pin content from any webpage you’re visiting without requiring access to Pinterest itself and companies are beginning to see the commercial value of the site and the number of ‘paid pinners’ is rising. Pinterest can actively increase your site’s traffic, with over 16.23 million unique visitors in February alone a single image pinned to Pinterest could do wonders for your business. Stats now show that Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined, so pinning your own products could prove incredibly beneficial.

Bye Bye Google Wave!

Yesterday Google sent an email to its subscribers reminding them that Google Wave was to be switched off on April 30, 2012. For those not in the know, Google Wave was a real-time communications platform that allowed groups of people to have conversations, drag and drop to distribute files, edit information shared by others in the group (or Wave) and it could even let you see replies being typed, live, character by character. Unlike other communications platforms, new individuals invited to the Wave could review previous messages, files and information using the playback tool so they could see how and what was added, and when, for ease of following the conversation. It could even auto-translate as you typed, for multi-national communication made easy.

Developed back in 2009 and launched in 2010, Google Wave unfortunately failed to hit the user numbers it required to sustain development and Google announced they would no longer be devoting time to it as a separate product. In an effort to help other’s further the technology parts of the code were made available as open source, with the service remaining accessible until January 31, 2012 when it became read only. Google are now requesting that anyone with Waves still hosted on Google Wave should export them before the service is switched off. But what if you still want to continue using the technology?

Alternatives to Google Wave have been created through a number of open source projects such as Apache Wave where their Wave program is being reviewed and developed as they work on increasing functionality and ensuring it works across multiple platforms and operating systems. Walkaround, based on the Apache Wave program code, can import Waves from Google, allowing you to continue working with your information even after Google Wave shuts down. It doesn’t have full functionality yet, but progress is being made and offers some flexibility to other applications as well. It should be noted that Walkaround’s import feature is still in the experimental stages.

Another method of sharing files while engaging in conversation with multiple people across the world is through Skype, who offer a free download allowing you to use your computer as a phone or messaging program, sending files and engaging in real time communication, by video if you wish it.

Ultimately, Google Wave has been shut down because users failed to find practical uses for it in large numbers. Google created Wave as an alternative and more streamed option than using email, reducing break-off communications when someone forgets to hit reply all, bringing new people entering the conversation at a later date up to speed quickly and easily, and allowing you to do so in real time. With many Google users being unaware of Google Wave until the announcement of its closure, Google failed to get the general public excited in this new way of communicating, despite the press enthusiasm at its launch. For those in mourning at its loss, perhaps the new alternatives mentioned above will be of use. For the rest, we suggest sticking with your email for now.

More info;

http://incubator.apache.org/wave/
http://code.google.com/p/walkaround/

Facebook’s Timeline and How It Can Help Your Business

At the beginning of the month Facebook introduced Timeline for Pages, a new layout that will enable you to highlight specific stories or items of interest, interact with your followers to a greater degree and offer the ability for users to send you private messages. Most users are already familiar with Timeline through their personal accounts but there are some differences incorporated in to Timeline for Pages that can help your business.

Using a two-column approach that allows you to highlight important stories at the top of the page for up to seven days, Timeline signals to your followers that you want them to take note of it. Your general news feed is spread across the page with the timeline running down the centre. You can now determine what information is readily available to your audience, playing up those items you deem important and hiding anything you no longer want to appear to the public. You can even go back and fill in any gaps to ensure your users are getting a cohesive and complete view of your brand or business

We recently blogged about Insights for Pages, with Timeline those Insights will be visible in an admin panel at the top of the page, unseen by the public. Covering everything from your notifications to private messages, new likes and tips, the admin panel also provides access to the entire activity log for your Page.

The About section for your business is now front and centre, right underneath the new cover photo. Revise this section now, let your readers find out more about your company or where to find you elsewhere on the web. Utilise the cover photo to post something interesting and brand related. Facebook has strict rules on what can and can’t be included in a cover photo and, with it being the first thing your users will see, it should be carefully considered.

You can add information to the boxes to the right of your About section, previously these would have been links on the left hand side of your Page. Four boxes will always be visible, with photos being the first, but you can order the remaining three however you please. Take the opportunity to include up to twelve pieces of information or apps that are significant for your business.

Use the composer to create Milestones for key events in your company’s history such as a product launch or the opening of a new store; celebrate, emphasis and make it easy for your audience to learn about the important happenings. Milestone posts, like any posts in your feed that you star as important, will take up the full width of the page and require a photograph.

Your users will see information about friends who have interacted with your Page, offering incentive for them to get involved. By highlighting your followers and their activities Timeline for Pages is increasing your ability to interact with your fans, your comments in reply to their posts will appear here and on their feed.

Admin access levels are apparently in the pipeline, allowing you to grant differing permissions for any employees who may need to administrate your Page. This can greatly help your customer service department with the advent of private messages for Pages, allowing them access means they can do their job without requiring an intermediary.

Timeline will be rolled out for all Pages by the end of this month (March 30th). For those wanting more information on how to use Timeline for Pages there’s a handy interactive learning video linked from the help menu at the top of your Page.

Resources to help your transition:
Facebook Pages Terms – https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php
Introducing New Facebook Pages – https://www.facebook.com/help/pages/new-design / https://www.facebook.com/about/pages
Image sizes guide - http://www.supercod.com/internet/facebook-timeline-photo-size/

Here’s what Timeline will look like for pages! They are all changing on the 30th March – so get prepared!

Google+ And The SERPS

As has been suspected for some time, the new addition of Google+ is indeed beginning to make it’s presence known within the SERP’s. SEO stars around the world are in a frenzy about how they can get ahead of the game and use Google+ for their advantage.

The main point of interest for the search results is the +1 feature which adds a kind of approval from users/customers for links and products or the whole site. This +1 is also said to feed into the main Google Algorithm and could possibly have positive effects on your rankings.

Not only that but with the various opportunities Google+ Pages offer including circles to share content and contact details, the potential implications of Google+ on your SERPS are phenominal.

I think this recent search says alot…

To find out more about how your business can use Google+ get in touch today and see how Bright Digital Minds can help you.

Introducing New Facebook Insights for Pages

Facebook have been making some pretty decent changes to their Insights. I went through all the new changes and took some screen grabs for you all to see. You can see how impressive these changes are and why it’s worth keeping an eye on things;

Facebook State “We’ve improved Facebook Insights by adding new metrics to help you get a better understanding of your audience and how they interact with your Page.” I took a number of screen grabs from their tour around the new improvements for you all to have a look at;
1) Important Metrics – Here you see the key four metrics including the impressive ‘friends of fans’ showing you just how big your potential reach is!
Facebook Insights
2) Total Likes and Friends of Fans – Here are the two important metrics in terms of how many fans you have, and potential fans you could have
Facebook Insight
3) People Talking About This and Weekly Total Reach – Who has been talking about you or creating content about you? Who has seen those messages – great for keeping an eye on viral campaigns!
Facebook Insight
4) Overview – does what it says on the tin, gives you a visual representation of what is going on with your page. Who is talking about you and your weekly total reach.
Facebook Insight
5) Understanding Your Posts – This part looks at each of your posts and ranks them by engaged users, who is talking about it, virality and reach. The example below doesn’t show the greatest results – but have a play with your own and you’ll see how interesting and insightful this is.
Facebook Insight
6) Virality – this looks at what types of post your audience respond to and them gives it a score. Competitions and ‘Share’ are more likely to get higher % scores, so you can start to build an insight into your fan base and audience.
Facebook Insight
7) More Detailed Metrics – For those of you who want to drill down further. you can have a deeper delve into various metrics to really get an understanding of how your page works.
Facebook Insight
8.) Your Audience – Information including demographic, sex, country and age are just some of the interesting bits of data you can find here. Making it easier to tailor your content to ensure optimum conversion.
Facebook Insight
9) How People Talk About You – These graphs show you how people are talking about you, so that you can see what content will potentially get the most engagement in the future.
Facebook Insight
10) Export Data – All the way through Insights you are given the option to export the data. Perfect for impressing the boss or one of your clients.
Facebook Insight
11) A quick snapshot of what the new Insights looks like on a dummy page of mine!
Facebook Insight

For more information on Facebook Insights or to find out how Bright Digital Minds may be able to assist you with your Social Media, please get in touch.

Where Should You Post Your Status?

I have to thank the wonderful Red for sending me this – as it really amused me, and says alot. I’ll leave you to decide for yourselves where you should be posting!