Why don’t Facebook fans like us anymore?

Some interesting research coming from ExactTarget, including this, picked up via SeventySeven.

It’s an interesting summary of the reasons people have unfollowed Facebook Pages, with ‘The Company Posted Too Frequently’ at 44% of unfollows, and ‘My Wall was becoming too crowded with marketing posts and I needed to get rid of some of them’ at 43%. There’s some mixed messages in there, as acknowledged by ExactTarget’s full report (Available in exchange for an email address and worth the download), as 24% didn’t get enough deals, whilst a different 24% thought posts were too promotional.

So what’s a brand to do?

The need for a clear content strategy:

The thing I’d have love to have seen in the report would be examples of pages cited for each reason. For instance, the 17% who found content too chatty – was it a brand that was being uncharacteristically chatty? Or one you’d have expected to be more informal?

And were people Liking pages which they presumed would be offering constant deals only to find out that it was a publicity broadcasting tool, or a conversational approach? Were they mistaken or being misled by something? Is it wise to try and aim for a middle ground and attempt to please everyone all the time?

It’s something that becomes less of an issue on Twitter – multiple profiles can each target different areas, with plenty of examples of accounts which purely publicise deals, and profiles from the same brand focused on customer support (e.g. Dell).

And importantly, the same report also indicates that ‘unliking’ a page doesn’t mean that people won’t buy from the company – ‘63% of consumers said they were as likely or more likely to purchase something from a company after ending their Facebook relationship.’

Some conclusions:

Often said, but still rarely accepted is the fact that ‘Likes’ really aren’t that important as a metric. Obviously it’s nice if the figure is going up, but the engagement on the page, engagement with individual messages, and important off-site metrics such as referrals are far more relevant.

And secondly, when you’re setting up, using, or revising your Facebook page it’s important to set a clear role for it within an overall content/marketing strategy for your brand. Do you want to encourage sales? Customer service? Conversation? You’ll always get a mixture of responses, but if you can provide some clear messaging and singposts to show what the purpose is, and keep it consistent, you’re more likely to be found by people that want that aspect of your business above the others.

Thirdly – I haven’t spotted anything in the Facebook Pages Terms that actually limits the amount of pages a company could operate. Perhaps the profile rules and a hangover from websites has meant that we’re artificially limiting ourselves to one aggregated Facebook Page for a brand or company, when we could potentially be using distinct pages for different purposes?

Track Twitter followers for UK newspapers

Twitter followers for UK national newspapers have been tracked for a while now by Malcolm Coles over at the Online Journalism Blog.

And there are some really interesting insights emerging – besides the fact that at 1,665,202 followers in total, the entire UK news industry has serious competition from the likes of Ashton Kutcher (3,777,896 followers )and Stephen Fry (794,146 followers).

Take out the @guardiantech account, which contributes 1.2 million followers, and things really don’t look brilliant in terms of scale for most accounts – it might look better if you aggregated all Times accounts, for example, but you’d still be in the low tens of thousands, and you’d still be part of a 400,000 (approx) total.

And although there’s reasonable growth, it’s again all skewed towards the Guardian Tech account, which is benefitting heavily from being included in the Suggested User List for new users.

The question is why news sources – which are proving to be pretty popular judging by their homepage statistics – are so much less attractive on Twitter?

I don’t think it’s the wrong location for finding news and information – in fact the opposite is true.

I do think there are potentially two reasons:

1. Perhaps the strength of major media news sources – which has been written about by many people – is in aggregating and providing context and insight into what’s going on, rather than attempting to ‘beat the crowd’ to the first tweet?

But I suspect it’s more likely to be:

2. If you simply plug in an RSS feed and then bugger off, you’ll never get anywhere.

Questions on Social Media Marketing and Measurement?

I’m working on a series of more practical guides to the basics of Social Media Marketing and beyond, and I’m also aware that the Marketing Measurement page is in need of updating.

So, if you’ve got any questions on Social Media Marketing, post them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to include them in the guide, or to answer them directly.

And if you know of any measurement tools that I’ve missed, please post it on that page and I’ll include it.

Cheers!

Attribution in advertising…

I’ve just been reading a great post on the Creative Review blog which covers a growing issue in advertising at the moment.

Namely, the increasing crossover between videos on Youtube, and mainstream advertising which may or may not have been inspired by the original.

Honda’s Let It Shine commercial led to similar thoughts from Carl and Dave.

And then there’s T-Mobile commercials, or Silent Discos?

Now, I’m not going to suggest that there’s a right or wrong answer for every instance. After all, ‘Bad artists copy, Great artists steal’, to quote Picasso. But it is important to keep in mind that the wrong decision is going to be increasingly messy – after all the sharing networked world feeds as much on negativity (perhaps moreso!) than positivity.

And the flipside is a mainstream adoption of the remix and mash-up which mainstream media is often fighting against. But the generally accepted online culture tends towards attribution in the majority of cases, whereas the professionals seem more reluctant in general to acknowledge the sources of inspiration.

Maybe it’s the tradition of seeing creativity as moments of divine inspiration, as eloquently discussed by Elizabeth Gilbert in a TED talk.

Will microblogging change SEO/writing styles?

I’m still trying to compile all the effects Twitter has on the link economy, but now Louis Gray has added another one, in his post: ‘Are you writing your headlines for Google or Twitter.

As an online journalist and blogger, I’m well aware of the best practice for constructing a headline to maximise SEO opportunities – although as a blogger I often ignore it in favour of indulging myself by being able to write for fun.

But now Louis is noticing headlines which aren’t aiming to contain keywords and search terms, but are also restricting themselves to 140 characters (or 125 characters to allow for a short url). He quotes the example of Techcrunch making sure their articles work for microblogging.

Personally, I hope that most people write their own message if they’re kind enough to Retweet an article from here (although there’s also the automated option). I’d rather have a smaller number of heartfelt recommendations than a flurry of copy-and-pasted headline Retweets (although the traffic might be nice!)

What’s interesting is that rather than simply prescribing the ‘correct’ way to use microblogging services, people are experimenting and coming up with the things they see working for themselves, or for other people. Which is a better option, as it allows people like me to completely ignore the supposed best practice if I want! Although if it’s guides you’re after, you can start with Dan Zarrella!

Meanwhile I’ll keep mixing personal messages with recommendations, and occasionally go mad whilst chatting about an event like #motogp. And, most shocking, I’ll keep using Magpie to send out the occasional (less than one a day) advertising message as long as it helps to cover hosting costs and some new projects! I’ll just keep relying on the fact that a surprisingly large amount of people continue to see value in interacting/following me despite the fact I’m rubbish at following rules outside of 9-5.30pm.

‘The Supermarket effect’, and how to minimise it…

I’ve coined the term ‘the supermarket effect’ in conversation and in passing, and never really publicly defined it. So for future reference:

The Supermarket Effect: The initial response to a new layout to a website, which echoes your first reaction to a supermarket changing it’s layout; ‘Oh, for crying out loud, where have they put the sodding milk’. Despite the fact that the change may actually be an improvement.

Chinese supermarket by gab on Flickr (CC Licence)

Chinese supermarket by gab on Flickr (CC Licence)

Even after a decade of making, changing, relaunching and tweaking websites, I’m as guilty of letting myself have the same reaction occasionally, before taking a deep breathe and evaluating what the changes actually mean.

And that effect can be devastating when you’re just launched a design you (or your team) worked on for days or weeks, and the first responses from users is to complain about every change. But if you understand that a percentage of shock is inevitable, you can start to seperate the valid and constructive comments from those of surprise – just remember that if they’re regular users of the site, it’s akin to walking into your local pub, or you living room, and finding someone has moved everything.

But there are ways you can minimise ‘the supermarket effect’.

  • Warn users that change is coming. Give them time to prepare themselves.
  • Explain in detail to key users what the changes will be, why they are being made, and give them an advanced preview. Get them onside, and they will evangelise the changes on a personal level which you wouldn’t reach as quickly.
  • Use A/B testing to reveal the changes to a small group and evaluate which changes are making the important differences.
  • Consider changing in phases, or offering a choice of old and new. Eventually you’ll have to force the late adopters across but it gives some of your audience a chance to get used to the new layout and help the latecomers.
  • Don’t dismiss the responses – even those which are purely critical of any change – politely explain the reasoning behind the changes, and the evaluation of them.

One famous example of reaction to change was Facebook’s unveiling of a new design. It led to vehement opposition, but over time, people do accept the changes, as long as there is value in making them for users. And if not – why are you making the change?

So are there other ways you can make a substantial change to your website, and minimise ‘the supermarket effect’?