Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mark your Calendar for March 30th: Timeline comes to Facebook Pages

By Krista Chapman

Big news from the Facebook front and this one is set to affect every single person and/or company that manages a business Facebook page.  Come March 30th, all pages on Facebook will shift to the Timeline format that was launched last fall for users.  While this creates some tremendous branding opportunities for pages, it also will be a big adjustment for many administrators.  Worry not... I have mapped all basics related to what has changed, what is staying the same and where you can get help to make the switch seamlessly. 

But first... why all the changes, Mark?

When Facebook first rolled out Timeline for users last fall, they alluded to the fact that this format would soon come to business pages as well.  Wanting to create a more connected, authentic, and transparent platform, the powers that be at Facebook decided that Timeline is the best design to do this... and I have to agree.  The timing was the real surprise as social media experts originally forecasted a switch to come late Summer or Fall of 2012.  I guess the decision to go public earlier this year pushed up the finish date... just a bit.

And as I always like to say, when the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company is still in his 20s, sweeping change seems a natural order to life.  If you plan to continue to use Facebook as a platform to connect with your customers, plan on it making major changes more often than you would like.  But also remember, the management of your social media does not need to fall on you as the business owner.  Ideally, you hire someone to manage your books so you can focus on what you love, right?  Do to same with social media if it's not your cup of tea.  Or look to other options to market your business and connect with customers.  Facebook may be the holy grail of social media marketing but will not work if the effort and resources are simply not there.  Now, back to the subject at hand...

How will Timeline change Facebook?
To be honest, there are simply too many to cover here.  While I have focused on a few of the biggest, do consider this to be a limited sample.  Look to the bottom of this post for additional resources on all the changes and new features.

New Cover Image on The Pink Bride Facebook Page
The Cover Image.  Perhaps most obvious, page admins will all need to create and upload a Cover Image.  Positioned 'above the fold' Facebook is encouraging businesses to use this as place to express your brand in image form.  It is important to point out that Facebook has been pretty clear about the do's and don'ts of the new cover images.  Turning this prime real estate into a coupon or call to action (ie: Like my page) is not allowed... read the full list of what you can and can't do with this space, here.  Additionally, the custom tabs that your have connected to your page (Twitter, Blog, etc) are much more prominently featured but you have the ability to change the associated pictures to better fit your company branding.  Be sure to take advantage of this!

The Admin Panel.  Brand-spanking new, the admin panel is position at the very top when an admin visits the page.  Note, the public does not see this, only page admins (regardless if they are using facebook as themselves or their page alias).  This is a nifty tool that combines all the business of managing a page, including fan engagement, page insights and making changes.  Consider this your page dashboard and spend some time exploring what buttons lead you where.  When you're done, the page can be hide from view using the button in the top right corner.    

 Facebook Ads:  Big changes have come to Facebook Ads, as well.  The term revolutionary is being throw around as they shift the basic structure of all ads, putting content as the central focus.  Pages wanting to place ads will now have the option of sponsoring a story that they recently posted (making the content you create all that more important).  Additionally, Facebook added new options to their bevy of Premium Ads, including ads in the news feed, mobile news feed and upon user logout.  While many of these features will only be available to the biggest accounts (think minimum ad buys of $25K), these new spots will compete with the content the average page is submitting for the average user's news feed.  It will become increasingly difficult to ensure your content is reaching your fans, unless you can keep engagement high.  Small business will need to augment with their own ad buys to have a better chance of being seen in all the Facebook noise.  I hate that I was right about this one but I have always said Facebook was incredibly savvy in their quest for world domination.  Offering an essentially free service until it become as necessary as electricity... and now, it's not so free anymore.

What's staying the same?
After all that talk of change, I do have some good news.  For the most part the way you use facebook will remain the same.  All the best practices, I have pointed out in the past are still valid.  Creating remarkable and engaging content is still of utmost importance as is striving for ways to connect with your audience.  You will still want to be mindful of not posting too much and hone in on times when your audience is most engaged.  Additionally, the news feed that most users interact with on their regular visits and see your posts in will remain the same (except for the addition of new sponsored stories).   The vehicle may be a newer and a different color but you are still just driving a car.  Just like as before, practice makes perfect with Timeline.

Want some help?  While Facebook offers a how-to manuals on Timeline for page admins, there are a lot of features and benefits not being covered by this basic overview.  The blogosphere is hard at work, documenting all the changes that come with Timeline as well as the related nuances that will impact how marketers use this platform.  Mashable is a good place to start... they have a section entirely dedicated to facebook and they're go-to when it comes to breaking news on the web.  Additionally,  I recommend checking out the blogs on Social Media Examiner, Mari Smith, and All Facebook.  A word of caution with those opting for self-study... plan on spending a decent bit of time researching.  Even for someone familiar with the language and content being taught, it has left my head spinning.
If you would rather save yourself the time and hassle of trying to figure out all these tricky details, considering outsourcing the task.  For the same reason you hire a CPA to do your taxes (no you don't have any interest in keeping up with ever-changing tax laws),  a social media expert may  be in order to keep related stress to a minimum.  I am more than happy to help with any concerns or questions you  have... feel free to shoot me an email at  I will happily answer basic questions about Timeline and if you need additional help, we can explore the available options I can offer.  I look forward to connecting!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pinterest: What and Why You Should be Using it to Connect to Brides

By Krista Chapman

Pinterest... yes, sounds a bit familiar.  Perhaps valiant efforts have been made to ignore its intoxicating pull (so many pretty pictures!) but this will not be avoidable for long.  Find out why this new social media tool is becoming a hot spot for brides and why it just may be the best place for you to connect with them.

Before we dive in... We need to ask if this is right for your company. 
The thing to remember with social networks, quality is worth more than quantity.  Just because you can have a Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and now a Pinterest account, does not mean that you should.
For wedding planners, designers, florists, photographers, rental companies, bridal salons... the answer is yes.  Transportation companies, entertainment companies, DJs and videographers may not find as much of return on their investment and would be better suited for YouTube.  As for wedding venues it depends on how full service you are. For visual based companies, Pinterest is a great tool to connect with brides-to-be and post your work.  But it won't work for everyone.

What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is essentially a virtual pinboard or scrapbook.  While surfing the web, users are able to grab images and 'pinning' them to categorized 'boards' for later reference.  Considering the overwhelming content being create on the web every minute (much of it visual), the idea was ingenious.  Users don't have to bookmark a bunch of sites or try to remember where they saw that great idea. 

Like your Facebook News Feed, the home page of Pinterest is a real time collection of recent pins.  You have the option to narrow the category (to say, Weddings and Events) by selecting from the drop down menu that reveals itself when you hover over the 'Everything' button at the top.   When you click on an image, it takes you to the full sized pin with information on the user, the board it is attached to, where it was originally found and any comments or repins.  As a user, you have the option to like, comment or repin favorites.

Each user has a profile displaying a picture, followers and following, recent activity and a snapshot of all your boards.  The idea is to connect with other users whose pins you like so you can more easily keep track of their activity.  Since you are likely to be interested in the same things as your friends, following them is encouraged.

Yes, they have a Help Center.  If you're getting a bit overwhelmed with all this talk about pins and boards... take a moment and visit their Help Center.  They do a pretty good job of defining the basics and how-to's like adding a Pinterest button to your website.

Why Should You Pin?
The answer here is simple... Bride's love Pinterest.  They are taking over the site in droves, putting together boards of their favorite wedding decor, flowers, dresses and inspiration for their own big day.  Clever businesses will look to make sure brides-to-be are pinning their products to wedding boards as well as using this technology to best determine your client's vision and design aesthetic... by simply asking to see her Pinterest boards. 

Considering Time Management. 
This is a big one and Pinterest has a way with sucking hours of precious time, lost to surfing all the pretty pictures.  With the ever-growing landscape of social media, companies need to carefully think before committing to a medium.  Jumping on the nearest bandwagon just because may turn into nothing more than a waste of time.  Pinning requires spending  an hour or two a week engaging users as well as consistent uploading your own content...keeping in mind that your time commitment with grow as our network grows.  Since Pinterest lacks any automated tools (like Hootsuite), all pinning will need to be added to the weekly list of to dos, with time scheduled for these tasks.

Rules to Pin By.
And finally, a few good rules to pin by... don't login without them. 
  1. Add a Pinterest Button to your website and blog posts.
  2. Pinterest has users, not businesses... be sure to designate the proper person to be your head pinner and company representative.
  3. SEO!  Use commonly search terms when describing your pins or titling boards.
  4. Don't always self promote... instead create vendor partnerships whereas you repin each other's work and grow your networks.
  5. Encourage your brides to follow your pins... and be confident knowing she's seeing your most recent work.
  6.  Stay away from controversy... obviously.
  7. Look for your own wedding inspiration and ideas... Pinning is fun!
  8. Get back to work, already... Pinning is way too fun!
As always, feel free to contact me directly with specific questions or comments.  I am available for one-on-one training in this or other online marketing to ensure you are maximizing these mediums if interested.  Contact me at  Happy Pinning!