Changes coming to Facebook Fan Pages

Seems that Facebook is making some Changes to Fan Pages. This is going to affect Small companies and Small Non-Profits alike.
Here’s a great article summarizing some of the changes:

ATTN Nonprofits: Major Changes Coming Soon to Facebook Fan Pages « Nonprofit Tech 2.0

Scheduled to occur sometime between late 2009 and early 2010, some major changes are coming to Facebook Fan Pages.

One big change is that Status Updates won’t show in the news feeds of all your fans. Fans will have to “like” the update and comment on it to increase its popularity.

Another one is that the “Boxes” tab is going away. Hat tip to Kendra Kellogg in the comments of the previous article for pointing to an article that explains how to move your custom Boxes to Static FBML tabs

At least there’s a little notice for this change but I believe it is going to affect a lot of people’s Facebook design.

Employees, like the Internet, Route Around Blockages

I appreciated Laurel Kaufman’s post this morning on the Girls In Tech blogs about “Big Brother Is Watching You on Facebook” and Employment Law. I think she does a good job in explaining how employees should consider privacy settings on their personal social profiles to avoid those profiles being used against them in employment settings. Of course, not putting up compromising photos or tweeting racist or obscene things will help too. But the other point is about employers restricting access to social networks at work.

I remember in the early 90s, I had to have an “Internet Permission Form” signed before I could use the net at JPMorgan. They knew which workstation was mine, and could monitor traffic. I’m sure there is less of this kind of thing at work these days (though I understand it for environments where compliance rules are in effect.)

Its my feeling that, as we move from the “Information Age” to the Network Age, employers who don’t allow employees to check their external social media sites (except in secure facilities such as military, hospital or banking) are going to have problems with both morale and productivity. Banning soc nets is much less wise than allowing the occasional peak – with recognition that employees who abuse the privilege are going to get a talking t0.

What will happen when employers block Facebook, MySpace, and other networks? Blackberry and iPhone will happen. Employees will show up with their own mobile devices, and take *longer* to access their social networks. The devices take longer to type on, longer to access the social networks, and the phone networks are slower. So instead of taking 5 minutes to read status messages, they’ll take 10. Perhaps they’ll sneak away to do this – so they won’t be at their desks to answer the phone. This is bad for your company.

Employees, like the Internet, will “route around” the obstruction.

It is more advisable to put up policies defining what is acceptable, just like the occasional personal call where we look the other way. Even better – don’t be embarrassed if your employees have personal lives, and also have a link to their job. Find ways to encourage the employees to be out promoting the company on social networks. Why have 3 “corporate communications specialists” when you could have thousands of ambassadors that love your company because you treat them with respect?

Of course, this calls for good social media policies to be in place, and some employee training. Teach your employees to talk with your customers, and solve problems. Is it worth it? Well, it was worth about $1B to Zappos.

Not sure how to set this up for your company? The Harbrooke Group, or any number of other good social media consultancies, can help you.

Social Media Crisis Communications Case Study – United Airlines Breaks Guitars

“Markets are Conversations.” 10 years after the Cluetrain manifesto, it is more true than ever. Take the following conversation. A person has an “experience” with a brand. This experience moves the person so much that they decide to create a YouTube video – not just a talking head one either. A fully produced song, telling the story of that experience. And within 12 days, that video has generated over 2.3 million views, exposing that brand and its story to the public. The story even made the LA Times, and AdAge.
Ok, now imagine the story is bad, and everyone who sees it thinks your company and its representatives (called out by name in the song) are idiots. Ok, stop imagining, and welcome to United Airlines’ waking nightmare – a Crisis Communications Case Study and a case for Social Media consultants to share with brand managers for years to come.
Dave Carroll, a musician, sees his $3500 guitar being THROWN by airline baggage handlers on a stopover in Chicago. He tries to alert airline personnel, but they don’t listen. He confirms the damage when he arrives at his destination but doesn’t file a formal complaint till his trip back one week later. (Because, hey, maybe he’s busy trying to make a living and you’ve just damaged the instrument he uses to make said living.) Continue reading

Listening With More Than Two Ears

The Roman philosopher Epictetus said “We have two ears and one mouth so we may listen more and talk the less.” On the Internet, the sentiment is the same – in this age of conversation, we need to listen to hear if our customers or our market is speaking to us. Many firms forget this, but listening is (or should be) the first part of your marketing or sales cycle. However, we don’t only have two ears online – search and other tools can help you listen more effectively for markets or potential customers.
Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search tools can make it easy to search for your company or brand name, and see what people are saying. It makes sense to regularly run searches on your company name, as well as things like “company stinks”, “company sucks”, “company bad” “company service” and variations.
Of course, you can’t search all the search engines all the time. One nice tool to help you is Google Alerts. Simply go to and type in a search term, tell it how often you’d like to receive and alert (as it happens, once a day, or weekly) and Google will do the search for you and alert you in email when something matches.

This  YouTube video of Google Alerts step-by-step does a pretty good job of explaining it, but I suspect the example search for “Motorcycles” will generate too many pages of search results per week. You might do a test search on Google first to see the kind of results you’re getting. Google Advanced Search may help you tailor the query before you make it an alert.
Of course, blogs and web pages aren’t the only place your customers may talk. Twitter Search may help you find other relevant discussions. Search MySpace and Facebook via your own accounts to see if there are groups talking about your company or industry. Better yet, set up your own spaces on these services (a topic for another column.) Another place people talk about companies is a website called Get Satisfaction. Go search and see if anyone is looking for help on that site too.
Finally, once you’ve done your listening, don’t forget to respond. if your “company stinks” search turns up something, go talk back. If a blogger or commenter somewhere has an issue with your company, don’t be afraid. Think of this as an opportunity to win new customers by fixing the issue. It is also a face-saving tactic – maybe you can’t save the day, but perhaps you can apologize and people who find the post will see that you pay attention.
What are your favorite tools for listening? Leave a note in the comments. (We’re listening for you.)

(Originally published at the Inc Start-up Toolkit)

Twitter can Get You Business – My latest post on

“Yes, people get business via Twitter. At a recent event in New York (organized via Twitter by PR guru @PeterHimler), I met Lisa Cruz (@LisaRedShoesPR), Co-Founder of Red Shoes PR , a 5 person startup agency in Northeastern Wisconsin. It was created about a year ago as an integrated shop helping clients with both traditional PR and Social Media services. Lisa told me that while many folks are still questioning the way to obtain business on Twitter, her shop had just signed a client who found and actively sought them out because of their activity on Twitter.”

Read more of: Twitter Can Get You Business

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The ROI of Having Employees on Social Networks

At the App Gap blog, Matthew Hodgson notes that “effective teams have both strong task-based behavior as well as good social cohesion.” This means they both work well and play well together, and individual performers also value the performance of the team.
When I think about some of the good corporate experiences I’ve had working with very focused, productive, sharing teams, this certainly rings true. However, he notes, many companies are struggling with the idea that employee social interaction has a business benefit. In many places, this relates not only to the team going out for beers on a Friday after work, but also the team’s ability to network with others, via social networks and services.

The ROI of being social at work | The AppGap

MIT research shows that 40% of creative teams productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others to discover, gather, and internalise information. In other MIT studies, research shows that employees with the most extensive digital networks are 7% more productive than their colleagues. Furthermore, those with the most cohesive face-to-face networks are 30% more productive.

This reinforces similar research…that highlights the importance of these networks because they “strongly influence information diffusion … and access to novel information”. Availability of these networks, their research shows, is a highly significant predictor of worker productivity.

Note the above quote – people with the most cohesive face-to-face networks are 30%! more productive.

Now, I’ve been writing about the way to leverage your live connections to find more virtual connections, to gain new, important live connections for at least a year now. We know that people who are agile in-person networkers, and who can use their online connections to have more in-person meetings can gain success. Now, we see there’s research backing that concept, and productivity gains that show a real ROI for that online networking.

When I spoke at a meeting of 15 Chief Communications Officers last year, most of them told me they blocked Facebook, Blogs, and many other social tools at the firewall. I questioned whether they were really blocking these tools – or if they were just forcing their employees to access them less efficiently – via their iPhones, Blackberries, and other devices. Less efficiently because the mobile connection would be slower, and the typing would be slower – meaning employees would spend more time to do their social interactions. The evidence above suggests that companies could gain productivity from some employees by letting this social interaction happen on their regular computers. 

I’m not saying “don’t monitor how this impacts your company” and “let people play on Facebook all day.” But it may be time to trust employees to be adults, let them access more sites on “work time,” weed out those who abuse the privilege and see if new, positive connections arise that help your company. Think of it as a test. Will your organization pass?

Project Management helped by MicroBlogging

I met Chris Hall at the Social Media Jungle event at CES last month. He’s a very thoughtful person who is combining the best of what is working in Social Media with his passion and penchant as a project manager. In this piece, he discusses how using Twitter can actually contribute to the artifacts created in a meeting. These can be follow ups or captured thoughts.

Project Management and Micro Blogging – LouisvillePM

Engaged notes – One of the limits of Twitter is that you can only post in 140 character chunks. I have talked to people who feel this makes it cumbersome for any type of real time updating. I look at it a different way and believe that it makes me actually listen to an entire thought before I start typing away on my iPhone. If I don’t fully understand, I can clarify in the meeting itself and others’ points of view can be jotted down as well (see above). In my mind, its extremely valuable to be able to turn a complex idea into a sentence that people can understand. Micro blogging meeting minutes reinforces that concept.

I also like his concept of looking at the tweets of several people to see which elements of a discussion most people captured – those may be the most relevant points.

As a speaker, it’s tough to look out into an audience and see many of them with their heads facing down, looking at their devices. However, maybe we need to get past that feeeling of awkwardness and assume people are taking copious notes.

The One Thing in Social Media

In the movie City Slickers, Billy Crystal’s character is told by Curly (Jack Palance):

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [holds up one finger] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.

(Update: YouTube won’t let it be embeded, but the clip is there.)

I was on a client call, and they were asking for that “one thing” they could do to start in Social Media. I knew it immediately. And, unlike Curly, I’m here to tell you the one thing for Social Media….
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