Facebook Updates Big News for Smaller Brands
Facebook is making news again! Several weeks ago, when I last wrote about Facebook updates I wrote about the maturing audience and powerful new advertising tools to reach Facebook’s users. It seems we can’t go very long without Mark Zuckerberg and his team shaking things up and giving brands fun new ways to make the most of Facebook. The recent wave of new features may be especially big news for small and midsize brands. Here’s a quick update and some take-aways on what these new developments mean for your small or medium sized business marketing on Facebook.
Not to be Left Out – Hashtags on Facebook!
Hashtags have long been a staple for event marketing and conversation tracking on social media. Now we can put them to work on Facebook too. Just as you use hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest, you can now include them in Facebook status updates from your company page to promote a campaign or just to be included in conversation around your key themes or keywords.
You should keep your hashtags relevant and focused to your intended audience. Don’t abuse or over-use this feature, as it can annoy your community if you do. Using hashtags judiciously can drive conversations and can also help you track conversations on Facebook that are relevant to your industry and your brand. Hashtags will not impact how Facebook distributes your post. But hashtags can help other users discover your post and share it. It might also result in higher engagement of some of your posts! Hashtags, used sparingly can be a valuable tool. I encourage you to experiment with them.
Note: If you don’t have this feature on your pages yet (if you type # before a keyword and it does not appear highlighted automatically), be patient. You should have access to hashtags soon. The rollout should happen quickly, unlike the limited graph search rollout which was only available to a small number of users for the first several months.
As Promised, Everyone Finally Has Graph Search!
Graph Search was all the buzz way back in January when Mark Zuckerberg himself announced the “game changer” that was to revolutionize how everyone (individuals and brands) use Facebook. Well, revolution came in a very limited beta….until now. Facebook has finally released the graph search feature to all English-speaking users.
While many have been concerned that graph search will be like giving binoculars to stalkers and creepers, graph search will only show what users’ privacy settings allow to be shown. So now is a good time for people to tighten up those privacy settings. The silver lining may be that the expanded search will force lazy Facebook users to take their privacy settings more seriously. Rest assured, however, that for those lazy users (and minors), Facebook will limit age and location information to friends and friends of friends by default.
With a few months I had to work with graph search in the beta phase, here are the take-aways I see for brands on Facebook:
- It’s a DIY or find-it-yourself referral source. Users don’t have to ask their friends what restaurant, chiropractor, or kennel they recommend, they will just search for the businesses liked by their friends.
- The more likes and genuine engagement you have with fans who like your page, the more you will show up in graph search results (there’s no shortcut here).
- You will benefit most from graph search if you are a local business –but only if your location is clearly identified on your page to be found by the graph search tool.
- Sponsored graph search results may or may not be available in the future. This is something that was speculated back in January with the initial announcement but the likelihood is debated now as new data-driven ad targeting options made available in the spring are probably already more valuable to advertisers than sponsored search results could ever be.
Note: If you do not see a difference in your search function, you may still need to go here and request graph search and then log out of Facebook and back in to see the change take effect.
You’re Going to Love the Improved Insights
Where to begin? I have not yet seen the improved Facebook Insights but from all the reports I’ve read of the lucky few who have had a sneak peek, I believe we’re going to love it! Facebook Insights has never been very “insightful” for brands marketing on Facebook, much less user friendly. So a radical improvement should be easy to pull off. Insights will now be much more cleanly and visually presented and it will be divided into data about your page, your posts and the people engaging with your page.
- Page Insights will include data about your likes, reach, and visits. You will easily be able to tell whether people are coming to your page directly, on mobile, from suggestions, or from seeing your posts.
- Post Insights will let you clearly see more detailed stats on individual posts and will reveal the most effective types of posts (text, links, photos, videos, etc.), how well you’re reaching and engaging with your fans and with non-fans, and even the best time of day to reach your fans.
- People Insights will show data about your fans, reach, and engagement – info you have always seen in Insights but in a much more clear and easier to understand format.
If you are lucky enough to already have updated Insights on your page, please let us know what you think! We expect these new reports and graphs to be much easier for our clients (and for us) to understand the impact of marketing efforts on Facebook.
Just for fun – Photos in Comments!
A bonus feature worth mentioning is the ability to add photos right into comments on posts. This feature is for individuals, not for business pages. It was neat to have the ability to add a link within a comment, but we can now also add a photo – that’s just fun! I might drive my Facebook friends a little crazy with this feature for a while just looking for a reason to jam a photo into my comments! I can’t help but wonder when we might see this feature rolled out for business pages in the future. Could this be a new way to use your brand’s visual content or ask fans to share their own on your page posts in the future? We’ll just have to wait and see…
It’s a bit “nerdy” of me I suppose, but new features and updates from Facebook always make me giddy.
New Facebook tools are pretty exciting for me personally and especially as a Facebook marketer supporting our clients. So which of the new features are you most excited about? How do you plan to put them to work for your brand? Drop me a line in the comments below!