Facebook Timeline for Pages: Why is this so hard?

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I have more pressing things to write about and, certainly, more pressing things to think about, but I can’t get beyond this at the moment.

Facebook Timeline for Pages.

I was so very excited. I love my personal Timeline. I’m a very visual person and I love photos. I love the ability to better feature my photos and stylize my profile. So when Facebook announced that Timeline for brand Pages was rolling out, I was really looking forward to the possibilities. I won’t bore you here with all of the promises that were made. You can learn about Timeline for Pages from Facebook.

What I will offer you is my growing list of complaints since publishing my university’s Timeline.

1. Where are my milestones?

With the time Facebook offered Page administrators to play around with Timeline before publishing, I uploaded historical photos and added milestones. I’m talking every chancellor’s tenure, every building’s dedication, and whatever else I could find a fun photo of. When I was finished, history dating back to 1958 was included in my university’s Timeline. And it was pretty.

Upon clicking the “publish” button, all of my milestones were gone. The list of years on the right side of my Timeline that once went back to 1958 now cut off at 2010. Instead of beginning with “Founded” as it once had, my Timeline began with “Joined Facebook.” Because these things sometimes happen and then right themselves, I’ve given my Timeline a few days to magically repopulate. Sadly, there’s been no magic yet. I will likely post all of my milestones again, but I’m afraid that these milestones will also disappear.

2. Notifications

You know that little number that appears next to a Page’s name on your Facebook homepage when there are notifications? I’m not one to see that little number and ignore it. In fact, I compulsively click whatever I need to so that the number goes away. With Timeline, there are more clicks: 1) I click to go to my Page; 2) I click to expand my Admin Panel; 3) I read the notifications in my list, but still must click on each notification to clear my queue. Yes, this is a petty thing to complain about, but that’s a lot of clicking to clear a number when Facebook should know I’ve seen the notification upon viewing my Admin Panel.

I may be alone on this one.

3. Counter-Intuitive Functionality

One of my few concerns about Timeline was the condensing of “Posts by Others” into a small box on the Page. I’ve worked to encourage members of our community to use our Facebook Page as a place to connect with each other. This condensing makes posts from users less prominent and easily missed. But then! Facebook offered the ability to highlight Posts by Others on Timelines. Hooray! Or not.

First, the process for highlighting a post is difficult to navigate. It turns out that admins should hover over a post, then click the X that appears in the upper right corner to access post options. In response to my whining about this, Todd Sanders provided this very helpful summary and graphic (below): “Alaina brought up that ‘X = list of options’ in the Post by Others box on timeline… and how ‘X’ usually means to delete/remove something. To add to the confusion, it’s given title=’Remove” in the code.'”

Remove/Allow on Timeline

What’s more, Posts by Others that are marked to be “Highlighted on Page” are not highlighted in the default view of Timeline. In order to see these posts, users need to switch their view from “Highlights” to “Posts by Others.” Is anyone going to take that extra step? Or even know they should?

Is it just me?

Despite my initial annoyance with Timeline, I’m still optimistic about what the future might hold. If nothing else, the Page will be pretty. And maybe I’m the only one having troubles like these. Have you launched your brand’s Facebook Timeline yet? I’d love to hear how it went for you.

From HigherEd Live: “Inside Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm”

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Seth Odell wasn’t lying when he said that EdgeRank “sounds like math,” and therefore sounds scary. It’s true. Nevertheless, EdgeRank is something that we can’t ignore. Today’s episode of HigherEd Live, “Inside Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm,” featured Chad Wittman, founder of EdgeRank Checker. I’ve talked a bit about EdgeRank before, but it was really interesting getting information and advice from the proverbial source.

Below are my notes from today’s episode of HigherEd Live. UPDATE: Video now included! Thanks to HigherEd Live for linking my blog post.

What is EdgeRank?

It determines what users see in their Facebook Newsfeeds.

EdgeRank Algorithm =  Affinity x Weight x Time Decay.

Affinity. Relationship with the object that’s created. What is the relationship between the user and your Page? Facebook tracks everything about an interaction: clicking links, visiting a Page, anything a user can do to create something tangible in the Facebook universe. Affinity applies to relationships between users, Groups, and Pages.

Weight. Measurement of the value placed on pieces of content like photos, links, videos, or posts.

Time Decay. As content gets older, Facebook views it as less important. So, newer content is more likely to be seen in a user’s Newsfeed.

Why is understanding EdgeRank so important?

  1. There is a threshold to pass in order to appear on a user’s Newsfeed.
  2. If you can capitalize on EdgeRank, you can get prominent placement on a Newsfeed.

How do we increase EdgeRank?

  • Create relationships with users and get them to connect with you more frequently. Engagement will increase EdgeRank and EdgeRank will increase exposure. Pages should engage users and include calls for action. Facebook wants you to create great content, and you will be rewarded if you do so.
  • Understand your audience and know what they want. For example, a higher number of mobile users might be more likely to engage with photo content than with video content.
  • What to do when mandated content is less than exciting? Get creative. A link that must be posted might get more clicks if you share a photo or video with it.
  • Consider the best time of day to post content. Do users typically engage with you in the morning? In the evening?
  • To best engage a huge audience, you might be best served by breaking Pages down for audience types. Should you create a separate Alumni page? Departmental pages? Student Life? EdgeRank may change the “one page to rule them all” perspective.
  • Tell your audience how you’d like them to respond. “If you like this, please share it.”

Additional Findings

  • EdgeRank Checker has concluded that comments carry more weight than likes. The more time it takes to engage with content, the more weight the interaction will have.
  • Polls: anyone who answers a poll is considered a “story-teller.” Unfortunately, poll data as related to EdgeRank is not readily available.
  • After recent reports that Facebook was penalizing content posted through third-party applications, Facebook acknowledged that this was a known “bug.” It’s been reported that the bug has been fixed. So far, early data shows that the bug may have, in fact, been fixed.
  • As more applications are integrated into the Newsfeed and Ticker, the space will become more competitive.
  • Wittman believes that EdgeRank may very well be the next SEO.
  • Facebook’s new initiatives are always pushed up higher to increase exposure. Now, stories from Storify and other applications are highly visible.
  • EdgeRank is determined per person and per object. Each interaction makes a difference.

I think my favorite piece of advice from the episode was this:

If you don’t have anything awesome to say, wait to post until tomorrow when you do have something awesome to say.

Facebook Events Now Include the Option to Join, but Not Share

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Without warning and almost as if by magic, Facebook Events are different than they were this morning.

Aside from some formatting tweaks in the details section, you may have also noticed that the RSVP options available to users have changed. No longer is one prompted to accept or decline an invitation. Instead, potential guests are presented with this.

On the heels of Facebook’s Subscribe feature, this new Join button presents a confusing option. This button, by default, is shaded blue with a check mark, appearing to indicate that a user has already “joined” an event. Does this not look like something to un-check if you don’t wish to “join” the event? Turns out, though, that clicking this button tells Facebook that you’ll be attending said event.

Your Event options will now appear as follows.

To change your RSVP, you’ll need to click on that little gear icon to access the Event settings.

And where is the option to share an event? I find the update to the RSVP process slightly annoying, but nothing I can’t live with. What I simply cannot live with, however, is the inability to Share a Facebook event. I need to be able to share events on behalf of my institution, and I absolutely need users to share my events among themselves. Isn’t sharing the entire point of Facebook? I am hoping this is just a temporary glitch that will be fixed shortly. I am not alone.

Let’s all keep our collective eye on this one, and cross our fingers that the option to Share an Event is not gone for good.

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post to include the following graphic shared on Twitter by @citylifematt. This is a great road map to to Facebook’s Event updates.

Facebook Users: The Inconsistent Variable

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There’s been a lot of talk about what Facebook’s recent Newsfeed updates mean for marketers. In short, content published by Pages is subject to scrutiny by Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm before it appears in users’ Newsfeeds. If Facebook thinks your Page’s content is of interest to someone, it will appear in his or her Newsfeed. If not–well, not so much.

And so now the scramble. How do we as marketers know which content will make the cut? We know that posts with media attached (i.e. photos, videos, or links) are weighted more heavily. We also know that posts published through third-party apps are somewhat penalized. So is it enough for us to post only from Facebook.com and always attach some sort of media to our posts? No. Take this example from Stephen Hockman for instance.

This is a good question. Everything I’ve read lately tells me that Stephen’s post with links and photos should be getting a higher number of impressions. What gives?

The major inconsistent variable in the EdgeRank equation is user behavior. It’s the piece we have no control over and–if Stephen’s experience tells us anything–the piece that just might make the biggest difference. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Users who often click links or view photos are more likely to see that sort of content when you publish it.
  2. Users who frequently interact with your Page are most likely to see your posts.
  3. Users’ behavior can change over time, or even day-by-day.
  4. A Facebook’s Page audience fluxuates. The users whose engagement you monitored last month may not be the audience you have today.
One thing is clear: there is now a consequence to the set-it-and-forget-it Facebook strategy (or lack there of). Once upon a time, your Page might not have achieved its potential reach without a thoughtful approach to engagement. Today, your Page may become virtually invisible. Pretty scary stuff.
The good news is that Facebook offers a wealth of data to help inform your communication plan. My advice: Use what’s available to you, and then go further. For me, this has meant completely revamping the reporting process for the Pages I’m responsible for. I’m experimenting with content categories, tracking impressions in several ways, and even taking a look at what times of the day are most productive. What will this mean for you? How will you examine user preferences and behavior to be successful?

Attn Higher Ed: Facebook Post Translation

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Anyone else’s head spinning from all of these Facebook announcements? Here’s one more to pay attention to, especially if you’re managing a Page in higher ed.

From Facebook Pages:

Today we launched a new translation tool that enables people to translate posts directly inline on Facebook Pages through Bing Translate. With this service, we are making it even easier for people to enjoy Page content on Facebook regardless of the languages that they know.

When someone clicks on the translate button on a public Page post, a Bing translation will appear in a popout window. People then have the opportunity to submit their own translation by opting-in to using inline translations. After their generated translation has received enough positive votes, it will replace the Bing translation and will appear each time someone clicks on the translate button associated with the post.

Page admins can always control how their content is translated within the “Your Settings” tab in the Edit Page view.

Think of the possibilities!

If your university Page is like mine, you already have an international base of fans. Will this number now grow beyond English-speaking users? Does your international recruitment office have visits coming up? Why not combine the power of translation with the geo-targeting your posts?

If you have any ideas for how to utilize this new capability, please share! I am excited about the doors this may open up for international engagement and recruitment.