Facebook Update: Threaded Replies

This morning when clicked your company Facebook page you may have been greeted with a friendly little pop up announcing the roll-out of threaded comments. For anyone who has managed a community on Facebook you’ll know that it can be really tricky to keep track of conversation threads. It only takes a few comments and the originating post, or where the conversation had been can get lost.  Threaded replies are Facebook’s solution to this confusion,  it’s a system that they’ve been using for a little while in their off-Facebook commenting service, Facebook Comments, that is used by a lot of blogs and news sites.

Facebook replies and threaded comments rolled out today

Facebook replies and threaded comments rolled out today

Although the option appeared to flash up across all pages this morning, the option of threaded comments will initially be only available to those pages that have at least 10,000 fans – and over the next few days it will gradually filter through to other pages with page managers having the option of turning the threaded reply function on or off at any times, although reports suggests that it will be activated for all Pages and profiles with more than 10,000 followers on July 10th.

Replies are currently only available on desktop versions of the social network, but Facebook plans to add this feature to mobile applications in a staged process. This is going to mean a bit of change for Facebook users who are used to the chronology of the site. But it also opens up a range of possibilities for page owners – Q&As will be able to be handled in a logical manner with responses to questions directly associated, and it allows for a more fluid forum-like discussion which, in theory, could lead to an increase in engagement of posts – which can only be good news, even if it does mean increased workloads for page admins.

Community managers, it’s time to buckle up.


Demystifying Facebook Metrics

“If you don’t pay for Facebook advertising then your updates reach will only reach 16% of your fans.”  [Insert here some vague-ities about Edgerank, a graph, an algorithm and a sprinkling of ‘blimey, this is complicated’]

It’s a conversation that I’ve had many times.  That 16% stat has appeared on many blogs, and Facebook even admitted to it itself back in 2012… it’s become so ingrained in the lore of Facebook administration it’s now considered to be cold hard fact by most Page Managers.

But the thing is, a Facebook update could reach 16% of page fans, but it could just as easily only reach 2% or as many as 43% – the 16% is simply an average across all the 1000s of pages out there, and it should certainly not be taken as gospel.  There’s a gulf of possibilities.

This got me thinking – how many people look at Facebook analytics and really understand what they mean?  Are we just looking at the data and pulling out stats that simply sound good, or sound measurable without actively taking the time to consider what this actually means in the big wide world?  If we don’t fully understand these metrics how can we effectively report on our pages?

Facebook doesn't need to be all about algorithms, but it does need to be understood.

Facebook doesn’t need to be all about algorithms, but it does need to be understood. Photo credit: onlyfacebook.com

How many Fans has your post reached?

At post level the number of fans that your post has reached can be quite easy to work out if you are a page admin as it is displayed clearly in the bottom left corner of your posts.  However, working out how many of your fans your page is reaching in total can be quite tricky.  Fan reach is only available in the Excel file export which is available for download in your Insights dashboard. You’ll find it under the label “Lifetime Post reach by people who like your Page”.   But for anyone who has ventured into the realm of the Page Data export they’ll know that this document is far from user friendly!

What does Organic Reach mean?

Organic reach translates into the number of people, fans and non-fans, who have seen a post from your page.  It ignores any views that have been generated through the result of an action but counts the views of people who are not fans of the page but have directly accessed your page or seen its content, for example, a “like box” on your site or blog.

Viral Reach – What is that?

You know you sometimes see things that your friends have done on a brands wall (like, share, comment) in your Timeline or on The Ticker?  That’s viral reach.  When you, as a non-fan, come face-to-face with a page’s content (or a link to that content).

It’s reaching these non-fans that most Facebook pages want to achieve.  Going back a few years the number of fans a page had was considered a good enough yard stick for success.  If page number went up, then something must be going right.  Right?  Well, no.  Any Facebook page manager worth his salt knows that the number of likes a page has is only the tip of the iceberg.  But this does go right back to Facebook’s mantra, and the reason that many companies use it as a brand awareness too – the viral reach of the platform allows for companies to: “recruit and engage in conversation with your fans so they talk about you with their friends.”

How is paid-for reach captured?

Facebook filters out the reach achieved via paid-for means.  This can be sponsored stories, promoted posts or just plain old Facebook advertising.  It can be both fans and non-fans.  Pretty much does what it says on the tin.

How reliable are Facebook Insights?

It’s fantastic for reporting purposes that Facebook allows Page Mangers so much access to data (“Insights”) however it’s important that these are interpreted appropriately and are reported in a meaningful manner.  Otherwise the success (or failure) of a page could get lost in translation.

Alsoback in February Facebook admitted to identifying a bug on their insights that has led to a misrepresentation of Organic and Viral reach for most pages. According to data, the way pages have been affected by this bug varies significantly from one page to another. Apparently, Organic reach has been slightly affected (between 5 and 10% more reach starting February 23) but viral reach has been much more affected with more than 300% increase in some instances – so it’s best to be doubly sure when reporting.

Each Facebook page is different, its community profile is unique, and the content posted is honed to match it.  So if we’re investing so much time and energy in our content why are we satisfied with cookie-cutter statistics to benchmark our pages?  Page owners, I urge you – take the time to know your page.  Learn what works, and what doesn’t.  Get a steer on what success looks like for you, and then strive towards it.  After all, what works for someone else may not work for you.


Moving to a New Business Address? Don’t Forget to Tell Google

We all know that moving can be a big pain in the backside.  Boxes, sticky tape, labels…  And then you just have to unpack everything the other end.  But we live in a world where Royal Mail redirects, We Have Moved postcards and answer phone messages are just the tip of the iceberg.  And that is only magnified if you’re a business.

When you consider how people may use the internet to locate your business, it’s important that you do everything you can to ensure that search engines log your new details correctly.  BOTTLE is in the middle of an exciting move, with the office relocating… Relocating means changing address, which means I’m doing this right now.

Getting your business address consistent

One of the central tenets of local search engine optimization is to ensure that your business’s Name, Address, and Phone number, NAP for short, is consistent everywhere it’s mentioned around the web (and offline, too – there’s no point getting everything online correct if your business cards have the wrong details). Your NAP is basically your digital thumbprint – Google’s unique identifier for an individual business.

So when you move locations, you create an inconsistency in your NAP.   Your address is change, and if you change your telephone number then that too clashes with what Google already knows.  Sadly, you can’t just send search engines a “We Have Moved” postcard. In worst case you end up with visitors turning up at the wrong address, but even if your communication to visitors is top-notch inconsistencies in your NAP can lead to lower search engine rankings for keyword searches.  Google hates duplicate content.  And the same goes for duplicate listings.

The first thing I did was to run an Accuracy Report on GetListed for old and new NAP information. I wanted to see which search engines had indexed which location(s), and in what manner.  That way you know if you need to alter anything.  GetListed is primarily a US tool, however there is a UK function in Beta that can provide some insights…

Social networks

Once you know how your business address is being logged by search engines (if you are able to pull results from GetListed) the next thing is to make sure they are all being fed the same information.  Where your business address is listed online, and you have the option to change it, do so.  So on your website and on social networks.  Pay particular attention to Google+, and local business pages on Google.  Whilst the information does have a tendency to switch back (because Google is trying to associate it with your old NAP), it’s important to know where you need to make changes.

To a lesser extent don’t forget to check out Facebook and Foursquare (as well as other location services) – every little helps…

Setting your Google Maps address

Search Google

Do a Google search for your old NAP and on Google maps click the down arrow to “Report a problem” – and on the following screen note the correct information and tell Google why you are requesting the change.

Also pay particular attention to any external sites that return your old business address – some listings sites will allow you to edit the details manually, others you will have to contact the site owner to request the change.

One last step is to visit Google MapMaker. Think of MapMaker as a Wikipedia for locations. Google users from all of the world can add, edit, delete, and consolidate business information using this tool. For the most part, each edit is reviewed by other Google users before it goes live to the public.   And most people don’t know about MapMaker.  But as it’s a Google property, Google loves it.  And MapMaker seems to process changes sometimes quicker than edits to Google Maps – so edit away!

Now all you can do is kick back and wait.  It can take a good while for these changes to filter through to all search engines.  So keep a note of all the changes you make, and the results that you get and note when there are changes.  There will be… it might just take a few months to get there!

I’ll admit, this isn’t something I’ve done before, so I’m basing this on logic… What other things should be considered to help solidify your business address move in Google’s eyes?


Why EE Needs a New Twitter Strategy

If you know Twitter, you know it’s where people go to complain. There’s something about the freedom of 140 characters that makes some people get out their soap box and start shouting to their network.  And to be fair most companies have adapted their strategies to accommodate this.  In the past I’ve had some great experiences on Twitter with @sluglettuce and more recently with @YodelOnline.  If you deal with a complaint well, companies have the power to transform discontented individuals into brand advocates… Everyone’s happy. So it drives me spare when big companies get it so utterly wrong.

My husband and I were both due mobile upgrades. He decides to stay with EE, and agrees to a mobile upgrade on Wednesday due for next-day-delivery.  Hubby is sulking a bit by Monday morning when there still hasn’t been a delivery attempt… But then goes into a rage on Monday evening when EE deactivate the SIM in his trusty BlackBerry. So not only did Hubby not have his upgrade, but EE had made it so his old phone was no more than a fancy alarm clock. So much for “Everything Everywhere” – he had nothing.

I naturally hit Twitter to voice  displeasure on Hubby’s behalf, and hope that EE would be able to do something, like possibly reactivate the SIM.

Everything Everywhere EE

What followed then was utter farce.

Understandably the EE team did not want to talk to me as I wasn’t the account holder.  However rather than directing me to a more appropriate platform to raise our issue the impersonal, robot-like interactions from EE kept doggedly on. My husband very briefly accessed Twitter (while at work) to give permission for EE to speak to me on his behalf, I then was passing a lot of information back and forth (including name, number, password, address, Twitter handle etc), to only then be told by the EE team that  they could only discuss the problem with me if my husband gave me third-party access to his Twitter account.  After nearly 24 hours of going back and forth, after jumping through all these hoops and explaining the issue three or four times,  I logged into my husband’s account as requested, and sent a DM.  The response :

Direct message from EE: "Please DM details of what you'd like help with"

I was back at square one after 24 hours of Twitter red tape.

I actually screamed.  At this point I gave up on trying to resolve the matter.

Now, the story doesn’t quite end there…  My husband’s phone eventually arrived, and he was wooed by the handset, so to some extent he’s a happy camper.  But the interactions I had with EE had left a bad taste in my mouth.  It simply was not acceptable.

By coincidence that same week Paul Sutton posted a blog about EE’s new advocacy group, and I ended up in a discussion about how EE are poor at active engagement…  Now if I’d been EE, at this point I would have got involved with this online conversation.  It was intelligent, proactive discussion after all, showing interest would have been really beneficial for the company.  But nothing.  EE did diddly-squat.

Certainly nothing public.

What happened however is that I received an email from the Senior PR Manager at EE.  One of the members of EE’s advocacy group had passed my details on.  To his credit he listened to my comments about the poor experiences on Twitter, and apologised for them (and the SIM deactivation) most strongly and promised that these would be discussed in detail with the customer support management team.

My interactions with @EE had seriously damaged my perception of the company.  I had been left feeling that EE had little interest in what I was saying.  On Twitter there was no way for me to understand who I was talking to, and clearly there was little handover between staff to ensure that ongoing customer interaction had any continuity.  EE simply seemed inept at dealing with customers.  So the email from EE’s PR department was welcome.  Great, I thought, proof EE were willing to engage and answer their critics.  At least on some level.

However I have to wonder whether the significance of having a wholly awful Twitter strategy has really computed to EE though… Nearly 70% of customers that leave companies for competitors do so because of a perceived indifference, and whilst I received a nice personalised email from the PR team, I can’t imagine that the majority of the customers that complain on Twitter do.  The central strategy needs to change otherwise EE will be left fighting a swelling fire of discontent.

Even after all of this, I’m not sure that my perception has hugely changed… Whether EE are scared to, or simply aren’t ready, clearly they are still not prepared to engage in public discussions – I told the PR team at EE that I was writing this blog and offered them the opportunity to phrase a response for publication.  And I’m still waiting for a reply…


Is Online Content Crippling Understanding?

Last week I found myself flipping through a copy of Marketing.  There were some interesting articles, and even a couple of case studies that made me dive into my bag for a pen so I could scribble down the details so that I could look up more about them online.  I wouldn’t say I was really “reading” the magazine, just flipping through it.  Killing some time at a train station and someone had abandoned it on a seat.

And yet, these few minutes have become the focus of a blog post.

Marketing magazine

It wasn’t until a few hours later, after I casually tossed the magazine in the recycling, that I realised how much I’d missed reading physical paper.

I’m used to consuming my content online.  As a social media professional, I’m never far away from an internet connection – my computer, my laptop, my mobile phone, even my e-reader are all ready land me neck-deep in information in a few taps, clicks and swipes. I flick through BBC News Online, The Guardian Online, sometimes I dip into Mashable, my RSS feed causes my choice of content to land straight in my inbox, I even Stumble.  But rarely do I pick up a magazine…

But, in the last 2 days alone this lonely abandoned copy of Marketing has come up in conversation with three different people.  I’ve found myself quoting interviews, discussing a key trend, discussing training avenues and even industry news… and I have to wonder whether the fact that I am able to remember this so clearly is because it has become so unfamiliar.

We live in a word that is all about convenience.  It’s now possible to share your reading habits “frictionlessly” across your social networks – in some ways the role of the advocate has diminished; you don’t even have to recommend what you’re consuming, the very fact that you consuming are is enough.  You can totter about the internet, stumbling from one piece of content to another by a simple click of the mouse.  There’s no need to direction, linear reading patterns or particular focus – and I am now wondering whether this is at the detriment of our understanding.  Or at least the depth of it.   We skip over content without pausing to think, because subconsciously we know that somewhere in the vast world-wide-web, there will be an article that is more interesting, or more relevant, or more to the point… I can’t be the only one to see a new post notification from a site you follow land in your inbox, and to delete it straight away without even reading the content?  I know the article will still be there later.

We are now able to subscribe to the people whose opinions we deem interesting.  We filter out so much before we even let it have a chance to have an impact on us as readers.

So I have to wonder…

Is accessing content too easy?