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.

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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.

 
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Disappointing: Facebook Pages Manager for Android

If you happen to be both a social media nut and an Android user then, like me, you will have been probably been waiting with bated breath for Facebook to get a wriggle on and release a version of their Page Manager app that will work with your phone.  As with the majority of mobile applications, Apple came first, but for us Andriod users we’ve had to put up with the slightly clunky functions of the original mobile app for updating Facebook pages.

But then, after 8 months of waiting, I heard on the grape vine that Facebook had started a soft roll-out in Canada, Austraila, New Zealand, and then a few days later suddenly the Facebook Page Manager application was available for download on the Play Store.  As a social media professional updating Facebook pages is just part of my daily workload, so anything that is designed to make it easier gets me very excited…

But eight months between releasing the iOS and the Android versions seems, well, a little OTT.  Even if Facebook and Google don’t always see eye-to-eye, what with the popularity of Android devices, it seems daft on Facebook’s part to have spent so long leaving those users like me feeling so unloved.  I mean, it’s not as if the app was ever designed to do something overly complicated, so I have to wonder what the reason is behind all the dragging of heels.

So, was it it worth the wait?

Erm.

Lack of setting options

Well.  No.  I find it pretty useless actually.  The app allows page managers to update a Facebook page – great, but I could already do that on the native app – respond to comments – again, native app allows me to do this too – and receive notifications whenever a page is updated.  So this last point is great in theory, having a notification to your mobile phone of a social interaction on a brand’s page should mean that you can ensure proactive monitoring and swift response, but in reality it’s just plain annoying.  I have over 20 Facebook pages linked up to my Facebook account, so having that function on for a few minutes sent my phone into a strange seizure with updates coming left, right and centre.  It was chaos.

I checked the settings to see if I could tone down some of the notifications on a brand-by-brand basis, but to no avail.  All the application allows you to do is to turn on the pushed notifications or to turn them all off until 8am the following morning.  No permanent off setting, nor options to change the push notifications by brand, just a broad-brush approach.  That seems really naive on Facebook’s part.  As any Facebook page manager knows different pages have different requirements and I resent having to treat any page with a one-size-fits-all approach.

One-tap Insight data

One thing the app does do well is offer page managers both page and post-level Insights with one tap – which is handy if you’re away from a computer and want to do some simple reporting, or perhaps show a client quickly how a particular post is performing.  The app also makes it easier for page manager to delete or hide posts than with the native app – which again is useful if you’re out of the office and you have an urgent need to delete something.  However, in my experience it is only in exceptional circumstances that a post should be deleted… so whilst this function is useful I can’t see it as something that I would use on a regular basis.

Facebook Page Manager App

Insight data is available in a single tap

Photo upload

The one thing that I did like though was that I can now remotely upload images to the Page’s Wall through the Android App – you can either take a photo on the spot, search through photos already on your device or straight from an image search.  To do this, all you need to do is click the plus sign to the left of your reply, then select “image search.”  Very straight forward.

According to Google Play Store most users seem to love the Page Manager app, but all in all the app has left me a bit cold.  For something I was so looking forward to I’m a bit disappointed.  Sure, I can see it’ll have its uses, but It’s just the shame that, after 8 months of waiting, one of the first things I did after downloading the Facebook Page Manager Android App was log out.

What are your experiences of the Pages Manager app?

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Facebook Isn’t Reducing Spam. It’s Condoning it.

2012 must have been a year of two halves for the man behind Facebook.  Firstly there was the great excitement of Facebook hitting the stock exchange. After weeks of hype the company floated. Millionaires were made over night. Zuck was riding do high on the crest of his success that he decided to time was right to finally wed his long-term gal.  But then the numbers faultered. They dipped. And then they plummeted.  Everyone started talking about how Facebook might actually be a big economic black-hole…

Facebook needs to make money

It seems ever since then the Facebook has been trying to monetise more and more of its services. Advertising rates jumped, they introduced Promoted Posts – and not just for brands, individuals could choose to fork out their cold hard cash to make sure their post appeared in more Timelines… And now Facebook are testing “extreme prices” for the delivery of private messages.

Facebook private messaging

In case you’ve never noticed Facebook filters the private messages you recieve into two inboxes – messages from friends land in your Inbox and you get a notification, messages from people outside of your networks, or from pages land in the “Other” box. There you get no notification, it simply sits there waiting to be discovered. And seeing as very few people check it, it could be waiting a very long time…

But what if you could fork out some cash, which elevated your message from the “Other” folder, into the welcoming arms of the Inbox… $100 for instance may be enough to land your message in Zuck’s inbox.

Facebook is charging for messaging mark zuckerberg

Facebook is trialing what it calls “extreme” payment so that people who really want to use Facebook to contact people outside of their network have the opportunity to – and the high price point is designed to deter spammers.

Spam messages in your Facebook Inbox

Facebook is proudly talking about the role monetisation could have in reducing spam, with the VIP Facebook users (who have been selected to be part of the trial due to thier high follower numbers) recieiving only one paid for message per week.  But I disagree with Facebook’s spin – any unsolicited contact is spam, even if it gas a high price tag attached. In fact what Facebook is doing isn’t reducing spam (which will still be rife, and will continue to land in you Other folder), it’s simply allowing cold messages to land in inboxes if the sender pays for them.

If a company is looking to reach out to key influencers $100 might not seem too steep when you consider the potential returns – that is assuming that anyone ever is influenced by cold-calling.

I simply do not see this big benefit to users that Facebook seems to be trumpetting about.  Once again Facebook is looking for a way to make money, but is packaging it in such a way that it is seen to be designed to be for the benefit of the average user… I think Facebook may be being a little naive if it thinks users will swollow that one with their weekly spam.

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Google+: Are we riding the wave?

Google+ is everywhere.

Everyone wanted to be on it.  We grovelled for invitations, longingly staring at our inboxes with the impatience of children on Christmas Eve.  We read article after article, preparing ourselves for the new tools, familiarising our tongues with new terms and limbering up our profile writing skills.

So now that Google+ has hit 10 million users are we actually using it?  Apparently not.  According to Experian Hitwise the average user spends only 5 minutes using the new social network.

But why?  Google+ seems to have everything you could want from a social network.  You can divide your connection into private communication circles (a bit like Facebook groups), you can follow people you have never met in real life (like Twitter), you can video chat (like on Skype – and now Facebook), and businesses have be promised special company pages (once again like Facebook).  It even seems to encroach a bit on Flickr’s territory with a smattering of photo sharing, and just last week Google announced its release of some Foursquare-like badges earned from searching.

From the outside Google+ and its related tie-ups seem to be the full package.  With so much technology and integration it’s been purpose built to link up your offline experiences with your online life.

But I suspect that this is actually the problem…  How are you actually meant to use Google+?  Is it a professional platform or a personal one?

Technically if you use circles correctly if can be both, but I suspect Google may be trying to spread itself too thinly.  It’s not that the tools aren’t up to scratch – in fact, aside from an early bug or two they seem pretty stable – instead it’s that users just aren’t sure exactly how to approach the network.

I’ve seen many people flock to the site, scramble around create a few Circles, post the “Wow, isn’t Google+ really cool” first update, and then go quiet, slipping into the shadows of the social network watching and waiting to see how other people use it.

Some people thought that Google Wave was going to be huge, until is crashed spectacularly onto the shores of the social web and vanished… The positive for Google+ is that is seems to have found a foothold with it’s integration, but it needs its users to actually use its functions for it to really succeed and make a lasting impression.  And for that, only time will tell…

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