Facebook Pages 101: Q&A for Facebook Page Owners

findyoursearch at flickrWe get a lot of questions related to digital marketing in our day-to-day encounters with various people offline and online – colleagues, friends, acquaintances… Not surprisingly, a lot of those questions are related to Facebook marketing. Some of them are pretty basic and others a bit challenging.

Of course, most of the page owners are not digital marketers, but people from different walks of life who happen to manage a Facebook page for whatever purpose. The kind of people who wanted to get their hands dirty and do something challenging to increase the engagement or sell their products through Facebook, which is really a good thing.

So, we hoped to answer the most common questions of theirs in a blog post, and the result is the below Q&A that we believe any Facebook page owner might have in his/her mind who is looking to promote their FB page.

Why do some people recommend that I always add PNG images in my Facebook posts?

Less compromise on quality. You might have had a frustrating experience of uploading good quality images on Facebook only to see them smudged or degraded otherwise in quality after the upload. PNGs have higher file size, it has higher quality, which means better images on your pages. So it is always a good suggestion to upload all your Images to Facebook in PNG Format.

I have an audience size upwards of 5000 on FB. Why are my [organic] posts not reaching most of them?

Well, there are numerous factors that determine the reach of your posts. There have been widespread accusations that Facebook has been suppressing organic reach in favor of paid advertisements. But we’ll stick to the factors which we can control.

Let’s say about 70% of your FB audience are from India and the rest are spread all over the globe, and you’re feeling super-active (or sleep-deprived) and make a post at 2: 00 AM IST. Your Facebook post will target all the fans of your page, and an engagement-to-reach ratio is calculated with your total number of fans as the audience size.

Now, the initial Engagement of your post is important or else it won’t reach more people. In other words, the early engagements for your post decide the fate of your post for the rest of its life. To get the super-engaging post you should be super creative (Social Media Examiner has covered lot of interesting tips on this front).

Coming back to our example, posting at 2:00 AM is a really bad idea, because the engagement-to-reach ratio for your fans from India hugely influences the overall ratio for all of your fans. If I screw up there, I screw up everywhere. So you should post your news at a suitable time, considering the geography of all your audience. The best way to figure out the best time to get your audience engaged? Facebook Insights has what you need.

The gist is this. Always keep in mind about

  1. Time
  2. Engagement (Creative Post)
  3. Targeting

What are the other options would you suggest to get higher reach?

It is a good idea to limit the audience reach by targeting your organic posts to the right people. Facebook allows you to target your post by demographics. In addition to that, you can also target your post to the people who have specific interests (you could find this one under the “News Feed Targeting” tab in the pop-up). This way, the overall audience reach is limited, but more targeted, which will help you achieve a decent success rate.

FB post targeting option screenshotI am not getting any Clicks or Impressions for My ads. What could be the reason?

(Very often, this question comes from people who want to test their ads on a minimum budget – quite a good thing to do when you’re testing the waters. And they mostly happen to set a manual CPC close to the minimum bid that FB suggests.)

  1. When your budget is minimum, your overall reach will be constrained based on the budget you provide.
  2. Look at your ad delivery type. If you had chosen accelerated delivery, keep the maximum bids 10 – 20% higher than what Facebook suggests, because in accelerated delivery, your ad enters all available auctions using your maximum bid amount. If you keep the bids exactly the same as what Facebook suggested (i.e. the least suggested bid), the chances of winning the auction becomes very less.

The scenario is that your ads will try to win the auction, with your minimum budget, and within the constrained audience reach, which sounds quite a bad option.

Suggestion would be:

  1. Change the delivery method to “Standard”,      (OR)
  2. Change the max bid to 10 % or 20 % higher than the suggested bid.

Can I create a poll in my Facebook fan page?

No, that featured has been removed from Facebook. Who knows whether it is temporary or permanent!

Can I get a “Verified” signature on my page? How?

Definitely No. 🙂 Well, it takes lot of time and effort, and you should be lucky enough to fall in the eyes of Facebook. You’d rather ask that girl out next time.

Can I use third party tools to post in Facebook?

Frankly, I am old school. I prefer the traditional way of posting in Facebook. Well, I don’t prefer much of automate-your-posts social media tools. But there are lots of other interesting tools available that also deal with social media analytics; some are free and some are very affordable.

  1. Hootsuite
  2. Sproutsocial
  3. Buffer (preferred by most)

Some talented social media strategists discuss about the social media tools in this thread.

I have a higher “Relevance Score”. Will it have an impact on my ad cost and delivery?

Yes. A higher relevance score means the cost of your ad delivery will be less. Because, as obvious as it is, Facebook always wants to show the right content to the right audience. But you should always remember that the relevance score has only a relatively smaller impact on the cost and delivery. Your Bid amount and budget always matter the most.

Always remember that the relevance score should not be considered as one of the most important metrics when measuring the outcome.

If you’re doing a “website clicks” ad, and your relevance score is not too good, you’re still achieving your goal. In that case, you should run your campaign without considering the relevance score.

How do I track my Facebook campaigns in Google Analytics?

You can track “Clicks to website”, “Conversion” & “Boost post” type campaigns through Google Analytics. Tagging your URL with custom campaign parameters will enable Google Analytics to track your Facebook Campaigns separately in your Google Analytics.

Google URL Builder is a free tool which will help you tag your URL with parameters, which in turn will help Google Analytics to track your Facebook campaigns separately.

Megalytic.com have written a detailed blog post on how to track your Facebook campaigns separately in Google Analytics.

My Facebook App Install is not showing in Facebook ad dashboard?

  1. Create a Facebook App ID.
  2. Always keep the developer handy
  3. Download the SDK , and add it in your Application
  4. Link your ad account to your Facebook App.

Facebook has given a very detailed explanation on how to run an App installed ad. Have a look into the App Events. These app events will add some important metrics to your app dashboard and App Analytics, which will help you do a detailed analysis of your mobile application.

I’ll close the Q&A here. Please feel free to drop your suggestions or corrections in case you find one 😉 in the comments section.

The Marketing Problem with Facebook’s Promoted Posts & Why It Will Live

FacebookMark Cuban is the latest to take Facebook on for its new promoted posts; probably the first brand to shout it out. This recent spree got started when a blog post titled ‘Facebook, I Want My Friends Back’ from the blog ‘Dangerous Minds’ got a wide attention on the web, in October. But let’s dial back a bit further.

A Little Background

By nearly the end of April 2012, Facebook was looking at a good news and a bad news together. The good news was that the company had just topped 900 million active users a month and the number was quickly expected to touch 1 billion (which it did last month). And the bad news was that the company’s first quarter profit fell by 12 per cent.

It was an awkward position for Mark Zuckerberg: A huge, loyal user base that created and consumed content at his website, with far less ways to monetize. He shortly after told TechCrunch in retrospect that the company had been relying too much on HTML5, and that it would shift its focus more to mobile. And he was right at that.

So the problem with mobile really was how you serve your display ad units within Facebook’s single column feeds in mobile devices. And by May 2012, the company seemed to have found a solution, and the promoted posts for brands were rolled out. Posts that are ads. Users won’t feel annoyed of ads (perhaps because they don’t know they’re looking at one) and the brands could selectively promote some of their posts, just like they did with ‘promoted tweets’.

It is a small, but an interesting chain of events since the company went public: a drop in the profit, more focus on mobile, the ‘promote’ button for pages, Facebook’s massive crackdown on fake accounts and likes, and finally the unannounced, but more vigorous execution of ‘promoted posts’. It fits in if you say Facebook pushes for money. And it fits in if Facebook says it wants less spam on the user’s wall.

The Sides That The Partners Take

The company continues to maintain that it’s all against spam and it is not broken on purpose. But the page owners think otherwise. Some call it ‘bait and switch’. Some call it ‘artificial scarcity’ for reach. Whatever it is, they all agree that Facebook has deliberately suppressed their page reach and selling it in bits for dollars. And there is some very optimistic view on this as well.

There have been increasing complaints about huge drop in the reach and the money people were forced to put to keep the ship afloat.

Tip Of The Iceberg?

It’s absolutely okay if Facebook wants to make money, and that’s what a business does. But all this heat was about how Facebook did it. Dalton Caldwell has laid out his perspective on what he calls as Understanding Like-gate in his blog. It makes sense, especially the ‘candidate stories’ generated by Facebook’s Open Graph.

That goes well with the company’s increased focus on mobile monetization. But then, we are really missing something here, aren’t we?

The open graph stories are indeed good candidates for promoting. But they don’t represent the real change we are seeing here. Those open graph stories have not been that visible before, neither are they now. The actual stories which appeared in the likers’ walls, which lack the same reach now, are manual posts/status updates published in the pages’ walls. There is a big difference in the purpose of these two kinds of candidates. And that presents the real problem for marketers in opening their wallets for promoting their Facebook posts.

The Marketing Funnel Cut To Its Bottom

Pay hereThe beauty of having a Facebook page, and the very purpose of it, is that you can reach your potential buyers in all levels of your marketing funnel. You can get to the top of the funnel and do brand awareness campaigns, educate your likers, let them know of your latest offers, perks, features, changes or whatsoever. You could feed them with information and keep them engaged with your page. You could trust your ‘like-base’ for your next viral marketing campaign.

But now, when you could no more trust the ‘organic’ posts to do your marketing, you’re forced to push your page posts down the funnel and look for direct responses; to make the posts worth the spend. You no longer want to invest in building the likes and doing your brand awareness, info-feeding, engagement posts.

With the numbers I have come across so far, it looks like a single post could cost a marketer anywhere between $2 and $6 per thousand impressions (depending on the reach, number of followers, etc.) which compares well against the industry numbers. But the nagging difference is that the other forms of impression ads are conceptually meant for direct responses. So, for the promoted posts to really compare with the rest, the pages will have to cut off the funnel and do more of the direct-response kinds, unless the business has the stomach for more, that is.

But Why Should It Work?

Facebook’s huge strength, you know, is its enormous user base. Whatever combination of demographics you’re targetting, the website almost always has that audience. You could try and guess, but there really is no competitor to Facebook in providing you with the target market as big as it does; a market that is active and is vulnerable to your marketing efforts. More than anything, users want to spend their time there, even crazily.

Twitter has a great size of active users too, but it works best for improving one-on-one relationship with your customers. Plus, the feeds are so fast that you are not that worried about your ‘organic’ posts quickly being scrolled away. And it definitely doesn’t help cover your entire marketing funnel as effectively as Facebook.

The engagement in Google+ is already a big challenge and you don’t have a say in mobilizing your Facebook likers there. Pinterest, Tumblr, whatever alternatives you choose, you know that you are losing it in size and variety.

So, practically there is no competitor with a comparable marketplace to Facebook’s. Not yet. And the ‘promoted posts’ are here anyway. Now, all a marketer can do is either open his wallet for posts that are worth or educate his likers to add him to their interest list and hope that the organic posts work.

Meanwhile, Facebook tries to make peace with the marketers with its Page Notifications and perhaps more effectively with the Pages Feed. Yeah, the annoying numbers in the left navigation might be able to convince the users to click on the button once in a while.

What Marissa Mayer Means to Yahoo!, Its Employees & Users

jdlasica at FlickrThe 17th of July, 2012 had in store a brilliant shockwave for the Silicon Valley with the news of the former executive Marissa Mayer set to lead Yahoo!. People are suddenly listening. The big brand that once helped shape the internet, that once inarguably dominated the search space and perhaps that was some sort of (ironically?) ‘all things digital’ for its users by then.

The hits the brand took later, I suspect if any other brand in the Valley ever stood through. The company is struggling near the point of ‘irrelevance’ today. And Marissa Mayer’s new helm is perceivably a ray of hope for Yahoo!

The Yahoo! Problems

‘Chaos’ is the word. The company has long been indecisive about its products. A more familiar example to me is how it handled its search front in recent years. It never seemed decisive about which direction to go with its search. Yeah, when a company sees five CEOs in two years, that could put the ‘direction’ in deep s**t. It was a big decision for Yahoo! (and a game-changing one for the search industry) to give up its search technology to Microsoft, which the company may regret over time, that’s worth whole another article. But who knew Marissa would take the helm then?

Yahoo! does have its ‘superstar’ products, but it never seemed to care to innovate with them. It lacked behind when other alternatives were growing up fast.

The Vicious Cycle

Remember, it’s not the declining user base that puts Yahoo! in trouble. In fact, it still has 700 million global users and around 100 million monthly unique visits. Its real problem roots to, essentially in recent times, user engagement. That scared away its advertisers towards Yahoo!’s competitors. That resulted in declining quarterly revenues that left investors scratching their nose. That, in turn, took the board to task (at the mercy of Third Point LLC) for a CEO gambling. Hence the demoralised employees, abandoned products which closes the cycle.

What is Yahoo! for Anyone, Anyway?

YahooThis question, many listeners believe, is something that Yahoo! itself doesn’t have an answer to. Is it a portal? A media company? A tech company? A search engine (hmm.. almost no)?

With each CEO, the company’s vision appeared differently – from advertising to data to content to commerce to media. Yeah, that’s some great morale!

But a company with great visions, which I believe Yahoo! still is, needs to define itself. Of course, it is perhaps the most careful step for Marissa to take (which requires time), given the present state of mess Y! is at. But the brand does need a definition – if not now, pretty soon down the line.

David Filo, a co-founder of Yahoo!, spells this out:

“In the last few years, given the turnover, there has been a lack of attention on the user experience. We need to get back to basics.”

Marissa’s Y! Challenges

Some think she is a good fit, and some not. But Marc Andreessen has a point on this. Yahoo! probably needs a product leader now more than ever.

One important concern her critics put forward is her lack of experience leading a giant, essentially when she has had two contrasting reputations at Google. But, all that is not going to matter anymore. The question now is whether she will resemble Steve Jobs or her former colleague Tim Armstrong.

The Charges

As for the Y! board, it apparently has had its ‘Brahmastra’ shot at its top job. Eyes on the results now.

Employees – well, they have their own expectaions, like here. But finally they’ve got someone they would want to work with, perhaps. Yes, they’re tired with new CEOs. But this one seems to have brought a hint of hope to them. Nevertheless, they would love to hear the company ‘defined’.

May be it doesn’t matter to the end users. They probably liked how Yahoo! was ‘all things’ to them. May be they just want their awesome flickr back, as with its many other products.

Of course, I’m no aggressive Yahoo! fan or a loyal user. I don’t live in the US and have no economical impact whatsoever. But I’m one who has been on the internet for over 11 years and whose one of the first known brands on the web is Yahoo! And I am certainly interested to watch whether and what Marissa has to save the Internet Dinosaur.

Venice Update – How Far Are We Localized?

Google Places billboard for a salon at Oregon.

Google Places billboard for a salon at Oregon.

It has been more than a month after Google told the world what changes it has made to its algorithm for February. There have been 40 changes related to search quality for the month. Though the March updates are out already, I’m still talking about the February ones because, among those 40 for the Feb month, there were three improvements on the quality of local organic search results – after which I’m still seeing a few results in my country which keep me puzzled.

Here are the ones I’m talking about (of course, you might know already).

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.

Refreshed per-URL country information. [Launch codename “longdew”, project codename “country-id data refresh”] We updated the country associations for URLs to use more recent data.

To my best guess, these altogether mean that Google is better able to identify the user location, local queries, local documents and local websites more reliably by now – while ensuring that the results are strictly relevant to the query relying on the traditional ranking signal. We will get back to that traditional ranking signal stuff in a while.

Yeah, and it worked. A lot of webmasters did notice more localized results in Google search. That applies for generic queries as well, since localized results for those queries are returned based on the user location. I believe that the whole local results improvement stuff largely relates to returning more localized results for generic queries.

Localized? Not Completely.

So let’s get down to my case here. My location is Chennai – a South Indian metropolitan. So, my local domain for Google search is [co.in] and google (almost) always detects my location accurately.

I, too, have started seeing more localized results for many of the queries I type in Google. However, a recent search I conducted for “Plumber” left me puzzled.

FirstPuzzleYeah, there are plenty of relevant results in the first page – a bunch of local listings and about 3 pages from India. I don’t mind the two Wikipedia pages appearing at the top, even. Because I know that the search for “Plumber” in India is far too less.

But I didn’t understand why the plumber of South Floria would show up in the first page for Chennai area. In fact, the service location of that website is appearing in every possible part of the result snippet. May be I should choose to view only the pages from India, which I did.

PagesFromIndia

South Florida link now climbed up the results, outranking three localized Indian results. And there were two more pages from abroad – One serves Atlanda North Metro and another, Phoenix.

Clearly, I have been seeing pages from abroad for this query for over a month. Only the website was different which is serving Wilmington, DE.

Plumber_Prev

Server Location Can Affect SEO (Hey, Matt says that)

Alright, the content of all these pages whatsoever don’t have anything to do with my location, but what if these websites are hosted in an Indian location, possibly? If Google attempts to find the locality of the document using the website’s IP… Yeah, it is possible. We’ll come to that in a while.

As it turns out, none of these pages are hosted in India. Their servers are in different locations across the United States – Scottsdale, Illinois and there was even one located in Quebec, Canada.

And the most puzzling thing is that these pages are not ranking for any custom location where either the above services are provided or their servers are located. If they are not ranking for their own localities, why are they ranking here? And what happened to traditional ranking signals now?

So, to put all these simply:

  • None of these pages have content related to my locality
  • None of these pages serve my locality (Google crawls and uses telephone numbers, address, etc.)
  • None of the websites are hosted in India
  • Still some/all of these pages appear in Google results for Chennai location and vary over time

As far as I know, there are a few factors through which Google could identify the nature of the domain.

Bill Slawski has clearly mentioned at many instances that Google’s Phrase Indexing update has the capability to identify phrases based on the history of the queries.

Google has the ability to figure out the location using the physical address, phone numbers and zip codes (In the ‘Specific Factors’ look at the 2nd, 7th and 11th elements).

Matt Cutts himself confirmed that Geographic location of a web server will affect SEO. Here is an excerpt:

“Yes it does. Because, we look at the IP address of your web server. So if your web server is based in Germany we are more likely to think that it is useful for German users. That’s not the only country we are going to return you for and we also look at the tld’s, we also look at the .te .fr all those sorts of things. You can also specify in Google’s webmaster’s console and say yes my site my .com or .whatever is about this specific country. You can even do that for specific parts of your site like de.something.com or fr.example.com. So I would absolutely recommend that you use those tools. If you find a great deal in a particular country and if you really want to stay in that country with your web server, I think that’s fine. But if you are worried about it or you want to experiment you can certainly try switching the geographical location of your web server which is essentially changing your IP address and that might end up helping for various countries. So it’s the sort of thing that I would encourage you to experiment.”

Regional to the Data Centers?
After all these, I don’t buy the bizarre localized results (which are not ranking in their own localities) since Google has almost all the capabilities to identify local documents, queries and the user’s location. So, for I’m still an amateur, I asked about this to one of the best men I admire in one of his blog posts and sent a tweet. His reply included a snippet from a blog post of him about how Google’s data centers split regional and global data. Here’s the reply, in case you didn’t follow the comment link.

That particular query, and those particular pages don’t seem like ones that seem like they would be considered “regional” in India, but under that patent, if it seems like a lot traffic is going to those pages from India for one reason or another, they might be considered regional, especially if they aren’t getting a lot of query traffic from other places. If there aren’t a lot of people in India searching for plumbers, and these two pages are being searched for and selected very frequently by people at the company or companies working upon them, it’s possible that the algorithm that could be considering them as regional might just be.

They don’t look like they would be considered “global” sites that would be replicated across many data centers. They may not be very popular in the US either.

Here’s a snippet from my post:
Content that isn’t world-wide could be included within a particular index as regional content, and may be located within a regional index at a data center based upon being similar to characteristics of the queries received at that particular datacenter. For example, if 75% of web queries from Lithuania are in the Lithuanian language, then many of the pages within the data center for those searches may be in Lithuanian. Pages that are popular in Lithuanian that aren’t in the Lithuania language may also be included in the regional index for that data center if those pages aren’t popular enough elsewhere to be included in the global index.

Yeah, that makes sense. But I wonder how many people would be searching for plumbers and clicking on websites from the United States and Canada. It’s not utterly impossible, but I don’t think many people would be visiting those websites without a purpose. Oh yeah, there is one possibility, but that could generate only a small amount of usage data; relatively negligible, I would say.

Still I doubt if such a small amount of queries (given the demand trend) in Indian data center would significantly affect the results for a query as generic as “Plumbers”?

I would much rather prefer throwing a bunch of crappy content  from my region than giving something geographically irrelevant to my search.  Well, if Google identifies the nature of the content based on traffic sources, then I feel it’s nowhere related to their update.
What Bill said seems to be a perfectly valid point,  but still “The codename: Venice” is making me to stick towards complete relevancy and nothing else.

Typical for India : Typical for USA

But let’s not get deceived. I did notice this kind of bizarre results for a few other queries as well – Filling Station, for example. I observed that queries that return this kind of results are typical ones for United States and Canada (say, “Petrol Bunk” is typical in India than “Filling Station”). I haven’t seen any strange results for queries that are typically used in India, at least not yet.

To Sum Up
so what do all these mean? Aren’t we completely localized? Or is Google just on the way to implementing its updates to country specific domains? What kind of traditional ranking signals is Google using for returning localized results?

While we are still wondering, Google has improved its algorithm with local intent in March as well.

Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent. [launch codename “ShieldsUp”] Some queries have both local intent and are very navigational (directed towards a particular website). This change improves the balance of results we show, and helps ensure you’ll find highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page as appropriate for your query.

Better local results and sources in Google News. [launch codename “barefoot”, project codename “news search”] We’re deprecating a signal we had to help people find content from their local country, and we’re building similar logic into other signals we use. The result is more locally relevant Google News results and higher quality sources.