Facebook: Next Generation Best Practices for Wall and Ceiling Contractors
By: Joe Dysart
Now that many businesses are comfortable with the design make-over Facebook received last year, many wall and ceiling industry Web marketers rejoice that the changes are making it much easier for them to do business on the social network—both creatively and from a business analytics perspective.
One of the most popular of those changes is the ability to easily add framed content to a Facebook page—technically known as content presented within iFrames. Essentially, the change enables any wall and ceiling company to easily mirror the Web design on their company home page and other pages on a Facebook page, as long as it’s within a Facebook iFrame.
Scores of designers across the Web are celebrating the move, since attempting to duplicate the look and feel of a company’s Web site pages on Facebook had previously presented quite a challenge.
Moreover, Web marketers say the introduction of easy iFraming also makes it much easier for wall and ceiling companies to crunch analytics, including tracking user activity on Facebook pages, and thoroughly analyzing how sales and other sought-after conversions are unfolding on company Facebook pages.
All told, the changes at Facebook have stimulated many wall and ceiling contractors to update their best marketing practices for the service, as detailed below:
Understand why Facebook is so powerful. While social networking has been around for awhile (it was done on discussion forums long before Mark Zuckerberg got his first tricycle), Facebook was one of the services that made such networking so effortless, so fun and so multifaceted.
For example, once someone signs up for your "fan” or business page on Facebook, they immediately begin getting info about your wall and ceiling business in their News Feed, can instantly share your offers to others in their social network and can effortlessly engage in discussions on your Facebook page. They can even give their opinion about your products or services and can shop on your Facebook page—all without even thinking about how to do these things.
Small wonder Facebook now has 800 billion registered users and growing.
Get creative with Facebook’s newly unshackled Web design features. For years, Web designers have bemoaned the fact that they were forced to use Facebook’s propriety programming for much of the designing they did on the Facebook site. No more. With the roll-out of Facebook’s latest make-over in the spring of 2011, the service is now offering Web designers complete creative design freedom within specified framed areas of your pages on Facebook.
"I for one am thrilled,” says Janet Driscoll Miller, CEO of SearchMojo, a Web marketing firm. Essentially, any content that appears within these specially designed frames (iFrames) is no longer subject to the limitations of Facebook’s design language. Instead, the content can be easily designed with more robust Web design programs like DreamWeaver or Microsoft Expression. "This is a huge timesaver when you’re trying to program pages to match your corporate brand,” Miller adds.
Take advantage of Facebook’s new integration with Google Analytics. "Not long ago, Facebook removed some features that allowed you to track your page views in Facebook via Google Analytics,” Miller says. That’s no longer a problem, she adds, now that Google allows company Web content to be displayed within the new iFrames model. Essentially, any content showcased within the frame can be completely tracked, sliced and diced with Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/), a free program that has a great reputation for analyzing user behavior on Web sites. Other analytics programs will also work.
Easily track sales and other conversions sought on your Facebook presence. "Seriously, this one deserves about 15 exclamation points,” Miller says. "iFrames makes tracking conversions from Facebook—and keeping ad respondents within the Facebook application—much easier.”
Post a "Like button.” A recent Facebook innovation, the ability to "like” a business, confers an instant recommendation of your wall and ceiling business to everyone within a Facebook user’s circle—be it 12 people or 1,200 people. You can easily add a "Like” button to your Facebook page by visiting http://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/.
Consider other business-friendly social plugins: These plugins include "Recommendations,” which gives users personalized suggestions for pages on your site that they might like, and "Comments,” which allows visitors to comment on content on your Facebook site.
Meanwhile, the "Like Box,” enables users to "like” your Facebook page and view its stream directly from your website. "Facepile” shows profile pictures of a user’s friends who have already signed up for your site. And "Live Stream” allows users to exchange comments and engage in other shared activity in real-time as they interact during a live event on your Facebook page.
Post freely under your business name to other pages on Facebook: Facebook has also made it very easy for a wall and ceiling business to post to the walls of other pages. Previously, business messages had been restricted to appearing on the Facebook News Feeds of people who liked you, friends of those people, and of course, on the wall of your own business Facebook page. Used judiciously, this new freedom to post to the walls of other Facebook pages could make promotion on Facebook a whole lot easier.
Post often, interestingly and with plenty of graphics: The only way to continually attract attention to your Facebook page is via constant updates to your page. Fortunately, you can post to Facebook a few times a week, or in some cases, every day. Generally speaking, Facebook users won’t consider this annoying. After all, those who "friend” you are clearly saying they are interested in what you have to say. Just be sure it’s interesting, and it includes images or video often. Graphics are the lifeblood of Facebook.
"I update the page regularly so it remains interesting and fresh, and I try and draw attention to posts that contain video,” says Alan N. Glazier, author of Searchial Marketing: How Social Media Drives Search.
Engage, don’t broadcast: If you’ve had a business page on Facebook for any amount of time, no doubt you’ve already heard this, but it bears repeating. Businesses that use traditional methods to ‘broadcast’ their brands on Facebook are generally received with a collective yawn—and sometimes worse—from Facebook users who are protective of the social network’s culture. Quite simply, Facebook users expect a conversation from the businesses they befriend. And they expect it to be authentic.
"You can never create too much content, as long as that content you create brings more value to your visitors than yourself,” Glazier says. "Social media efforts are successful only when you give away your expertise and knowledge, and the same goes for Facebook efforts. Stuff your feed full of useful blogs, tips, videos and information. Market less than 20 percent of the time, or market subtly with give-aways and contests so people feel like they are deriving some benefit by participating within your network. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to create content and proliferate it. It’s really the only strategy that works.”
Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.