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Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to Build Engaging One-of-Kind Facebook Fan Pages

Don't let anyone tell you it is easy to create a successfully engaging Facebook Fan Page. It is not.
It's not an insurmountable task either. It is do-able but requires planning, time, some kind of HTML knowledge, design skill, and imagination. Originality doesn't hurt either.

There are great tools & tips available that will help you create an outstanding page for your brand without an immense amount of time or capital invested. I've been working to improve our own Go2web20 fan page and I have some tips from my experience that I'm more than happy to share.

Let me start off by saying, Facebook itself is the only true obstacle in the whole page creation process. If they accepted all code formats, it would be much easier to create any page. It would open up the space to immeasurable possibilities and we would see a wider variety of amazing, unique pages. But unfortunately, this isn't the case so you have to find ways to work with what you've got and then take it up from there.

Fan Page Profile Pictures
You might not know this but you can use a picture for your profile page as large as 200 x 600 pixels. The good thing about this is a larger picture offers better visibility of the campaign itself, which may include your company logo or a promotional banner of any kind. The downside to this eye-catching stunner is that it shifts the focus away from the rest of the page. This is why you need to plan your page first. Decide where you want the eyes of your visitors to go: on your image or on the rest of the page's elements. You can play and preview your ideas, change them back and forth, and see what's ultimately best for goals, your page, and its users.

Example:


Diverse Tabs
Thank god that Facebook allows you to change the traditional boring tabs to be more exciting, original, and relevant.

If you want to change your page's tabs, you will first need to add this FBML application to your page. Then, go to your page manager, find the FBML tab, and click 'edit'. Within the box that opens, you will be able to change the tab name, and add HTML code. What I'd suggest that you do is to first create a main landing tab that will welcome visitors to your page.
Here's what I did:
  1. I gave the tab a name - Go2web20
  2. Took a screenshot of my webpage and uploaded it to Flickr (optional)
  3. Grabbed the screenshot picture code from Flickr and inserted it in the FBML body box (FYI: I slightly edited the code, changed link destination to lead to our site, instead of the Flickr page.)
  4. I linked to my Website on this page since this is a big part of a fan page concept - to offer Facebook users access to my site in a new way.
  5. Finally, I added the Facebook comments box to enable people to leave comments in regards our website. The fb comment code can be found at this wiki page in the examples section (thanks for the tip @eyalshahar). Again, all I did was to customize it slightly with the relevant information of our site. In my opinion a huge value add in terms of engaging my users and inviting conversations to happen here.
Page Dashboard:

Landing Page:


Now, since this is the tab you want new visitors to see and experience first, you need to set it this way on your admin page. Go to your page and click on 'Edit Page' > 'Wall Settings' > then on 'Default Landing Tab for Everyone Else' chose the tab which you want to present first when new users enter your Facebook page. People who are already fans of your page, will see the 'wall' first when they enter the page. The whole point of this landing page is that you make a informational welcoming page for new visitors that is interesting enough to be an incentive to fan this page. In a sea of fan pages this is important in terms of standing out and being innovative.


If you want you can also add even more FBML tabs, but keep in mind that overall, Facebook only allows you to display and offer up to six tabs maximum, including the first two that you can't change. So make sure you chose your tabs wisely.

If you don't want to mess around with FBML tabs, here are some alternatives (you can also add them as extras):

Twitter Tab
- This application lets you bundle your 'Twitter Updates Tab' into your own profile or Fan page. The process is pretty easy: just add the application and follow the instructions.
This is the end result:


Flickr Tab - Same application but for Flickr photos. I found it more relevant to put this tab on my personal Facebook profile, but it is really depends on your brand's goals and needs.

Example:


Foursquare Tab - I actually really like this tab, despite the fact, that I'm a Gowalla girl myself...

If you are creating a page for your company and want a Foursquare tab, here's what you can do:
  1. Create a venue for your brand/company/HQs on the Foursquare website (if you haven't done this already)
  2. Add this PlaceWidget application and follow the simple instructions.
And, that's it. You now have a new tab on your page, Foursquare, and everyone can see how popular your spot is and read the tips visitors have left, furthering user engagement in a new way and offering visitors a chance to appear on your Facebook page and add their own tips.

Example:


Spotlight the People on your Team
If you go through all the trouble of creating your own brand page, make sure you spotlight your team's players and say something about the people behind the curtain. It adds a personal touch to your page and builds a connection between fans and the people involved in the project. Again, with the help of the FBML tab, I've created a tab that tells more about my team at Go2web20 (it is was pretty easy since we're just two people). But even if you have lots of people on your team, it is important to give some background about company management and staff accomplishments or to at least name one contact person that can be reached easily.

Example:


Participate on your stream - that's the whole point
I have to admit that I'm not as active on my own Facebook fan page (insert shame here) as I should be. I blame both Facebook and myself. First, I take accountability for not checking the page as often as I should. But, I also blame Facebook for not providing the right tools to track comments and conversations on pages like the ones available for our own profiles. It is really up to you how often you check your fan page activity. But, don't think you can now sit back and put your feet up. This is not one of those "build it and they will come" scenarios. Don't take it for granted that you have a page available. No matter how great you've made it, if you aren't active, it defeats the whole purpose of having one. A fan page requires maintenance. You have to be there for your page visitors. You have to talk with your fans. You have to answer questions, absorb feedback, and overall, make the conversation flow with consistent fresh content.

I really think Facebook never predicted the volume of pages people would create and the effect of these pages on businesses/brands. Obviously, Facebook isn't currently providing the right type of support and tools for pages builders. Until Facebook reconciles these changes into their Facebook pages concept and tunes into the importance that pages have garnered over the last few months, we'll end up with somewhat crappy looking pages that we're creating with just about any and every tool we can muster up.

I can only hope things will be different sooner rather than later.

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 10:29 AM 12 comments

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are You Ready To Share Your Location Yet?

Did you ever imagine that you'd be sharing what you're doing right now with a bunch of people from around the globe? If I had asked you this question 4 years ago, chances are that the answer would have been no. Now Twitter, Facebook and the like have completely changed that. Since the rise of such services, sharing habits have broken all bounds and there is no limit really to what people can share today. Share what you want, no special rules apply.

When I started to use Twitter (3/7/07), lots of people kept asking me, what is Twitter, and why on earth would you use such service? Or in other words: who cares about what you're doing right now? Well, some of them did really care, some of them didn't, obviously. But over the years, this sharing behavior was easily adopted by people who never thought they would be sharing their personal life, knowledge, or daily activities with such openness. When people finally grasped how it would benefit them, or their business, and how many other people were doing it, they felt way more comfortable with being so open, transparent, and well, human.

Today someone asked me why am I using location-based service since he simply couldn't see the point in it. My first words of note on this are that people also didn't understand the point of Twitter and look where that went. However, I really do think sharing location is a much more sensitive issue and I'll try to explain it as I see it.

I spend most of my time on the net and my first rule is - do not share what you do not want other people (as in everyone) to see or know.

With this rule in my mind, I only share my location when I have time to actually meet someone or when I'm at a place I want to recommend to other folks. Lets say you are at a conference and want to notify other people that you are there (for any reason that may be). Well, location based services are perfect for that. If I stop at a coffee shop and have some free time on my hands, I can notify others about my location and perhaps have the chance to meet a friend that is nearby - it's all very dynamic. And, like twitter, leads to some wonderful friendships and partnerships. I believe that as long as you do it your own way, location based services can open a wider space of opportunities. From my brief experience, I can tell you that I've already met some new people just because I checked in at certain places. Think about the difference between talking to someone online and actually meeting them face to face - location based services can complete this circle for you. Overall, it's a powerful tool if you use it wisely.

So which services am I using?

There is quite a long list of services out there so it is not an easy choice, but I use Gowalla because I feel more comfortable with it. The UI looks is truly amazing, the idea of the stamps is fresh, and, now with comment notifications, it is like having a txt group messaging conversation - and it still feels more personal, just like getting SMS. Add to this the ability to send photos in real time, and you get a very sophisticated mobile application.

It still have some room for improvements, including a much needed Blackberry app, but it is already very enjoyable to use, and this is the bottom line. I use services that are fun to use and bring all of your worlds together, making the experience rich and pleasant for the user.

I haven't tried Foursquare so much yet so I can't really tell you which one is better, except for the fact, that Foursquare hasn't really thrilled me yet. The only thing that would make me move is an immense list of friends at one site over another, since ultimately, it is what you need in these kinds of services, but for now, I'm leaning towards Gowalla.

Fundamentally: If you don't want to share your location, don't. But if you run a business, are looking for job and want to network, want to meet the faces on your web stream or in your community, aim to meet a particular person (in a friendly way, don't stalk people) - this is your value add right here. Location based services offer you that window of opportunity, it's up to you how wide or far you open it.

Flickr image credit.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 8:38 PM 3 comments

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yossi Vardi As You've Never Seen Before

Yesterday I've attended Eurekamp, which is a very cool day inspiration camp, inspired by Vard's Kinnernet event, and held for the fourth year in a row. Eurekamp is all about ideas: stimulating, discovering, generating, and sharing ideas in various areas.

One of the ideas was to take all the event participants (200 people overall), and create a collaborative Lip-dub video. The music clip came out so good, due to a great project team, and a fantastic group of enthusiastic Israeli geeks - I just had to share it.

Pay attention to Yossi Vardi special guest performance - It's really Awesome!



The video made by @liorz & @yosit - mega geeks and entertainers.

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 5:20 PM 2 comments

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Buzzie, The First iPhone Client for Google Buzz

I have to admit that the only reason I'm using Google Buzz, is actually because it's attached to my Gmail. I found myself almost obligated to check the Buzz tab from time to time, so I won't miss a thing (yes, simply because it is there)

The reason why I am not so thrilled about it anymore is because people are mostly resharing content from other social networks what makes it a whole lot noisy for me. But I'm still waiting to see if something will change that will make Google Buzz more unique for us.

Anyway, I still like to test Buzz related apps, so I've downloaded its first iPhone client, and found it to me much better than than the official webapp. It really has very basic features, but it is much readable, and provide good user experience overall.



Feature list:
- See what's happening around you, even if you don't have a Buzz account
- Receive messages from the people you follow
- Comment on messages and mark them as liked
- Browse all links and images attached to messages
- Manage your followers
- Browse the people following you
- Find new people to follow
- Check the places around you and buzz about them
- Buzz from your phone, publicly or privately

Watch this Demo for more:



Download Buzzie ($1.99)

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 8:54 AM 2 comments

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Friday, March 05, 2010

The things you can get for $5...

New Israel-based startup called Fiverr, has recently launched with a simple, yet powerful idea:
You can either buy stuff at $5, or sell stuff at $5 - Anythings goes.

The method is quite simple:
If you're a seller at the site, on each item purchased, you get $4. $1 is divided between Paypal transaction fee, and site owners revenue. If you just want to buy something, all you need is $5, and lots of time on your hands because the list of gigs is already endless.

Users can also browse through gigs by categories, write feedback, share favorites with friends, and suggest desirable gigs.

Overall I think Fiverr is geniusly made, and allow people to fairly earn some money for their expertise.

Here's what NBC had to say about Fiverr:

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 12:23 PM 0 comments

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