Friday, September 16, 2011

Facebook Confusion - friends, fans, subscribers, groups, and lists

Are you as confused by Facebook as me?  I’m not entirely sure on their usability and strategy for the recent changes, but I thought it’d be a good time to break down some of the changes.


Before fan pages, Facebook had personal profiles and later introduced groups.  Groups were not to be on behalf of a business, but rather a few peoples coming together to discuss specific topics.  Initially, people had to join a group.  Of course, these could be public or private.  The best features of this allowed the group to show off who the administrators or any other title you wanted to add for staff of the group. Additionally, email from the group landed in the inbox.

Then, Facebook changed how groups operate. Groups can be created by anyone, and they can add anyone to the group.  No longer did people have to join a group, but they were added by someone else, without any permission granted, and notified of all sorts of things.  Group messages don’t reach inbox, but now a massive group chat is a part of the experience. Messages can automatically pop up as an instant message.  There is no identification of staff members.

old Facebook group



upgrade group





If you are an administrator of an old style group, you’ll need to convert it over soon to the new groups format, or risk it being archived.

Once you’ve joined or been added to groups, you have the ability to silence those pesky notifications.

group notice


Friend Lists

Friends have been the focal point of Facebook from the beginning. In the earlier days, Facebook had a game of guessing which friend matched the information. Then came the ability for people to organize their friends into lists.  According to Mark Zuckerberg, few people took advantage of this feature and didn’t enjoy the experience.  Oddly – this is what is helping Google+ take off.

I am one of the few users that love lists and used them often.  I miss having them as a shortcut on the left side of my all news main page.  I still switch to view the updates based upon the lists I’ve organized.

To draw some attention to lists, Facebook then rolled out featured lists. It is a way for users to show off on their personal profile some special people to them.  That list may be be seen publicly, and notify users that are added to the list.  I use my featured lists to show off those I look up to in the industry, as well as members in an online WordPress and Social Mobile Local Marketing training program I facilitate.



Most recently, Facebook announced new list suggestions.   I’m still unable to access this, but am hopeful that the lists bookmarks will make their way back to the left side of my main page.  I’ve curated my lists long before Twitter enabled the feature. I’ll stick to the lists I’ve made, but want others to do likewise and access or interact based upon this. To aim for some support, please see Facebook’s Friend List page.

friend lists


If you’d rather not be friends with people but want to allow them to view anything you post publicly, you can enable Subscriptions.  The only content subscribers can see is what is posted publicly. I’d image too that this information may start showing up as results in search engines, rather than Facebook being still a walled garden.


Also see your privacy to control the older things you want to keep private if you enable the subscribe feature. “Limit the Audience for Past Posts”

When subscribing to other’s pages, you can choose what you want to see from them. I usually disable seeing games.  Also, you cannot subscribe to someone that you are friends with.


Fan Pages

subscribe vs pageFacebook Fan Pages have long been the method to use for a brand. The addition of a custom tab is proven to increase people opting to like your page, join your newsletter, or in some other way become part of the communityyou are creating.  However, many public figures are averse to having a “Fan Page” so Facebook just began referring to them as “Pages” and the people who follow them “People Who Like”.

So now that a personal profile can have subscribers that exceed the 5,000 friend limit, what is the significance of a Fan Page for a public figure?  I still believe Pages are needed for individuals that want to build their newsletter, text messaging, or other subscription lists off site.  In addition, personal profiles don’t provide data on who is viewing your profile and any engagement on it.

Which should you choose if your brand is you as a person?  Facebook has a page to help answer that.

If you choose to migrate, at this time it only works to go from personal profile –> page, not the other way around.  This can’t be undone, so think through this carefully.


Facebook is becoming more and more complicated. The legacy architecture is lacking, and users have too many options. Without proper information, they may not know what the best option is for them.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

You Never Know - Social Media Marketing Trends

You never know what social media site might be the big thing.  What is popular today may soon be a thing of the past, and what currently exists may take it’s place.

In the early days of social networking everyone I knew was in Myspace but I opted to join Facebook in the private days. I even reopened my Bloomsburg University alumni email account to gain early access, as only college students were allowed in.

Among the public education circles, Furl was the best social bookmarking service. They were acquired by Diigo.  For some time, internet marketers did all they could to be bookmarked on all the platforms.  Some services helped syndicate to all bookmarking services.

When Digg launched, I was elated to have made page 1 of stories dugg.  Now – the site has been overhauled several times and can’t even find the 1 story it shows made the front page.  The cool kids have moved over to Reddit, which has been around since 2005 like Digg.  A few interesting ways of using Reddit have cropped up, most notably the show submissions for a daily podcast Tech News Today.

Do you remember when Youtube only allowed 10 minute increments?  My account has allowed unlimited time length for over a year now, but before then I posted long clips to Viddler.  Among them is a great video by Christopher S. Penn from PodCamp Philly 2009. He’s presenting about Social Media ROI in the clip, and is recorded saying that StumbleUpon’s traffic is like people stumbling around the web drunk.  Now, StumbleUpon has gained considerable traction since launching the iPhone and iPad app.

Christopher Penn

So – what can you do about all the changes?  I recommend claiming your accounts on every platform imaginable. Even if you have no plans to use it now, fill out the basic information and claim your username to protect your brand.  Drive traffic to those accounts one when you actively participate.  If you need further help in claiming these accounts, contact me.

In the meantime, I recommend Chris’s post on focusing on one social media home base, in addition to your own website as the foundation of your online presence.  In addition, don’t forget to check for further connections once per month on your accounts.



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Want to connect further? Find me online: Google Profile & Online Activity
Want Social Media, Local SEO, and Mobile Marketing training? Social Mobile Local Marketing Pros - SMLMP
Want WordPress training? GFYD Member - Go For Your Dream
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Need official work done? Contact Courtney

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