May 2012 New Media Breakfast: making the most of Facebook timeline for business pages #nmbrek

(Here are my notes taken from the recent Facebook New Media Breakfast. Please be gentle, this is my first post on the Attacat Brain!)

This month’s New Media Breakfast (#NMBrek) (ran in Glasgow last month) kicked off with the video of Morph Suits Co Owner and Director Gregor Lawson, he stated that without their Facebook they would not exist to the extent they do today. In their 3rd year of business they now have a turnover of £11million, have 1million Facebook likes, and use it in 3 ways:

  • They do the basics – responding to posts and all posts even bad ones.
  • They give fans lots of ways to engage with them.
  • Using Facebook to combat business challenges and turn them on their head.

He recommends that Blendtec and Duck Tape are good business to have a look at on Facebook.

Thanks to Gregor for doing the video for us.

a tour of the new timeline pages pt 1

Gordon White from FatBuzz started the morning by going through the new look Facebook and explained the dimensions of the photos:

In your cover image you cannot have:

  • Contact information
  • Price or purchase information (e.g. 40% off)
  • Any ‘like’ or ‘share’ references
  • Calls to action (e.g. Get It Now)

More useful Facebook tips…

  • Pinning posts or comments means if you have a very active page this comment won’t get lost in everything else that’s going on.  For extra visibility of a post you can also make it span across the page by pressing the star icon button.
  • The timeline feature at the side of the page is useful to show important or interesting milestones in a company ‘s history. An example of this being done well is Deans ShortBread. The creative way they have worked their Facebook makes it interesting for fans and encourages ‘likes’.
  • There is no longer a landing page to incentivise likes and run promos – but you can use a URL to take them to a landing page with a link to ‘like’ the page.
  • This new Facebook forces you to engage and be active in order to be successful and drive people to your page and grow your likes.
  • Around 1-2% is a good engagement rate (talking about this:likes) but this can vary dramatically depending on your business.

Gordon explained that the new layout can have its frustrations: for instance it can show up very old posts at the top of the page making it look like the page in not frequently used; also the number of your friends that have liked the page shows up very boldly, this has the potential to make the page look very unpopular.

Gordon explained an eyetracking test that was conducted on the Facebook pages of Gap, Mancester United, Pizza Hut, Coca-Cola, Coldplay and American Express Facebook pages. The findings of these prove interesting:

  • The heading graphic/ cover photo is it seems not as important as people think – users naturally scanned down and dismissed it as an advert.
  • The timeline is well received so perhaps an excellent opportunity to be built upon for a lot of businesses – works best if it is kept up to date with regular status updates and posts. Users are most likely to interact with your page if a friend has interacted.
  • The ‘About’ button well was received, Gordon explained that he suspected this was because it is the  same place on the page as the previous Facebook design, and it is also often easier to find out  about a brand on their than on a company’s website, this should be considered as your Facebook page may be how people are finding out about your business.
  • Facebook users rarely use the apps at the top of the page, and very few noticed arrow button that opened other tabs.
  • Pinning a post to the top of the page seemed to have little impact on users.

However Gordon believes you have to think about the type of brands tested (well known) and as it was only tested around one  month after timelines were introduced the results could be very different in 6 months time…

SEO corner

Gordon then handed over to Tim Barlow from Attacat Internet Marketing to talk about Facebook and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Facebook fro Google SEO

What impact does Facebook have on your Google rank?

  • First off he explained that the greatest result likely come from indirect effects: relationships that results in signals that Google likes such as links
  • Facebook’s direct impact on SEO is probably relatively low as most of Facebook is private and off-limits to Google (personal profiles).
  • Google can index EVERYTHING on your timeline, you can build up your keywords and relevancy and links up, there is a lot of opportunities there. The more relevant and stronger Google perceives the site to be the greater ranking boost it will get. But you should not have a Facebook page just for Google SEO, it will not work!

SEOing your Facebook Page

Searching on Google is very revealing to what they view as important and the places that you want to get your key words in (don’t forget: users first, keywords second).

Looking at the Facebook page listing in Google for a search for ‘coke’ and comparing it to the Coca-Cola Facebook Page we can see:

  • The page name is important
  • category gets included (so chose wisely)
  • text from the ‘about’ section is included so can you include your keywords without putting your users off?

Coke and Facebook

In another search, for ‘Facebook Coke’ it was the text from a pinned post, so if you have relevant posts you may want to consider pinning them…

The sub listing came from an app, msuggesting they might be good SEO opportunities.

Search for Coke

But when we look at what Google actually sees … this app page is empty, so it is only really the page (app) name that is important.

On a search for Cokes Facebook URL all the highly ranked pages were posts, not images or apps suggesting that this is where the SEO goodness is –

Also, fan pages can like other fan pages, it seems logical if you have more fan pages liking yours that it would improve your rankings? However any more than 5 ‘likes’ cannot be seen by Google so it’s useless past this, Google can follow mentions though so this is worth doing.

Another useful tip for linking to your Facebook – If you click on the timestamp of a post it will link to a single page where this can be seen and you can put the address of this on to a blog post ect and this can improve your SEO.

Tim brought up a scary looking algorithm (Edgerank):

it determines whether your Facebook activities get seen in peoples news feed or not. You are more likely to see an update if they have more likes and comments from people you know. So they key is in the end to be interacting and being sociable with as many of your followers as possible.

So summed up Facebook optimisation is quality over quantity but also with a large dose of engagement and relevance thrown in.

a tour of the new timeline pages pt 2

Back to Gordon for more features of the new Facebook:

  • You can now find out who the page admins or owners are meaning the companies have more potential to work together.
  • You can also choose who your featured likes will be, as Tim explained earlier Google can only see a few so in the admin area of the page you can tailor this to your business.
  • It is now easier to change your name: you can simply request a name change from Facebook, but you will need to send a utility bill with this to make it more secure.
  • There is now the option to have one lead page owner who no one can remove; this person also has to give the ok for others to be removed as admins and any other major changes on the page.
  • Gordon also reminded everyone that using a personal profile as a business page was not advisable as Google cannot see a personal profile. This link: can be used to transfer you profile over. Being a page means you get the full Facebook functionality benefits as well as the full SEO benefits.  Facebook pages also get valuable insite data  that Google cannot provide.
  • In the last couple of weeks we have seen something new from Facebook – Facebook Offers.  A free way to receive discounts from business and brands – driving engagement with pages and brands.
Gordon who explained that there are many options for apps to encourage their use. Mimicking your website such as Fattbuzz do in an app link or having a mailing list on another one. One tip was to make sure that app tab pictures are interesting and engaging to users.

To invest or not to invest?

On the eve of the the Facebook IPO, Tim took a slightly irreverent look at the investment. Some numbers:

… so should Facebook make their own search engine!?

They have all the data the Google is desperate for … they know who your friends are, where you hang out, what you like doing etc and this could be used for an incredibly powerful search engine. Tim explained that they were rumoured to be developing their search capabilities, but who knows whether this will be an internal search for Facebook or a Facebook web search and his bet is that they are quite far down the development route…

So it seems as if the IPO of Facebook is more of a lottery and not a clear cut thumbs up or down. By investing in to them you would be buying into what Facebook could be, not what it is today.



Next New Media Breakfast:
With Craig McGill, MD from Contently Managed highlighting some of the ways in which the whisky industry have used social media.
Glasgow on 25th May in 29 Members Club, Royal Exchange Sq.
Edinburgh on 14th June in Tigerlily, George Street.


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