Do you ever get sick of people telling you that social media is here to stay? 600 million people use Facebook? Boring! Twitter this? Foursquare that? Another damn guide from PhotoShelter telling you to optimize your Facebook Fan Page?
BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. BLAH. I CAN’T HEAR YOU.
“I’m a photographer. Not a programmer. Not a marketer. Not a techie person.”
Dudes and Dudettes. I hear you, and I totally get it. Things feel like they’re moving so rapidly sometimes that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
But here’s the thing. Internet-based marketing works. All the stuff that we’ve talked about in the past couple years from SEO to Google Analytics to Blogs to Email Marketing to Facebook, they all work, and we know because we use them every day at PhotoShelter.
So let’s just talk about Facebook Fan Pages for a moment, and reveal to you what we’ve learned by relaunching our Page this week. We followed our own advice in redesigning our page, but that certainly didn’t mean it was a perfect launch.
1. Different devices see things differently.
Here’s a comment that we received from a fan.
“Is this a facebook scam.. It’s messed up to promise an ebook for a way to get people to ‘like’ you, and then not give out the book. So where is the download button?”
Turns out this particular user was accessing the site via the Facebook app on his phone because he received our email on his mobile device. Unfortunately, Facebook’s own app doesn’t allow you to see anything but the “Info” and “Photos” on your Fan Page.
We spent a lot of time/thought on our page, but we didn’t consider the fact that some segment of our users would use a smart phone because our website analytics don’t support that notion.
But it turns out that enough users were using their phones that it was a problem that required explanation.
I’m not quite sure how to get around this when Facebook doesn’t support their own features, but it was a good lesson that you need alternate ways for people to see content, and you need to test on as many devices as possible.
2. What you think is obvious is sometimes not.
From another user:
We implemented a “like wall” of sorts on our site. If you wanted to get our “Facebook Fan Pages of Photographers” guide, you needed to Like us first. The problem is that if you already Liked us, and went to our page, it wasn’t immediately obvious how to get the ebook.
Of course when someone says “this is some bullshit” to us, we get defensive because we’re only human. But if someone is having a legitimate problem, it’s our responsibility to address it calmly and in a timely fashion.
3. IE is still a pain in the butt
Unless you’re a web developer, this issue is probably lost on you. But suffice it to say that Microsoft has spent the better part of 15 years building browsers that don’t comply with Internet standards, or simply aren’t so user friendly.
Facebook implemented a mechanism to allow users to encrypt their entire session with Facebok. This was done because hackers figured out how to hijack people’s sessions, and pose as them. When Facebook released their new Pages support, they allowed app development using IFrames, and gave developers a way to encrypt their IFramed apps. When we developed our Facebook apps, we provided the option to encrypt the pages for Facebook users who had their encryption setting turned on.
IE warns the user that there is a potential security problem with the IFrame content. The problem is that they use a very hard to see warning at the bottom of the screen where no one is looking. So an IE user hitting our site with encryption sees a blank page.
We did everything by the book, but IE thwarted us because their interface had poor usability.
4. Marketing your Facebook page can work
We started the week with 6000 fans, and we ended the week with over 10,000. There are some pundits who say that spending a lot of time on your Fan Page is a waste because most people don’t go to Fan Pages — they’re more apt to see your activity in their newsfeed. I think this is probably true, except when you’re marketing to drive people to your Fan Page.
Why would you do this? Because you want them to “Like” you, and you might want to springboard them to other content like your Twitter feed, or your email service provider.
In our case, we engaged nearly 4000 more people. We have to assume that there will be some amplification effect that allows us to reach even more people over time. Some of these people will inevitably become our clients in the future. So what we effectively did was increase the “funnel” of users from one of our online presences.
5. You need to figure out what social media tools work for you
Marketing works when you meet the needs of your customers. Too often, photographers think about marketing in terms of what makes sense to them, thereby missing the whole point of marketing. It’s easy for us to say that Facebook is great for marketing, but you need to decide whether it’s an appropriate medium for your potential and existing clients. If you can’t amass more than 100 fans, then it’s obviously not a good use of time and resources. But if you can amass 1000 fans, Facebook can probably drive business to you if you engage your users effectively.
As much as we like to fancy ourselves as sophisticated marketers, the truth is that we’ve had to learn through research and continuous trial and error. We hope to save you some anguish by continuously sharing our findings. You can succeed with Internet-based marketing.
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