Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Part Two: A PR Practitioners Guide to the New Facebook Pages

As I mentioned in my post on Friday, Facebook recently announced several changes for “pages,” which take effect on March 10. In addition to revisions to the page aesthetics and functionality – Facebook also created additional opportunities for organizations to interact with their fan base. These are my favorite new features, and ones I feel will really help to further social media interaction.

Here’s what you can do with the new page interaction features:
  • Interact as a person does on Facebook. Now we can comment on other pages as a brand or business instead of a personal profile. In addition, administrators have the option to interact on their pages as people, instead of defaulting to the page name – so like and comment if appropriate! Just remember to change it back to the default when acting as the administrator. If you wish to enable this function, click on “edit page” below the profile picture, and click on the top “your settings.” Uncheck the box that says “posting preferences” if you want to interact on the page as yourself. This new opportunity for interaction does come with a responsibility to remain transparent – be sure all administrators understand the importance of identifying any personal affiliations to the brand when commenting (e.g. when commenting say “I work with Brand, and I can tell you…”).
  • Receive e-mail notifications when new posts appear on the page. Rather than keeping a full-time eye monitoring each page, e-mail notifications alert PR professionals where we’re looking most of the time – our inbox. The e-mail notifications will go to all administrators on the page so it’s important to have a communication plan in place so everyone knows the appropriate course of response. If you’d like to turn off the e-mail alerts for your account, click on “edit page” below the profile picture, and click on the top “your settings.” Uncheck the box that says “e-mail notifications” if you do not wish to receive alerts. I recommend keeping them on to monitor page activity.
  • Access additional page “insights.” Learn more about your fans and how they are using each page than ever before. The breakdowns now outline how many are accessing each tab, external referrers and where the visitors are spending most of their time on your page, as well as other downloadable stats. These new insights provide even more support for the all-important ROI we are responsible for reporting – so use them liberally.
  • Moderate the community. Also new to Facebook is “keyword moderation” where administrators can add blacklisted keywords and automatically make those posts or comments “spam.” Also, new “profanity block lists” will block the most commonly reported words and phrases marked as offensive – filters include medium or strong. Now, in addition to including the “no profanity” rule in the community guidelines, we have an opportunity to automatically enforce it with the new filters.
As with every new round of Facebook updates, some are very happy about the changes and others are extremely upset. I say embrace change and use this opportunity to show off your social media expertise and help your clients better understand how to integrate social media into their communication plan. Good luck!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Part One: A PR Practitioner's Guide to the New Facebook Pages

Many public relations professionals are managing brand pages and helping to “own” the social media sphere for their clients, so it’s especially important that we adapt to the new changes Facebook announced last week, and understand how it affects our pages.

Here’s a sampling of what you need to know about the changes (effective March 10, 2011):
  • Posts will no longer be in reverse chronological order. Instead, posts will be sorted as “most relevant” when looking through the “everyone” filter. The “page” filter remains chronological. For those of us managing pages, that places less importance on constantly updating our walls – but more of a reason to provide interactive, thoughtful material that can bounce to the top.

  • Pages will look more like personal profiles. Facebook will feature five of the most recent photos on top of the page. The navigation has moved to the left, instead of tabs at the top of the page – Facebook says this will help people navigate the page as they are comfortable with the personal profile layout. The elimination of tabs makes a custom landing page vital to helping your fans get the most out of your page.

  • Facebook is eliminating FBML (Facebook Markup Language). On March 11th, Facebook will move completely to an iFrame/CSS motivated developing system. Those tabs created with the static FBML application will still work after March 10, though we are not sure for how long. Pages will not be able to add the static FBML application after March 10. So, if you’ve been using FBML to create custom content, make sure it’s either evergreen or start developing a plan B for moving to iFrame – that may involve hiring someone primed in CSS.

  • Administrators will see the pages’ “likes” in personal newsfeeds. To show appreciation for other companies or affiliated brands, pages used to be able to add “favorite” pages. These pages are now “likes” and their updates will appear in all administrators’ personal newsfeeds – so there is more chance for interaction and sharing. Along with that change, there is a new option to offer five “featured likes” on the left sidebar of the page to demonstrate affiliations to fans. This is a great way to highlight partnerships with other brands or retailers.

And that’s only half of the changes! Check back on Tuesday for more of what will affect us. Until then I recommend getting up to speed on the changes by creating a “dummy” page and learning the differences by “doing.” Have fun!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Valentine’s Ode: Top Arts Marketing Online Destinations

In honor of Valentine’s Day, LCWA’s Arts and Leisure Division would like to send a virtual bouquet to the online marketing resources we can’t imagine living without:

You've Cott Mail
Since the mid-1990s, arts marketer Thomas Cott has been scanning dozens of news outlets, blogs and more, and emailing a daily digest that links to a handful of timely articles about arts and culture. Topics range from the latest online ticketing trends, to outside-the-box marketing efforts in other countries. If you love the business of show business, click here to browse the archives and sign-up for You’ve Cott Mail.

Theater Loop by Chris Jones
No denying it, Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones’ blog is the #1 destination for breaking news about Chicago’s live theater scene. Chris is 1) articulate, 2) prolific and 3) uncommonly quick to post his scoops and reviews. Hint: the reader comments that follow Chris’ posts are an entertaining way to gauge the collective sentiment of Chicago theater fans.

Stage - Chicago Sun-Times
Never discount Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss. She’s an insightful writer, and has had her finger on the pulse of Chicago’s dance and theater scenes for decades. Until recently, the aforementioned critic across town had Hedy beat online. Fortunately for Hedy, her new stage page is far easier to find and navigate on the Sun-Times’ recently rebooted website.

New York Times/Theater
Daahling….of course you read the Times, right? The New York Times theater page has all of the latest Broadway and off Broadway news, reviews, interviews, videos, slide shows, etc. Bookmark it, particularly if you want to sound cultured at cocktail parties.

Time Out Chicago/Kids
It’s an age-old question for parents - what are we doing with the kids this weekend? Look no further than Time Out Chicago’s Kids blog, which is bursting with hundreds of local destinations and things to do with kids. For a constant feed, follow their Twitter feed, TOCKids.

Plenty of websites claim to cover Chicago theater. Heck, buy a domain name with “Chicago” and “theater” in it, and suddenly you’re a critic demanding comped aisle seats! Still, one of our favorites is TheatreinChicago.com, primarily for its “Review Round-up” , which aggregates reviews for plays and musicals all over town.

Chicago’s theater trade newspaper went online a few years ago, but that hasn’t diminished its readership. Editor Carrie Kaufmann has never been more on top of her game, and Behind the Curtain columnist Kerry Reid now has more room to include this, that and the other about all things Chicago theater.

You’re reading the LCWA blog, so it must be one of your favorites. Right? So why not bookmark us? Even better, follow us on Twitter @LCWATeam for links to future blog posts by our team on topics like how to enter the world of online contests, to how to improve employee communication.

These are just a handful of the arts and entertainment sites that we love. Do you have other favorites?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chicago's Hyperlocal News Sites

At a recent media breakfast hosted by Business Wire, we had the opportunity to discuss how “Chicago's Media is ‘Transforming’.” Here are some of the highlights.
  • Hyperlocal-focus. News is getting hyperlocal - meaning that it’s more neighborhood and individual community driven than ever. An event that is happening in, say, Skokie may not be interesting to an editor at the Chicago Tribune, but hyperlocal sites like Patch.com and TribLocal.com are looking for just that sort of information. These sites are built specifically for news and events that are happening in Chicago’s suburbs.

  • More autonomous writers. As PR professionals, we have all heard editors tell us, “I like the story but let me check with my editor.” At online sites like ChicagoNow.com, a network of topic-related bloggers post information that is interesting to them - without the approval or input of anyone else. Since writers make the decision about what is posted, it gives us the opportunity to work with them directly.

  • Journalists vs. Experts. For local news organizations, staff is shrinking. Now, one person may be charged with a task that was shared by 10 people a few years ago. Therefore, sites are relying on external experts in the field to provide editorial content. Web sites like ChicagoNow.com use professionals in industries such as healthcare and education to provide insider information about what is going on in their respective fields. This both opens up and diversifies the number of influencers writing in our community.

  • User-generated content. Sites like TribLocal.com run solely on user-generated content. Customers and community members - as well as PR professionals - can post news directly to the site and select which suburb to which the news is relevant. This means we have the opportunity to relay our message directly to readers in our own words.

Overall, if your news is important for a specific town or topic, make sure to tap the unending potential of hyperlocal news sites!