Larry BraunerIn Why Facebook Smart Lists are Actually Dumb, I expressed my annoyance with Facebook for permitting their “smart lists” to interfere with our use of the lists we’ve deliberately created in order to manage our Facebook friends.

I wrote, “Try to use Facebook friend lists to selectively invite people to Facebook events or to ‘like’ Facebook pages. The only lists consistently available for such invitations are Facebook smart lists, even if those ’smart’ friend lists happen to be totally empty lists.”

I’ve devised a simple method to work around the Facebook Smart List glitch. All you need to do is temporarily rename the list you want to use. Append the numeral “0″ before the group name so as to push it to the top of the alphabetic list of lists that Facebook presents to you when you invite people.

Change “Cool People” to “0Cool People” or “Writers” to “0Writers” and don’t worry. Nobody but you can see these list names. Now, from your Facebook home page, go to the list you want to change. Select “Manage List” and then “Rename List” to revise the list name.

FacebookIf only Facebook would allow us to view all our friends in a particular list and then click the link under their pictures to visit their profile pages without deleting them from the list. Unfortunately, that problem isn’t going to be solved  in 2011. ;-)

Have a successful 2012!

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Larry BraunerFacebook friend lists may one day become much more useful than they are at present if the top online social networking site ever finds the wherewithal to implement Facebook lists intelligently and with flexibility in mind.

Admittedly, Facebook has some of the friend list details right. For example, you can create custom friend lists that make sense to you and your personal or business interests. You can (finally!) assign friends to friend lists without leaving their profile pages. You can also (once again!) select which lists of friends will see any particular Facebook update.

TOO Much Help from Facebook

FacebookRecently, Facebook created so-called “smart” lists in order to help us with categorizing our Facebook friends. Smart lists are an excellent idea. Unfortunately, however, Facebook went too far with smart lists and let them overshadow our hand crafted lists.

Try to use Facebook friend lists to selectively invite people to Facebook events or to “like” Facebook pages. The only lists consistently available for such invitations are Facebook smart lists, even if those “smart” friend lists happen to be totally empty lists. That’s especially dumb. Don’t you agree?

SMARTer Facebook Friend List Selection

For invitations, Facebook could provide a similar friend list selection mechanism to the one the online social network employs for directing profile updates. Then, optional use of Facebook smart lists would be - uh smart.

Facebook expects users to invite selectively and responsibly. Why shouldn’t Facebook help us by correcting their smart friend list oversight?

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Larry BraunerPlease prepare yourself for a small dose of cynicism. Last week, a Facebook sales rep tried to persuade me to buy ads to drive traffic to the Gevril page, in order to increase its number of fans. Neither the rep’s rational nor the outcome of our talk are important for now. However, I do wish to look at the implications of this one aspect of the Facebook business.

The Dark Side of Facebook Ads

FacebookYou pay Facebook to drive people from unspecified Facebook pages to your fan page, hoping that once there, they’ll “like” your Facebook page. You also hope that you’ll benefit from building a Facebook fan base.

When a member clicks on your ad link and then clicks your “like” button, that activity is called engagement. Naturally, the more Facebook engagement, the more lively and profitable the Facebook site is for its owner.

Consider this: When you advertise your fan page using Facebook ads, you’re paying for the privilege of increasing Facebook activity. You’ll even bid against other advertisers for that privilege. Is that totally ingenious or what?

Is it any wonder that Facebook makes it so challenging for us to use our personal profiles to conduct business or to organically grow our business pages?

What do you think?

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Larry BraunerAll media have the tendency to become over-saturated with intrusive commercial messages. There are too many television and radio ads, too much junk email and snail mail, too many billboards, and yes, too many Facebook notifications. When overload occurs, messages are perceived as noise, and people filter them or tune them out.

The most common reaction of marketers is to raise the volume in one way or another. Marketers send more messages or create snazzier headlines. Raising the volume can help, but only for a short time. On Facebook, when the noise gets too loud, the top social networking site acts to tone it down or turn it off. Behavior that was once unrestricted becomes restricted.

As examples, we used to blanket our friends with invitations to Facebook events, but now Facebook forces us to be selective. We used to add friends haphazardly if we wished, but now Facebook deters us from adding people we don’t know. Raising the volume on Facebook isn’t a satisfactory option.

Inviting to Facebook Events

FacebookIn response to Facebook Page Events Rock,  readers asked for a Facebook page event how-to. I’m not ready to write a comprehensive guide. However, I offer you here ten tips for successfully inviting people to your Facebook events:

  1. Create a Facebook event that people in your niche will naturally desire to attend. Provide a clear explanation and instructions.
  2. Line up influential supporters to help you promote the event.
  3. Give yourself enough lead time before the event to invite people and clear up unforeseen problems that arise in the process.
  4. If you plan to invite your Facebook friends, categorize your friends beforehand using Facebook friend lists.
  5. Only invite friends from relevant lists. Be prepared, in any case, for a disappointing number of responses. Not only are people overloaded with event and other types of notifications, many are also confused by Facebook and don’t get that they should read all the particulars and click on I’m Attending if they wish to RSVP.
  6. Post the event or an article that you write about it on your business page, your personal profile and in Facebook groups catering to your niche.
  7. Post your Facebook event related links several times during the period before your event and even during your event. Just don’t overdo it and become obnoxious.
  8. Promote your event on your blog and on social media sites such as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  9. If you have an email list, send one or more messages to your list inviting contacts to join you at the event. I like to use Green Wave Email Marketing, because they allow me to directly upload my contacts without requiring them to re-opt in.
  10. Last, but not least, send individual messages personally inviting Facebook friends to attend. No only does this work if done right, it can help build relationships.

The key isn’t raising the volume. The key is better targeting and better diversifying your contact methods.

Please subscribe and like my Facebook page.

Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerThe four-day International Watch Fair on Facebook, which begins Tuesday,  is a free Facebook page event that’s open to the watch industry, the media and the public. Several hundred will attend this unique event at which luxury, fashion and sporty watchmakers will display a wide variety of timepiece collections. You’re welcome to join me there.

The objective of this Facebook watch fair is to increase Gevril Group page membership and member engagement. Importantly, however, the fair is just one of many web-based strategies and techniques I’m using to build the company’s brand. My strategies include search engine optimization, social bookmarking, business networking and email campaigns, as well. It’s the synthesis and synergy of all these strategies that create an ever-growing buzz around the brand.

Since launching the Gevril Group website this past December, the company’s online presence has grown considerably. During the nine-month period since the launch, there were 53,128 visitors to the site and a healthy number of inquiries from consumers, job applicants, the trade and the media. At the same time, I’ve drawn conclusions I shall share with you.

Overall monthly visits grew from 2,221 in December to 8,572 in August as illustrated below:

Gevril Group Website Visits Months 1-9 - All Traffic
Gevril Group<br /> Website Visits Months 1-9 - All Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Initially, there was substantial traffic from social media, particularly StumbleUpon. However, during the nine month period, social media traffic failed to increase:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Social Media vs. Non-Social Media Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Social Media vs. Non-Social Media Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Facebook traffic grew from 113 to 338 monthly, but while a remarkably useful networking tool, Facebook hasn’t yet become an important traffic source for Gevril Group:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Facebook vs. Search StumbleUpon Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Facebook vs. Search StumbleUpon Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Unlike social media traffic, SEO traffic grew exponentially from 119 to 4,979 monthly and now accounts for 58% of all monthly visits:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Search vs. Non-Search Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Search vs. Non-Search Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Search traffic for Gevril Group related keywords grew from 51 to 343 monthly as the company became better known. However, search traffic for other keywords grew much faster from 68 to 4,636 thanks to the ongoing addition of rich content to the website:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Gevril Group vs. Non-Gevril Group Search Traffic
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Gevril Group vs. Non-Gevril Group Search Traffic
Click to Enlarge


Since the inception of the Gevril Group website, 19,591 visits were from SEO; 16,894 from social media; 8,548 from browser bookmarks, links in emails, typed in URLs and untraceable social media; 8,095 from referrals from other non-social websites:

Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Traffic Types
Gevril Group Months 1-9 - Traffic Types
Click to Enlarge


These data are consistent with something I’ve known for a long time. The greatest source of website traffic is search engines, and if a site’s pages are optimized for relevant keywords, search visitors will find those pages’ content relevant. Social media helps to build and solidify relationships, but SEO will attract more traffic in the long run.

Hope you’ll join me at the International Watch Fair on Facebook this week. :)

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Larry BraunerI love to experiment with SEO and social media strategies for small businesses. I’m ready to admit that many of my experiments are flops, but there’s no need to discuss those right now. ;-)

One of my successes, however, is with Facebook page events. These aren’t merely events created by Facebook pages, as you might think. Rather, they’re virtual events that take place entirely on the walls and in the discussion areas of Facebook pages. The objective of Facebook page events is to increase page membership and engagement.

My First Facebook Page Event

FacebookMy first such event, the 4+ Day Blog and Website Promotion Event and Social Media Party, took place January 2010 on my Facebook page in celebration of my 58th birthday. This Facebook event went viral and attracted well over 300 participants. As a result, I added many new fans and generated a momentum for my Facebook page that has continued even until today.

I have since organized other networking events on Facebook pages, including Books I’m Reading on the Purple Umpkin page and What I’m Grateful For on my Facebook page, that were modestly successful.

International Watch Fair on Facebook

POLICE Most Arresting Exhibit at BaselworldYou may recall that I wrote in My Social Media Mission Abroad about attending Baselworld 2011 in Switzerland earlier in the year. The Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Fair was the most marvelous business experience I have ever had, and I dare say for most other people in the trade, as well.

My Baselworld experience is the inspiration for my latest Facebook page event, the 4-Day International Watch Fair, taking place next week on the Gevril Group page. 76 people have already RSVP-ed “I’m Attending” as of this writing, and I wouldn’t be at all  surprised if attendance at this first of its kind event reached several hundred Facebook members.

You can create Facebook page events too but to achieve favorable results, I recommend that you or your client build a solid web presence — on and off Facebook — before giving this approach a try. Your web presence will help to fuel your Facebook page event.

Please subscribe and like my Facebook page.

Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerLast week, in Whether Hackers from Anonymous Bring Down Facebook on November 5 as Threatened or Not, I suggested that you find ways to reduce your risk of loss should Facebook go away.

I asked you, “How can you protect your interests by diverting or diversifying your networking and marketing efforts starting right now?”

Some readers recommended that we back up our data, but I pointed out that we can not back up our relationships like pictures or profiles.

Sal made a couple of very good points:
Facebook

  1. “I think there is no real way to mitigate completely against the damage that losing Facebook would mean, any more than you could mitigate against losing Google.”
  2.  ”On the Internet, you always have to see it coming and mitigate against it by having as many, diverse, independent sources of prospective customers as possible.”

While I agree completely with Sal’s remarks, I ask, how can we at least partially mitigate against the damage? What practical measures we can take?

Just as an example, we might start groups on LinkedIn and invite fellow Facebook group members to join these groups. Unfortunately, LinkedIn groups don’t have the same functionality as Facebook groups, and not all of our fellow Facebook group members will join us on LinkedIn, but this is nevertheless a practical partial solution.

We might instead choose a Ning social network or a Ning group within a particular Ning social network, etc. You get the idea.

Now it’s your turn again. What are your ideas? I would like to hear them, and I’ll share mine.

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Larry BraunerLast Tuesday, Ellis Hamburger relayed what seemed to be a highly credible threat to permanently bring down Facebook on November 5, hardly an auspicious date, in Hacker Group Anonymous Vows To Destroy Facebook On November 5.

The following day, Ellis posted an update that  slightly mitigated that threat in Hacker Group Anonymous’ Leadership Disowns “Operation Facebook,” Only “Some Anons” Are Involved. He reported that the threat was issued only by a minority of the hackers within the Anonymous group and not by the group as a whole.

Ellis cautioned, however, that “nothing changes the fact that there are some talented hackers part of Anonymous that want to take down Facebook, even if the organization’s leadership does not condone it.”

Crafting Your Facebook “Plan B”

FacebookWhether hackers will actually succeed in destroying Facebook on November 5 as threatened or not, this is probably a good time to ponder the following three questions:

  1. How critical is the role that Facebook plays in your business or personal life? After all, the existence and viability of Facebook is far beyond your control or mine.
  2. What would you lose if Facebook were to close down permanently without or even with prior notice? Consider the ways in which you use Facebook, the many contacts you’ve made and all the social capital you’ve accumulated.
  3. How can you protect your interests by diverting or diversifying your networking and marketing efforts starting right now? This question, while the most important, is also the most difficult to answer, since Facebook offers numerous and unique benefits; the popularity of Facebook is much more than accidental.

What do you think? Comments are welcome.

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    Larry BraunerI stated in How to Benefit from the New Facebook Groups that “you don’t need to lead a group in order to benefit from it.” In other words, there is value in joining other people’s Facebook groups. That value can be enormous, as I’ll explain.

    Facebook Group Members Become Followers

    FacebookEvery new Facebook group has members who follow that group and all of its conversations by means of the Facebook notification system. Not every member will monitor or engage in discussions, but some will. Therefore, each time you become a member of one of the new Facebook groups, you acquire potential new followers.

    For each subject that interests you, join as many relevant new Facebook groups as you can find using the Facebook search function. Once you’ve joined the group and can browse its discussions, if you find that they’re in a language you don’t understand, or that the group is overrun by spammers, leave the group.

    Examine the list of new Facebook groups to which I belong. You’ll find that they fall into a many categories, and that most categories contain more than one group. I suggest that you follow a similar approach, and if you wish to join some of the same groups as I, don’t hesitate.

    Here are three very important points:

    1. Don’t use the new Facebook groups merely to push out your own content, since that’s spam. Group members will see through your approach and ignore you. Not only that, the group moderator might even reprimand you or expel you from the group.
    2. Share content with each Facebook group that’s relevant to that group. Group members will appreciate you, enjoy your participation and become genuine followers.
    3. Don’t just post. “Like” other people’s posts too and comment on them when appropriate.

    As I browse the web, I keep my eyes open for content worth sharing. I then share it in a variety of places including the relevant  new Facebook groups to which I belong. When the time comes to share my own content, I follow the exact same procedure, but because I’ve played fair, my posts aren’t viewed at all as spam. Consequently, I receive lots of traffic from Facebook and other social websites.

    Go now and acquire some Facebook followers. The relationships you build in the new Facebook groups can easily grow into meaningful social or business friendships.

    Before you go, however, please do subscribe and leave a comment. ;-)

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    Larry BraunerA Facebook friend recently asked about accepting friend requests on social networking sites, and I promised to discuss the matter. There is no single correct approach. However, by contrasting Facebook and LinkedIn, I hope to present and clarify a few of the issues.

    Accepting Friends on Facebook

    FacebookFacebook is a social website intended primarily for social networking. Regarding accepting friends on Facebook, whether using Facebook for business networking or social networking, the best approach is clearly to be selective,  because of both privacy concerns and the 5,000 Facebook friend limit.

    Should you unwittingly accept a con artist as a friend on Facebook, you’ll give that person greater access to your personal information and the personal information of your friends. If somebody who invites you to become a friend appears suspicious, reject the offer and indicate to Facebook that you don’t know the person.

    You also need to be selective, because Facebook friends are limited. I myself accept all requests that are plausible, but I continually unfriend people for one of the following reasons:

    • They spam me or annoy me.
    • Facebook tells me that it’s their birthday, and when I visit their profile pages, I have no idea who they are. In other words, I can’t remember them ever having any interaction with me.

    In this manner, I fine tune my friend list, so that when I do reach 5,000 Facebook friends, most of those connections will have real social networking or business networking value to me.

    Accepting Friends on LinkedIn

    LinkedInLinkedIn is a social website intended exclusively for business networking. Regarding accepting friends on LinkedIn, there are two contrastingly different approaches that have gained acceptance within the LinkedIn community. You are free to choose either approach, but, once you do, you need to follow your chosen approach consistently.

    1. Closed Networking Approach - You connect on LinkedIn only with people you know or whom your respected contacts introduce to you. LinkedIn recommends and approves of this approach, as it allows you to build a trusted business network.
    2. Open Networking Approach - You connect on LinkedIn with as many people as possible, since your objective is maximize your reach and visibility on the business networking site. You may occasionally need to remove people who abuse the connection with you. This is the approach I myself have adopted, and you may feel free to invite me. My LinkedIn email is in my LinkedIn profile.

    Comments and questions are welcome. Please subscribe and “like” my Facebook page.

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