Featured Marketing Posts
  • As is the pattern, with the start of the new year comes a raft of predictions for the upcoming year. Some will hit the mark and others will undoubtedly be off base. Others still will simply rehash predictions of yesteryear that never quite came to fruition. Yesterday, top social media...

    30 Marketers Share Their Predictions for 2012 – Agree or Disagree?

    As is the pattern, with the start of the new year comes a raft of predictions for the upcoming year. Some will hit the mark and others will undoubtedly be off base. Others still will simply rehash predictions of yesteryear that never quite came to fruition. Yesterday, top social media…

  • In case you haven’t heard, Facebook rolled out a whole mess of changes to their platform at their annual f8 developers conference. As a recap, here’s what they added or changed so far: Facebook Changes at f8 Conference in 2011 Increased the character limits on status updates from 500 to...

    Life Just Got a Whole Lot Harder for Brands on Facebook

    In case you haven’t heard, Facebook rolled out a whole mess of changes to their platform at their annual f8 developers conference. As a recap, here’s what they added or changed so far: Facebook Changes at f8 Conference in 2011 Increased the character limits on status updates from 500 to…

  • Yeah yeah yeah, social media marketing isn’t about the number of likes you have. It’s about the ROI, baby! We’ve all heard it a million times. Don’t focus on likes. Don’t focus on followers. Focus on the dollar signs. Or better yet – focus on engaging your community members. Sounds...

    Six Surefire Ways to Increase Your Facebook Like Count

    Yeah yeah yeah, social media marketing isn’t about the number of likes you have. It’s about the ROI, baby! We’ve all heard it a million times. Don’t focus on likes. Don’t focus on followers. Focus on the dollar signs. Or better yet – focus on engaging your community members. Sounds…

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30 Marketers Share Their Predictions for 2012 – Agree or Disagree?

As is the pattern, with the start of the new year comes a raft of predictions for the upcoming year. Some will hit the mark and others will undoubtedly be off base. Others still will simply rehash predictions of yesteryear that never quite came to fruition. Yesterday, top social media...

As is the pattern, with the start of the new year comes a raft of predictions for the upcoming year. Some will hit the mark and others will undoubtedly be off base. Others still will simply rehash predictions of yesteryear that never quite came to fruition.

Yesterday, top social media blog Social Media Examiner (it’s a great read if you’re new to the social space, or if you need some quick and dirty tactical advice) unleashed their own predicitions post, where 30 social media professionals shared their predictions for 2012.

Some are quite interesting and should provide small morsels to consider as you work to achieve your digital marketing goals for the year. Others are head scratchers, and some are just plane wrong.

Be sure to check out the full list for yourself, but here’s a quick analysis for those more pressed for time.

Agree

  • Businesses consolidate social media activities – via Michael Stelzner
    Absolutely true. Social resources are limited in most organizations and there simply isn’t enough manpower to properly cover dozens of different networks. To be successful, organizations have to switch from a broad and shallow approach to narrow and deep.
  • Photo and video social networks will blossom – via Jay Baer
    We already know that photo and video content performs best on social networks like Facebook, and experts have been saying for years how important video is to a brand’s digital strategy. This is an easy prediction. If it makes sense for your brand’s goals, absolutely take a stab using a site like Instagram.
  • Businesses learn to choose the right channels – via Ryan Malone
    Similar to Michael Stelzner’s point, this will happen. Social teams are strapped for resources and there’s only so much time to go around.
  • More branded Facebook apps are on the way – via Janet Aronica
    It will be a slow process for many, but this will absolutely happen. The recent stats on Open Graph Apps are too juicy to ignore. The thing to watch, however, is how Facebook works to tweak the Newsfeed algorithm as more application content is generated.
  • Traditional marketing interweaves social media – via Tom Martin
    Integration is where it’s at! Some of the most successful social campaigns I’ve been a part of were driven by multiple media channels.

Disagree

  • Businesses outsource content creation – via Nichole Kelly
    I guess this depends on what exactly she means by outsourcing. A brand’s best storytellers are it’s own employees – outsource your content creation and you risk losing that authentic voice. There are better ways to accomplish this goal then simply handing off to a third party to execute.
  • Rise of the media specialist – via Carla Dewing
    In theory, I completely agree. To be a good digital strategist you at minimum should have a working knowledge of social, SEO, e-mail, coding, and other practice areas. But I do not think you should be expected to execute all knowledge areas at a high level. Smaller organizations and teams may be able to get away with a solid generalist, but at higher levels the skill required to execute properly is too great and a single individual can’t do it all. This is why when building a team one must consider the strengths of all the individuals and work to find complementary pieces.

Head Scratchers

  • Strategy takes center stage for social media – via Jason Falls
    Jason I think you’re an intelligent guy – but I know you’ve got better! Many in the industry have been saying this for years and this goal hasn’t changed. Some brands already understand this concept, and other’s are lagging. The date change won’t flip the insight switch for those who don’t get it yet. These kinds of focus shifts take time, and I expect this will still be an issue going into 2013 and beyond.
  • Regularly creating unique content becomes essential – via Lewis Howes
    Great tip! Really, this is essential to successful digital marketing. But it’s been essential for several years now, and it’s nothing new. If you’re not creating good, regular, and unique content for your brand then you’re not succeeding. It’s that simple.

My own predictions

  • SEO takes a backseat
  • With stronger and more sophisticated algorithms and the rise of modern, SEO friendly CMS systems, the need for dedicated SEO work will begin to decline. More and more, search engines are taking control from the website owner and placing into the hands of its users. Social data and user behavior are rising signals while keyword use, links and other traditional SEO metrics are on the decline.

  • Brands go 24/7 on social
  • Watch for brands with a customer service oriented social presence move closer towards providing 24/7 service on social channels.

  • Facebook revamps brand pages
  • Many in the industry have already predicated this, but I think this year we’ll see brand pages redesigned to look more like user profiles, as they have in the past.

  • Google+ revamps is promotions policy
  • As the network continues to grow and attract brands, look for Google+ to revise it’s current promotions policy to allow brands to run sweepstakes and contests within the network itself. For most brands, content alone won’t be enough to build the critical mass that it takes to make the network worth the time expenditure. This is one area where sweepstakes and promotions become a useful tool in a marketers toolbox. I’d expect Google to get pressure from some of their top brands to make this change.

What do you think? What’s in store for the digital professional in 2012?

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Life Just Got a Whole Lot Harder for Brands on Facebook

In case you haven’t heard, Facebook rolled out a whole mess of changes to their platform at their annual f8 developers conference. As a recap, here’s what they added or changed so far: Facebook Changes at f8 Conference in 2011 Increased the character limits on status updates from 500 to...

In case you haven’t heard, Facebook rolled out a whole mess of changes to their platform at their annual f8 developers conference. As a recap, here’s what they added or changed so far:

Facebook Changes at f8 Conference in 2011

The biggest update to the platform, however, is without a doubt the redesigned newsfeed section. With this update, Facebook has further defined and developed their relevancy algorithm. Now, the default newsfeed page has been redesigned to include a split stacked single column feed instead of two single column tabs.

The first, and primary section is for top stories, a contextually optimized feed which contains the “top” stories that were posted since the last time you logged into Facebook. These top stories are selected using Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which can now be more easily refined thanks to the addition of a top story toggle button on the upper left corner of top posts.

Screen Shot 2011 09 21 at 11.53.49 AM 300x132 Life Just Got a Whole Lot Harder for Brands on Facebook

The second column is for recent stories, and is shoved at the bottom of your feed once Facebook has no more top stories to show you. This is for all the leftover content that Facebook doesn’t think is quite so important.

To the right of your page, you’ll see the “real-time ticker” which is essentially your firehose of all the activity from your friends.

Screen Shot 2011 09 21 at 12.17.53 PM Life Just Got a Whole Lot Harder for Brands on Facebook

What do these changes mean for brands?

More then you’d think.

While it’s still to early to draw a concrete conclusion, my hunch is that these changes to the newsfeed will further reduce the number of people who are exposed to your brand’s content. The emphasis on contextual and relevancy filters will ultimately lead to users being exposed to less newsfeed content, not more. Considering that most brands were already only reaching 3%-7.5% of their fans, this is likely to get ugly.

What can brands do to counteract these changes?

Rich media content, like photos and video (which EdgeRank naturally boosts) just got much more important. Especially when you take into account Facebook’s other minor change – an increase in the size of photos in the newsfeed – this is a great way to catch a users attention within the feed and get them to engage.

Screen Shot 2011 09 21 at 12.19.01 PM 300x212 Life Just Got a Whole Lot Harder for Brands on Facebook

Open-ended “community building” updates should be used more frequently. These types of updates encourage high levels of engagement with users, which will be important to maintain in order to secure your brands place within a users top stores section.

Don’t panic. As with every major Facebook update, you’ll have to make some changes to your strategy. It will take marketers some time to catch up with these changes. But they will, and the savvy brands will ultimately become stronger and better at generating engagement on Facebook.

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Six Surefire Ways to Increase Your Facebook Like Count

Yeah yeah yeah, social media marketing isn’t about the number of likes you have. It’s about the ROI, baby! We’ve all heard it a million times. Don’t focus on likes. Don’t focus on followers. Focus on the dollar signs. Or better yet – focus on engaging your community members. Sounds...

Yeah yeah yeah, social media marketing isn’t about the number of likes you have. It’s about the ROI, baby!

We’ve all heard it a million times. Don’t focus on likes. Don’t focus on followers. Focus on the dollar signs. Or better yet – focus on engaging your community members. Sounds real good during the sales process, doesn’t it?

Problem is, for many brands it’s difficult (if not impossible) to generate the big bucks if they havent attained a certain reach with their social accounts.

Which is exactly the point in time when Facebook like acquisition campaigns become useful.

Think of this like e-mail. You spend time trying to grow your e-mail database because its a chance to communicate regularly with current and future customers who are at least moderately interested in what your company has to sell. The same applies to your Facebook fan page.

Here are six surefire ways that you can use to help grow your Facebook like count.

1. Give something away

This is the one of the best ways to quickly grow your Fan page like count. For the AAdvantage Mystery Miles campaign (client), we gave away 100-100,000 AAdvantage miles to everyone who liked the page and entered their AAdvantage number into a custom application that sat in a like-gated tab. The campaign resulted in heavy user participation and generated over 260,000 new Facebook likes and nearly 7,000 new followers on Twitter (among other things) – a nice collateral benefit to the promotion.

2. Offer exclusive content

You need to give potential fans a reason to like your page. The act of liking a page (much like submitting an e-mail address) is at its core a transaction. The user liking the page is giving your business something of value (the like) and you better be prepared to reciprocate. One of the best ways to return value is to offer your new fan regular or single use exclusive content. A song download, video, exclusive article series or useful widget works.

3. Run advertising

In many ways social media advertising is the neglected tactic in a lot of social media marketers toolboxes. We all know it’s there but we don’t always talk about it and we use it even less. But if your goal is to create scale for your Facebook fan page, advertising is the way to go. Ad campaigns can be optimized around social action, (such as likes) and it gets even more effective if you can run your campaigns around a like-gated tab which offers exclusive content (see #2).

4. Send an e-mail

Make use of your existing assets! Many companies spent the better part of the last decade trying to build up their e-mail databases. Send your database an e-mail announcing the presence of your social media channels. Depending on the size of your e-mail list, your mileage will vary, but you’ll be shocked at how effective this tactic can be.

5. Integrate with other advertising efforts

Similar to #4, your social media marketing efforts do not (and should not) exist in a silo. Leading brands will find ways to weave social elements into their existing marketing efforts. Maybe its as simple as using ShareSquare to generate a QR Code and a quick mobile optimized microsite to use in an existing print campaign. Or a clever final call-to-action in your print ad that leads a viewer to your Facebook page. Pepsi is the most recent brand to do this well. They integrated a Foursquare CTA with their Summer Fun ad campaign, which resulted in Pepsi being the top trending brand account on Foursquare.

Whatever you do, avoid simply slapping a Facebook or Twitter icon to the end of your 30 second spot.

6. Notify your employees

When was the last time you asked your employees to like your brand on Facebook? Chances are many of them do this without needing the prompt, but for larger brands this may not be the case. Your employees will often be your biggest advocates. Make sure they’re on the same page with your internal social media goals, and encourage them to interact with and help grow your presence.

There are many other ways that one could use to grow their Facebook like count. What are some of your favorite ways to accomplish this important goal?

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New Adventures!

Writing this post was a tough decision, but I thought it would be useful to share this exciting news in a single location.

Writing this post was a tough decision, but I thought it would be useful to share this exciting news in a single location.

I’ve recently come to the decision to move on from my current role at LevelTen Interactive and will be starting a new position at Weber Shandwick as an Account Supervisor in early February.

I’ve learned so much in my time at LevelTen and feel privileged to have worked there. From their heavy involvement with the Drupal community to weekly sprint meetings and marketing projects, it’s been a fun and rewarding ride. The crew at LevelTen are an amazing team to work with – they made me a part of the LevelTen family and for that I will always be grateful.

In my new position with Weber Shandwick I will be working on the American Airlines account, helping to launch some new projects for the brand. It’s an exciting opportunity and I look forward to the challenges that this new position presents!

If you’re interested in an Internet marketing position with an award winning web agency, please send an e-mail to colina@getlevelten.com.

Finally, who’s got an idea for a new Twitter handle?

Here’s to new adventures!

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The Arsenio Hall Show’s Guide to Images on Your Blog

Remember Arsenio Hall? If you’ve slept since the mid 1990s, comedian/actor Arsenio Hall hosted The Arsenio Hall Show, a late night talk show that aired from early 1989 to mid 1994. A frequent gag in Hall’s opening monologue suggested that he still lived in Cleveland, and drove himself to Los...

Remember Arsenio Hall?

If you’ve slept since the mid 1990s, comedian/actor Arsenio Hall hosted The Arsenio Hall Show, a late night talk show that aired from early 1989 to mid 1994.

A frequent gag in Hall’s opening monologue suggested that he still lived in Cleveland, and drove himself to Los Angeles every day to host the show. While on these alleged long drives, Hall would ponder certain thoughts, referring to them as “things that make you go hmmm…” This running gag inspired a 1990 C+C Music Factory song by that very title. “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. It also reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

What does the Arsenio Hall Show have to do with images on your blog?

An image that makes your reader go hmmm… at the beginning of every blog post can increase the likelihood someone will read it in the first place as well as the likelihood he/she will read the post in its entirety. Your audience will read the whole post just to see why the particular image was chosen just to satisfy his/her curiosity.

Picking a slightly odd or weird image, combined with an interesting title causes more brain stimulation. By relating the photo to something closer to the middle of the post, it triggers a rewarding, “I’m smart” feeling in the reader when he/she makes the connection.

This phenomena is similar to when the name of a song or movie is mentioned in the middle, the viewer/listener goes “ah, hah!” It’s more fun, if it’s not that obvious and rewards your readers who figure it out.

Stats back this up as well. Your audience is more likely to read a particular blog post if it has an image, and he/she is more likely to read the whole post IF it’s not a connection he or she thought they already knew.

Practical Tips

  • Use at least one compelling image every time you write a blog post.
  • Make it a little weird or off, relating two things that have never been associated.
  • Use Flickr.com and perform an advanced keyword search in the “creative commons” section for royalty-free images..
  • If you use Google Images, give the photographer or website credit.

What to avoid: Blasé corporate clip art. Cartoon illustrations. Not crediting the photographer or artist with a link.

Photo Credit: TodaysHotTrends.net

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HOW TO: Build an Effective Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

This is a guest post by Eddy Badrina. A/B testing. Editorial calendars. We hear these terms being thrown about quite a bit these days, but for most bloggers, implementing either one is a little daunting, if only because most bloggers were endowed with a creative gene rather than a process/methodology...

This is a guest post by Eddy Badrina.

A/B testing. Editorial calendars. We hear these terms being thrown about quite a bit these days, but for most bloggers, implementing either one is a little daunting, if only because most bloggers were endowed with a creative gene rather than a process/methodology gene.

We’ve implemented an editorial calendar at Buzzshift before, but recently, however, we were repeatedly asked again and again, “what is the best time to publish a blog post?” and, frankly, we didn’t have a good answer. Instead, we merely had anecdotal evidence to support our claim. So, we decided to build an editorial calendar with an A/B/C test built into it.

Variables

Our primary objective was to determine the most effective time(s) to publish our blog posts. First, we had to identify the variables. Day of the week, time of publishing, author, and subject were all variables for us. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays would seem to be better days to push it out there, because Mondays are catch-up days and no one pays attention on Fridays. Or so we think. Likewise, we suspect that 7am is the best time to publish it because it hits people’s RSS feeds before they get to them. Here’s the problem with those assumptions: our audience may be different from your audience, or your clients’ audience.

Good salespeople are up and reading by 6-7am, but researchers and analysts aren’t wired that way, and the ones I know tend to be night owls. And what about retail business owners? When do they read? Is it the same time as commercial business managers? All the more reason to test for YOUR blog (or your client’s blog) and YOUR audience.

Metrics

After identifying the variables, we had to define what metrics would determine “effectiveness”. For us, we want to look at the quantity of unique visitors to the page. “Hits” don’t matter to us, especially with blog posts, because people tend to go back and read them again and again, and bots crawl daily, so unique visitors are a better measure. Then we want to look at the quality of the visitors, e.g. the average time on the page, how many comments there were, the number of RSS subscribers who looked at it, and the bounce rate of the post.

These are the basic metrics, and it shouldn’t take too much time to gather these. However, as our friend Neil Lemons suggested, there are some people who think that the time of publishing doesn’t matter, only when you market them.

Social networks

So…. we added some independent metrics for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and email. Some of these publish only once, and with others, such as Twitter, we tweet multiple times during the day. With these, it is crucial to have a custom URL shortener, such as bit.ly, so that you see the analytics from that, both in aggregated numbers as well as broken down by time.

Verdict

The result: a spreadsheet that you can manipulate at the end of your test period. We suggest you sort by overall unique visitors for the most basic of metrics, but we think comparing sources against the time of publishing is an interesting analysis. We blog once a week, with an occasional ad-lib post in there sometimes, so our editorial calendar with A/B/C testing spans some three months. If you blog more than that, then the timeframe will be a little shorter.

We have shared a sample calendar with you, and would love to get feedback on it if you think we are missing any metrics. Here’s the link: sample editorial calendar.

db047fe0bcd3164bfa789f3a9645bfba 300x216 HOW TO: Build an Effective Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

A Sample Editorial Calendar

Remember that, because of the time-sensitive nature of these posts, you have to manage your contributors so that they get the post in on time. Things people forget about: images in the post, SEO, hyperlinks, and grammatical editing. In our case, the post is ready to go the day before it is actually published.

So there you have it. Do you agree with our calendar? How would you change it?

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Six Ways Your Business Can Leverage Geolocation Marketing

The LBS market is exploding, as it has been for some time now.  With Facebook's continued work with with their Places product (first the launch, now with Deals) the category has received even more exposure among users and business alike.

The LBS market is exploding, as it has been for some time now. With Facebook’s continued work with with their Places product (first the launch, now with Deals) the category has received even more exposure among users and business alike.

But much like social media marketing of several years ago, not all business know exactly how they should be using LBS apps, what services to use, or even what the offerings are.

Here are six ways that a business can leverage location based services in their marketing efforts.

1. Use Virtual Goods

It’s easy to see why Gary Vaynerchuck is so hot on virtual goods. Besides the fact that his company might own one of the best case studies surrounding their use, it may also be one of the most unique business options available on the LBS market today.

At a basic level, I like to think of virtual goods as a creative refresh on coupons. Users who find your businesses virtual good in the wild could redeem for a physical version of the product or service.

This very application was executed to varying degrees of success by Sweet Leaf Tea, the New Jersey Nets, and Chevy.

Apps to use: Gowalla

2. Create a Custom Foursquare Badge

While not a tactic for every brand (word on the street is they’re prohibitively expensive for most) a creative, custom Foursquare badge could make some sense. Look at how Bravo, Comedy Central and Zagat have used custom badges in their Foursquare marketing for examples to emulate.

Apps to use: Foursquare

3. Create Badge Gathering Events

While mostly a tactic that may have seen better days, it’s hard to ignore case studies like AJ Bombers, where the Milwaukee based restaurant saw a 110% increase in sales during an event geared around obtaining Foursquare’s sought after Swarm Badge.

Be sure to consider your target market when considering this tactic. If your target is early adopters or power social media users, be prepared to move on to a different idea. Most power users have already obtained many of Foursquare’s rare badges, and the appeal to participate won’t be as strong.

Apps to use: Foursquare

4. Share Valuable Content

Many of the popular LBS applications allow users to create and share valuable content with other users of the app. This can come in the form of tips left on locations, micro reviews, photos, and more. How can a business leverage these capabilities?

Take the History Channel, for example. They left educational tips at historically significant locations across the country. Users who follow the History Channel account on Foursquare are able to view and interact with these tips.

Zagat, the renowned food and restaurant guide, took a similar approach by leaving their valuable restaurant reviews as tips.

Further, applications like SCVNGR and Gowalla allow users to create trips, which are curated lists of locations (that users check in to) within a given geographic area, typically centered around a theme.

Apps to use: Gowalla, Foursquare, SCVNGR, Whrrl

5. Create business specials

Business specials are often the first tactic that comes to mind when people think of marketing options on LBS applications. And with good reason. If done properly, these business specials can act as great incentive for users to visit your store.

The two primary specials available today – a check-in special (rewarded whenever someone checks-in to your location) and a mayor special (rewarded to the user with the most check-ins).

Apps like SCVNGR put a creative twist on this idea and reward users who accrue the most points. Points are awarded for activities like checking in, posting photos or other business dictated challenges.

Apps to use: Gowalla, Foursquare, SCVNGR, Facebook Places

6. Give to Charity

Businesses looking to get into the geolocation game can also use the popular LBS apps to help with charity initiatives.

For example, a recent campaign by Weight Watchers provided a 1$ donation for every check-in at brand sponsored meetings.

Apps to use: Foursquare, Facebook Places

What are some of the creative ways you’ve seen businesses using LBS applications in their marketing programs?

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Joining the Social Media Informer Blog Network!

Wanted to share with you some exciting news! My blog has been selected to be included in the roundup of top social media blogs over on Social Media Informer.

Wanted to share with you some exciting news! My blog has been selected to be included in the roundup of top social media blogs over on Social Media Informer.

Social Media Informer is a content aggregator for some of the best social media blogs in the industry. The site helps to filter a lot of the signal from the noise, and with featured bloggers like Aaron Strout, Danny Brown, and Justin Levy, it’s hard to go wrong.

I’m looking forward to using the site to not only discover some great new content, and share some of mine with the social media community. I’d also like to thank the team at Social Media Informer for including my blog in their list.

Have you seen Social Media Informer? What do you think of the site?

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Why Your Business Should Create a Facebook Profile

That's right.  I said it.  A profile.  Not a page.  Not a group.  A profile.

Before the Social Media Experts start furiously pounding on their keyboards that starting a profile is NOT the correct way to market on Facebook, let me point out my reasoning.

That’s right. I said it. A profile. Not a page. Not a group. A profile.

Before the Social Media Experts start furiously tweeting that starting a profile is NOT the correct way to market on Facebook, let me point out my reasoning.

As an admin for a number of Facebook pages, I’m often butting heads with the limitations that Facebook creates for page owners. Facebook pages are notoriously bad for organic growth. If you’re not running paid promotions on Facebook or cross promoting or making an attempt at creating something “viral”, or tapping into a built in audience, you aren’t growing.

Not only that, but for a platform that’s supposed to be social, where businesses are constantly urged to “join the conversation”, there’s very little conversation to be had. With a Facebook page you can only talk with the people who engage you first – and only on your brand’s page, at that. If, heaven forbid, you wanted to be a little proactive with your engagement on Facebook – good luck!

And that, my friends, is why your business should create a profile.

Of course, we’ll need to willingly ignore the fact that this may be completely against Facebook’s TOS, and you’ll have to somehow get past Facebook’s name filter, but what’s a little rule bending among friends – right?

By creating a profile, you’ll eventually hit a few limitations in both functionality (no integration with certain third party apps, like static FBML) and scalability (personal profiles are capped at 5k connections).

However, the primary advantage you gain is the ability to comment outside of your brand’s page. Done correctly (much like blog commenting or forum commenting) this can lead to the formation of new social relationships and enhance your brand’s visibility on Facebook.

If you’re smart, you figure out a way to drive people to your brand’s page, from your brand’s profile. But that’s just not in the scope of this post.

Am I nuts? Have I fallen off the social media wagon? Or do you think you just might try this oft-maligned Facebook tactic? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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