Thursday, June 25, 2009

What an attractive profile! - What are you offering your Facebook Fans?

As well as publicising your Public Profile the other thing that needs to be considered when trying to attract fans is what you are actually offering them. Your Profile needs to be useful and interesting if people are going to sign up to it, and they need to find being a fan useful and interesting if they are going to stay signed up.

A few basic tips, that relate to any kind of web presence include:
  • Keep information up to date - are you displaying the correct opening times? have you updated the information about info skills sessions recently?
  • It's not just the information that needs to be up to date - the page needs to be seen to be active. When did you last add something new? Can fans tell by looking at it that it is regularly maintained? Can they trust that the content is regularly checked and updated?
  • Does it look good? Have you included attractive images? Is the front page information well organised and relevant to your target audience?
  • Are contact details easy to find? (Some of our clients surely still want to be able to talk to a real person!)

There are also Facebook-Specific issues:

The Wall

Since the Facebook layout changed in February anyone who joins as a fan of your service will now be directed to your Wall when they view your Public Profile (I'm hoping that settings options will come in later so that you can change this, but no news so far). So your Wall needs to be active and interesting.

This does not have to involve you logging in every day to add new content. The easiest way to keep your Facebook Wall frequently updated is to feed well maintained blogs onto it (assuming you have some). If your library maintains a range of blogs you can feed them all to Facebook if you want to. (But do be aware of your target audience - are they more likely to want to read management information? resources information? customer service information? make sure you pick and choose the blogs that will be useful to your target audience).

If you want to feed more than one blog onto your Wall you can find instructions on how to do this via Yahoo Pipes (which creates a single RSS feed from several separate RSS feeds) in my earlier blog post.

There are a few things to be aware of though - if you have a lot of very active blogs you risk a bit of overkill. EVERYTHING you post on your Profile Wall now gets fed to the news feeds of all your fans and I'm not sure how much Library news people are going to want when they log in to Facebook. They can opt out of your news feed, and you can monitor how many of your fans are opting out in the Page Manager. It's certainly worth monitoring this and comparing figures of opt-outs with frequency of Wall posts - so far Warwick have seen no increase in such opt outs - but it's not been long since the Wall started feeding directly to fans - watch this space.

The worst case scenario is that library-bombarded fans might actually decide not to be fans anymore - this hasn't started to happen so far for us- but again - it's being watched.

Other tabs

We just have some basics; Info, Boxes, News and Notes.

Info

This is completed by filling in a form so doesn't leave much room for creativity - but you do need to make sure it is up to date and regularly reviewed.

Boxes

The Boxes tab allows you to add a range of applications in to your Public profile and make them available to your fans. The range of available applications is expanding all the time so don't go overboard!

I have added the ones specifically related to Warwick at the top - so our e-journal search and uploaded videos are on the right and our specialist subject links on the left, as you enter the page - nice and clear - stuff directly relevant to our target audience.

Further down the page you can see search applications for our online subscriptions (such as Jstor) and also applications for freely available searches (such as Copac). It's important that as your subscriptions change your Facebook applications change - I have recently removed out OED application following the discontinuation of our e-subscription to it, for example.

Whoever manages your Facebook Profile needs to be in a position to find out what is going on in a range of areas of the Library. If you want people to get value from it, it is as important as keeping your web site up to date.

News

At the moment the news tab just contains one piece of information at a time - and it is something that also appears on the left hand side next to the Wall. Before the Wall started feeding out to fans news feeds I used to post Updates to fans with news items - but I don't use these now, I just use the Wall. So, whatever I consider "news" gets posted on the Wall, in the News tab and in the news box to the left of the Wall - it's the stuff I really want people to know about.

Notes

The Notes tab is really just an expanded version of the blog feeds that are being posted to the Wall. I am using the Notes function to feed the Yahoo Pipes RSS through to the Wall. But the advantage of having the Notes tab there as well is that the blog posts displayed in it include photos and the full text of the post, not just the brief version of the blog posts that appear on the Wall.

If you want to you can write additional notes directly into the Notes application - it is not just limited to displaying your blog content. But I'm not sure why you want to, when you can post directly to the Wall instead.

Interactions

When you look at the Insights (page management info for you public profile) you can now see the number of interactions that fans are having with your Wall (comments they make, photos they view, etc.)

Facebook gives you a rating based on the number of interactions your content is generating. So far the Warwick Page is not generating much in the way of interactions, but the fan count keeps climbing - either they are just shy, or we are getting the content a bit wrong but they love us anyway - I'm really not sure which.

Videos and photos seem to be good additions to generate interactions and next academic year I intend to add more of them (it seems a bit silly doing much over the summer because there are few students around - but in term 1 it is probably good to be adding lots of potentially interactive content for the new freshers)

Anything Else?

Has anyone else got ideas for improving the attractiveness of library Facebook Profiles? Or any hints on what to avoid like the plague?

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