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3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Facebook Contest

A Facebook Contest is one of those things that a business is either interested in or they’re not. I think the reason why some are not interested, is because it’s not easy to see the benefits that a contest can produce for your business. There’s actually quite a few, but I’m going to cover just three reasons your business needs a Facebook Contest in this article.

#1: Build Your Email List

The first way a Facebook contest can help your business is to build your email list. During a contest, you naturally want to collect some information in order to contact people when they win. One of the easiest bits of information to collect is an email address. In this way, it is easy to collect email address from entrants. The only thing you need to worry about is the “CAN-SPAM Act” which makes it illegal for any business to email a user without their prior consent. It’s easy to make sure you’re in compliance, though. On your contest page form, just add a checkbox that asks the entrant if they want to opt-in to your email list. You can, of course, change the wording of this to make it a little more appealing. One of the best phrases I’ve found (for those businesses that apply) is “Yes! I would like to receive deals and specials from [insert company name].”

Case Study: Harter House Meats Facebook Contest

A couple of years ago, I ran a contest for Harter House Meats, a well-known grocery store in Springfield, MO who are known for their quality steaks. They wanted to run a contest that would boost their email list. I knew from doing previous contests that the best way to get more emails was to ask for the email, and as little other information as possible. Below is a screenshot from the actual contest page that was built showing that we only asked for the name, email address, and whether they wanted to “opt-in” to receive specials.

Create a Custom Contest Page for your Facebook Contest

NOTE: It’s very important to ask whether an entrant wants to receive marketing emails from you, so that you don’t violate the “CAN-SPAM Act”. This law makes it illegal for any business to email a user without their prior consent.

Components of Contest

  • Custom-designed Facebook contest page
  • Only asked for necessary Information
  • Pre-checked the “opt-in” email checkbox
  • $50 Facebook ads budget
  • Promotional emails sent to existing list (about 50)
  • Promotional Emails continued weekly throughout the contest to remind people to enter or invite their friends
  • Facebook posts posted throughout the contest enticing users to enter (some of these were boosted with Facebook ads)
  • Signs posted in-store to tell customers about the contest with a QR Code that took them directly to the page.
  • Flyers with the same information as above, which cashiers handed out.

Results

Beginning Emails: 50

Ending Emails: 712

Email Growth Rate: 1324% (in just 30 days)

Opt-in rate (entrants to contest): 92%.

Opt-in Rate (entrants vs. actual email opt-ins): 83%

Facebook Like Growth: 786 Total Likes

I’ve managed other contests with similar results, but this is my favorite because of the results they received when they were first starting out!

#2: Increase engagement

Contests are exciting! That’s why people share them. And exciting on social media, leads to more shares, more comments, and, ultimately, more followers (sometimes more than you could possibly imagine). In fact, people will naturally share your contest because it is so exciting.

Ways to Increase Engagement On Your Contest

  • Post to your Facebook Page about the contest.
  • Ask people if they like the contest/item you’re giving away.
  • Ask people to tag their friends who might like the contest.
  • Boost posts with Facebook ads. You can do this for as little as $5 per post.
  • Run your contest during a holiday period, and “theme” it for the holiday.
  • Choose an exciting prize.

NOTE: As part of Facebook’s Promotion Rules you can’t ask someone to tag their friend as a condition to enter your contest, or like your page. Check out the full official Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

#3: Increase Awareness

Another way that contests can help you build your business is to increase awareness. As I said before, a contest is naturally exciting. This phenomenon leads users to share your contest with their own friends and connections. People who would normally never be exposed to your business are suddenly seeing your content and getting exposed to your business. This could result in more Likes for your Facebook Page, more entrants to your contest, and even more customers.

It’s hard to measure the impact of awareness. There are a couple of metrics that you can use to see if your awareness seems to be going up. The first is post “Reach”, which looks like the screenshot below when you access it in your Facebook Insights.

Reach only tells you the number of times that your post showed up on a person’s newsfeed, regardless of whether it was clicked on or not. In other words, it doesn’t tell you whether someone actually viewed your post, if they scrolled past it, or if they clicked on it. However, if you see your Reach numbers go up, then you are definitely getting more eyeballs on your content.

The next metrics that you want to keep an eye on are the engagement metrics (likes, comments, and shares). These will tell you if your post is really resonating with your audience. These numbers will always be smaller than reach. Again, though, you want to look for these numbers trending up or at least staying steady. See the screenshot below for what it will look like in your Facebook Insights.

A contest should naturally raise both these numbers. Just be aware that once your contest is over these numbers will likely drop dramatically. However, if you gained followers from your contest, they should be up from what they were before the contest.

Want to learn more about running a successful Facebook Contest?

I’ve created a course to teach you how to build a Facebook contest which will build your email list fast. You can use the techniques I teach to run other types of contests. I focus on one type of contest to get you started, and, also, to give you confidence to run more contests once you see that the system works. Check out my contest course, by clicking on the button below.

Learn More

Why Building an Audience is so Hard

Why Building an Audience is So Hard

Building an Audience

You’re slaving away at your craft and someone comes along and says, “Hey, you should build an audience. That’s the best way to sell online these days.” So you check out how to build an audience and you find many, many posts on how to create content, blog, share on social media, start an email list, etc. Maybe you even try out a few or a lot of the different tactics and strategies you’ve read about. Eventually you realize this “building an audience” thing is a lot harder than that first conversation led you to believe.

Why is Building an Audience Hard?

We (me included) tend to think of our audience as a subset of who our actual audience is: the people who engage with us already or who have already signed up to receive updates via email, social media, etc. However, an audience is actually much bigger than that. It’s also the people who have seen your ad once, but haven’t clicked on it, or that person who liked your Facebook Page, but who always scrolls past your updates. They are also the people who buy from you, or those that have joined your mission in some way.

So, building an audience is tricky, because we’re talking about communicating with people who may or may not want to hear from you at any given moment.

We’ve become an increasingly busy and distracted society. So, even those people who have said they want to hear from you may not be available to receive your message when you send it.

Another reason building an audience is hard, is because it takes a lot of little steps before people actually start engaging with and (hopefully) start buying from you. Unfortunately you can’t just say “I’m going to build an audience” and bam! There they are. Though, that would nice, right?

These little steps may include someone in your audience:

  • Noticing you
  • Coming back for a second glance, or third glance, or… well you get the picture
  • Becoming interested enough to listen to you
  • Starting to engage with you
  • Continue to engage with you
  • Eventually buy from you or become involved in your mission

The real key here is that all these steps can take a long time. Even just getting from the first time someone notices you to the point where they are interested may take a while.  Sometimes these steps happen all at once. I have been known to make impulse buy decisions from people I just found on the internet because I liked what they were saying and I thought they could help me. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong. I know other people have gone through similar experiences.

Is there a Quick Fix?

I’d like there to be. It would be nice if we could hit the easy button and poof our audience into existence. More likely than not, though, there is going to be a lot of hard work and trial and error involved in building your audience.

Is There Anything You Can Do?

Absolutely, there is something you can do! After all, the key to running a profitable business online is finding your audience. You just need to have areas to focus on while you’re trying to figure this out.

Step 1: Build Awareness/Traffic/Interest

The first step is to start putting your content or yourself out there so that people can see you. That’s done a lot of different ways. For instance, you can:

  • Promote and host a webinar
  • Post to your social media accounts
  • Run a contest
  • Advertise
  • Post to your blog (consistently)
  • Optimize your site for search engines
  • Write a book
  • Write a free downloable ebook
  • Host a podcast
  • Appear on a podcast
  • Promote your existing content

There’s actually a lot more that you can do gain awareness, build traffic, etc. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed by this list. Just remember that the main way to build awareness of your products or services is to put content out there and promote it. Pick one or two things from this list to focus on and keep doing them until you start to see results.

Step 2: Build Engagement

The next step is to take that awareness of traffic and turn it into engagement. How do you do that? Simply invite your audience to talk with you.

Inviting your audience to talk with you

While your posting to your social media accounts, why not ask a question once a week or host a Facebook live video where you talk about a topic you know about? Or on your blog, add a way that people can comment. If you’re concerned about spam comments (and who isn’t) you can always use a service like Disqus which helps protect against bad comments and also has an audience building feature.

The idea here is to not assume that people are going to talk to you. Sure, some might, but the majority of your audience is likely to read what you have to say and then go on to something else. So, ask them for their feedback, or to give their own two cents. Then, don’t forget to follow up. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Step 3: Sales

The whole point of building an audience online is to get them to do business with you or join your cause. To make that jump though, your audience has to trust and like you. The great thing about doing the steps in order, though, is that trust and like between you and your audience will be naturally built.

Think of it like a conversation at a cocktail party. You start off by introducing yourself and then telling someone what you do and who you are. If they’re interested, they might ask you more. Then you have a chance to explain more. This can go back and forth for a while. Eventually, though, you’re going to have to ask for the sale. However, that doesn’t asking for the sale in a “salesy” way. It can be as simple as saying that you are available to answer questions about a problem someone is having or even answering those on the spot.

You don’t have to give your whole business process away, just try to be as helpful as possible and make sure they understand that you sell services and products that can help them further.

What this looks like online is adding links to blog posts that point to a sales pages or a page where they can download something for free that puts them into your email list. It’s also using Facebook ads or other online advertising that gets people to your sales page or contact form to take the next step.

The same things you can do to build awareness and traffic can also aid you in building sales. Just remember to shift your language so that your audience understands you want them to purchase something. Try to avoid sounding “salesy”, though. Show you can help first, then point them in the direction of how you can help them more. Those who want to do business with you, will naturally take the next step.

Bringing it All Together

The process of building an audience naturally happens in steps, but that doesn’t mean that you should work on step one exclusively. In fact, you’ll get more out of the process if you mix something from step two or even step three into your step one tasks. Just be aware that it may take a while before your audience moves from step one to step two or three. Bringing it all together just means making it easier for them to take the next step.

Your Thoughts?

Now it’s your turn. Have you had success in building an audience? How did you do it? What worked for you? What didn’t? Are you struggling in this area? Let me know. We’re all in this together and we all learn from each other.

Which Platforms Work Best for Facebook Contest Marketing?

So you want to run a Facebook Contest… That’s great! Facebook Contests are one of the best ways to build engagement on your Facebook Page and grow your email list. One of the toughest things about running a Facebook Contest, though, is knowing where, when, and how to market it.

I’ve been building, managing, and consulting on Facebook Contests since 2009. At first, I didn’t know the answer to these questions either. It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I learned a system for maximizing my contest results every single time. In fact, I created a worksheet that will help you figure out which marketing platforms will work best for you.

Download the Free Facebook Contest Marketing Worksheet

How do I Know Where to Market my Facebook Contest?

It starts with listing out all of your current marketing platforms or opportunities. This list may be long, but don’t worry. We’re going to pare it down together.

Below is a screenshot from the first page of the worksheet where I listed all my marketing platforms. It’s important to make sure that you include everything in this list. You don’t want to miss out on a marketing opportunity you may have overlooked.

[feature_box style=”31″ title=”Note” alignment=”center”]Marketing platforms refer to the places and ways you can market. For instance “print advertising” is not a place, but it is a way that you can promote your contest. So, think about all the ways or places where you could market your contest and add them to your worksheet.

[/feature_box]

Which Marketing Platforms are the Best for You?

The last step on the first page of this document is to figure out which marketing platforms will work the best for you. This will mostly depend on audience size, but there are a few other factors to consider here.

Be a Ninja!

I remember reading something years ago about editing. The advice was this: when you edit a story  or a blog post, you must take on the mindset of a ninja and slash anything that doesn’t belong. The same is true in this case. Cross out any platforms you don’t think will work to market this contest. Here’s a few examples of things you might cross out:

[feature_box style=”31″ title=”Note” alignment=”center”]The list below shows a lot of marketing platforms I didn’t include on my list. That’s because I don’t usually use these forms of advertisement. You, however might. These are really just “hypothetical” platforms you might initially include and then cross off of your own list.

[/feature_box]

  • TV
  • Radio
  • Print Advertising
  • Banner ads on other websites
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Employee Message Board

The first three you might cross out because they will take too long to get ready or they are too expensive.

Banner ads on websites might not be practical, because their audience may not be interested in what you’re giving away.

I included Instagram because you can’t share clickable links directly with an image. This makes it hard to get people  from Instagram to your Facebook Contest, which is the point.

Tumblr is one of those social media platforms that tend to have unique audiences. If you maintain a Tumblr and your audience regularly engages with content that is similar to what you’re giving away in your contest, then it’s okay to keep on the list. Otherwise, chop it.

I included employee message board as a place that you might post information about your contest because I’ve actually used this before. However, it is not appropriate for all types of contest, or even for every prize you giveaway. Unless you’re sure that your employees will want to help you promote it, I wouldn’t even bother with this one.

Here’s what I crossed out on my list:

Superstars!

The next step is to identify your superstars, or those marketing platforms which you think will help you the most in your promotion.

[feature_box style=”31″ title=”Note” alignment=”center”]I say “think” or “might” a lot for two reasons.

  1. I don’t know your audience.
  2. All marketing is an experiment until you know something works.

[/feature_box]

In the screenshot below, I’ve marked which platforms I want to use to promote my contest with a star. I’m going to walk through why I decided to mark each of these with a star so you understand why I chose them. You may choose your own platforms for different reasons.

The Obvious

  • Facebook Page
  • Facebook Personal Account

I marked my Facebook Page and personal account with stars because we are talking about promoting a Facebook Contest. I wouldn’t want to miss out on the obvious places to market them.

Biggest/Best Audiences

  • Website
  • Twitter
  • Email List
  • Linked In

Other Platforms Which I Think Will Work

  • Instagram (I regularly share social media stuff on that channel and I know how to utilize the link in the bio to get people to my contest page).
  • Friends (I have a few friends who might be interested in helping me promote it)

Do the same on your worksheet.

Want to Know More?

Figuring out which marketing platforms will work best for your contest is just the tip the iceberg to running a successful Facebook Contest. There’s also:

  • Planning out your contest details
  • Deciding what type of contest to run
  • Writing your contest rules
  • Building your contest page
  • Working out the details of your marketing
  • How to build your marketing calendar
  • Choosing the right prize
  • What to do when something goes wrong
  • And so much more!

I cover all of these topics in my course: Build Email Lists Fast with Facebook Contests. It’s a course designed for those who are just getting their feet wet, or who want to get more out of their next Facebook Contest. The course specifically focuses on the “Giveaway” contest type, which is the easiest to manage and the most effective type for building an email list. However, almost everything in the course can be applied to other types of contests including photo submission contests.

If you want to know more, here’s a link to the course detail page. It is currently only $23, since I’m in the middle of a major overhaul, though. The price will go soon, so hurry and get the course at the lower price! If you download this worksheet, you are in my email list and will get a notice when the new course material has been loaded.

Get the Course at the Discounted Price

Don’t Miss the free Facebook Contest Marketing Sheet (download it below)

Download the Free Facebook Contest Marketing Worksheet

How to Always be Effective at Social Media

How to Always be Effective at Social Media

This post is a part of the “Back to Basics” series,  which covers things you need to know to get started with social media. It’s also written towards intermediate social media for business users who are stuck and want to be more effective. It’s been my experience that when in doubt, go back to the basics and make sure you have those down, then you can move onto more advanced tactics and strategies.

We’ve all been there… slaving away at posting to our social media accounts day after day, following and using tactics from the “experts”, and crossing our fingers that the needle moves soon. Even a little bit of improvement would be better than this stagnant crap. Instead, we are forced to sit there, staring at our screens, feeling depressed that all the time and effort we’ve put in has been for nothing.

Whenever this happens, I pull out this list and start at the top. Whenever I ignore this list, my results have plummeted.  

These are not tactics. They are not even strategies. They are rules.

Like a painting, using this list will give you the broad brushstrokes you need to start building your own social media work of art. Don’t be mistaken, social media is an art. It may have certain steps you need to take like a science experiment or an instruction manual. In the end, though, you are really just talking to people, and that, my friends, is truly an art form.

It’s not an art form that’s hard to learn, though. It just takes time.

Understand What Your Audience Wants, Needs, or Desires

The most important thing you can do today for your social media results is to understand what your audience wants, and not what you think they want. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. Your audience may want something completely different than you’re delivering to them. A quick hint: they’re probably not looking directly for your service or product. At least not that they know of.

That’s where listening comes in. There are many different ways to listen. You can listen to your own customers when they tell you why they used your product, or how it helped improve their life. You can poll your customers (if they’re not telling you these things). You can set up keyword searches surrounding the thing that your product helps to improve (or the pain point). You can set up these searches through Google Alerts, or by using Hootsuite or other social media listening services to actually gather what people are saying on their social media accounts right now. You can see how your competitors are positioning their products. No matter how you decide to implement this, you must listen to really start to understand.

Also, listen to what else your audience is talking about, and how they are talking about it. This will give you ideas on the other content you can post to your page.

Listening is not a one-time activity, either. As your customer base grows and evolves, so will the ways they use your products and what they think about them. You need to always have your ear to the ground, observing what your customers are saying, and sometimes, what they’re not saying.

Define How Your Audience’s Needs and Desires Align With What Your Brand Offers

Understanding what your audience wants or needs in their lives is only half the battle. Now, you need to figure out if or how your product fulfills those wants and needs. The most elegant way I’ve ever seen it put is this: “Publications don’t sell horse saddles. Publications sell the idea of horseback riding.” Steve Bryant, who wrote this brilliant post is referring to how magazines sell their products (which for them is ad space and actual copies of their product), but it applies to social media as well. In fact, as he points out, it applies to many other types of content.

You are not selling what product you’re offering, but what that product can do for someone. How your product can save someone time or money, or even how your product can change someone’s life.

The key is to find out how your product delivers a solution to what your customer needs, and why they would choose your product over another to fulfill that need. That’s how you will start to develop your slogan, marketing copy, and graphics. That’s also how you develop the language that you use to interact with your customers online.

I can’t tell you what your language will be, although you are welcome to contact me if you want help with that. All I can tell you is that your language will likely be unique. In fact, it needs to be your own, especially if you want to stand out from the pack.

Learn How to Use the Social Media Platforms

Don’t know how to schedule a post to Facebook? Don’t understand why a post with an image performs better than a post with just text? Then your results are likely suffering. Understanding how the different social media platforms work, what works on them, and how your brand in particular can use those tools is paramount to your success in social media.

Picture this. You walk into a job interview for a management position wearing an old tank top, jeans, and flip flops. You haven’t taken the time to really understand what the position is about, or what you bring to the table that will help the company not only fill their staffing need, but also help them improve the area you would be working in. Not surprisingly, after a short interview, you don’t get the job.

Why? Because job interviews have rules. So do social media platforms. They work a certain way, and you are expected to work within them. Do things outside those rules and you risk the consequences: mediocre results or, worse, getting kicked off the platform entirely.

There are many, many tutorials out there that explain how some features work on a certain social media platform. Most of the social media platforms even have their own set of help files, or you can hire a business like mine to train you on how to use them.

No matter what, though, you need to understand how they work and how you can work within their rules.

Develop Your Unique Voice

Your voice matters. It’s part of what makes you stand out as a company or brand. Anything you can do to differentiate yourself from your competitors is a good thing.

Developing your unique voice isn’t easy, though, and it almost always takes a while. That’s because your voice is not just what you say, but how you say it. It’s the intersection of how you talk about your product, how and what your customers think about your product, and your experiences trying to have conversations about your product.

Your voice, like most things in marketing, will likely evolve over time. Again, it may take a while before you find your voice. That’s why you have to start now, and you need to be willing to do the things below to make it happen.

  1. Experiment, try stuff out. You never know if something’s going to work until you try it out for yourself. Your situation is unique. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa.
  2. Read. Read like your life depends on it. Read stuff by your competitors, by bloggers who inspire you, and by those that don’t. Learn how they talk about stuff and then decide if it will work for you.
  3. Be human. Long gone are the days when people expect companies to sound like robots in their content and when they respond to complaints or feedback. Don’t be afraid to be human. To make some mistakes. That’s the only way you’ll learn and understand what your customer-base expects from you.

Be Consistent

Actually this section should be titled “Be a Scientist”, here’s why. In order to test a theory and prove whether it’s true, scientists run experiments over and over again. If done right, each of these experiments has a core set of steps that need to be followed, or the experiment is invalidated. Your social media strategy will benefit from this approach too.

You have to think of your social media accounts like one big experiment that you’re running. Because they are. Until you’re sure that something works, you are really just running an experiment.

How does consistency play into your big experiment?

Remember that an experiment has lots of steps that are done over and over again throughout each iteration? Well, that’s consistency. It’s all in doing the same things over and over again, so you will start to build your own set of steps that you can test other steps and variables against.

How to be consistent

There are many ways to be consistent. It isn’t just about how much you post, but what you post, what times you post at, what types of content you post on different days, and how you craft those posts.

Why does consistency matter?

Because most social media platforms are either very crowded or have some kind of algorithm that keeps everyone who follows you from seeing your posts. Posting at a number of specific times a week or day means that you have more opportunities for more people to see those posts. Being consistent in what you post means that you can start to understand if it’s working. You can’t try something once and expect to know if it succeeded or failed. Maybe you had an off day, or maybe most of your social media followers were not online that day (for whatever reason).

The point is that you need more data before you can decide if something worked. Data comes from consistently doing the same things over and over again, and only tweaking small bits along the way.

Understand the Difference Between Social Media Strategy and Tactics

This is a big one. Strategies and tactics are not the same. Pause for effect… I’ll say that again. Strategies and tactics are not the same. Unfortunately, these terms get used interchangeably by a lot of people, and that’s dangerous because you have to understand what something is before you can understand why it worked.

First, let’s cover the difference between the two.

A strategy is a set of tactics or a plan that is developed in order to achieve a certain goal. Like the “Be Consistent” rule above, this can be likened to the plan that scientists put in place to prove their theories. Basically, it’s a set of steps or rules that you want to follow to try and create the outcome that you want.

Tactics are the actual actions that you take during the strategy. They’re specific and usually involve a specific way to do something.

For instance, a social media tactic that is popular at the moment, is to create an image with a beautiful background overlaid with a quote in fancy text, rather than just posting the quote as text. A strategy would be deciding that you are going to share these images once/week on your social media accounts (along with other links, images, etc.).

For the most part, I have found that strategies work better than tactics in the long run. That’s because tactics are usually short-lived. Once they gain in popularity, then their effectiveness starts to drop off drastically, mostly, because everybody’s using them. Strategies on the other hand are evolved over time and have been proven to work over and over again. Also, tactics that have been proven to work over and over again, can be added to your overall strategy.

Now that you know the difference, the next time you come across a social media tip, you should be able to tell which one it is. This will give you an advantage, because you will be able to tell if it’s just a tactic that will give you a “short boost” or a plan that you can use again and again to get great consistent results.

Effectiveness is Measured in Time

Being effective at social media is not always easy, and it’s not always fun. There’s a lot of work involved, and it takes time. But there are things that you can do to boost that effectiveness. Employing these rules is a good place to start when you want to get better.

On Social Media Automation Fails

I’m the first to admit that automating your social media is not always the best idea. Where I think it comes in handy is in automating those tedious tasks, such as sharing articles that I like to all my social media networks. I use Buffer as part of a strategy for doing just that. It helps a lot, but I wanted a system that could help me save even more time and energy…

Recently, I decided to create a custom automated workflow for curating and sharing content to my social media accounts. What follows is an account of how that social media automation failed, and what I learned from it.

The Path to Social Media Automation

A while ago I was inspired by this article from Jamie Todd Rubin. I have been using pocket in roughly this manner for a while: as a catch-all for web items that I want to “look at later”. For a while, I used it to read, and then share items to my Buffer (an awesome social media sharing app). That worked fine, until it became tedious to remember to do this every time I got done reading an article. Also, sometimes, I would get interrupted and forget to do this step.

My next improvement was to just bulk-read posts, and tag the ones that I wanted to share with a “buffer” tag. Later, I would go in and add these posts one by one to my buffer account. Again, this worked for a while. It wasn’t really any less tedious, but it was less annoying (at least for me). I tend to be one of those people that works well when I cluster tasks together.

But I wanted something better. A system that was much more automated.

Enter the Bright Idea…

I’ve been obsessed for a while with the idea of automation workflows. In fact I’ve used them via Zapier and IFTTT for years to automate other tasks. So, I did a little research. My first stop, as usual, was IFTTT. It is a simpler version of automation that I use before Zapier. Mostly because it’s free. After a while you have to pay for Zapier. I have paid for Zapier in the past, but at the moment I’m trying to save money anywhere I can.

IFTTTs solution worked except for one issue, you can’t share to multiple accounts within buffer. Since I would use the service in this way, that meant it was out.

Next came Zapier. It had been a while since I used Zapier for anything very complicated. Imagine my surprise when I logged in to my account and found out that I could create “multi-step” Zaps. Effectively, this would allow me to do what IFTTT wouldn’t!  Note: I did end up paying for Zapier at this point, because multi-step zaps are not included in the free version, but I was happy to pay for these extra features.

So, I got to work creating a Zap that would take the items in pocket with a specific tag and auto-share them through Buffer. It took me roughly 15 minutes to set up and turn on. Of course, I tested it to make sure I was good with the way it worked.

It had been running for a few weeks, and I loved it! I was saving time, and I didn’t have to worry about remembering to share content to Buffer, because it was apart of my everyday todos to read articles and tag them in Pocket.

That’s when this happened:

Social Media Automation Fail

D’oh!

That section outlined in red in the image above is the excerpt that was pulled from the article.

The first problem is that I definitely don’t make that much money blogging. That would be nice, though, right? The excerpt that was pulled in from Pocket made it look like these were my own words. Not really a big deal in the large scheme of things, but it’s not true. I try very hard to avoid that.

Also, pulling the excerpt as a separate item was unnecessary for Facebook. I temporarily forgot that Facebook pulls it’s own excerpt out of the page and puts it into that nice little “preview” window. So, adding the excerpt, in this case, is not only unnecessary, it’s also confusing.

I only found out about this issue when one of my friends congratulated me. At first, I was confused, then I looked at the post and realized what she was seeing.

Needless to say, I went in and manually deleted that excess excerpt, and then edited my Zap to take it out of future buffers.

So, What’s the Problem?

Now I have a new problem, though. Any links I share will consist of just the image, title, and excerpt preview. For me, this feels unfinished. I like to add my own two cents and explain something I found interesting or insightful about what I’m sharing. It’s not really a big deal, but now I’m less excited about the social media automation that I tried to set up.

What I want is a step in the automation where I can add my own observations or notes into the post before it goes out. Sadly, you can’t attach notes to pocketed items, and even if you could, that’s not information that you can harvest in Zapier. I know, I looked. You also can’t create drafts in Buffer, which would be another nice work-around.

I thought of maybe adding the article information into a Google Sheet, or, possibly, Evernote. Then make a separate Zap where it will pull out that information (once I’ve added my note) and insert it into Buffer, but I’d like something with less steps.

So, I’m on the hunt. I’ve already come across several options that may work. I won’t know without testing and tweaking, though. Once I get a better system down, I fully intend to reveal it so that other people can save time curating and sharing content to their social media accounts.

Now, over to you. What do you use to save time curating and sharing content? Do you have any social media automation tips? Or do you have your own automation fail story that we could learn from?

 

Get More Likes On Facebook by Adding your Facebook Page Username to your Business Card

This post is a part of the “Get More Facebook Likes” series. Each one of these articles will detail a single tactic for growing your Facebook Likes. Not all tactics are created equal, but each will contribute to your success. Find more ways of growing your Facebook Likes by viewing all the posts in the series here.

Why your business card?

There are many ways to get more Facebook Likes, but most of them aren’t quite as simple as putting your Facebook Page username (or Page link) on your business card. It’s a super low-level way to generate more likes (especially if you do a lot of networking). It’s also a tactic that’s often overlooked.

So, why is it effective?

When someone takes your business card at a networking event or even picks one up from a visit to your office, it makes them curious. They want to know more about your business and more about you. Often times they will visit your website. This is also a great opportunity to point them towards your social media accounts.

Someone who wants to know more about you will also check you out on social media, because this is the place where most businesses “let loose” and show their personality. Seeing what a business posts on social media is often a deciding factor in whether or not they want to do business with you.

So, how do you get your Facebook Page username on your business card, so people will follow you? Can’t you just slap the link on the next print run of your business cards? Sure you could, but there are a few things you want to keep in mind before you do.

How to Setup Your Facebook Username, Vanity URL, etc.

First, you want to make sure that your Facebook Page username is setup correctly. In this past, this was called a “vanity url”. Some people (myself included) also refer to it as a Facebook Page link, because that’s ultimately what it accomplishes. Just for clarification, though, your Facebook username is the text that appears at the end of the link (once you setup your username). That’s the “YourBusinessName” part of this link: Facebook.com/YourBusinessName. Your Facebook Page username is also the part after the “@” symbol that someone can use to tag your business when they post something. Your Facebook Page link is the entire link that someone would need to type into a search engine to find your Page.

First, let’s take a look at what a Facebook Page link looks like before you claim your Facebook username. You can see an example below.

http://facebook.com/Your-Business-Name/1234567

Just between you and me, this is an ugly link! Could you imagine trying to tell someone to type this in? They would probably quit right away.

Now I know that most people would just go to Facebook and use the search bar to find your business. And that can work. The problem comes in when there are multiple businesses with the same name. How will someone know which Page to actually like? Better yet, why would you give them the opportunity to Like the wrong page.

The simple answer to this problem is to go claim your Facebook Page username and start advertising it, so this doesn’t happen. Also, if you claim your Facebook username, people will now be able to tag your business in photos or any other posts. This can give your business a larger reach on Facebook than it had before.

So, back to that ugly link…

http://facebook.com/Your-Business-Name/1234567

Not only is this link not as good for search engine optimization (seo). It’s also not very readable on a business card. Below is an example of a good Facebook Page link.

http://www.facebook.com/Team3Media/

The name is easy to read and wouldn’t be too hard for someone to type in.

Now that you know what a good Facebook Page link looks like, it’s time to go claim your Facebook Page username, so you can have a nice one, too. 🙂

But first, let’s go over some helpful tips and guidelines so you can choose the best username possible.

Use Capitalization to make it more readable.

The capital letters aren’t actually necessary. If someone were to type in the link without them, it would still work. However, it makes it infinitely more readable on a business card or any other print material.

Choose the shortest version of your business name or brand possible.

You don’t want people to be typing for-eh-ver in order to get to your Facebook Page. So, make it easy for them. Use a number instead of spelling it out. And use the shortened version of a word where possible, as long as it’s not confusing. The name you choose may be in direct conflict with the name used for SEO. In this case, you may want to use the original version. However, it’s up to you.

Follow the Facebook Page Username guidelines.

Below is an excerpt from their help article on creating custom usernames.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you create a custom username:

  • You can’t claim a username someone else is already using.
  • Usernames can only contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z, 0-9) or a period (“.”).
  • Periods (“.”) and capitalization don’t count as a part of a username. For example, johnsmith55, John.Smith55 and john.smith.55 are all considered the same username.
  • Usernames must be at least 5 characters long and can’t contain generic terms or extensions (ex: .com, .net).
  • You must be an admin to create or change the username for a Page.
  • Your username must adhere to the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Check this link for an always updated version of this help article.

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NOTE: One last thing. You used to be able to only change your Facebook Page username twice before you had to get Facebook involved in the process. There is not anything in their guidelines to suggest that this is the case anymore. However, I would still caution against changing it too many times. Remember, your username is tied to your Facebook Page link, so if you change it (after it’s already been set) then any old links to your Page will no longer work!

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Now, Go Claim Your Facebook Page Username!

Claiming your username is actually a fairly easy process. In fact, it’s much easier to create than it used to be. Before you had to go through a handful of screens to get to the place where you could actually change your Facebook Page username. Now, a couple of clicks and you’re there.

Step 1: Go To Your Page

The first step is to go to your Facebok Page and make sure that you are logged in to the account which is an admin of the page.

Step 2: Edit Page Info

Now just put your cursor over the “More” button and click on “Edit Page Info” from the dropdown.

Claim Your Facebook Page Username - Edit Page Info

Step 3: Add or Change Your Username

In the “Username” field, either add or edit your Facebook Page username. Then click “save changes” when you’re done.

Edit Facebook Page username

You may have to try a couple of times before you find a username that Facebook will accept. Once you’re done, now it’s time to move on to the big finish.

How to Add Your Facebook Page Link to Your Business Card

Now that you have a nice readable Faceook Page link or username, you can add it to your business card. If you design your own business cards, check out these tips to keep your design clean and make it more likely that someone visits your Facebook Page.

Avoid “busyness” or “clutter”

Try to keep your business card from being cluttered by only providing the information that someone need to either contact you and find out more about you. You don’t have to add every point of contact. Just make sure your business card has the most important information on it. Also, you  want to make sure that adding the Facebook Page link to your card doesn’t make it appear more cluttered. You may need to move things around, take something off, or reduce the fonts in places.

Keep it legible

Another good piece of advice is not to use a really fancy font for your Facebook Page link. Remember, you want the link to be easily readable so you will get more Likes!

Add a Call to Action

When adding your link to your card, you may want to make it more “visible” by adding a “Call to Action”. For instance, most business cards list contact information in a list-like format with very little difference. If you really want to build your likes, you can do something as simple as adding the words “Like” or “Follow Me on Facebook” above or to the left of the Facebook Page link. This will make your link stand out, because it will look different than all the other contact information. You can also add a little more spacing around the link in order to draw attention to it.

Shorten it.

Always, always make sure that your link is the shortest version possible. For instance, you can leave out the “http://”, the “https://”, and even the www. This will not only make the link look cleaner, but it will also take up less space on the business card. Also, a little known fact is that someone doesn’t actually have to type out the full address to get your Page to show up. Modern browsers will “auto-add” the http:// to your link.

If you want to make it the shortest version possible just use your username and add the “@” symbol to the front of it. Be warned, using just the Facebook Page username may confuse the less tech-savvy of your peeps, though.

QR Codes…

Using a QR Code (quick response code) is a way to put your Facebook Page username on your business card which will allow someone to visit your page from their smartphone (once they scan it). We’ll cover QR codes in another blog post. For now, just know that they are dead useful in getting people to take an action from any printed advertisement.

Most Useful Social Media Posts for 2015

I thought I’d put together a round-up of the best posts from 2015, in case you missed them.  These are posts that got the most traffic, but also were found useful by people based on feedback. I hope you find them useful, too.

#1: Optimize Your Facebook Page Description (an excerpt from 31 Days to an Awesome Facebook Page) — NEED TO REVAMP

I wrote this post to jumpstart the writing of an ebook I wanted to publish called 31 Days to an Awesome Facebook Page. Though that project has been tabled for a little while, it was still a post that was not only popular, but that was fun to write.

The reason for this post was not only to jumpstart the book, but to also help people write better Facebook Page descriptions (found in your “About”) section. Did you know that your Facebook Page description is important to boost your Facebook Page in Google’s rankings? That’s because it’s one of the pieces of text that “stays put”. In other words, it’s not a post, that will be replaced by another one, so the text is always accessible by the search engines. That means this section is the perfect place to tell people what your all about and work in some of those keywords (without stuffing, of course)! If you want to see what I’m talking about you can see how to improve your Facebook Page description text here.

#2: Pinterest Will Sell Your Products for Free?!

selling on pinterest

I got an email from Pinterest about a book I had pinned which sparked the idea for this blog post. The email told me that a book I had pinned was now “on sale”. I was not only delighted by this news, but I also realized how useful it could be to people who sell online.

The basic idea works like this. If you have installed and setup “rich pins” for products on your site, when you put something on sale, it will not only show up on the pin, but Pinterest will actually email people who have pinned it to tell them about the sale! How awesome is that?! This is my favorite kind of automation. It does take some coding know-how to install the pinterest rich pin setup.  You are welcome to read more on how to do that here.

#3: Tutorial: Website Facebook Like Button

Facebook Like Button Address

The Facebook Like button is an often-overlooked way to get more likes on your Page, because it’s dead simple. Sure, you could add a follow bottom to your header or footer, but it doesn’t allow someone to automatically Like your Facebook Page. That’s the real magic of the Like button. Find out how to get this little magic button by going here.

#4: Buying Facebook Likes Doesn’t Buy Engagement or Sales

Buying Facebook Likes Doesn't Buy Engagement Or Sales

Another popular post dealt with buying Facebook Likes. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that I’ve seen a lot of small business owners make. At first, it seems like a great idea: get more likes (without the work) and your Facebook Page looks more legitimate and your posts will now show up in people’s newsfeeds. The problem is that these Likes are rarely “quality” likes as they usually come from countries outside the U.S. If you’re running a local business this is especially detrimental to your Facebook strategy, because the people who have Liked your page (and presumably will engage with it) have nothing to do with your local customers. This means that your Page content actually has an even smaller chance of showing up in newsfeeds than if you had a low number of “local” Likes. Check out this blog post to read more about the problem.

#5: Want to Know How Often You Should Post to Facebook?

FacebookPostingFrequency

The last popular post is about how often you should post to Facebook. Unfortunately, there is no easy or correct answer to this. However, the Buffer team ran a case study and has come up with an answer you can use to start testing out your own optimal number of posting. Read on to learn what their findings were and how you can apply it to your own posting strategy.

All of these posts offered advice or were “how-to” type posts, which tells me that there was a definite need for this. Quite a bit of my content strategy for 2016 will also focus on these types of posts.

Did you find any of these articles useful? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

My 3 Words for 2016

My3WordFor2016

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions any more. I’ve never been good at them. I do, however, choose “areas of focus” for my next year. The idea is called “3 Words for (insert year here)”. I borrowed this idea from Chris Brogan, who’s been doing it for 10 years now.

The concept is simple. Take a moment to think of three things you’d like to work on this year. Then come up with three words that remind you of those three things. Write them down. Look at them everyday and try to make your reality match those words. At least this is how I think of the process. Chris Brogan describes it a little more elegantly here.

I’ve only been doing this for a couple of years, but I really like the practice. The first year, I was not very successful at fulfilling those words. But last year I made progress. This year I’m hoping to make even more progress. So, without further ado…

My three words for 2016 are Brave, Writer, and Finish.

Brave

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull, again, to do more.

It’s always followed, by being afraid, though. Every time I venture out of the little cubby hole that is my life and try new things, I feel afraid.

Who am I to try this? I haven’t been doing it long enough. I don’t know enough about it. I can’t possibly think I’d be any good at it.

These are the thoughts that run through my head.

It doesn’t happen right away, though. Oh no, it waits until I’m in the middle of a project. It waits until I’ve become firmly entrenched in the thing I want to do. Until, I’m actually getting excited about it.

Steven Pressfield calls this resistance in his book “The War of Art”. I call it the naysayer. It’s that kid on the playground who always thinks your idea of a game is stupid. It’s the person who tells you how hard something is going to be when you declare that you want to do something new with your life. It’s all the crabs who pull the one crab (desperately reaching for freedom) back into the bucket.

And the real ugly truth is, that it doesn’t have to be that way.

I love my son. I know, I’m a Mother, I have to say that. But it’s true. I love him, but not just because he came from me or that he’s changed my life (literally and figuratively). I love him, because he is fearless. He’s not afraid to be himself.

Actually, that’s not true. It’s not that he’s not afraid. He doesn’t even know that he can be afraid (or ashamed) of who he is. He hasn’t learned that yet. And I hope he never learns it. But I have a feeling that he will. In fact, he’s recently learned that some other kids think he’s “weird”, and that they have this incessant need to mock him for it.

It’s sad, because being weird and unique is one of the greatest things about living this life.

But for now, he’s still at that point in his life where he’s oblivious. It’s a glorious thing to behold.

I remember being like that once. Freer, happier, and completely oblivious to anything but my own joy. The joy of living.

There’s this really great quote that Eddard Stark tells his son Bran in “A Game of Thrones” about being brave. Bran asks, “can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?” His father answers, “That is the only time a man can be brave”.

And it’s true. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t feel like you need to brave your way through something without being scared. It’s impossible.

So, Brave is one of the words I choose.

Some of the best times in my life happened when I was being brave. Finishing writing my first story, when I was in 7th grade, and then telling everyone about it. Telling my husband (my then boyfriend) that I loved him for the first time. Getting married. Giving birth to my son. Climbing the rock wall in high school for the first time, even though I was afraid of heights. Doing my first debate. Acting in my first play. Singing on stage for the first time in 5th grade. Giving my first presentation on social media. Winning my first consulting client. Giving my first social media workshop. Leaving my job of three years to take a job with a place that really wanted me. Declaring that I was going to freelance full-time when I was laid off from that job. Joining BNI to bring in more clients to my fledgling business. Taking a job full-time with the business that was helping me get most of my work. Visiting a location of a client in Urbandale, Iowa to do a “Marketing Walkthrough” of their store. Starting my own blog. Moving to California from Missouri (which I had lived in for pretty much my whole life) in less than 2 weeks. Sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking over the edge (and I’m still afraid of heights). Every single time I have to get up in front of people and talk about something (especially if I’m the “so-called” expert). Every time I send a newsletter to my list. Every time I publish a blog post. I’m scared writing this now, because it’s deeply revealing. I’ll be scared in a couple of weeks when I take my first beginner salsa class. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being scared.

But that’s kind of the point. You’re not going to stop being scared. Life is scary, especially when it’s new and untamed.

Each of those times, I was able to walk through the fear and get through the other side. I still don’t exactly understand why I was able to. In some instances I can point to the fact that I “had to do it”, but in others, I just did. Maybe by trying to be more brave I will learn what gets me through, and I’ll be able to replicate it more.

Last year, I found that just looking at the words everyday to remind myself was not enough. I had to tie specific actions to those words, or nothing was going to be done.

Brave is hard to tie an action to. Sure, it can be an action word. But how the heck do you define brave as an action?

Even since I started writing this post, I’ve felt more aware of when I’m not being brave, and that’s a good thing. It’s given me some ideas on how I can take brave from just a word to something I can actually implement.

The first part of that is to try more stuff. Signing up for my first beginner salsa class is a great example of trying something new. I also have my eye on some writer’s meetups, which I’ll try to schedule in during the next couple of months.

The second way for me to be brave is to finish more things that I start. I’ll talk more about this later with my third word.

Writer

This is one of the things that I’ve always wanted to do with my life. In fact, it’s the thing I’ve wanted to do longest. Despite all my false starts and stops, I know it’s a thing I want to continue to do. So, why should I stop hiding it?

Again, though, you can’t have results without action. So, i’m tieing this word to a daily goal. I’m going to pledge to write at least 250 words a day of fiction. I just did the math, and a 90,000 word book will take me just under a year to write at 250 words per day.

On the other side of the coin, I also love to write blog posts, especially when they teach something. So, “writer”, is also to remind myself to do that as much as possible. I have another action for this. It is to finish 52 blog posts this year. I used to scoff at any goal I tried to set where I would publish 1 blog post per week. My mind would immediately counter with “that’s not nearly enough”, and then I would decide to do 2 per week. The problem with this goal was that I wrote even less because of it. Just the thought of writing a ton more than I was already outputting seemed to cripple me. So, I’m sticking with a more realistic goal this year.

Finish

Hi, my name is Cassie, and I’m a chronic “starter”. I rarely finish things. Even small projects like cleaning up my desk tend to get derailed. I know part of the problem is being in the middle of a project, and suddenly, finding myself scared to finish (for whatever reason). However, I also tend to get distracted by new ideas a lot. This has caused me to start a lot more projects than I could ever hope to finish.

So, the question that I will endeavor to ask myself the next time something shiny comes along is, “will I finish this?” I have to try to answer this in the most brutally honest way possible. Because my track record speaks for itself.

Again, though, I have finished things in the past. But just like the word “Brave”, I don’t understand why some things got finished and others didn’t. This year will be just as much about learning what motivates me to finish as it does actually finishing things.  

I’m going to also start documenting those projects which I do start, so that I can see what gets finished and what doesn’t. I’ve learned from running social media campaigns that if you need to have the data to back up whatever you are declaring as true. You can’t fake data. You can misinterpret it, or it can be skewed, but pure data only gives you numbers. Numbers just are.

Finish is also a reminder that I already have projects or irons in the fire that either need to be finished, redefined as something other than a project, or dropped completely. One of the most important things i’ve learned in the last couple of years is that it’s okay to not finish something. In fact, not finishing a project has taught me more about myself than anything else.

I’m still going to shoot for finishing more projects than not, but sometimes a project just isn’t meant to be finished.

How am I going to put finish into action? I’ve thought about this a lot, because starting and not finishing things is a major problem I want to overcome this year. It took me a while to hit on a plan that I think will work. I won’t know, though, until I work the system.

Here’s my plan. I have a list of the current projects that I am working on and want to work on in the next month. This is sort-of a high-level to do list, or a goals list. Then I have a second list. I call it my “queue”. These are all the things that I want to accomplish after my current projects are done. Everything that comes into my head, will need to go on the queue list until there’s room for it to move to the current projects list. I will schedule time to work on the things on my current projects list, and try to resist the urge to work on anything that is not on my current list. At the end of the month, I’ll assess my current list and see if there’s room to move anything from my queue. This will also be a good time to see how much progress I’ve made on a project. It’s not a perfect system, but I think it will work well.

So those are my 3 words for 2016, the reasons why I’m choosing them, and the plans I have in place to actually work on them.

How about you? Do you set New Year’s Resolutions, or do you focus on areas you want to improve? Would you like to join me in the 3 words for 2016? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know your plans.

Team 3 Media’s New Direction

Recently, I’ve been struggling with my business and making it grow. The problems I was having stem mostly from the model of business I had. I was basically one woman trying to act as an agency who managed the online marketing for my clients. Obviously, this was not working well. Not only was it unmanageable from a time and money stand-point, it was also slowly driving me insane. I’ve had plans to change this for a while, but I haven’t had the time or the cushion of money needed to take the business in a different direction. Now I do.

The Offer

The company that sends me most of my social media and email business, Online Marketing Giant, called me out of the blue a couple weeks ago. Chris, the President of the company has long been a friend and business colleague. He even used to be my boss at my old evil Corporate job. So, it’s safe to say that we know each other pretty well.

Still, it was a bit unexpected when he called and said that they’d like to meet about bringing me onto their team full-time. We’ve had a pretty good partnership up to this point, and I wasn’t looking to change it.

Their offer was to bring me on as a full-time project manager over their social media department. We had a meeting last week and I accepted. I’m actually pretty excited about this change for a couple of reasons.

  1. It gives me a much better steady pay base.
  2. I will be able to help more clients by focusing on planning the campaigns and using the resources of the company to fulfill those plans.

What Does This Mean for Team 3 Media?

It certainly doesn’t mean that I’m done with it. However, it does mean that I can now safely ditch the old model of businesss I had. I can, also, focus on the model of business that I’ve been dreaming about having, but haven’t had enough time to work on. That model is the “content-based business”.

Team 3 Media: A Content-Based Business

A Content-Based Business is a model of business that creates content at its core. Some of these business types rely on their traffic and ads to fuel them with money. Or they use their traffic to sell affiliate products. Or they use their traffic to sell their own content. It is the last version of this business model which I’m shooting for.

I don’t expect that I will be able to make a full-time living off this business model for a while. And that was part of my motivation in accepting this new job. It will give me time to develop this business without needing to worry about my bills being paid.

The Content

Among other things that I have planned is a series of ebooks (free and paid). If you’ve read about my “31 Days to An Awesome Facebook Page” then you’ll know what I’m talking about. That book is still definitely a part of the plan. Though, I’m delaying the launch to make sure that I get it right.

So, when can you expect to see the new content? I’m planning on launching my first free ebook in January: “7 Steps to a Successful Facebook Contest”. Until then, I’ll be working on that and some blog posts, so I can kick off 2014 right.

To My Clients

If you are or were a client of mine, you’ll be hearing this from me personally. And to any future clients, I am still available for work. You can now find me at Online Marketing Giantcassie@onlinemarketinggiant.com.

1 Quick Tip to Boost Your Facebook Page Visiblity

There are a few things you need to do: start promoting your Facebook Page and posting to your Facebook Page. But before you do that, you need to make sure it’s setup correctly. One of the areas that I see a lot of businesses missing in the Facebook Page setup process is setting up their vanity url (or Facebook Page Username).

The Problem

First, let’s look at the problem. Here’s an example of a Facebook Page address before you claim your username.

Facebook.com/pages/Your-Business-Name/181041651064

Looks pretty terrible, doesn’t it?

Now, let’s look at a Facebook Vanity Url.

Facebook.com/YourBusinessName

As you can see, this is much easier to read.

Why is this so important?

Well, first of all, it will help with your Search Engine Optimization. Not only will Google be able to read it better, but also Facebook’s search. It’s also easier for your customers to type. And finally, it looks much better on print.

The Solution

This is actually one of the easiest and quick fixes you can do to boost the visibility of your Facebook Page. Check out the tutorial below to find out how you can claim your Facebook Vanity Url.