Sunday, February 20, 2011

Innovating with Facebook's New Fan Pages

Facebook released new design and feature changes to its fan pages two weeks ago, Feb. 5, bringing them up to date with a layout that now provides improved engagement with fans, features photos and offers better analytics for page administrators. This new version comes after Facebook’s redesigned profile pages launched last December.

After I switched the Society of Professional Journalists fan page to the upgrades, it sparked the idea to use this latest version as an opportunity to have some fun while creating a new Facebook branding strategy for SPJ. A week later, we’ve now converted the photos displayed on our fan page as promotional space to showcase various programs provided by SPJ.

As you can see above, the first set of promotions feature SPJ’s additional communications vehicles so we can better help our members and followers stay connected with what SPJ is doing in the journalism profession. Once clicked on, the description for each image provides a brief overview of that topic and additional links to those resources. In the coming months these placements will cycle and alternate with other themed placements to help SPJ’s Facebook fans with awareness of other programs such as our professional development, ethics and FOI resources.

Of course there are some limitations to this new strategy that brands will encounter. Unlike some of the creative ideas that have been spawned by their profile page alter egos, fan pages’ photos are continuously randomized and do not maintain a specific order of placement. Given the 25 possible screen display outcomes, this specifically prevents any synchronized efforts to create one consistent, single promotion that spans across all five spaces.

Another constraint I tweeted about with Washington Post Live intern and Media Bistro 10,000 Words blogger Kevin Loker concerned what happens next when an image is clicked. Images that are larger in scale than the exact size displayed on a fan page’s main wall will create an off-centered image when viewed on the wall. However, not enlarging the image means that it will remain that smaller size once it is clicked on. Deciding how to proceed given both constraints largely depends on personal preference.

As Facebook makes further advances, these factors will hopefully be taken into account and these problems may dissolve themselves over time. Until then, we are not the only ones who aren’t letting that stop us from experimenting. Kevin tagged me in on another conversation where USA Today College also had some fun with the new upgrades this past Friday.

When using these types of promotions for fan pages it is important to do so ethically and legally. Be familiar with the Facebook Advertising Guidelines.

Want to know more about the process that went into creating SPJ’s new Facebook promotions? Read a more in-depth entry by following this link to the SPJ headquarters blog where you can learn about the behind the scenes perspectives that went into this project - the ideas, failed concept work and a sneak peek at our next series of promotions.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Basic Principles: The Hitch Factor

Last night I decided to watch one of my favorite movies, Hitch. The 2005 comedy is about matchmaker Alex Hitchens’ (Will Smith) behind the scenes work to help hopeless romantic Albert Brennaman (Kevin James) win the heart of society heiress Allegra Cole. With an energetic storyline, fluid comedic timing and jazzy soundtrack, Hitch is one of the few movies I find worth watching on a yearly basis.

Fun Fact: The opening credits sequence displaying the title for the film inspired the banner for this blog.

But it was not until recently that I was able to appreciate the film for its positive, underlying inspiration for public relations and marketing professionals. So what gives a practitioner the Hitch factor?

Hitch’s own techniques focus on brand management for guys hoping to get the girl of their dreams. And no marketing strategy is successful without comprehensive research of your brand’s target audience.

For Hitch, his research involves understanding important social dating techniques to better connect those audiences and his clients. Depending on the target audience (Allegra in this instance) it is important that PR practitioners should do concentrated research to understand what key messages most interest an audience and will better connect them with a brand (Albert in this instance).

Of course, the fundamental cornerstone of Hitch’s strategy is client confidentiality and trust. Practitioners should always safeguard critical information about their clients and conduct their work in a discrete, professional manner.

“My business is 100 percent referral and thus far untraceable. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned when you orchestrate, coordinate and otherwise mess with fate, it’s best to fly under the radar.” - Hitch

Hitch understands that secrecy is an important part of public relations but he also knows that it should never override ethics and the public interest.

Strong ethical standards are always an important component to being a successful public relations practitioner. Hitch’s own moral compass is showcased often through his sense of compassion and understanding. Early on in the film, he asserts his standards and refuses to work with chauvinist Vance Munson as a client.
“Hit it and quit it is not my game.” -Hitch

Passionate PR professionals care about and protect their brands from misperception and falsehoods. Hitch does this while also emphasizing his ethical principles when he later clarifies his association with Albert to Allegra. My job is not to deceive Ms. Cole. It’s to create opportunities.” - Hitch

Promoting a brand also requires positive energy and confidence. Hitch does so with an air of savoir faire about him. He highlights this quality often through the use of constructive quotes.

“Basic principles: No matter what, no matter when, no matter who, any man has a chance to sweep any woman off her feet. He just needs the right broom.” - Hitch

“Like I always tell my clients - begin each day as if it were on purpose.” - Hitch

“Always remember, life is not the amount of breathes you take. It’s the moments that take your breath away.” - Hitch
“Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.” - Hitch

Did you happen to notice the recurring theme in the last two quotes? Catch phrases and slogans are an important part of marketing - even when branding your personal self. Do so eloquently and before you know it, you'll achieve the Hitch factor.
Of course, if Hitch isn't your Jerry McGuire, then maybe you and PR pro Mike Schaffer share the same role model. I hear the guy is “Legen - wait for - Dary! Legendary!”