Facebook, social networks, strategy, twitter

My snarky advice to buying likes & followers…


Sometimes my emails make great blog posts.

A respected friend of mine was recently asked by his client if they should personally buy likes and follows.  Noise maker that he is, he invited our thoughts on the matter.


After a number of emails flew by… I entered the debate.  I decided to add my two cents.  To which, proud moment, @schnitzelboy said “and that’s why i wanted LDS to weigh-in.”

My response:

“Okay.. time to waft in..

I absolutely *hate* these get rich quick schemes.  Of course, I do support paid ad support for social – not from bots but from ad placements with users self selecting their participation.

In the early days, when I won some social media management business back in 200x – we were horrified to discover hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of nonsensical twitter followers & following that had naught to do with the brand advocacy, current consumption or future intent WITHIN  Canada.  Although they did not use a get rich quick scheme as your website below – they followed anyone who even mentioned the brand, anywhere in the world.  We learned quickly that year how to dump a following – note – Twitter has limits!

I think having some sizable critical mass goals are admirable and necessary for starter brands but these schemes are not the way to do it.    I don’t think going ‘organic’ alone is the way either.  Social media grows exponentially and the first part of the hockey stick is long & boring without some kind of interference.  Some targeted paid, integrated marketing, very clever content can help shorten the hockey stick.

If this is an individual asking, slap them on the side of their head.   Those with experience can look at the velocity of their accounts – no. tweets vs. followers, etc – and see something is amiss.  Social can do a lot of brand / reputation damage when you fake it to make it.

analytics, Facebook, insights, metrics, social networks, visualizations

The curve of your #FACEbook; 4 common #facebook #insight curves demystified

By now, I’ve looked at many, many Facebook insights curves working with various brand pages and I’ve come to notice a pattern in what I see.  Here is an explanation of four common Facebook insight curves or charts.  Understanding these patterns will help with understanding the success of Facebook pages.  This is likely of most interest to community managers or analytic geeks.

First a quick recap of the main units of measure on these charts.

  • People Talking About This or “TAT” includes all engagement metrics that Facebook allows – liking a post, sharing it, commenting, presumably any liking per comment and *liking a page*.  I don’t think it is the best measurement of engagement but it is what Facebook allows us to see.
  • New likes per week – indicates any new liking activity for your page.   Why Facebook adds “per week” on this unit and not the other, I don’t know.

Consider that these units of measure are presented as though they are daily activity – but they are NOT.  Each point on the graph represents a rolling 7 day week of data.  So that means the Sept 20th data is actually 7 days of activity ending on Sept. 20th (so Sept. 13 – Sept 20th).  Then Sept 21th is represented by data from Sept 14 – 21.  This is frustrating because true daily activity is muted somewhat.  I’m not sure why Facebook does this nor can I find articles on why using 7 day rolling data would be advantageous over using daily data.  If you have an opinion – please enlighten me!

Also consider that the TAT number contains any liking of a page – which is what the ‘new likes per week’ is all about.  So we are comparing two curves, one containing the other curve within it so we have to deduce that the visual gap between the two curves represents the “success” of the content.

Of course, a liked post can be generated by cheap, low involvement engagement e.g. what is your favorite colour vs. answering a consumer inquiry.  I see tons of ‘cheating’ questions – to the tune of “like this if you put socks on in the morning” – and community managers report that as successful content because facebook monkeys click “like” on the post but it does nothing for building deeper connections with a brand page.  [rant]   So despite charts, there will always be a need for further analysis into the context of the engagement.

Onto the curves.

The Newbie Chart

This is the chart to an unidentified, brand new facebook page.  Our natural cues to its newbie status would be the start of content & number of facebook likes on the actual page (not depicted here).   In looking at this Facebook insights curve,  you see new like and ‘talking about this’ [TAT]  following together.  This is because for every new like, Facebook also records it within their  “TAT”number.  So the TAT number is driven almost entirely by new likes.    Then the community manager took a break – and with a young page, every thing – liking the page & engagement crashes.  But then content reappears which looks like it appeals to the existing fan base.   We see the curves diverge.

The Contest Driven Chart

Contests are the easiest way to ‘cheat’ at Facebook fan (like) growth.  So many many do it and wonder why their community isn’t reflecting the people brands care about.  At the same time, it is a tactic – a reasonable fast one to gain critical mass.  Critical mass allows brands to get into a decent social graph – reaching friends of friends – otherwise the brand is in a room talking to itself.   With a contest under belt,  its a crowded party but possibly in the wrong bar, with the wrong crowd.

So focus on the right half of this chart – we see two bumps with the gray ‘new likes’ line following the TAT line.  This is reflective of new people entering a contest.  It could also be a curve that reflects good content that encourages people to also like a page, but since we know the contest is going on, then know the curve.   At the same time  – there is a bit distance between the curves which indicates that the content either resonated with contest goers (it did, its the Swiffer ‘my man cleans’ t-shirt, Oct. 15) or that the contest asked visitors to do some kind of monkey task (it did, Swiffer’s advertising ‘show us the love or at least like us’).

The ad supported chart

Up, down, up, down… likely in concert with two waves of facebook advertising spend.   To me, the first bump suggests the first ad worked harder or was supported by some kind of like incentive.  The curve drops when the stimulus is removed, and re-appears with ad support (confirmed as I’ve seen the ads).    I don’t see this as a healthy facebook curve at all.  It is artificial – because it is not sustainable without advertising.

The ‘my content went viral’ chart

This is Red Bull’s facebook page – after its sponsorship of Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the stratosphere.   A brilliant capture of content from a brand, in my opinion.  Here we see the facebook curve coming off an ad spend, then the big bump on the right is the release of photos related to Felix.  The content is heavily shared – and although this is a rolling seven day picture, it seems to have been shared over time – given the evidence of new little spikes in the curve top.   As for new likes per week – there is traction.

What is interesting is that this chart represents a community of 32 million.  So the “new likes” are not what is driving the content here – it is the content being shared among the existing fan base – or so I expect.

Another ‘my content went viral’ chart

UK Bodyform’s very interesting video response to a disillusioned man was well received.  For a little community – the content got a lot of eyeballs.  It did not translate well into likes – although there are a few new likes at the right.  It may be that this community did not have a lot of content prior to the video – so the community saw this as a one time contribution, albeit awesome, but not enough to like the page.  That said – this is a page for feminine protection which wouldn’t get much public liking anyways.

I hope this helps with your perspectives on facebook insight charts and your measurement of facebook pages.  Drop me a comment if there is a curve pattern that I could include.


Zuckerberg – “morally challenged geek or misunderstood genius” – Peter Foster, Financial Post

There is a fantastic article, Mark Zuckerberg’s close-up,  by Peter Foster in today’s Financial Post – definitely recommended reading for anyone who has seen The Social Network movie and is fascinated by the portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg.

Peter reviews Mark vs. the Mark portrayed in The Social Network movie and in doing so gives a run down on the current financial situation facing Facebook.  Eloquently written, Peter reminds us that the ‘moral’ issue today is Facebook’s business model that proffers users information to buyers.   He writes:

A more fundamental “moral” issue, however, relates to the nature of Facebook’s business model, which is based on the exploitation of networks of alleged friendship to sell stuff. Read more: http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/01/06/peter-foster-mark-zuckerbergs-close-up/#ixzz1AP8173l9

Note:  I haven’t figured out why the SEC would force an IPO on Facebook – is this because of Goldman Sachs?

I see Mark Zuckerberg as the misunderstood genius – what I can’t tell from the movie is just how much of an idea was shared from the Winklevoss twins.  If it was only a conversation in a fancy private club, as depicted in the movie, then the $65M for a conversation is a pretty good return given they didn’t execute.  If they paid MZ while he blew them off looking at the code he did not use, then arguably the issue is larger.

In MZ’s defense (and I can’t help likely a smart a** who would re-calculate 18K + 1K = $19K for a condescending lawyer), the right idea is important but development and refinement of the idea to create a business and its online execution or activation is extremely difficult to nail.  I guess that’s why Mark Z is person of the year.   Now take time to read Time’s article – it certainly depicts Mark in a completely different light and at the same time, explains just what an amazing accomplishment facebook really is.

share, social networks, strategy

The science of sharing

I’m exploring the science of sharing lately – that is what to do to absolutely maximize the sharing (conversion) of your material – this cuts across facebook, twitter and youtube.

Some quick observations that I’ve made:


  1. Keep your tweets below 110 characters so that re-tweeting RT is easier to do.
  2. Do your follow Fridays early in the day – not late on Friday – since those you #FF are more likely to retweet you.
  3. Consider your audience and the time of your tweets.  I get a lot of replies and RTs early in the morning and late at night.  Lots of great studies on the best time for tweeting.
  4. Use hashtags.    I put hashtags in my profile description!  Some hashtags are autopicked up and retweeted like #toronto.  Additionally – for us campaign or event tweeters – here is a great blog post by Amanda Miller Littlejohn that I’ve come across that gives tips on using hashtags.  My experience (see Lessons for live social media coverage) are that you can not always pick your hashtag – but if you can seed it and it sticks then Amanda’s tips go a long way to making your hashtag more effective


  1. On Facebook – instead of adding a picture, add a blog post with the picture.  This gives you a better use of the wall post real estate as pictures end up leaving a lot of dead white space and blogs allow more content sharing around the photo.
  2. On Facebook – if posting a video to your wall, be sure to add a comment including the run time of your video – again using the real estate on the website to your advantage.   I would say that Facebook itself (the fan pages for any official Facebook page) demonstrate best practices on wall posting for videos & blogs.
  3. On Facebook – in your wall posted videos – add an embedded link back to your facebook page.


  1. Use the Youtube player to share, if you can.  All the sharing is built into the player.
  2. In your videos for youtube – try not to have the video die a slow death e.g. black out to a long standing logo with a run time of more than a couple seconds or else viewers will skip off before ending the viewing of your video.  Its at the end of the video that the sharing features appear.

Beyond these specific tips – I’ve been working with JWT Minneapolis on the measurement of sharing – how many visitors are generated by each social media tool.  How can we position and content encourage the most sharing.  Its a science that I still have much research to do.

I welcome your thoughts!


metrics, social networks, strategy

Don’t be impulsive on the impulse for social media

I’ve had a series of interesting meetings in the last few weeks with rather large organizations – belonging to three different industries including health care, big ticket consumer goods and, an old favorite, home building (condominium development/real estate).   And although the needs were different, there was a common veil and almost desperation to do something in social media.

In all three meetings the marketing leadership knew that social media was upon them and was required in their marketing planning.  And yet, there was no real understanding of where to start or what to budget – and sometimes, what questions to ask.

I’ve had past clients assume that step one would be setting up a corporate facebook fan page – which is not always the case.  Before rushing in.. I always like to start with tried and true…. for instance

  • what are your business and marketing objectives and how does digital feed them (which is often my question to answer)
  • what are your target markets, their needs, wants and behaviours?
  • What loyal and sizable networks exist today that need a place for loyalty (and so potentially for social networking)?
  • What pain points exist in your customer experience?  What creates churn and loyalty in that experience?
  • How well are your current digital efforts serving you? (which leads to analytics and performance evaluation)

There is more to do than what I suggest above as I haven’t touched on organizational readiness nor a technology tool set review.  But importantly, I do advise not to jump to social media vehicle selection before understand what goals are to be achieved.    Its a wild west out there – and strategy has to lead.

Facebook, fans / loyalty

Keeping your personal life private on Facebook using limited profiles

I was starting to accept that my Facebook personal life would careen into my business life.  Though I’ve worked hard to keep my personal and business lives separate, my use of “Friends only” in my privacy settings was starting to lose its effectiveness.  I fell into awkward ground this past July when I started to manage corporate Facebook fan pages on behalf of clients.

To manage a clients’ page, I have to be befriend the administrator on Facebook.

The reverse holds true as well.  For me to provide administrative rights back to clients for pages I’d set up, I can not do this until we are “friends”.  And though I do truly like all my clients, having instant deep friendship presents its awkward moments.

But there is a fix for all this.  You can add your business connections to Facebook and keep your privacy too.

As heavy social networker, I definitely use Facebook to hold pieces of my personal life.  I mostly connect with friends and family, and a number former colleagues with whom I share a healthy, personal respect for.  Like many people, Facebook holds my wedding photos, major milestones my children’s lives and really bad high school pictures.  I’ve even used Facebook to reunite my 14 cousins through a group and there within we share all our vintage photos of our mutual grandparents.

But there is a fix for all this.

There is a little known Facebook feature called a limited profile that can provide greater privacy.

Creating limited profiles and managing them is not intuitive so up till now I’ve added people to my limited profile but have not specified what this limited profile can and can not see.  And worth noting is that if you do not take an extra step to exclude your limited profile from key information, then your ‘limited profile’ friends see just as much as your regular ones.

As my business keeps creeping in on my personal life, and local politicians want to become ‘friends’, I decided to master this feature.

Here are a the steps:

First assign a friend to the limited profile list.

You can do this one of two ways:

  1. When you accept the friendship of someone, you have an option to add them to a list.  There will be a Facebook added list name (or tag) called ‘limited profile’.
  2. Alternatively, you can go into your ‘friends’ section and choose ‘limited profile’, a menu pick on the left hand side, and then add friends to this list.

With a list of limited profile chosen people – you then need to identify what this list will NOT see in your Facebook profile.  Remember, the default is that they can see everything your friends see until you specify what they can not see.

Indicate which profile sections are excluded from your limited profile.

In Settings (top right hand corner), choose privacy settings.

Customize limited profile Among your privacy settings, choose “profile”.  Under ‘basic’, you will see a number of sections of your profile.

Using the pull down menu, choose ‘customize’.    [that was always the menu pick that trumped me .. it was not obvious that I had to customize to specify limited profile]

You will get a little popup box asking who can see this section.  Go to the red “except these people” section and start typing “limited profile”.

Exeception limited profile

The information you may want to hold dear are:

*  Status and links
*  Some photos tagged of me
*  Some photo albums
*  Videos tagged about me

Note – you can also exclude your limited profile list from contact information section too. Just follow the same logic as above.

And voila!  You now can mix some business with pleasure on Facebook.

Do note:  For those who want to delve deeper into Facebook privacy, I found an excellent blog post about this a while back called 10 privacy settings every Facebook user should know by Nick O’Neill.

HeadshotThis original post was submitted to the Community Marketing Blog’s Blogging contest

Laurie Dillon-Schalk is the Chief Marketing Strategist and founder of Social Wisdom – a Toronto based digital marketing agency that helps firms and individuals use social media and the web wisely.

You can find Laurie on Twitter at twitter.com/Ldillonschalk or on her blog at Socialwisdom.ca

Facebook, fans / loyalty

Authentic Vin Diesel – a beautiful voice on Facebook’s no. 3 most popular page

With 6.5 million fans, Vin Diesel comes third only after a pop icon and the president of the US.   Yup – Vin Diesel.  And I never thought I’d write something to the tune of ‘everything we need to know we can learn from Vin Diesel’ article.

I reported on the top five fan pages just a while back and I couldn’t believe that Vin Diesel was no. 3.    What – when did that happen?   I’ve always like Vin Diesel after seeing xxx but I would not figured he would surpass all other celebrities, actors, etc. in facebook fans.

vin dieselWell after becoming a fan myself – I can see.  He is doing the writing and he is authentic and responsive.   I really do think he is doing the writing.   He is really reaching his long tail of enthusiasts and updating them on movie scripts,  and sequels.  Whats more is he is engaging – he invites people to submit photos, he adds personal photos of his lunch with his father, and adds notes under every photo.

His pages are digested.   Proof?  He updates a fan about the next Riddick script coming in on the weekend and getting 15, 637 likes (and counting).  Notice how he knows how to write the post so you have to click ‘read more’ to get the big news?

When we think about how to write for social media – he really exemplifies a lot.    Open ended questions, suggestions on how to contribute, personal & authentic voice, and lots of responses to inquiries and popular requests.   Pretty neat.