Facebook 140: @ is where it’s @

Those who have used Twitter are familiar with the @ lingo: When you put @username (e.g. @LeeAase, @MayoClinic, @MeredithGould) in a tweet, you are replying to or mentioning that Twitter user in the public space.

Facebook developed similar functionality several months ago, but I have to confess I haven’t used it as much or as well as I should.

Hearing my friend Alan De Keyrel mention the @ tag in Facebook as a key strategy for building connections caused me to take a more in-depth look. I think it’s definitely something people in charge of maintaining Facebook pages for an organization should be exploring and using.

As with all powerful tools, it can go terribly wrong if abused. So in this course I’m going to give the overview of

  1. how the @ tag works,
  2. some ways it could be used productively, and also
  3. some cautions on what to avoid.

How it works:

When you are posting a link or a status update to your wall in Facebook, you can create a link to any of your friends’ Profiles, Pages you like or groups to which you belong, by typing @ in your update and waiting for a list of relevant pages or friends or groups to appear. It will look something like this:

When you hit your enter key to select the relevant page, profile or group, the update will look like this, just before you post it:

The cool thing is that this shows up not only where you posted it directly, but also on the linked pages. Here’s how it appeared briefly on the Mayo Clinic page (before I quickly removed it):

And here’s what it looked like on my wife Lisa’s wall:

How the @ tag can be used productively:

The @ tag is essentially like tagging an individual in a photo, but it goes beyond that. It’s a great way to share content with your friends and with their friends.

So, for example, I just posted a link to the Austin Packers Fast Break Club site (a blog we use to share highlights from my son’s high school basketball team) to my sister-in-law’s Facebook profile using the @ tag:

You will note that I tagged both Kris and the Facebook group for the Fast Break Club. Here’s what it looked like on her wall:

As you can see, this can be a really powerful way of spreading information on Facebook. But as Uncle Owen told Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This leads us to the third point:

Cautions on what to avoid in using the @ tag

Mainly, don’t think like an advertiser. Advertisers look for ways to interrupt people and push their messages, whether the recipient wants them or not.

In my first example above, I did post something to Lisa’s wall that may not have been all that interesting to her, although I did refer to her as my beloved. She understands when I need to experiment. Part of the price of being married to the Chancellor.

In the second post, though, I was sharing something with my sister-in-law about her nephew’s basketball team. I had every reason to expect she would find it interesting and welcome.

The side benefit is that some of her friends, such as other family members, will see this on her wall and may also like it. They may also decide to join the Facebook group or subscribe to the blog.

If I just started randomly tagging other friends in the post, that would have been a quick way to lose friends and not influence people.

The same is true for your use of @ tags relating to your organization’s page. It’s one thing if your friends or page connections decide to tag your page on their profiles, or tag their friends in a post or status update. It’s completely different when you use the @ tag to spam pages or profiles.

It all comes down to not being “that guy”

Think like a real person. If you’re using the @ tag mainly to drive traffic and not to connect people to information that will be interesting to them, your effort will not be successful in the long run.

But used wisely and with integrity, the @ tag can play a significant role in helping you make connections with people who share your concerns and convictions.

Facebook 240: 5 Steps to Customizing Your Facebook Page

In my post last Friday from the Facebook for Business seminar, I reported some recommendations from Alan De Keyrel, a friend from Rochester who was the keynote speaker.

Among Alan’s suggestions was that organizations with Facebook pages should create a custom landing tab for their visitors, so that you don’t “just dump them on your wall” but instead have some kind of welcome message that directs them in a way that is in keeping with the goals you have set for your Facebook page.

In Facebook 240, I will take you step-by-step through the process of customizing your organization’s page.

In keeping with my original goals for SMUG, to learn on my own before applying in my work, I will use the SMUG.Chancellor page as the demo example.

Maybe soon we will apply something like this on our Mayo Clinic page. In the meantime, I’ve learned the basics of how to do this, so if and when we decide to make that switch we can do it seamlessly.

Note: The following applies to organizational or business Pages, not personal Profiles. The SMUG.Chancellor page is what was formerly called a “fan” page, and even though it says “Lee Aase” at the top, it’s about me as an author/speaker. It’s different from my personal profile.

A personal Profile uses the “Add as Friend” terminology, and is for individuals to connect with each other. It is reciprocal; in other words, you don’t get to see my profile details until you add me as a friend and I confirm the relationship. Pages, on the other hand, use the “like” lingo. If you “like” Lee Aase, the SMUG Chancellor, you are connected to that page. No need to confirm the connection.

So I’m glad to be your friend on Facebook, but I hope you’ll like me too.

Step 1: Install the FBML application on your page

From your Page, click the Edit Page link under your profile picture:

Then click the Applications link in the left navigation to see the applications you have already installed. Your screen should look something like this (click to enlarge):

Click on the Add Application button for the Static FBML application. If for some reason the Static FBML application isn’t listed, you can search for it by clicking the Browse more applications link at the bottom of the list.

Continue reading “Facebook 240: 5 Steps to Customizing Your Facebook Page”

SMUG goes to Sweden

I’m at the airport in Rochester right now, getting ready to fly to Minneapolis, then to Amsterdam and finally to Gothenburg, Sweden. On Thursday I will be presenting at a symposium of the Swedish Society of Medicine, and also participating in a social media panel.

I’ll be heading back home Friday, in time for my middle son’s first varsity basketball game, which is Saturday afternoon. So it’s a short trip, but should be an interesting experience.

November 2010 has been my lightest-posting month in more than three years. I’ve got some good reasons for that, as will become apparent in the near future. Meanwhile, I’ll be making up for it by posting and tweeting about my Swedish experience, as I continue to put the “G” in SMUG.

More to come…

One of your next three page views will be on Facebook

If you’re reading this on the SMUG site (instead of in an RSS reader), it’s highly likely that one of the next three pages you load in your browser will be on Facebook. That’s according to this CBS News story:

According to Hitwise, Facebook has a 10 percent share of Internet visits in the U.S., and accounts for nearly 25 percent of page views. Trailing behind Facebook, Google has about a 7 percent share and YouTube (owned by Google) about 3 percent of Internet visits. On the page view front, YouTube and Google have a combined 11.7 percent share. It appears that Facebook is gobbling up a lot of what its CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the vast “uncharted” territory of the Internet.

So since this post counts as one, it’s likely that if you’re like most people (or at least “U.S. Americans“) one of your next three page views will be on Zuckerberg’s site.*

That got me to thinking about a post I did three years ago, when Facebook had “only” 35 million users, which I titled “Facebook: Covering the Planet in 5 years?” I made some projections based on Facebook’s “astonishing” growth rate of 3 percent per week, to see how long it would take Facebook to sign up everyone on the planet, a goal that had been attributed to one of its cofounders. Here was my take on it:

If that weekly growth trend continues, Facebook would have 6 billion users in January 2011, which would make that cofounder prediction of blanketing the planet in 5 years come true.

Of course lots of factors could intervene to diminish Facebook’s growth rate. As the old prospectus boilerplate says, “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” But even if Facebook’s “astonishing” growth rate were cut by a third, to 2 percent a week, it would have 400 million users by January 2010.

Clearly, Facebook’s growth rate slowed to something closer to that 2 percent a week mark. But even though it’s a few years behind schedule in covering the planet, the goal seems less fanciful than it did three years ago.

*Note to the humorless: I realize that the Hitwise figures are averages. More likely you’ll browse around on some other sites and then go on Facebook and log 50 page views there all at once. If you’re looking for some other historical (and hopefully interesting) posts about Facebook, mainly from 2007, check out the Facebook Business page. For a more structured approach to learning, see the Facebook curriculum section.

American Medical News highlights hospital social media

American Medical News has a nice profile this morning of Dana Lewis, who exemplifies the new role, in an article titled “Hospitals’ new specialist: Social media manager.” The article begins:

For otolaryngologist Douglas Backous, MD, Twitter and blogging were “like speaking a foreign language.” So he went to his hospital and got himself a translator: Dana Lewis, hired by Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center to handle all things social media.

Lewis is part of a trend in a new and growing type of hospital employment: the social media manager.

Technically, she’s called the interactive marketing specialist. But she, and others like her, are being charged by their hospitals to handle such duties as overseeing their social media presence, communicating with patients through social media — and, in many cases, teaching affiliated or employed physicians how to use social media. The idea is that by having a person dedicated to social media, the hospital can use the technology to strengthen its connections with all of what organizations like to call their stakeholders, which include the physicians who refer patients through their doors.

Check out the whole article: Ed Bennett’s Hospital Social Networking List also is featured, as are my 35 Theses here on SMUG. It also has a nice compilation of social media best practices for hospitals, which author Bob Cook apparently synthesized from several guidelines documents.

Here’s more information on what we’re doing at Mayo Clinic, with our new Center for Social Media. I’m excited that we’ve hired candidates for four of the eight new positions with the Center, and that we have interviews this week and next for two more. I’m also honored that both Ed and Dana are on our advisory board (with 12 more members still to be named). We’re going through about 120 applications from some really strong candidates to ensure broad-based and diverse membership.

When the official online publication of the American Medical Association devotes an extensive article to the topic of social media staffing for hospitals, that’s a good sign the activity is going mainstream. We’re glad to contributing to that through the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media and the Social Media Health Network.