Monday, 20 June 2011

Are we on the Same Page?

In last week's article, I discussed the differences between what you and your customers might see when looking at your website and Social Media presences.

Continuing along that theme this week, we'll look at why this happens and where else there may be a problem.

Somewhat ironically, the reasons for the problem on facebook, are it's privacy settings being so good (despite being it's biggest source of criticism) and arguably it's biggest strength, which is how well it translates a user's actions and data into delivering what's of most interest to them.

Depending on a user's personal privacy settings, their posts and comments on your page may be visible to anyone, only friends or friends of friends, while always being visible to the page admins, so what you see may vary from what others see. This is also the case with the 'Top Posts' filter, which dictates the order of the posts by importance to the individual visitor, determined by how many friends have interacted with them.

Despite these concerns, Pages are still far more open and visible than Groups or Personal Profiles, which, although facebook forbids it, are still used by many companies. Personal Profiles especially, can look radically different from what you see to others who may not be 'friends' or registered with facebook. If you use these, again, log out and check it.

Rather than offer advice on easing this difference with Groups and Personal Profiles, the best thing to suggest is to upgrade to a Page. Although there are a few problems as detailed above, these are far less than with the other two and as using them for a business if prohibited anyway, keeping with them might bring their deletion.

A company's profile is not the only place where there's a difference.

Much like with the 'Top Posts' filter mentioned above, a user's news feed delivers what it assesses to be of most interest to them. If a lot of their friends like a page they like, it's more likely to appear, especially if it gets a lot of feedback.

On the other hand, if they're the only ones to like a page and there's little to no feedback on it's posts, they may not even appear in that user's news feed. They'll still appear in the admin's news feed, because being the admin indicates that the Page is obviously of high interest, but don't take that to mean it's definitily appearing elsewhere.

The same goes for the facebook search facility. It again takes into account a users personal connection and likes, to deliver results individually tailored to them. So, if you own a page and a lot of your friends like it, the chances of it appearing at the top of a search will be very high. For someone without that connection, it may not even be on the first page.

As a quick aside while on the subject of search, facebook still only uses page titles when searching for the keywords you input. It therefore remains a good idea to include the main product or service in the page title and if not a national business, also include the geographical region covered.

Hopefully, sometime soon facebook will improve this and take other information from a profile in to account. If it wants to continue in the direction of offering an alternative way to navigate the web to Google, then it will have to take a leaf out of the latter's book and drastically improve it's search module.

There is a similarity between the two though, in that they both tailor results to individuals. With Google, this means that if it appears that you're at the top for your keywords when you search, that might not be the case when others do.

Google may also present an issue with showing your customers something different to what you see, in how it delivers search results. Like the facebook search, it looks for relevance. So, if Google has any data from your browsing history, for example, it will use it to provide you with more relevant results. If you have an account with Google and are logged in, it has even more to influence the results.

All in all, the internet is getting more and more tailored and individual, where just because you're on the same page, doesn't mean you're seeing the same thing. Businesses would do well to bare this in mind.

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