Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Decoding Facebook

Hi folks!

Congrats to Katrina on winning yesterday's auction for a custom doll and thanks for helping us give to the Red Cross! A double-win; I love those!

Well, today I thought I'd talk about something not very doll-related. You may have seen some of the pages you like posting statuses saying something like Facebook is changing what you see in your News Feed! To keep seeing updates from our page please follow these instructions: 1. On the right hand side on the page hover over the "liked" button until a drop down menu appears. 2. Click on "add to interest list."

You may also have seen that "promoted post" tag appear and wonder what's going on. Or the offers or sponsored pages? Lots of new stuff, huh?

I'm going to try to clear some of this up for you guys. So read on! You'll be able to understand what you're seeing, control your Facebook experience a bit more, and impress all your friends tomorrow with your new knowledge. :)
Needless to say, this post will probably not be full of pretty pictures, nor terribly entertaining. I promise my feelings won't be hurt if you skip it and come back for more of Robin's awesome Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway on Friday. <3 <3

How does Facebook decide what goes in my News Feed?

Facebook fills your News Feed with what they think you'll be most interested in. Of course, it's just a computer program, so it's far from perfect. It's full of status updates, pictures, shared items, etc from your friends and the pages you've "liked." You probably already know you can remove something from your News Feed (by hovering over the item, clicking the little down arrow and choosing 'hide'), either just a post, or all posts from a page, person or app. But how do they decide what should be there? Well, I obviously don't know it all, but according to their help documents, they more you interact with a person or page, they more they will show up in your Feed.

For example, if you love Tansy Dolls (and who here doesn't?), but you never click, like, or comment on our posts, you'll find we start to fade out of your News Feed. Those pages that you do interact with will show up more often, and higher up the page.

You can also choose to sort your News Feed by Most Recent, but the same preference rules will still show up, and the Feed will always revert back to Top Stories when you log out.

So how do I keep track of what's going on? I can't read everything on Facebook every day!

No, of course you can't. Who could? Now, you can always go to the individual pages you care about and see what's new, but that's why we have the News Feed, right? So what else can you do?

1. Be sure to interact with the pages you care about. Click that 'like' button, leave a comment (trust me, we love to hear from you), share the posts you think your friends might enjoy. That's how all this social media nonsense is supposed to work anyhow.

2. Keep up with your favorite groups and companies in other ways as well. Following this blog is a good way to keep up with major Tansy Dolls events, and many other businesses and organizations have blogs or webpages too. Twitter is another great option. We, for example, have linked our Facebook and Twitter accounts so that Facebook posts also go through as tweets. If you're a Twitter user you can follow us there instead.

3. Facebook has introduced a new feature called Interest Lists, which is actually pretty cool. This is what those other pages were talking about in those status updates, but a lot of them didn't get it quite right. Say, for example, you have rather a lot of people and pages you follow on Facebook. Having them all mixed together in your News Feed can make for a lot of scrolling and a lot of missed info in that cluttered mess. So now, just like you can make friend lists that show what different collections of your friends are up to (like close friends, family, co-workers, etc) you can also create lists that collect pages as well.

For example, you know that awesome Giveaway that Robin is organizing for you guys? Well, I love her choices and have gone and 'liked' every one of those pages, but that's way too much stuff to have in my News Feed every day! Instead, I've made an Interest List called Tansy Dolls Holiday Gift Guide Shops that collects all those pages' posts in one place. When I feel like pouring over those awesome goodies and their makers I know right where to look. And, since Interest Lists can be shared, you know where to look too! Just click that link, hit the 'subscribe' button near the top, and you'll find it shows up under "Interests" on your main page (bottom left of the page). Here's another one I put together that's full of Dolls & goodies.

Well, that's actually pretty cool. But what's with the sponsored posts, promoted posts, offers, and what-have-you?

Well, Facebook is a service. It's even a free service. They don't charge you for an account and they don't charge us just for having a page, but they're not a non-profit. Facebook needs to pay their bills too. Now, for quite a while now they've done that with the targeted ads that show up along the right of your screen. But, well, they're a business; they're looking to find new ways to make money. Since it's all still optional (despite the rumors) I personally have a hard time faulting them. So here's the breakdown.

Sponsored posts - these are a kind of ad. They appear in your News Feed and often take the form of "Friend A likes Product" followed by a link, but they do all have a little 'sponsored' tag on them. As far as I've been able to figure out, Friend A really does 'like' the Product, but no, they're not writing that post; it's an ad.

Promoted posts - these aren't quite ads, but they're kind of on the border. These are available to everyone; you can promote a post too if you so desire. This just means the author of that post is paying a bit of money to help that post reach more people than it would using the regular News Feed formulas. I haven't seen much evidence on how effective this is, but if you really want to show people your dinner photos, this is an option.

Offers - these are what they sound like; coupons or discounts being offered by a page. Usually, they show up in your News Feed because a friend has claimed an offer and you are invited to do so as well. These offers can be a discount, deal, or even gift certificate that can be used either in store, online, or both. The business is paying to place that information out there, but the offer is real and binding. Enjoy!

Other stuff - if you're on a mobile device, you've probably also seen the page recommendations, which are a kind of paid ad. There are also the sponsored friend ads on the upper right of the webpage, which let you know what your friends have liked in the hope that you'll be enticed into liking the page too.

Ok, I think that's all I've got for now. Facebook and the web are always coming out with new, exciting, and confusing advances, so maybe I'll do another one of these in the future. Hope this helped clear something up for you!

Why thank you! Yes, that makes much more sense now! You're a genius!

Well no, but thank you. I appreciate the complement, even when I give it to myself. <3 <3 <3


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