Facebook Rolls Out Homepage Redesign

As you’ve probably heard (or seen if you’re one of the chosen people), Facebook began rolling out a new homepage design today for the site’s now 400 million users. The redesign comes just in time for Facebook’s 6th Birthday! (Can you believe it’s only been six years since Facebook launched?) The Facebook redesign emphasizes search, centralizes the site the homepage and allows for easy navigation.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • As part of the redesign, you’ll notice that the left sidebar on the homepage has a lot going on. Some features, such as events, that were previously under the Applications tab in the bottom left were moved to the left sidebar on the homepage. You’ll also notice that the left hand sidebar is now home to the Friends tab. When a user clicks on a feature, they now open in the main window where the feed appears, rather than directing a person to a new page.

  • Additionally, Facebook Chat and the message inbox have been moved. Users’ Chat list is now on the left sidebar as well. Users can now check their inboxes from a dropdown menu at the top and send messages from there as well.

  • On the homepage the search bar is significantly larger and more strategically placed; this is line with Facebook’s recent focus on search. A few months ago, Facebook added real-time search features and last month Facebook’s privacy changes were made so users’ updates would appear in other users’ searches for information. The search bar placement is yet another way for Facebook to stress its commitment to the importance of search.

I think the new design is great! The layout makes Facebook so much easier to use. What do you think of the new design?

-@cristinalepore

Guerilla Marketing, Street Promotions and Foursquare

I LOVE guerilla marketing, street promotions and any form of alternative marketing. I am not really sure why I do. Maybe, it’s because there is an opportunity to connect in person with someone who represents the brand? Maybe, it’s because I love out-of-the-box thinking, or because it spices up my day?

In any case, these are the people I met yesterday walking to work. They represent a brand of triple-insulated coffee cups called “Chinet Comfort Cups®.”

When I approached the woman wearing the rather large coffee cup on her back she smiled and asked me if I would like a free cup of coffee. I said, “Sure,” and asked her about the promotion. We spoke about the product for 30-45 seconds and I went on my way.

On my walk to work, I thought about street promotions and how brands could use Foursquare to build excitement around an event or location. I began brainstorming how to tie the two together.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Mayors (frequent visitors) could be honored at certain times during the promotion and awarded special prizes
  • Anyone who checked in at the promotion would be entered to win a special prize
  • Anyone who checks in at the promotion on a certain date receives a discount coupon

What do you think? How can brands use Foursquare to make street promotions even more interactive and engaging?

-@ajgerritson

How to Use the Answers Feature on LinkedIn for Business Development

If you’re on LinkedIn, you should use the Answers feature for business development by showcasing your knowledge through answering users’ questions in your area of expertise. You can build brand reputation and position your company as a leader in your industry by utilizing the Answers section.

The LinkedIn Answers section is a great tool to gain brand visibility. In this section people post questions about various business-related topics. People looking for information or advice, ask questions that are organized into categories such as Finance, Management, Marketing and Sales and other topics related to business operations.

To get the most out of the Answers feature, you should check relevant pages regularly for questions you can answer with your specific expertise. On LinkedIn, it’s important to give valuable insight in order to receive recognition and positive return. The more thoughtful insights you can offer, the more trustworthy you and your brand will become. Your company will become a trusted leader in your space and prospective clients will look to your company for their business needs.

If one of your answers is selected as a “Best Answer” or “Good Answer” by the person who posted the question, the recognition will show up on your profile. Users who were awarded the most “Best Answers” in a particular category show up in a prominent list on that category’s home page. This is a great way to gain visibility on LinkedIn and demonstrate expertise.

LinkedIn is a useful social networking tool for attracting prospects and building a trusted brand identity. The more value you can add to a conversation, the more likely it is that you will be remembered and people will want to use your services. It’s important to be honest and helpful on LinkedIn; the business will follow.

451 Marketing’s LinkedIn Series: How to Create a LinkedIn Event

Do you have a conference, seminar, webinar or other business event coming up? Do you want to make sure the right people hear about it and, more importantly, attend? LinkedIn Events present an effective and easy way to generate awareness for your upcoming sessions and ensure you are promoting the information to prospects.

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So how do you create an event and make sure your prospects attend? We’ll tell you…

Step 1: Visit the Events page from the LinkedIn homepage and click on “Add an Event.”

Step 2: Next you will see a page with a detailed event form to complete. Start filling it out!

  • Be sure to create an accurate and compelling title for the event. You want to engage your audience a leave them with a good first impression.
  • Fill in the additional details.
  • Include information on where the event will take place as users like to search by location.
  • Confirm that you are the event organizer so that you can edit the event at any time.

Step 3: Click on “Add More Details.”

  • Do not skip this part! This is important because the drop-down menu will offer you more ways to promote and describe the event. The different options help you generate awareness among prospective clients.

Step 4: Add a detailed description.

  • Describe your event in detail. You want members of your audience who view the event page to understand what you’ll be addressing at the event and why it’s important for them to attend.

Step 5: Next, choose an event type and industry.

  • This is important for prospects that search by event categories (industry verticals, webinar vs. seminar, etc.).

Step 6: Add keywords.

  • The keywords reflect when and where your event will pop up in searches. Add relevant tags and make sure that the keywords you choose to use are terms your prospects typically search for on LinkedIn. You may use up to 20 keywords.

Step 7:  Next, fill in who should attend the event.

  • Include the typical titles of the individuals you would like to attend from a  prospective company, as well as titles of people who would be generally interested in the content.

Step 8: You’re almost done! Click Preview and make sure the info is correct.

Step 9: Publish the event.

  • You can edit at any time.

Now you’re ready to start planning your next event on LinkedIn. What are your  experiences with LinkedIn events? Share them with us!

Social Media Reflections: What Are You Most Thankful For?

turkey

The Holiday season is underway and Thanksgiving will be here before some of us even had a chance to think too much about it. That’s never a good thing during the one time of the year that you should be ready to express how thankful you are for what you have (instead of complaining about what you don’t)!

Usually when you stop to think about these types of things you reflect upon the past year that was. For the team at 451 Marketing, and for everyone out there who energizes and inspires us by the work that they do and share on a daily basis, the past year has been consumed by the continued emergence and power of social media. In the past twelve months we have seen a dramatic increase in the growth and mainstream popularity of Twitter, witnessed countless examples of individuals, businesses and other organizations utilizing social tools for valuable purposes and we have all continued to reflect on how these tools and channels improve the way we communicate with each other both on-and-offline. In the coming year, we should only expect to see the social web evolve to the point where every communication that a brand (including ourselves) makes, becomes social.

With that being said, while last week the team at 451 compiled a list of the Top Social Media Strategists to watch for in 2010, we thought we would start the Thanksgiving celebrations and reflections a bit early and share with you some of the social media-related tools, benefits and trends that we are thankful continue to be a valuable part of our everyday personal and professional lives.

Without further ado, we’re thankful for:

• The intersection of social media and PR. As experienced communicators, we’re continually amazed by the way that social media so readily complements, and optimizes, a typical PR campaign. The ability to leverage social media to help us to identify and interact directly with our audience, without the traditional filter of the media, both inspires and challenges us on a daily basis.

• The ability to make our own “media.” Social media fosters and facilitates the creation of own content, whenever and wherever we want it. For our own personal benefit, or on behalf of our clients, we have the ability to tell stories, engage relevant audience members, influence and nurture a community and a following. We also now have so many tools at our disposal (e-mail campaigns, videos, podcasts, blogs, etc.) to help us create content that drives action and facilitates business. Traditional PR, advertising and marketing tactics are no longer the only means to an end. We have so many different channels to help us “get the word out” and be creative and have some fun while doing it.

• The incredible value of Twitter. By following individuals that motivate us to action through engaging conversations and/or the insightful news, tips and strategies that they share, we continue to sharpen our skills sets, build our networks and open our mind to new ways to look at things. Congruently, we are just as thankful to have Twitter available for own purposes. Twitter’s allowed us to systematically identify and interact with individuals in a positive way that builds our own credibility and trust, and eventually our influence (as well as that of our clients).

• The personalities that shape the social web. Yes, we let you in on our list of our favorite social media strategists last week (and enjoyed your helpful comments and additions), but we would be remiss not to mention our vigor for watching other folks out there that leverage social media to their, and our, advantage. We’re talking the scores of other voices out there, “Mommy Bloggers,” sports bloggers, foodie bloggers, political bloggers, etc. who capitalize on these new platforms to share views and insights (in a longer format than Twitter) that changes the way we receive information (and reflectively motivates us to act in kind and share our own thoughts). We’re talking about those “offline celebrities,” sports stars like Chad Ochocinco or music stars like MC Hammer, that utilize social tools to not only provide their fans with a glimpse into their lives, but also to interact with them and occasionally offer opportunities like all-access tickets. It’s the little things like Ochocinco’s active Twitter feed, including his pre-game tweets and photos, that have led to the creation of his popular iPhone application and a revitalization of his personal brand. People who probably never gave “85” any regard at all are now supporting him and rooting for his team. Results like that inspire our own social media campaign work.

• The ability to use the social web to help us make all kinds of decisions, as well as elicit feedback. Why purchase any new product without first searching through Twitter or related-blogs to get a sense of the product’s problems, benefits and issues? You don’t need to just rely on official third-party reviews or the experiences of your friends to help you make your decisions. You have access to a social web of opinions that can save you time and money. On the other side, individuals have the ability to build their own trust on certain topics or products to become relevant decision-making influencers; The go-to “super users” of the social web, if you will.

But even more importantly, we’re thankful to have the ability to access real-time feedback that can be incredibly helpful to our work and strategies. What WordPress themes do people like best? What do you think about LinkedIn-Twitter integration? What are your thoughts on the whole T-mobile situation? Either by surveying our own networks, or doing our own digging and listening, we’re able to receive real-time information that helps us to better navigate the complexities of social media tools and interactions.

• The value in sharing. Sometimes, even a lot of times, it’s not all about the content you create or the connections you establish. Sharing news, blog posts, videos and other insights can be so much more valuable to community building. By sharing the good stuff that in no way reflects upon your own work (or your company’s or your clients), your continuing to build trust, authenticity and the likelihood of reciprocal behavior. We learn the importance and benefits of sharing early in life, but we’re just starting to relearn its value for business and networking.

• Converting our online connections to offline friends. This may be the best part of it all. We enjoy learning and strategizing about how to utilize these tools and networks to deliver value to ourselves and our clients. That being said, at the end of the day, converting these genuine and authentic interactions into friendly relationships and real-life connections can be all the more valuable and long-lasting.

So what about social media are you most thankful for this holiday season? Let us know. We’re thankful to have you here to share your own thoughts with us.

-Jeff Benanto and the 451 Marketing team