Whenever you can reach your community over a social network service, you as the responsible person for community building in your company may consider to enter it. The outcome might become really promising but you have to do certain researches before. In this blog post, I would like to share my experience and the bumps connected to entering Facebook for the OXID community.
Analyzing the status quo, I found three different account formats for OXID eSales that have been created some-when by somebody:
- The OXID ESales account,
- an OXID eSales group
- and an OXID eSales page.
The Facebook Account already had friends, the Group had members and the Page had so called fans.
Accounts and Friends
Using an account for your company or brand seems to be a bad idea, especially when the correct writing of your brand is important. As you can see, it was impossible to write “eSales” as Facebook assumes a natural person with a first and a last name and camel-cases the words. The content was filled up with automated twitter feeds. And although it was shown on your friends walls, it had very low activity that could not even be measured. If you wanted to post using your brand, you had to be logged in as “OXID ESales”. As e-mail address, a collective e-mail account was chosen that nobody felt responsible for.
We decided to ditch this account completely. Thus, I informed all friends of the OXID ESales account via the Facebook message service which doesn’t allow more than 20 addressees at once. It had to be done tick-wise…
Groups and Members
Let us have a look at the Facebook group OXID eSales. What apparently catches our eyes is that the writing of the name is correct in this case. The followers of a group are called “members”. Posts do not appear at your members’ walls automatically, they have to visit the group site to gather the news you want to spread. Due to this, the non-measurable activity was pretty low as well. Also, posts are shown from the person who entered it, branding is not possible (except you are logged in as OXID ESales). Bad premises for our mission and inappropriate. Obviously, a group has to be treated similar to a forum which doesn’t make sense because we have our own 😉
We decided to ditch this site as well by July 1st. The members were informed by a message of the group administrator (me) that unfortunately took nearly 20 hours for delivery.
Pages and Fans
A page seems to be the ultimate solution. As a page administrator, you must have your personal account but writing to the page, your entry is branded! I.e., if I write to the OXID_eSales page, I can use my personal account marco.steinhaeuser and the entry appears as written by OXID_eSales without any hassle logging out and in again. The posts appear on the time line of your “fans” so they can interact immediately. This interaction is measurable: Especially interesting is a graph that also can display who hided your posts.
While investigating, I found an OXID eSales page in the wrong category “local business” that I really wanted to change into “product/service”. Unfortunately, on Facebook it is not possible to change the category after the page was generated. So I had to install a complete new page and to inform the fans of the old page about it. As features for the new page, I just left the “wall”, the information page, fotos (still to equip) and the event application.
Most of the content of the new OXID_eSales page is parsed automatically via the Twitterfeed service, as is:
- shops on OXID
every shop owner or developer can post his new shop to the Mister Wong or to delicious.com bookmark service with the tag oxid-shop where a RSS feed is generated and posted to twitter and Facebook
- new extensions for OXID eShop
new extensions and modules on OXID eXchange are parsed to a RSS feed and will be twittered and facebooked
- news on OXID projects
front page news a project responsible person published on OXID projects
- new or updated feature requests for OXID eShop
- new entries of OXID planet
blog posts about and around OXID that are implemented in OXID planet
(You are welcome to join, feel free to contact me!)
- new blog entries on oxid-esales.com
Facebook User Names
A very interesting feature on Facebook is the so called “user name” for your page which actually means a shortened URL. Every Facebook user can fire up http://www.facebook.com/username/ to get his own shortened URL like http://www.facebook.com/marco.steinhaeuser. If you are a page administrator, you will find a field for your page name there in case you have more than 25 fans. We really wanted to give the OXID page the same format as it is on twitter, (with an underscore) but unfortunately, on Facebook it isn’t allowed as well as a hyphon in your name. Another idea was to name it simply http://www.facebook.com/OXID but the appendix at least have to have five or more characters. At the end of the day, we will call it http://www.facebook.com/OXID.eSales but this name is still occupied by the OXID ESales account and will be cancelled by July 1st.
Market your Page
There are several ways to make your page visible to others. The aim is to gather as many fans as possible to spread your news to many people.
Facebook offers a planty of scripts that you can implement into your website. In our case, we will use a simple “like” button to be implemented into oxid-esales.com as well as on OXID forge. When a Facebook user visits our official sites and presses this button, he will immediately become a fan with a simple click and our news will appear on his timeline from now on.
Every fan has the possibility to recommend this page to his (assorted) friends which gives your marketing a highly viral touch.
Further, Facebook offers plans for payed ads that I didn’t give a deeper look yet.
Appearance and Usability
A very interesting effect on Facebook seems to be the low barrier for interaction of your fans with your page. Although our visitors saw and knew that the content is generated automatically, they immediately started commenting on the posts, e.g. about a new store online. Of course you have to be present and react on their comments and discuss with them.
In my opinion, the reason for this low barrier can be found in the web techniques: The extensive use of AJAX makes it possible to get statuses changed immediately without the need of reloading the complete page. I.e., for the users it is pretty easy, quickly done and fun to press a “like” button or to leave a shorter or longer comment without any restrictions. For you, as the page owner it is perfect seeing any interaction publically. If somebody pressed the “like” button, he feels comfortable with the content and actually recognized it!
Although Facebook is on the headlines and has to be seen highly critical in a manner of privacy, it seems to be a perfect addition to your existing community tools. For OXID eSales, of course it will not replace other community tools like the forum or OXID forge but it is a nice way to spread our news, to keep people informed and to gather the reactions.
If you want to stay informed about all the OXID news and you have a Facebook account yourself, feel free to like our page: [iframe https://marco-steinhaeuser.de/wp-content/plugins/iframe-embedder/like.html 100%]