Social Media’s Golden Ticket – Text 100 gets an inside view of Facebook

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Last week, Facebook hosted an event at its headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Communications pros from around the Bay Area, including myself, converged not only to get a peek inside the Wonka Factory of social media (Did you know employees get their laundry done for free? Well, they do!), but to learn how Facebook can be effectively used for marketing and public relations.

The event highlighted the growing importance of Facebook as much more than a way to share the minutiae of our daily lives with our “friends.” Today, thousands of brands use Facebook Pages as a way to engage and interact with their “fans.”  Among some of the most successful company pages are Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Zynga’s Texas Hold’em Poker (currently the #1 page on Facebook).

The event was broken out into three presentations by Facebook staffers, including Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Mark), who handles marketing for the social networking powerhouse. Attendees picked up insight about how Facebook uses Facebook for PR; how to use ads more effectively; and, how to enhance streaming video via the Facebook platform.

Facebook also introduced a brand-new page, “PR on Facebook,” dedicated to sharing “best practices and conversations around using Facebook for PR.” To date, more than 6,700 people have “liked” the PR on Facebook page. As Journalistics blogger, Jeremy Porter put it, “by strengthening its relationships with public relations professionals, and showing us the right ways to leverage Facebook for PR, the company is making great strides at getting us all to ‘Like’ them more.” I agree.

For a little instant gratification, what follows is a quick sampling of some of the tips for brands shared at last week’s event. Full-length video of the presentations can now be viewed online via the PR on Facebook page.

  • Use the Facebook Notes application to share much more with your followers outside of standard status updates, for example:
    • Use Notes to post Q&As with executives or industry experts; customer case studies or ongoing blog posts; this can help create a useful resource for your followers, including the media
    • Invite guests to share content via your Facebook Notes; For example, Facebook invites celebrities like Arianna Huffington, Cristiano Ronaldo and others to guest blog for them using Facebook Notes
  • Send targeted updates to your followers based on specific location or language; feature will soon include gender and age targeting.
  • When paired with a Facebook event invite, Facebook ads can serve as a powerful way to capture the attention of your followers and draw them to your next event.
  • Use Facebook Insights, the site’s analytics dashboard, to better understand the people that follow your brand.
  • Install the LiveStream Box on your website via a simple plugin and enable Facebook users to connect, share and post updates in real-time as they witness your streaming video events (i.e. executive speeches, webcasts or presentations). CNN in partnership with Facebook had significant success using this plugin for its online, streaming coverage of the Obama Inauguration and Michael Jackson memorial.

Overall, it was a good event and nice to see Facebook taking note of the growing influence that PR has over the corporate social media agenda. It was also beneficial to further understand how to advise clients about Facebook.