Are You Having Social Media Problems?
Social media is the most rapidly changing aspect of our industry to begin with. Throw in an IPO (Facebook) and a major overhaul (LinkedIn) and modifications are barreling ahead so fast, even the techies seem unable to keep up.
Last week, after a series of problems with my LinkedIn account, I emailed a request for assistance. Miguel, my Customer Experience Advocate, eventually replied:
“I apologize taking so long to get back to you. We are currently experiencing an unusual high volume of requests due to our recent site enhancements.”
Over on Facebook, advertisements are popping up everywhere – even in my news feed! Now that the site has gone public, it’s trying all sorts of new tricks to make money for shareholders.
Fiddle with something that’s not broken and you’re liable to end up with a mess. That was the case on Thursday when our Social Media Campaign Manager, Jeni Hinojosa, got this unusual error message while trying to post to her wall.
“The server found your request confusing and isn’t sure how to proceed.”
If you’re feeling like that server because your social media marketing efforts are hitting some walls, it may help to better understand what’s going on. I asked Jeni for a brief overview of the problems, and what she suggests you do to avoid them.
Jeni says: They did a cool overhaul but it must not have gotten much of a test run because the site has been very buggy.
One of the new features I like is that you can check for comments and other activity without getting notices sent to your email. Just go to your LinkedIn page and you’ll see the notifications at the top, just like on Facebook. They’ve also split the “endorsements” feature in two. Now, you can “endorse” a connection’s credentials with the click of a button (although that has some bugs). Written endorsements are now called “recommendations.”
A change I don’t like is that the “network statistics” feature was removed. That handy tool showed what percentage of your connections are in various categories, such as “authors” – 40 percent. It was great for gauging whether your network had the types of people you want, depending on your purposes.
The bugs I and others have encountered include being unable to check private messages; sporadically unable to get into groups; and being notified that invitations to join others’ networks are waiting – but when I look, I don’t see any. Hopefully, they’ll get these problems worked out soon. Don’t worry, they’re well aware of them.
Sadly, I’ve been down this road before – and it didn’t lead to a good place. (Remember MySpace?)
Since its initial public offering in May, Facebook has been making a lot of changes designed to add revenue. The newest of these is a $7 fee for “promoted posts” from your personal page. It’s not yet available to all 166 million U.S. Facebook users, according to tech bloggers, because it’s still experimental.
Here’s how it works. You’ve uploaded photos from your vacation and you want to be sure all your friends see them. Next to the “like,” “comment” and “share” buttons, you may see a “promote” button (not everyone has it yet). Click “promote,” put about $7 on your charge card, and that post will go to the top of your friends’ news feeds a few times in the days ahead. (It will also wear the Scarlet P label of “promoted post.”) The promise is that more of your friends will see it.
This is still experimental and it doesn’t make a lot of sense when applied to personal pages. How many people will pay to show off their vacation photos?
However, it does make sense for fan pages and business pages, and that’s what concerns me. Once Facebook fine-tunes this feature, will we have to pay to achieve significant reach for our posts on those pages?
In the meantime, all of the problems are prompting more people to jump to …
If Facebook and Twitter had a baby, it would be Google+. This toddler network, which launched in June 2011, combines Facebook’s capabilities for seeing and sharing news and photos with friends and Twitter’s searchability for topics of interest.
It goes one better than Facebook, though, by allowing you to designate one or more “circles” for your friends. One co-worker might be “business” and “close friends” while another could be just “business.” So, everyone sees what’s appropriate for them based on your relationship – and you see just what you’re interested in.
Like Twitter, Google+ uses hashtags to help sort information and allow people to search for posts on particular topics. For instance, if you type #cutecats into the search box at the top of your page, you’ll see everything with that hashtag – including comments that incorporate the label.
Google+ also shows you the top trending topics, just like Twitter. On Monday morning, No. 1 was #HurricaneSandy.
I love these features, but what makes me happiest is, Google had its IPO way back in 2004. So we shouldn’t have to worry about this company suddenly drumming up ways to make us pay for what we previously got for free.
So, my recommended solutions to our social network problems?
Be patient with LinkedIn and hope it solves its problems soon. But start weaning yourself off Facebook. It looks like we’ll all be hanging out on Google+ before long.
I hope Jeni’s comments help you better understand any social media problems you’ve encountered recently. Together, we’ll get through these changes and emerge just fine!
On another note though, today my greater concern is for the millions of people affected by Hurricane Sandy and the two other major storm systems sweeping toward the Eastern Seaboard. May you and your loved ones stay safe; may your homes be protected and your lives quickly restored to normal.
Holding you in my thoughts and prayers,