What You Need to Know About Facebook Reactions

(Featured image via Tech Insider)

On February 24, 2016, Facebook launched an update that was a long time coming – Facebook Reactions. Since the advent of the Like button the public has asked for its counterpart, a dislike button. Though Facebook didn’t give its users exactly what they wanted, the world’s largest social network did release 5 other “reactions:” Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement via his Facebook Page (naturally):

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Zuckerberg argued that not every post calls for a Like and thus 5 Reactions were released in order to fill this void.

 

Users React to Facebook Reactions

Some people were delighted by the release:

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While others were skeptical:

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In December 2014, Mark Zuckerberg explained why a Dislike button would never appear on Facebook saying:

“The like button is really valuable because it’s a way for you to very quickly express a positive emotion or sentiment when someone puts themselves out there and shares something. Some people have asked for a dislike button because they want to be able to say, ‘That thing isn’t good.’ That’s not something that we think is good. We’re not going to build that, and I don’t think there needs to be a voting mechanism on Facebook about whether posts are good or bad. I don’t think that’s socially very valuable or good for the community to help people share the important moments in their lives.”

And upon the launch of Reactions, Geoff Teehan, Product Design Director at Facebook, posted a lengthy post on Medium describing Reactions and the lack of a Dislike button:

“People need a much higher degree of sophistication and richness in what choices we provide for their communications. Binary ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ doesn’t properly reflect how we react to the vast array of things we encounter in our real lives.”

Others have speculated a Dislike button will never appear because advertisers will “dislike” it if their advertising dollars are spent being publicly ridiculed on the platform and thus may take their business elsewhere.

Another concern is that a Dislike button would cause bullying. Paper Magazine reported that model Cara Delevingne expressed her disapproval of a Dislike button, saying “If you can go around disliking someone’s pictures, that is going to set off a whole new wave of bullying. If it’s something that is going to cause people harm, I really think we should steer against that. ‘Like’ away – but if you have a bad thought about someone, keep it to yourself.”
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Lastly, some brands used Reactions as a marketing opportunity:

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Will Reactions enhance or diminish user experience?

Facebook launched Reactions in order to give users more ways to express themselves with the click of a button. According to Wired, about a year ago “Mark Zuckerberg had finally conceded that the platform needed a more nuanced way for users to interact with posts, for the obvious reason that not every post is likable.” Facebook users have had the option to like and comment on posts since 2009. This elevated the social interactions on Facebook, allowing users to rate a post “similar to how you might rate a restaurant.” Leah Pearlman told CNet in February 2009, when the feature began rolling out. She continued describing the feature: “We think of the new ‘Like’ feature to be the stars, and the comments to be the review.” Seven years and over 1 billion more users later, it seems the “Like” button no longer suffices.

Over the years Facebook has become more and more integrated into our everyday lives. As of July 2015, active Facebook users around the world spend over 20 minutes per day on the network (it doubles to over 40 minutes when only considering US users), accounting for 20% of all time online. Users use Facebook to stay up to date with friends, family, current events, favorite brands, celebrities and more. Additionally, being logged into Facebook means you can log into other sites and apps, such as review sites, social apps, ticket vendor sites, shopping sites and others, with the touch of a button (the “Login with Facebook” button) – no need to memorize yet another password.

With all this time being spent on Facebook, being able to express more feeling with the click of a button (versus taking the time to think of a comment and type it out on a post) will likely increase the amount of communication a user has with other users and Facebook Pages. Or at least this is what Facebook hopes to achieve. Additionally, according to Facebook, 90 percent of active Facebook users use the platform via a mobile device. Julie Zhuo, product designer for Facebook, told Wired, “Commenting might afford nuanced responses, but composing those responses on a keypad takes too much time. People needed a way to leave feedback that was quick, easy, and gesture-based.” Facebook users were using emojis so why not build the emojis directly into the social network?

Why did Facebook make the change?

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(Sources: Forbes, Wired and Slate)

While Zuckerbeg did give us some insight into why Facebook decided to move forward with Reactions, we can only speculate additional reasons. Since Facebook is first and foremost a business, continuing to find new ways to receive more revenue is definitely behind the motivation behind this change. Richer data will help Facebook determine what it serves their users in their Newsfeeds. Additionally, giving advertisers and marketers more tools to more effectively reach their intended audiences is important to keeping their business.

Also, although Facebook is the largest social network, it can go by the way of Myspace if it doesn’t continue to evolve to give users more options and the experience they desire while using the platform. While Facebook didn’t give users a Dislike button, it is giving users a new way to interact with peers, news organizations and brands. Keeping an interested and engaged network of users is key to Facebook’s continued success.

How will Reactions affect brands on Facebook?

Reactions can be a great tool for brands and their social media managers. The Reactions will help brands understand who their audience is in a new, deeper way. Additionally, brands can breathe a collective sigh of relief as Facebook announced any Reactions will have the same impact as a Like; as long as someone is interacting with your page, they will continue to see your content in their Newsfeed….at least for now.

Of course, Reactions do bring challenges to the table.

Since Reactions are so new, third party tools, such as Hootsuite, NUVI, Radian6 and others, haven’t caught up to this update yet. They won’t differentiate between likes and specific Facebook reactions, which means reporting will be far more manual until they do catch up. Additionally, if you are monitoring competitors through a third party tool, you’ll have to visit their pages to see what posts get Likes, Loves, Hahas, Wows, Sads, and Angrys.

Another concern is so-called Internet Trolls, defined by Wikipedia as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.” Those who are just messing with these new Reactions may react with a “Haha” to a serious post or an “Angry” to a playful post. It’s not clear yet if this will be a problem brands encounter but brands do need to be aware of this possibility.

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(It’s important to note that originally Facebook had planned to include a Yay reaction but during beta testing discovered very few users used it)

Even though Facebook Reactions weren’t warmly welcomed by all users, it’s clear Facebook is determined to make them successful. While we don’t yet have data on how many Likes, Loves, Hahas, Wows, Sads and Angrys have been use to date, scrolling down one’s Facebook feed it’s clear that users are embracing this new feature.

RIP Instagram?

Social media users express their dissatisfaction with Instagram’s announcement of their move to an algorithmic feed 

Earlier this week Instagram announced that the 400+ million users strong platform will soon be switching from their chronological timeline to an algorithmic feed. In their announcement, the 5-year-old, Facebook-owned company explained that “people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds” and an algorithm will optimize users’ experiences on the platform by showing them posts Instagram thinks they will like most.

AdWeek

Adweek said this change was inevitable. Was it though?

Social media users were not happy about this announcement, taking to Instagram and other social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction with this update. Two hashtags – #RIPInstagram and #KeepInstagramChronological– even began to trend on Twitter as the news broke.

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People also expressed their anger via Facebook’s newly launched Reactions(maybe Facebook should have announced this change after Instagram’s algorithm announcement…) and via comments on posts reporting about this change.
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Almost all of the comments on the above Social Media Today article post were negative. Some even wrote that they think that Facebook is just trying to get more money out of marketers, not trying to make user experience better.
  • “I always love how social networks think they know what I love best. There are many things I’d love to get first on Instagram – like notifications that aren’t all clumped in one spot. It’s a nightmare for big brands to see all comments, likes and new followers together. Clearly a move to leverage ads more.” –Nycole Hampton
Other comments included:
  • “And so it begins… First the algorithm, then the further decline in organic reach and engagement. Instagram is now the new Facebook” –Sarah Hudnall
  • “Ugh, this is going to be the death of Instagram. All you’ll get is sponsored posts and the stuff from people with millions of followers. Everything else will just vanish.” –Lee Osborne
  • “Not happy at all. I don’t like letting strangers to decide what I can and what I can’t see on my feed. A further step to Instagram facebookization.” –Federica Scrigner
A petition was even created in an attempt to stop this change before it launches in a few months. Last I checked it had over 176,000 signatures.
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Is this change a wise move? Many argue that Instagram has enjoyed its popularity because of its simple, chronological feed, and if it moves to an algorithmic feed it will lose its uniqueness.
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I recently read (and tweeted) an excellent article posted on Medium about the real-time messaging service Slack. The author argued that Slack shot to popularity, barreling past competitors, due to a few key aspects, one of which was social isolation. Slack is a very quick moving platform. This serves a very important purpose: “if you don’t follow Slack all the time you do not and cannot take part in the conversation with your team members anymore.” THIS is what Instagram will lose out on — the social isolation and therefore addiction to the app. The chronological order of photos almost forces users to constantly check the app so they don’t miss out on anything.
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With this in mind, will Snapchat fill the void that the algorithmic version of Instagram will create? Snapchat stories only last 24 hours, so if you don’t view a friend’s story in that small time frame, you’ll never see their story, which can create social isolation.
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One commenter, David Mollison, on the above post thinks so. He said: “Terrible idea. Snap Chat [sic] will take over because of this.”

11 Tips: How to Reach Homebuyers on Facebook

Now that you know why you should be using Facebook and other social media platforms, below is how to use Facebook to reach your audience and sell more homes.

Be useful to your followers

Share content potential homebuyers, potential home sellers, current homeowners, and new homeowners will find useful. You don’t want to just sell, sell, sell. Your followers will quickly lose interest and will likely unfollow you. Many of your followers will probably be past clients; they already have homes so receiving listing notifications probably won’t be very compelling for this group.

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Post original content

Posting original content will help bring clients to your website. Blog posts, white papers, and original images are great ways to drive more traffic to your website.

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Share 

Sharing articles from your brokerage or news organizations help your posts reach a larger audience. If someone follows your page and the page of the content you are sharing, they are far more likely to see your post. Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 10.54.50 PM

Engage with your followers

Respond to any comments you receive. After all, Facebook is a social network.

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Use (relevant) trending topics and hashtags

Looking at Facebook’s Trending Topics (on the right-hand side of your personal newsfeed) will give you an idea of what is popular at the moment. Using this knowledge, you can reach a wider audience.

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Occasionally post your listings

When you post about your listings on Facebook, include high-resolution photos and rich details about the property. Don’t forget to add a link to your website!

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Post videos

Change things up from the ordinary property photos and give your followers a better feel for your listing by posting a high quality video.

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Broadcast via Facebook Live Videos

A new feature, Live Videos allow you to broadcast live video from your iPhone or Android to your Facebook Page. You can use this feature to create a virtual open house or to give followers a behind the scenes look at a new condo development. Making this new feature even more appealing, Facebook just announced today that Live videos will be ranked more highly in News Feeds. Meaning, your Live Video will be viewed by more individuals than a regular video post. Here are tips for getting started with Live Videos.

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(I couldn’t find a realtor who is using this tool yet. Even more reason to start using it. Stand out from the crowd!)

Show community involvement

Did you help build a Habitat for Humanity home? Did you run a 5k in support of cancer research? Let your fans know and be sure to include the event hashtag to reach a wider audience.

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Show off

Recently sold a house? Won an award? Featured in an article or local TV news? Let your fans know!

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Advertise

Facebook continues to make it more difficult for Facebook Page content to reach your audience.

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Want some more social media tips? Here’s why you should keep your social media posts brief and here is how to write the perfect Facebook post.

 

Snackable Content is King

There’s no question: Facebook is changing the way news is consumed. Some news outlets, such as BuzzFeed, have even begun to tailor their articles to increase the likelihood that their article gets shared on the platform. Facebook, and other social media platforms, allows news organization to reach a wider audience, so it follows that news organizations alter the way they report the news in order to increase readership.

Realizing this trend of news reporting and news reading via Facebook (and hoping to capitalize on this), Facebook has begun rolling out several tools specifically for journalists.

Instant Articles

Published natively to Facebook, Instant Articles (and the advertisements) load within a mere second or two. News publishers upload their articles directly to Facebook, add their advertisers to the article, and share it on Facebook. Readers can load the content more quickly because they don’t need to load an external webpage and/or another app. Plus, it keeps readers on the platform.

Mentions

Created first for celebrities and then rolled out to journalists, Mentions allow for easier engagement with fans and readers.

Signal

A platform specifically for keeping up to date with what is trending on Facebook, Signal allows journalists to source content from the platform.

(Source: Giphy)

What’s next

Just today, Facebook announced they will allow independent writers to publish Instant Articles. Although the articles must first be uploaded to a website, this opens up the doors for nearly anyone to become a reporter. “Citizen journalists” might just take on a new meaning as Facebook rolls out this new feature.

Additionally Michael Reckhow, the product manager for Instant Articles, told Nieman Lab that he envisions that “individual pieces of media inside the article can break out and have a life of their own.” These pieces of media may then become stories apart from the larger article. This type of snackable content will likely become huge in the coming years (more on snackable content later).

I also believe video, especially short ones with captions, will become more widely used on Facebook. One news organization that is already doing this is Business Insider. They post short 1-3 minute videos that highlight the most important pieces of the video; some videos don’t even include speech. This feeds information to their followers quickly and also opens up a dialogue in the comments section.

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Snackable content is king

According to Slate, a full 38% leave an article before even reaching the end of the first paragraph. We are in “the age of skimming,” the article continues. Posting short articles and videos directly to Facebook (like the Instant Articles pieces of media and the Business Insider video mentioned above) help Facebook users to consume more content.

(Image via Smart Blogs)

(Source: Smart Blogs)

Rented Land

Posting content natively to Facebook does, of course, does raise a few eyebrows. And for good reason: should news outlets place all of their content on “rented land?” Mark Zuckerberg makes a compelling argument. News organizations are beginning to shift toward posting content directly to Facebook for a reason – they are seeing results and receiving ad dollars that could be spent with a competitor if they don’t receive said results.

Looking ahead

Will Facebook become the number one source of news in the coming years? Only time will tell, but it seems they are investing a great deal of effort and research to reach this point.

How to Create the Perfect Facebook Post

(Source: Screen capture via BuzzFeed Facebook Page. Mark up is original.)

 

News Whip recently released the biggest publishers on Facebook in October 2015, ranked by total shares. After reviewing each of the top ten most shared publishers, I came to notice a few similarities. Below I analyze the posts to discover how each of these publishers gained so many shares.

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(Source: News Whip)

Each organization knows their audience and speaks to them in their vernacular (see: BuzzFeed post above). BuzzFeed, LittleThings.com, and Breitbart post dramatic captions using single words, questions, exclamation points, ellipses and capitalization of key words to attract clicks to their websites, while more news-centric organizations like Huffington Post, Fox News, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC and Yahoo, post short, descriptive captions, occasionally including quotes from the article being posted.  Lastly, NBC deserves to be in its own category because although it posts in the format of the news-centric organizations, its content surrounds their TV shows, not news. All of the organizations, post frequently (between 10 and 20 times a day), use short captions, compelling article titles and provoking photos, and tag companies/celebrities when appropriate.

BuzzFeed is notorious for their clickbait posts, but in my opinion they aren’t even the worst of the offenders. Both LittleThings.com (which posts “the most amazing” stories from around the world) and Breitbart (the conservative political version of LittleThings.com) post overly dramatic captions to attract viewers to click on their posts. Captions like: “The reason why will give you chills…,” “Can you BELIEVE this makeover?! I’m stunned!,” and “And there’s ONE thing driving it all…” are commonplace on BuzzFeed, LittleThings.com and Breitbart. In addition to their clickbait article titles and captions, each of these three organizations:

  1. Use short captions, usually lacking in description
  2. Rely on the article’s image to tell some of the story (a few images even seem to be intentionally cropped so that it further entices the viewer to click to view the rest of the photo)
  3. Don’t include a link in the caption
  4. Don’t use subtitles (most of the time)

Honestly, the above posts seem cheap to me and only a few organizations can get away with this sort of clickbait. Whenever I read them I can’t help but think of the famous voiceover actor Dan LaFontaine, famous for his “In a world…” trailers:

And, I’m not the only one who thinks sensational captions are cheesy. On using approach, Hootsuite declares, “All of this intense expression, all of the time, is unsustainable for any person or brand and comes off as inauthentic. If you want your brand’s authority and clout to remain intact, using hyperboles or overly exaggerated words in your social media content is something you want to avoid.”

The news-centric organizations mentioned above are more my style. It seems they follow the same formula as the aforementioned organizations with three exceptions – their captions are aren’t clickbait (instead they are more descriptive), they post much more video directly to Facebook, and they include quotes from those interviewed in the articles/videos. Even with these exceptions, the posts are still shared many times over.

After reviewing posts from these more news-centric organizations, I did discover that more sensational news stories and lifestyle posts received relatively more like and shares. See the National Cheese Lovers Day post from The New York Times below.

 

So, what makes a perfect Facebook article post? A short caption that resonates with your audience and relevant imagery.

3 Emerging Social Media Trends to Watch for in 2016

The ever-evolving world of social media keeps marketers on their toes – adaptive, well informed, and creative marketers will ensure efficiency and success. Read the below to ensure an auspicious year ahead.

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 Virtual reality leaps into social media

Over the past few years there has been a great deal of buzz surrounding Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and other virtual reality (VR) headsets. Now as Oculus Rifts begin shipping to their early adopter owners in March 2016, we will finally witness widespread use of VR. Yes, many of its purchasers are primarily interested in the gaming aspect of the headsets, but social media will launch VR into the mainstream. According to Business Insider, “social is, and has always been, the application that drives technologies forward.” The article continues, VR “painting 3D objects in mid-air, visiting an underwater shipwreck and cooking in a virtual kitchen is extremely fun, but it’s nothing if you can’t share in these experiences with others.” UploadVR.com asserts that VR will elevate social media, arguing that social media is in still in its infancy and VR will personalize online social interactions through the addition of expressiveness. In early previews of VR, the journalist found that when using VR, “people are behaving very similarly to how they would offline.” This is something that until now has been impossible. He finishes the article by observing, “the world is becoming a global society, a Global Village, to borrow from Marshall McLuhan and VR is the next big step in taking us there.”

Cementing the notion that VR will introduce new ways to socialize with others online, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acquired Oculus VR in March 2014. He made the announcement on Facebook (naturally) saying that Oculus Rift “is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”

One-on-one communication expands

Another trend will be the continued rise of messenger apps. eMarketer explains this growing trend, “as more consumers gain mobile internet access worldwide and flock to messaging apps as cheaper alternatives to SMS, MMS and voice calls.” There is no shortage of these apps: WeChat, Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Viber, Luka.ai, Line, Snapchat and newly launched Peach are all messaging apps with slightly different features. Personally, I regularly use four of these apps to communicate with friends and co-workers.

Alphabet (Google’s parent company) also sees the value of these apps; they are reportedly developing an app to compete with these platforms. According to International Business Times, “Google will tap its artificial intelligence know-how and incorporate chatbots — which answer questions — to get a slice of the 2-billion user business and help preserve its lead in search.”

2016 will see the continued expansion of these apps: already Facebook partnered with Uber so users can order a ride right from Facebook’s Messenger app; Snapchat partnered with Square to let friends to send each other money; and China’s WeChat is probably the most advanced, allowing users to bank, control home appliances, buy clothes and order food. This integration into our everyday lives will continue to evolve, bringing users convenience, but more importantly for the apps, keeping users on their platforms. The question now is which app will pull ahead of the others.

Live video captivates

Periscope, Meerkat, and soon-to-launch Facebook live video allow users to share real-time experiences with friends and/or strangers alike while interacting with the viewers. Having used Periscope and Meerkat both personally and professionally, I prefer Periscope; it is cleaner, has a larger user-base, and allows users to record the session for later viewing.

According to Entrepreneur, these apps, already popular with the general public, provide great opportunity for brands, celebrities and media outlets. According to the article, these live video apps create an interactive “TV-esque” means of “making that real-time connection that today’s customers seek and value.”

One reporter explains the benefit of sharing news via Periscope in the below interview, “One of the great advantages is just the simple interactions. I was responding to the questions users were asking and things I wouldn’t think to have covered.”

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Social media will become an even greater part of our everyday lives. Socializing through Oculus Rift, ordering an Uber through Facebook Messenger, and watching live events unfold before you while being able to interact with the videographer are all testaments to this.

Analyzing XYZ Company’s Facebook Insights

XYZ Company is a recently launched small heating and cooling company (HVAC) located in Western Massachusetts. They provide installations, maintenance and repair. XYZ Company has a website, Facebook account, Twitter account, Yelp page and Google+ page. Facebook is one of the primary ways they are advertising in addition to sending direct mail to a 30 mile radius.

Of the various marketing channels, I will analyze their Facebook marketing efforts.

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Synopsis & Key Findings

Based on their Facebook Insights, XYZ Company launched their Facebook page in December 2014 and currently has 167 Facebook fans. Most of their fans were acquired via Facebook ads. Their fans are primarily made up of English-speaking men and women aged 25-64 located in Massachusetts and Connecticut who use Facebook the most at about 9:00pm. Those who engage (like, comment and/or share the company’s posts) with the company are primarily Massachusetts-based men aged 35-54 .

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The company only posts 1-2 times weekly and boosts (i.e. promotes and pays for) every post in order to reach a wider audience (versus just reaching their small fan base organically). Based on their posts between December 22 to March 15, they only share company promotions and advertisements. This is generally not recommended as Facebook users tend to be more engaged when the post is immediately useful to them, not just a sales pitch. They could easily remedy this by sharing posts from other brand pages and by posting relevant articles (a few examples include: facts about weatherizing your pipes from Energy.gov, articles on how to be more energy efficient, or a post from The Weather Channel). Additionally, it does not appear as though they are promoting their other channels (Twitter, Google+, Yelp, etc) on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 3.11.36 PMCompany XYZ should cross promote on their other marketing channels. For example on the direct mail pieces (and any other printed marketing materials or ads they may have) and their website, they should include Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Google+ logos so customers and potential customers know they can find you on these channels. Additionally, their website should have a pop-up the first time someone visits it, prompting the viewer to “Like” Company XYZ on Facebook. They could also place a sign in-store offering 10% off to customers who show a sales associate they have “Liked” Company XYZ’s Facebook page or alternatively if they “Check In” on Facebook. On positive Yelp reviews, the company can reply thanking the customer for the positive review and ask the customer to become an official fan by liking them on Facebook.

Campaign ideas

Tag someone in this post you’d like to cuddle with on this cold Massachusetts day for a chance to win a brand new heater! Post this during the winter with a picture of the snow-covered ground. This meets Facebook’s relatively new campaign rules and will help Company XYZ more brand awareness. Boost the post and promote this on all platforms, in-store, and on direct mail pieces to bring more traffic (and likes) to the Facebook Page.

Why do you need a new heater? Post a photo of yourself on our Facebook Page proving that you deserve a free heater from us! Again this meets Facebook’s guidelines and gets people to create content that can be used for promotional purposes by XYZ Company. Boost the post and promote this on all platforms, in-person, and on direct mail pieces.

Sign up for our e-newsletter and receive a FREE HVAC check-up. Create a MailChimp account, then post the promotion on Facebook and promote this on all platforms, in-person, and on direct mail pieces. Email is a very effective way to communicate with potential and current customers.