The announcement of Facebook Home caused quite a stir. Love it or hate it, this new “family of apps” comes with a whole host of shiny new features. I, too, liked the various new features. I love the idea of being able to access my current messages without having to stop what I’m doing. I liked the idea of seeing images on my app screen, but sadly, that’s where my love of Facebook’s concepts end.
The New Facebook – Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
Immediately following the announcement of Facebook Home, I was quite horrified to see that many people and media outlets forgot that nothing ever comes free. Yes, Facebook Home is a free download, but what many seemed to forget to consider is that all these new feature require one thing that’s worth even more than money: data. Your data.
With Facebook now showing on your home screen, it means that anyone who gets their hands on your phone can now see other’s private photos and updates. Facebook itself would now have access to your phone’s core functions and all of the personal data we routinely send through the device. What steps have been taken to guarantee my security? The only thing I heard shortly after the announcement was a bunch of promises that the data collected wouldn’t be used for evil. Sorry Facebook. I don’t buy it.
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have a long history of privacy kerfuffles and disasters.
- News Feed items were once all publicly available.
- Several years worth of private messages have shown up on timelines (which Facebook denied).
- The ad platform openly tracked members and used private information to serve ads without consent.
- Constant changes to privacy settings, which reset them and caused all sorts of issues.
- The Facebook Like Button and tracking users even when you are NOT signed into the social network.
Even the beginning of Facebook was marred with privacy concerns when Zuckerberg allegedly hacked into Harvard’s photo directories to get images for what was then called Facemash.
Now, I’m supposed to forget all that and take Facebook at its word? Even the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says the network breaches our personal privacy and breaks privacy laws. I understand that we’re in unchartered waters. And no one knows better than me that everyone makes mistakes. I could have potentially given Zuckerberg some trust.
Then, Facebook tried this little move.
A Sneak Peak of Facebook Home Revealed More Than Just a Taste of the New Features
This morning, I was prompted to update my Facebook apps. Now, knowing that Facebook Home launched in the US, and that it will be days or weeks until it’s rolled out in Canada, I expected to see a few of the new features previously announced. However, what I got was a whole lot more.
Prior to updating, I was asked to review the permissions. Low and behold, there were a number of modifications and new permissions added. When I looked at the list, it was pretty clear that Facebook is quite eager to get it’s fingers on my data even without downloading Facebook Home:
Your Personal Information – Modify your contacts, read call log, read your contacts, write call log
So, let me get this straight: Facebook not only wants to know who I’m currently speaking with, but it also wants to know who I called before the app update and write to it. Then, I’m going to let it to continue to modify my contacts?
Services That Cost You – Directly call phone numbers
Wait a minute… I haven’t installed Facebook Home. Why would it need this? Granted, it may be necessary for click-to-call features, but combined with the other permissions, I don’t trust it. Sounds like a Facebook Home invasion to me.
Your Location – Approximate (network-based) location, precise (GPS) location
I don’t let Facebook have constant access to my location. I turn this feature off and only turn it on the odd time I decide to use the Check-In feature. Does it log my whereabouts and upload it each time I turn the location services back on? Possibly. No way in hell I’m going to let it have live access to that information.
Network Communication – Full network access
Your Accounts – Add or remove accounts, create accounts and set passwords
Ok, so not only does it want to add or remove Facebook related accounts, but it now wants to create accounts and modify things like my Google, Skype, and Twitter accounts? Um… NO.
Storage – Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
I’m sure this is only for Facebook-related data, but what about the stuff in my USB storage that I don’t want it to modify or delete?
Phone Calls – Read phone status and identity
Interesting. Another Facebook Home feature. How long before it starts serving ads based on the topics my mother and I talk about? Transcriptions? Facebook updates about who I’m talking to, when, and for how long? Sounds like an over-controlling husband to me.
Hardware Controls – Draw over other apps, prevent phone from sleeping, reorder running apps, retrieve running apps, toggle sync on and off
Again, this is for Facebook Home integration, which I had no intentions of installing. To me, this says that if it doesn’t have access to some of my data, the ability to control and “draw over” other apps will give it access. And how much stuff will it permanently screw up on my phone when it does?
Default – Modify battery statistics
Um… ok. Again, Facebook Home.
Development Tools – Test access to protected storage
No. Just no. If it’s protected storage, it’s protected for a reason. Probably to keep snoopy apps like Facebook from accessing that storage.
Network Communication – Download files without notification, review data from Internet, view network connections, view Wi-Fi connections
This one permission gives the app the ability to download pretty much anything it likes. Wasn’t this called malware or spyware at one point? Not only that, but it can openly view and review any of the data sent via the Internet, Wi-Fi, or the network.
Your Accounts – Find accounts on the device
Hardware Controls – Control vibration
System Tools – Install shortcuts, read Home settings and shortcuts, read sync settings, run at start up
This is all Facebook Home features. I was NOT installing Facebook Home. I was only updating the standard Facebook app. Seems the social network decided to blend the two together. This tells me one thing:
You’ll Pay for Facebook Home Whether You Intend to Install It or Not
I can understand why the social network needs these sort of permissions for its Home family of apps. It can’t deliver the functionality it promises without them. They even admit it. When asked, a Facebook spokesperson simply stated:
“We use this information for diagnostic purposes and to learn more about how people use our products so we can make improvements in the future…For some of the system notifications, we need this information so we can serve the experience to users.”
What concerns me the most is that, if you use the Facebook app, you have no option to say “no”. It took the liberty of sneaking in these permission changes even though you’re updating the Facebook app and NOT installing Facebook Home. And what can you do if you change your mind or would like to use Facebook without giving it these permissions? Apparently, nothing.
“It’s not possible to opt out of having information collected for these purposes. If you want Facebook to delete whatever it has collected from you right away, you’d have to delete your Facebook Account. If you just want to get rid of Facebook Home or some features, you can play around in its settings or uninstall it entirely.” (Source: MSN News Canada)
This sounds all well and good, but if you’ve ever tried to delete a Facebook account, you know it’s not easy. Facebook will only allow you to “deactivate” it. It will then store this data and make it available to you if and when you should decide to rejoin the network. If you want the network to delete your account, you have to fill out a form and trust that the network will do as it says.
Will You Trust a Stranger With Your Secrets?
I think everyone on the planet has been in a situation where they’ve trusted someone they love with information only to have it come back and bite them in the ass. Sure, it could have been something as devastating as something bad you’ve done or a personal photograph of the adult variety. But it doesn’t have to be something that serious to do damage. What about an opinion you have of someone or something? What about secret family recipes or trade secrets?
If I know what happens when I share private things with others, why would I ever trust a company and people I don’t know with that kind of information? I try very hard not to say anything to others that I could regret, but even if I was perfect at it, there are still dangers.
What if I was planning a surprise birthday party? What if I didn’t like my mom’s new haircut? And what about my clients? I routinely use my phone to conduct business or send and receive files. This would only be worse if I dealt with ecommerce and routinely send financial information back and forth.
And what happens if you piss off the wrong person or get attention from someone you don’t want to get attention from? Social media stalking has been a huge problem from quite some time. The collection and distribution of this data will only get worse with the introduction of Facebook Home and other similar apps. What will we do then?
I’m not saying you should bail on Facebook. I’m sure there are plenty of app development and privacy experts out there who are much more knowledgeable on the inner workings of these things. What I am saying is think about it. Look at what you’re agreeing to and consider the implications before clicking that button.
No, Mr. Zuckerberg. I will not take you at your word. I don’t trust you. While I might like your fancy new app, and it may not add charges to my credit card, it comes with a price that’s far higher than I’m willing to pay. At least until you deny access to that in an attempt to force everyone to use your app.
A Behavioural Analysis Unit. Every content strategy should have one. Every piece of content you create must have one.
Your BAU Team
If you’ve ever seen the show Criminal Minds, you know what I’m talking about here. Seven different characters, each with a role to play. Together, they make catching the bad guys easy, while keeping the show interesting, exciting and fun to watch. Sounds like the ideal piece of content, doesn’t it? I thought so.
In Content Criminal Minds: Why your content needs a BAU, I look at each character and how you can use their strengths to your advantage. So, head over to Heather Lloyd-Martin’s site SEOCopywriting.com and have a read.
By the way, I hear rumours that this may be the first in a series of posts on incorporating behavioural analysis and targeting into your content, so you might want to subscribe to her RSS or another of her channels. I’d hate for you to miss out on the fun!
I hear it over and over again: The more you blog, the more customers you’ll get. Companies have even done reports and studies that prove blogging more often will increase sales. Are they right? Well, yeah, but that doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story.
Why You Can’t Just Blog More to Get More Customers
Just because you push more pages live every week, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll gain anything from it. If it were that easy, the “winner” in your industry would be whoever published the most content every day, and that’s just not so.
Converting (and more importantly, retaining) customers involves several elements such as:
- Product quality
- Site usability
- The power and clarity of information
- Conversion funnel effectiveness
You also need to consider the frame of mind visitors are in when they click a link to a blog post or choose your article from the search results. When they arrive, they will likely be searching for information. They won’t be looking to buy, and this is vital for conversion. Even if you do catch visitors at the right point in the buying process, blog posts rarely do much to move readers along the conversion funnel.
The assumption that blogging increases sales also assumes the only reason to blog is to attract customers. Yes, this may be the ultimate goal, but blogging isn’t the only way to go about it. This type of content also attracts the attention of related businesses. And why would you want that? Opportunities, authority, trust and links.
The benefits of blogging aren’t restricted to the phase “before the sale”, either. Blogging can provide support, encouragement and add value to your product, which helps retain customers and lower your customer churn rate. If you play it right, it can even help with upsells.
The Role of Quality and Time in Blogging
So, because blogging has all these benefits, you should publish several times a day, or at least once a day, right? This sounds easy on paper, but let’s be honest: How many companies can afford to produce 30 or more posts per month? Even if you decide to create the content yourself, you likely won’t have that kind of time.
I know lots of companies and individuals that do manage to blog regularly, but I’ve also seen quality become an issue. Granted, not every piece you publish is going to be successful, but blogging for the sake of a schedule just reduces the frequency of your “good stuff”. And every time you publish something that misses the mark, I think it works against you. You should set a precedent.
Think about this: I love reading SEO by the SEA and Hobo Web. Neither of them post every day. (Bill Slawski tends to post once a week, while Shaun will often go months without posting.) But, I still look forward to their posts and rarely miss one. In fact, I’m more likely to visit their blogs than industry blogs that post regularly because I know they’re worth the wait — Bill and Shaun are known for producing quality content.
I would even suggest that posting daily or multiple times a day would hurt their blogs. Sticking to a daily schedule would cause a sharp decline in quality. The content would become repetitious, and they’d run the risk of simply becoming a megaphone for other sites.
A few years ago, Steven Bradley wrote an excellent piece on traffic vs. publishing frequency. (Another fantastic blog to follow, by the way) In it, he looked at a few different instances where reducing the amount of content available to the search engines and readers actually increased rankings and traffic. (He also has a few additional reasons why publishing a ton of content isn’t always the best idea. It’s lengthy, but well worth the time to read.)
And who says your target audience has time to read that much in the first place? How many people visit your site daily? If they only read the morning commute to work, and that commute is an hour long, they only have a limited amount of time to read. And, if they also use that time to tweet, answer email and prepare for the upcoming day, you have even less time. Some people only read on Sunday mornings, so it would be pointless to publish on other days during the week, but it could be highly beneficial if your target audience visit blogs throughout the day.
What Goes Into a Conversion
People aren’t going to give you money just because you wrote a good piece of content. A number of elements that go into the conversion of a customer, including:
- Need — Your product/service has to meet a specific need, in the right way
- Quality — The item you’re selling needs to meet the level of quality a visitor is looking for
- Trust — The customer needs to trust you and have trust in the thing you sell
- Customer Service — The individual buying needs to know you’ll be there for him or her if something goes wrong
- Pricing — The cost of your product or service has to fit the customer’s budget
- Value — The price must balance with the need the buyer has for the item, and for the benefits it will bring
- Familiarity — The more comfortable someone is with the business, and the more he or she can identify with that business, the more likely the individual is to purchase
Blogging can help with these things, but it only goes so far. I mean, how often do you remember which website a particular piece of content was published on? How many times to you read about a shoe manufacturer and immediately buy a pair? Sure, it happens on occasion, but you can’t count on it to happen regularly.
Integrating Blogs and Content Into Your Marketing Strategy
When I’m asked how often a company should publish blog posts, I can’t give them a standard or even a definitive number. You see, the answer to that question depends on their:
- Target audience
- Industry habits and standards
- Marketing strategy
- Current marketing assets and opportunities
- The needs of the website and holes in their current plan
If their content doesn’t suit their business, their marketing goals or their target audience, all the time and money invested in their blog would be wasted. Instead of publishing seven days a week, wouldn’t it be better to invest it in one or two pieces a week that have a positive effect and directly help to achieve your goal?
It’s been a wild few months At Angie’s Copywriting, but that hasn’t prevented the good things from rolling in. So, without delay, let me catch you up on the latest news before I share some of the great things I spotted this week:
The Latest News From Angie’s Copywriting
Angie’s Copywriting has grown substantially since I started it all those years ago. And within the next month or so, you’ll notice some more. Most importantly, you’ll soon notice big changes in the site structure and new copy to help bring it in line with what actually happens behind the scenes. You’ll also discover that emphasis will start to move away from basic content creation. If you want to know where it’s going, you’ll have to keep visiting the site or subscribe to find out.
There are numerous projects on the horizon to watch out for, as well. If you’re a Canadian local, be on the lookout for a series of courses, seminars, talks and presentations in the coming months. They’ll cover everything from choosing a domain name to optimizing sales funnels and copywriting. I plan to make some of them available online, but will have to wait to work out the details before I get more specific.
A number of books coming out in the next few months, including the next (well overdue) book in the Copywriting Master Class Series. I hope to have them all available for you on Kindle and Amazon, as well.
Lastly, I have some new websites set to launch in the very new future, which include full courses designed specifically for small businesses and site owners. Now, let’s get to some of the resources I spotted this week.
Angie’s Weekly Web Wanderings
The week started off with an interesting piece on the idea of using some basic human traits in marketing campaigns. It’s called “Telling Someone What to Do: Bad for Productivity, Good for Marketers?”, so go have a read. (Or just watch the funny video.)
In Amazing Tools, Tips and Software I Found Last Week, I shared some of the really neat tools I had come across. They’re not just for copywriting or content marketing, either. (The SEO template and one of the Windows programs were my favourites.)
There was also:
- How to Replace Posterous By Adding the Convenience to Your Own Site
- If You’ve Ignored AuthorRank, You Might Start Paying for It
- 2012 Social Media User Demographics Are In
- Pinterest For Marketers: The Idea Collection
Marketing and Content Resources You May Have Missed
There were plenty of other excellent posts and resources I spotted this week:
- 11 Reasons Why Responsive Design Isn’t That Cool — Responsive design has become like gold to site designers and owners. Everyone wants a design that adjusts to suit smaller smartphone and tablet screens. However, as this piece from Web Designs Hock explains, you might want to reconsider the idea of following this trend.
- 50 Things Every Content Marketer Should Know — Wordstream never disappoints. This is an excellent quick list of skills and tactics content marketers should be familiar with.
- A Quick Tool for Making Animated Gifs — If you need a quick animated gif, I discovered this tool that seems to work pretty well. They have a bunch of gifs already made up that you can download, as well.
- Measure Remarketing Campaigns With Return Visitor Segment, Time Lag Report and Campaign Parameters — Remarketing has become a popular way to increase conversions and get more from your PPC dollars. This tip helps you keep track of it all.
- 6 Lessons You Can Learn From Amazon’s Killer Email Marketing — Amazon has one of the best and most well-known email marketing campaigns on the Internet. GetVero pinpointed some important tips the rest of us can use and benefit from.
- Why Real Businesses Don’t Charge $5/Month — A fantastic look at pricing structures vs profits and why the best pricing model isn’t always the smartest choice.
- What to Put on the Home Page of Your Business Blog — Do you feature your latest posts on your home page? While this is ok in some instances, it isn’t the only thing you should have on your site’s home page. Michael Martine explains why.
- Yours VS Mine — From Dustin Curtis, this interesting post debates the use of “your” vs “my” when talking about the user’s things such as their profiles.
Hope you enjoy these resources and find as much value in them as I have. Until next time… May your words be friendly and your conversions plenty.
(Image Courtesy of Geralt.)
I love using Pinterest, but not necessarily as a business. I’m a typical, addicted user. My boards are filled with crafts, animals, fashions and travel-related images, but the more I learn about the creative and interesting ways businesses are using this platform, the more I’m tempted to adopt it as a marketing channel.
In the meantime, here are some of the business marketing ideas, techniques and resources for Pinterest I’ve either found or thought of:
Business Uses for Private Pinterest Boards
A piece published by Chief Marketer this week had some fantastic ideas for making use of private Pinterest boards. I was particularly inspired by the idea of using private board to offer exclusive promotions. Making something elite or difficult to get into adds value to the offer and makes customers feel important.
I’ve been tossing around the idea of using private boards for content creation. First, the Pinterest platform makes it easy to collect photographs you can use on future posts. I’d also like to take this one step further.
Instead of using a text file or word document to keep a list of great headlines, phrases, landing pages and ads that inspire me, I can easily pin the page or upload a screen cap. I can also use it to keep a list of topic ideas. The added benefit of this method is that the content I collected would have some context.
Usually, when I come up with an idea for a post, I create a word document for it. Then, instead of writing it up right away, I just jot down important points I don’t want to forget, images that worked with the post and resource links. This way, when I need content, I can simply open the document and start writing. With Pinterest, you can use private board to do the same thing. I think this is a fantastic solution for visual thinkers.
My competitors are another important element in my content marketing strategy that Pinterest could take care of. If they do something that inspires me or that does particularly well, I want to use that to my advantage. So, I can pin these pages to a private board and have a whole board of secret weapons. (I might even call it “The Content Armory.)
Making Use of Public Pinterest Boards for Marketing
PR Daily recently published an interesting post on using Pinterest for Storytelling. There were several really good ideas here, but my personal favorite was the idea of a story board or time-lapse board. This is a fantastic idea for telling client stories and marketing case studies.
The more I think about it, however, I think it’s the perfect idea for launching a new product or service. You can pin photos and tell the story of what inspired you to create it. Then, follow it up with sneak peeks, samples, and even failures and new discoveries. Imagine using this method to launch a new game or piece of software!
Hubspot has also published a comprehensive list of ideas for Pinterest. I was most intrigued by the idea of using Pinterest for testimonials.
Pinterest Marketing Resources You’ll Love
If you’re ready to give Pinterest a try and integrate it into your marketing strategy, here are some resources to get you started:
A simple guide for using secret Pinterest boards from Business2Community.
A list of Pinterest WordPress plugins from WPMU.org.
A miscellaneous list of Pinterest stats, tips, and information from SmartInsights.
A Pinterest board of Pinterest marketing ideas from Lara McCulloch-Carter.
Some beginner Pinterest tips from Boomtown.