Thinking / What Did We Talk About Before Facebook?

What Did We Talk About Before Facebook?

It seems like the world has been revolving around Facebook lately, even more so than usual. First it was the switch to Timeline, and then the IPO debacle, followed closely by Mark Zuckerberg’s secret wedding. And now Facebook is pushing its latest and greatest service offerings to brand admin teams, which include the ability to host Promoted Posts and to schedule your Page’s status updates, also known as Scheduled Posts.

Promoted Posts

Promoted Posts are a fairly straightforward new advertising medium. If your brand has money to spend (and you don’t need much money) and wants to reach a guaranteed number of users with a specific Wall post, you now have a way to do it. Promoted Posts show in the news feeds of people who Like your Page and, when they interact with the post, it will be shared with their friends. Instead of reaching a limited number of your Page fans with your brand’s status update, you can force a post to appear in news feeds.

So, should you? If you have something relevant to tout, like a special offer (e.g., coupon, sweepstakes or giveaway), exclusive event or news, or even an interesting question whose feedback may have a direct strategic impact on your business, it’s absolutely worth considering. Depending on the number of Likes your Page has, incremental pay options can be very inexpensive, especially when considering you’re paying for guaranteed visibility with current fans and the potential to significantly increase your fan base very quickly.

Scheduled Posts

Now, deciding whether to utilize Facebook’s new Scheduled Posts feature, which is a completely separate feature from Promoted Posts and applies to any standard status update you’d like, is a bit more complex, and the old adage of “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” may apply.

And here’s an example of why.

I, like many other social media junkies, learned the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death via Twitter, nearly an hour before President Obama addressed the nation. My Twitter feed was completely dominated by users announcing the news, retweeting news sources that were in the process of verifying this monumental happening, and folks asking if it was indeed true. And then, amidst a sea of hundreds and hundreds of Bin Laden-related tweets, I discovered that Banana Republic was having a 20 percent off sale.

Wait, what? Is it possible that the retail giant was unaware of what was going on in the world even though news reports were flooding in on social and traditional media? Did the marketing team think this was the best time to talk about a sale on blazers and sheath dresses? Probably not. They had most likely scheduled their post through a third-party API vendor. And although they had good intentions of promoting their sale, they ended up looking a little silly due to unfortunate timing. They did grab my attention, but not necessarily in a good way.

As much as we’d like to plan ahead, it’s impossible to predict what might happen, especially in the social media world. Facebook and Twitter have quickly become prominent platforms for sharing news with the world, and as much as we’d sometimes like to think that nothing is more important than our brand’s sweepstakes or sale, the rest of the world might disagree. And if you do happen to have a social media post scheduled for a very inconvenient time, your brand can end up looking either insensitive or uninformed. Sure, it’s a lot easier to schedule a post to go live at midnight when your campaign kicks off as opposed to staying up and posting yourself, but in the end, you may just be better off making it a late night.