Getting info from Facebook pages

Here’s a quote from the comments of

[I]f you are fan of a lot of Pages, the ones you never made a comment or a “like”, there are good chances you never see the updates in your News Feed

In my experience, this is at least plausible.

What does this mean for you? Well, if you are coming to depend on Facebook for updates on your friends and family, you can also start getting information about organizations, businesses, candidates, and more that interest you. What are the steps?

  1. Find a Page and click the “become a Fan” button.
  2. Then, engage, people: If you see a post that you like, simply click the “like” link underneath the post. If you have something to add, make a comment!

In other words, in this brave new world we call web 2.0, you have a vote as to what information you see. The way Facebook implements it (analyzing your actions even after you subscribe to content), you can continue to say “yes, this really interests me” even after you make the initial “subscription” decision. It can tell what content “grabs” you and it tries to show you more of the same. This is so much better than the old “check back often to see what’s new” and I encourage you to make the effort to see how it can simplify your information gathering life.

[Of course the pages I’d like to see you engaging with are the ones for AAUW and AAUW NC.]

Facebook pages – update

Sometime in the last month or so, Facebook seems to have put some effort into cleaning up the problems with their initial release of the “pages” function. Things still aren’t perfect, but two big problems I’d bumped into seem to be working now:

  1. Events can now be edited.
  2. There are additional applications that can be added to pages, and there doesn’t seem to be as much confusion about adding an application to a page getting confused with adding an application to a profile.
  3. The “notes” application which can be used to pull in an RSS feed/blog is now available for pages.
  4. The “simply rss” application to republish a feed can also be added to pages. [Maybe Facebook is finally getting the idea of how important this is?]

Check out the AAUW NC page (and  consider becoming a fan) to see what I mean …

Quick update on FB Apps and FB Pages

Just a note to update earlier postings about the use of Facebook Pages, and my list of active Facebook Apps.

I found “Profile Box” on the list of recent applications, and that led me to “Profile HTML”, by the same developer. Each of these

  • allows entry of HTML
  • adds to both pages and individual profiles
  • has an option to tell friends about the app, but doesn’t do that by default.

The only difference between the two seems to be the name — if you use them both, you can then put two HTML containers on the profile or page.

I’m using them on the AAUW NC Facebook page to show the links to new content on both the AAUW NC and AAUW sites. It’d be better, of course, to republish the content itself, but I haven’t found an app that displays the contents of RSS feeds that works on pages.

I also tried to use the code that would associate the page with the main AAUW NC RSS feed — i.e. make the orange RSS icons show up in Firefox and IE 7. I may have done something wrong — but it looks as if Facebook stripped out that HTML code.

More on Facebook pages

In the previous post, I said

Groups offer “news”, “posted items” and “related groups” that don’t seem to have comparable features in “pages”.

Well, that’s not quite right. It seems that Facebook is moving in the direction of allowing folks to add applications to pages, not just individual profiles. In particular, the “Posted Items” application can be added and works well.

There are still major hurdles:

  • While you can browse through the applications that are appropriate for pages, any attempt to search sends you back to the apps appropriate for individual pages, so you have to click the application to see if it has the new “install this on a page” button.
  • Even if you do select to install the app on a page 3 or 4 of the ones I tried, ended up putting the new content on my profile, not on the page I was trying to edit. Maybe user error, but another savvy facebooker had the same problem, so at a minimum it’s a poor user interface. If anyone dopes this out, let me know.
  • Several Facebook-created apps are available for pages, but I did a complete sweep and didn’t see the Notes application (which would allow importing news from an external blog) or any other way to import from an RSS feed. I’ll ask the Facebook powers that be about that, but they don’t seem too sympathetic to that problem. [It’s not just “what’s in Facebook stays in Facebook” but also “if it wasn’t created in Facebook, why do you even care?”.]

Changes in the Social Networking Landscape

My head hurts… You’d think that after 25 years of working with open source software, I’d be accustomed to change in software environments, but this Social Networking stuff is just crazy.

In the last couple of weeks, Google announced that they were getting into the game in a more serious way, Microsoft bought a stake in Facebook, and Facebook changed its model of advertising (just when I thought I understood the old one). If you even partially accept that social networks will serve some of the role provided by operating systems in the past, watching the 100 pound gorillas fight it out will be interesting.

I’m still not sure what Google’s strategy means for us chickens. Out here on the “I just want to use the stuff” edges, it’ll take some application developers to be the intermediaries before we “get” it. On the other hand, Facebook’s changes (discontinuing the relatively simple flyers and replacing them by “social ads” and “pages”) seems to make their platform even less user-friendly for the purposes of nonprofits and such.

Differences I’ve noticed between flyers and social ads –

  • Flyers could be directed to networks. Ads are directed to cities/town. For relatively amorphous areas like the Triangle in NC, this seems awkward.
  • Ads have a really restrictive editing window: c. 135 characters, no line breaks, can’t have more than one punctuation mark in a row (e.g. no Read more …) I created a couple of flyers and don’t remember it being quite so hard to craft legal copy.
  • Ads do give you some feedback on the size of the population targeted by the ad. For instance, if you select Raleigh NC, it says there are about 151,340 subscribers. If you then say you want to target those 25 and older, it says the audience size is about 33,740.
  • Be careful not to overspecify your audience. For instance, if you check all possible political views, you’ll cut out a significant portion of the audience (about 2/3 in the case of Raleigh) — those folks who didn’t list a preference or said something other than Liberal/Moderate/Conservative.

That said, I’ve just posted an ad for the Raleigh/Wake County Branch’s Interpreters Directory. I targeted those 21 and over living Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and a few smaller cities in the area. I offered $.25/click with a $5.00 max per day. If we get a volunteer/dollar it’ll be well worth it. I’ll let y’all know how it works out. [Placing an ad put a new application on my left-hand sidebar in Facebook — but I need to download the latest Flash player to actually use it. Ah, well.]

As for “pages” — I’m not sure they make much sense. A fellow member of the AAUW Facebook Strategy group checked out Facebook pages, and decided to go back to groups. Groups offer “news”, “posted items” and “related groups” that don’t seem to have comparable features in “pages”. And it just seems odd to ask folks to “become a fan” on a page rather than “join” a group. But, as I said at the outset, things change quickly and perhaps features will be added to pages (RSS feeds anyone? general access to the applications that individuals can put on their own pages?), or perhaps not.