Loop-the-loop, fly backwards: dragonflies and Facebook

photo by Karen Nichols

An excellent and strong flyer, the fast-moving dragonfly can loop-the-loop, hover  and fly backwards.  Its eyes contain up to 30,000 individual lenses.

It would have been easy for an acrobatic dragonfly  to keep a bead on Facebook’s  manoeuvres this week as they first created, then removed restrictions on landing page tabs. A struggle, though, for a mere human to follow.

Of course the news of the  restrictions broke right after I’d given myself a high-five for  adding a custom landing tab to my brand new “dogs who love posties” Page,  a personal YEAH, I did it! moment.

@MariSmith’s tweet sounded the alarm, tanking my success. The  story continued to knit over the next 12 hours or so, until a Social Media Examiner post declared that:  “Facebook seemed to have backtracked on custom landing tabs for pages. I think your loud & clear voice of opposition made a difference.”  Later Tweets from additional  sources confirmed it and Facebook issued an apology .    WHEW!

Use a custom landing page to deliver strategic messaging

I won’t be personally coding their Pages but to advise others I do need to understand the best options.  Custom landing tabs give Page owners the means to deliver a strategic, targeted message to first-time visitors and provide them with incentive to join/like your Page.  Without it, first-time visitors land on your wall, without any context, like being dropped in the middle of conversations.  You want to be able to influence your visitors’ first impressions.Back to my “dogs who love posties” Page.  By the way, is “posties” a Canadianism? I hadn’t thought so, but then a contact from the U.S. said she couldn’t  figure out “why a community would be about dogs who like cereal.”  Reminds me of the time my then eight-year-old son wrote a story about “cereal killers”.  I treasure that story.  For those who might not  know, posties is a familiar term for postal workers, at least in Canada

I started “dogs who love posties” in 2009 as a Facebook group.  At the time, I was still working with Canada Post as a communications manager/strategist.  Dog bites and attacks were a serious matter for our delivery employees, especially letter carriers.  Raising awareness and promoting responsible dog ownership were important.  Having finally gotten access to high-speed internet at home, I joined Facebook and created a group to bring some focus to the issue.  I did this as an individual employee, not as a corporate spokesperson.  That’s how “dogs who love posties” got started.

Fast forward to May 2010.  I’m now semi-retired and learning all I can about social media.  I understand that Facebook Pages have more to offer than groups, which are going to be phased out:

  • Facebook lets you brand fan/business/non-profit Pages. They can be customized, for instance, with a welcome tab and set up so that newcomers to the  Page are met with messaging enticing them to participate.  On their next visit after joining,  the Page will open to the wall postings.
  • You can select other  applications to be added to a Page.  With groups though, you’re limited to the basic interface.
  • Facebook Pages give you access to analytics ;  groups don’t.
  • Groups can be set as private, semi-private or public, whereas Pages are public, although I believe there’s a way to  differentiate individual postings.

So I decided to switch “dogs who love posties” to a Page.  I also decided to broaden its scope, to be more inclusive of the  other groups  at risk for dog bites/attacks:  children and the elderly.  The articles and resources I’ll be adding will be more reflective of that.

First hurdle:  creating the custom landing tab. This type of functionality requires code: Facebook Markup Language (FBML).  Thankfully, I had bookmarked a post from @MariSmith that guides non-techies painlessly through the steps. It even explains how to set the tab as the default landing page for first-time visitors.

Participants in today’s Social Media Examiner discussions recommended that we  set up all off-site references to Facebook to point to our custom landing tab.  You can do this with referring urls such as yourdomainname.com/facebook/ and have it point to your wall.  To find the link to your custom tab, click on “link to this application” in the edit mode of your Page.

Following @MariSmith’s instructions, I set up my welcome tab. It  needed spiffing up with a photo and formatting.  So I dug around and found Andreas Ramos’ instructions on coding tables.

I copied over the desired configuration, then  inserted my image and phrases in place.  The loud woooohooo came when I found it worked exactly the way I had hoped.

The Page is now live and I’ve sent out an email to the members of the “dogs who love posties” group, but many haven’t seen it yet.  Once I get a few more “likes”, I’ll start building and broadening the followers.  You don’t have to be a dog owner to join!

So all’s well that end’s well.

Parting words

  1. You might find value in following the “All Facebook” Page, the “unofficial facebook resource” for Facebook news and information.
  2. Ironically, I came across the following short and fun video through a tweet from @ChrisPirillo while I was stressing out about the Facebook tab. Its title: the top 5 tips for relieving social media stress.
  3. Oding anyone? Wikipedia says that in the United States dragonflies and damselflies are sought out as a hobby similar to birding and butterflying, known as oding, from the dragonfly’s Latin species name, odonata. Dragonflies and damselflies are fascinating insects.  I saw a presentation on them recently at a meeting of the Macnamara Field Naturalists Club.

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