Facing Facebook: part two of the seven-month itch


Photo by Michael Runtz

Did you get cold and hungry pulled over on Basin Road in Algonquin Park waiting for my return?   Sorry. I had some trouble along the way.  For one thing, my power supply got zapped.  Let’s roll back the wheels of our vehicle a bit.

We were stopped with my biologist brother, Michael, and his spouse, Ann, to investigate a downed poplar.  Let’s ease ourselves out of the car.  Careful, don’t slam the doors!

We hear the crunching and munching first. Then, almost within touching distance we spot one, two, three beavers vigorously shredding their hard harvest.  After a while, they swim away, branches in tow, their destination hidden by the dense growth.

True master builders, the beaver applies mud, stones and branches with an innate grasp of what’s needed and where.  I, on the other hand, an apprentice builder, was heading to what was decidedly unnatural,  to construct my client’s Facebook page.  With code.

I’d been training for the epic task,  strengthening my body and mind,  setting up wins along the way, like the reconstruction of my blog with Coraline.

The theme-supplied framing and add-ons of that project were a lot like an Ikea assemble-it-yourself kit where you’re given what you need to put it together and if you faithfully follow the instructions in proper sequence, you’re almost guaranteed to succeed.

And I’d already had a dress rehearsal so to speak, setting up my client’s blog, also with Coraline.  It wasn’t exactly by design.  At least not that design.

Completing The Real Deal

Sunbelt Canada blog: The Real Deal

The Real Deal

I began working on my client’s blog, “The Real Deal,” in June, using my personal WordPress account and marking the posts as private.  That way it wouldn’t take much to bring the blog to prime time.  Or so I thought.

In early August, WordPress abruptly replaced the Cutline theme with Coraline, catching most people unprepared.  YES, it was the theme I had built my client’s site around.  As a result, I had to put in hours of extra work, mostly to recreate what I had set up through widgets, which was problematic because I couldn’t remember exactly what I had done in the first place!

The upside, though, was the experience I gained from this exercise and applied to re-theme “Ignore the squirrels”.

Putting the final touches on “The Real Deal”, I realized that any responses I’d be posting on my client’s behalf would be linked to my profile, not his.  I had assumed I could flip profiles, like you do in HootSuite, the tool I use to manage his and my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.  Not so.

Instead, I had to establish a new WordPress account under my client’s name and transfer the blog over to that account.  So, I set up a new Gmail account that I could access on his behalf then followed the instructions on moving a blog in WordPress Support.  Thankfully, everything worked as it should.  Yeah, WordPress!

Facing Facebook

Back to Facebook.  I knew how to add a custom “welcome” tab and set it as the default landing page (instead of the wall) for visitors not yet fans of the page. The Social Media Examiner has an excellent primer on how to use static FBML to accomplish that.  But formatting the content for each of the tabs was a very different matter.  I spent hours and hours trying to format four pages to the FBML requirements:

  • taking in a webinar that did not deliver on the promise, leaving me more confused;
  • trying a copy and paste based on WordPress generated html;
  • failing to install Windows Live Writer (as a blog authoring tool) after running into server issues;
  • struggling with free web design tools (like html-kit), that weren’t really for beginners;
  • checking out countless web pages in search of possible solutions.

In the end, I got there by following tutorials on aligning text and images in tables at the HTML Code Tutorial and W3Schools Online, both great resources I’ve bookmarked for future reference.  Tables are tops!

I finally reached a point where I was satisfied with my set up of three new tabs:

  • Resources, for anyone thinking of buying or selling a business;
  • Opportunities, for (1) joining the company as a broker and (2) partnering with the company in local communities;
  • Email sign up, for our soon-to-be-released newsletter.

I also added an “include your business” option through a notes page,  as a way to build involvement and peer endorsement from people who have bought or sold a business through any of my client’s offices.

There was one remaining obstacle: our “welcome” or “connect with us” page.   I had already created what I wanted to appear by way of a PowerPoint slide, taking care to show the value proposition–what visitors would gain by joining the site.

However, I didn’t have a graphics editing program to render it in Facebook-readable language. Then the lightbulb flashed:  I could screen capture my PowerPoint with Jing, converting it into an image file that I could then re-size to fit the Facebook page.

A massive weight lifted from me.  I had found my own workaround!!!

I’ve since found out that PowerPoint also lets you save directly to a JPEG option.  But my solution rocked my world, nonetheless.

I did a little jig, all alone in my office at 1 in the morning, in the far corner of my house, the only space that was lit.

Sunbelt Canada on Facebook

Sunbelt Canada on Facebook

The “welcome” wasn’t perfect.  I didn’t have live links.  But I could always re-crop the image and add any links in a separate table at the bottom. That was for later.  It was more important to get the page launched without further ado.

The Sunbelt Canada page went live on August 20 and we quickly jumped to the 25 “likes” we needed to claim our vanity url.

Building visibility

Following my plan, we launched “The Real Deal” as soon as the Facebook page was ready so I could cross-promote both and start to build visits prior to our release of a new monthly newsletter.

Another tactic is to build visibility on LinkedIn, where marketing to business-to-business firms is proving effective.  A HubSpot report from earlier this year noted that 45% of companies using LinkedIn for marketing had acquired a customer from that channel.  I’ve now syndicated “The Real Deal” content to the 500+ connections associated with the president’s profile.

I’ve also incorporated Twitter into the mix, in the president’s name.

And, just days ago, we launched the newsletter. That’s the main reason I was late with this update. There was so much to learn about lists and campaigns, both theory and practice, but as my initial template bulked up,  so did my confidence. I can hardly wait to share what I’ve learned.  But I have to–it will be the subject of my next post.

I’ll be structuring that post as more of a learning tool so you’ll have points to take away and apply if you’re considering a newsletter for a company or group. In hindsight,  I wish I had taken that approach with earlier posts.  But you learn as you go, right?

I do know that approaching setbacks with the right mindset, you can usually find the positive in any experience.  So onward and upward!


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