Groupize, a booking engine for large hotel room blocks
Groupize is a new travel industry tool. It’s a hotel booking engine. So what, right? Its cool trick is booking blocks of up to 25 rooms at a time, which no other hotel booking engine does at present. Awesome if you’re a wedding planner… and the UX is nice.
Facebook is making another design change. This time it’s to Facebook Pages, which are bread & butter for the social marketing community. This post on spottedsun.com has the skinny.
Microsoft, partnering with the government of the Balearic Islands, has established an innovation center specifically for tourism (site is in Spanish). The Balearics are an out of the way place to do this, but it’ll be interesting to see if this yields any fruit for the travel industry.
O’Reilly Radar post on the state of APIs and the directions in which they’re currently developing. As a web app guy, I found the bit about using APIs to drive analytics particularly interesting.
And one more Facebook-related article… This piece from Fast Company describes (puportedly) leaked internal Facebook documents that describe their future vision for online ads. Briefly, it looks like they want to drop display advertising completely in favor of social ads that show up as conversations. Will users go for that? A few years ago I would have said “no,” but they might be on to something with the approach outlined here.
Pages of which you're a fan now appear for Everyone.
Here are some things you should check on:
- The one that really annoyed me is that Everyone can now see your fan pages. There are lots of good reasons why users should be able to keep this secret. From a business standpoint, I don’t want competitors who’ve identified me to necessarily know which pages I’m a fan of. I also don’t necessarily want potential employers to be able to see all of my fan pages. Having them know I like Dungeons & Dragons is okay. I work in technology; it’s a given that I’m a raging nerd, right? But what if I want to join a political or religious fan page? Showing fan pages to everyone can have a chilling effect, and it’s a bad move on Facebook’s part.
- Check your photo album settings. Photo albums that were hidden under your old settings might appear to Everyone now.
- Check your notes settings. Old notes might now show up to Everyone.
- Check your post comments settings. This seems to be a new setting; the default allows Everyone to see your post comments.
Most other privacy settings should remain as you had them if you choose the “Old Settings” option on the privacy page you’ll get when logging in to Facebook today.
One thing I do like about this change: you can now override your defaults for individual posts. So if your default is to only show wall posts to friends, as mine is, you can now opt to have certain posts show up to Everyone. I like this level of control, even if I’m unhappy with some of the other changes.
I can haz more than one demo for people over 64?
“Who wants to hang out with 70 year olds?” my grandfather asked once. He was 81 at the time. It was a funny rhetorical question for a 25 year old to hear, and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’m pretty sure that up until that point in life, I’d lumped everyone who could claim a senior citizen’s discount into the general category of “old people” and left it at that.
I was lucky enough to get this take on demographics from my granddad, and it’s served me well. My current employer sells travel to customers who average in their mid-seventies. These folks are different from people already well into their eighties, and they’re really different from the Baby Boomers who are now entering their mid-sixties.
So when is Facebook, that coterie of lovable scamps, going to wake up to this? Facebook’s ad targeting and demos for fan pages lump everyone over 64 into one category. That’s 3.3 million people by the Facebook ad creation widget’s own estimation — roughly the population of Uruguay or Lithuania.
One demographic. Really, Facebook?
Listen to my grandpa. Then give me a tool with which I can actually target an ad to my demo, and maybe you’ll make some money off of my employer. ‘Til then, fuhgeddaboutit.
Photo credits for this post: Baby in Sunglasses (Vincent Valenti)
Update: The tutorial below worked like a dream in 2009, but your mileage may vary now. I’m no longer in a role where I’m directly supporting Facebook for my company, so you may want to look elsewhere, as I’m no longer updating this information.
Cheetahmail demonstrated some of their new social media integration features during September’s Relevance Tour stop in Boston. I didn’t feel like waiting for them to roll out the functionality on our account, so I took apart an Urban Outfitters e-mail to see how it was done. (Their e-mail campaigns are great, by the way). The result is this quick how-to.
First of all, let’s look at the results. I now have an e-mail offer with a “Share on Facebook” button. When a user clicks the button, they’re taken to Facebook’s Post to Profile page:
The user can make their own comment and edit the link text as they wish. Once they click Share, a link to a hosted version of the e-mail, complete with thumbnail, shows up on their wall.
More importantly, it shows up in their friends’ feeds. Prior to implementing the Share button, I had a button that sent users to our Facebook fan page. The Share button is a much more powerful way for e-mail marketers to use Facebook, as it drives traffic to your own hosted e-mail offer, rather than to Facebook itself.
On to the How-to, then…
- Create a hosted version of the e-mail.
Normally, I wouldn’t have to do this. I use Cheetahmail, which automatically creates hosted versions of my e-mails for me. In this case, though, I ‘m going to need to alter the code of the hosted version in step 3, so I’ll host the HTML on my own site.
Some bulk e-mail services host images for you and convert the src attributes in your <IMG> tags to point to those hosted images. In this case, I recommend using this converted source to make your hosted e-mail, as hits to the images hosted by your e-mail provider are usually used in reporting. This also avoids potentially skewing the analytics on your own web site.
- Create a thumbnail for the Facebook wall.
The thumbnail should be 150 pixels wide. It can be either a thumbnail of the e-mail itself, or a smaller treatment using elements picked up from the e-mail. You can skip including a thumbnail, but wall posts with no images lose a lot of impact. In my example, I’m using a thumbnail of the cover for an electronic catalog we’re plugging in the e-mail.
- Add meta information used by Facebook to the <HEAD> of the hosted e-mail.
When you submit a URL to Facebook’s Share function, it parses the document and picks up some info from the <HEAD> of the HTML. It uses what it finds as the default text shown on the share screen, enabling you to control what appears there. Facebook looks for a few <META> tags to fill in the copy and a <LINK> tag for the thumbnail image. Take another look at th Post to Profile screen shot above. The code that produced that default text looks like this:
- URL encode the URL of the hosted e-mail.
Eric Meyer’s URL Decoder/Encoder is a fast way to do this.
- Append the encoded URL to the Facebook share URL as a query string.
Your final URL will look something like this:
- Create a Share on Facebook button.
How this button looks and where it’s positioned in the e-mail will vary a lot depending upon how you do your creative. Generally, though, I think putting it in the center column of the e-mail together with any other social media links you want to include works best. My organization normally puts it in the sidebar, but our creative is atypical of how most companies do marketing e-mails.
- Link this button to your Facebook share URL.
Voilà! You now have a Facebook share button in your e-mail offer.
There is one thing to be cautious of on this step, however: some bulk e-mail services might undo the URL encoding you applied to your query string in steps 4 & 5. Cheetahmail definitely does; I haven’t tested it on other e-mail providers yet. Be aware of this issue, as it can lead to broken links. Most bulk e-mailers give you the option to edit the links after they create redirects, so you should be able to fix this manually.
Starting this Sunday at 12:01 am, Facebook opens the namespace for fan pages without restrictions. The June 12 opening of the namespace excluded fan pages created after May 31, 2009 and having fewer than 1,000 fans. This Sunday’s namerush is for everyone else. If you didn’t get your page’s name on June 12, Saturday is the time.
More info on Facebook.
…then you haven’t been paying attention.
As a side note, I’m somewhat miffed that they’re not allowing fan pages created after a certain cut off, or with less than 1000 fans, to choose user names yet.