Facebook’s New Pages Manager App: A Must-Download for PR Pros

Since your feelings of envy and resentment toward those who were cashing in on the Facebook IPO have likely given way to a joyful sense of schadenfreude in light of news that shares in Zuckerberg Inc. have fallen nearly 14 percent in its second day of trading, you might have been too busy gloating to notice Facebook’s newest app to launch for iOS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, Facebook quietly rolled out a new app that’s specifically designed for those who manage several Pages. The aptly named Pages Manager—which is especially useful for PR guys and girls who likely have their finger on the pulse of multiple Facebook Pages— allows users to more easily post status updates and share photos without having to go through the clunky process required to access Pages in Facebook’s core app.

The real benefit of Pages Manager, however, is the mobile availability of Facebook Insights. If you manage your brand’s Facebook Page from the desktop site, you’re probably familiar with the Insights feature which allows you to see how many people your Fan Page is reaching as well as the number of people sharing your content from the page. Through Pages Manager, this valuable Insight info is available to you even when you’re on the go. You’ll also receive push notifications when someone Likes your page or Likes or comments on your posts.

If you’ve used Facebook’s core app, then it shouldn’t be a shock when you log in to Pages Manager—the design and layout are pretty much identical.

That said, Pages Manager is missing some critical features that would help make it a true mobile version of the desktop site. For example, there’s no way to view your Facebook Page’s “Home” or newsfeed page and the ability to manage messages is nonexistent. I think the jury is still out on whether some Pages features were intentionally left out in favor of simplicity or if this first release of Pages Manager is only a rough cut of what’s to come. Oh, and if you’re an Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone user, you’re out of luck for now because Facebook Pages is only available to iPhone users

Overall, I think Facebook has taken a step in the right direction with Pages Manager. While the benefits are obvious to those who monitor a half-dozen or more Facebook Pages, Pages Manager is also a great free app for folks who only manage one Page, but don’t want to log in to their personal profiles to post photos and updates.

Tweets: Not Fit for PR Pro Consumption

Our team recently had the opportunity to host a few students from the Beth Wood Chapter of PRSSA at Indiana University who somehow mustered the energy to get out of bed early on a Friday morning to slog their way from Bloomington to Indianapolis for an agency tour of Dittoe Public Relations. For those of you who haven’t been to college for a while (or if you’re memory is, let’s just say, hazy), Friday morning promptly follows “Thirsty Thursday;” so we were impressed, nay, honored by their willingness to visit us.

During a pre-tour conversation, we mentioned that an insatiable thirst to consume information—reading national and local media outlets, trade publications, blogs, etc.—was one of the most important, and perhaps most overlooked characteristics of a good PR pro. When we asked these budding PR practitioners what media outlets they consumed regularly, their responses caught me a bit off-guard. Nearly every one of them named Twitter as one of their top sources for media consumption.

Now, before I launch into my rant, I’d like to preface it by noting that like everyone else on the planet, I recognize the power of Twitter and the positive impact it has made on media and society as a whole. It’s also an invaluable tool for PR pros; not only for engaging with reporters, but for engaging with publics. But it should NEVER be considered a top source for consuming media. By anybody. Ever.

Can Twitter break big stories? Yes. It was widely reported that news of Osama bin Laden’s death broke on Twitter and that Whitney Houston’s death hit Twitter 27 minutes before the press. But how many times has Bill Cosby been reported dead on Twitter? After one particularly viral episode of Cosby’s demise (there have been several), TV’s Dr. Huxtable went so far as to call in to “Larry King Live” to echo Mark Twain’s famous sentiments regarding the reports of his death. This is an admittedly silly example of how Twitter “news” is propagated, but it’s a solid representation of Twitter’s validity, or lack of validity as a reliable source of information.

I realize I’m not breaking any new ground by chalking Twitter up as a dubious source of information, and that the vast majority of people know to seek information from other outlets; but knowing and doing are quite different. Today, it’s estimated that you’re likely to spend more than 11 hours consuming information—reading blog posts like this, watching TV, flipping through a magazine, or grazing on your Twitter feed. If you sit in front of a computer screen for most of your day, you’re probably spending even more than 11 hours a day. But if you’re spending the majority of your time on Twitter, you’re not getting the full story.

What does this mean for our PRSSA friends from Bloomington and soon-to-be PR pros everywhere? I’d urge you to take advantage of the staggering amount of information that’s readily available. According to storage company EMC, there is presently 800,000 petabytes (a million gigabytes per petabyte) in the storage universe, and according to the University of California in San Diego, American homes consume nearly 3.6 zettabytes (a million petabytes per zettabyte) of information per day.

Read as much as you can from varying sources. When you enter the PR world, the only way you’re going to be good at what you do is by immersing yourself in your clients’ industries so I can spot trends before they do and recommend strategies that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve. You can’t do that if you’re only consuming information in 140-character nibbles; especially if those few characters are wildly inaccurate. Just ask the aforementioned purveyor of pudding pops.

What do you think? Is Twitter a legitimate source for news? Or is it just a starting point that can tip you off to story so you can investigate further?

Google Panda: Bad News for SEO Cheaters. Great News for PR Pros.

Unless you’re a search marketing expert, you probably don’t pay too much attention to any of the new algorithms released by Google. But if you’re working with an SEO firm or are heavily invested in any kind of search marketing, you should know a little bit about Google Panda—the company’s latest algorithm released specifically to target sites that are gaming the system through unnatural and artificial link building tactics.

During a panel at SXSW in early March, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, did more than hint at the intention of Google’s Panda rollout:

“We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO—versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on a page, or whether they exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect in a particular area. It is an active area where we have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”

On March 23, Google released Panda 3.4., announcing the update via Twitter:
So what’s the big deal? Well, if you’re not an SEO cheater, Panda 3.4 won’t do you any harm—it may even improve your rank since overly optimized sites will be taking a hit. But there are plenty of cheaters in the search marketing world who employ blackhat link building schemes such as creating paid backlinks from blogs without genuine content. In fact, there are entire blog networks that allow users to distribute their keyword stuffed “articles” to hundreds of different blogs to quickly (and unethically) generate hundreds of backlinks. If you need some help determining the legitimacy of your SEO efforts, Douglas Karr, CEO of DK New Media offers some great tips on how to discover an SEO cheater in your midst.

Essentially, GoogleBots used to scan website content to determine its relevance. So if you had a website about underwater basket weaving, Google would be looking for repeated use of the phrase “underwater basket weaving.” Sites with the most relevant keywords would then get ranked highly. But there wasn’t much Google could do to determine the quality of the content aside from counting the number of backlinks to those sites. As a result, link building schemes became all the rage.

With Panda, GoogleBots don’t just “scan” website content, they can practically read content. It’s no longer useful to have hundreds of backlinks from overly optimized sites; Google’s looking for the best—and only the best—to put on page one. Simply put, if your website isn’t up to that standard, it’s going to get removed.

This is really bad news for SEO cheaters and great news for PR pros. Focusing solely on the benefits of PR as they relate to SEO, the purpose of PR is to facilitate link building by creating genuine backlinks from sites that create high-quality content—national and local media outlets, trade publications, and blogs and other news outlets of considerable repute. When our clients are featured on CNN or Mashable, there’s no risk that an algorithm update from Google is going to render those backlinks worthless. It’s a simple matter of quality vs. quantity that will make the difference between page No.1 of Google’s search results, and being buried in the double digits.