Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook rolls out new design for news feed

Facebook Timeline updateFacebook is slowly rolling out changes to your news feed, but this new design may not leave you grumbling like all the other changes. Unlike previous design updates, this layout one is intuitive and easy to figure out. It allows you to customize your feed based on your interests and viewing habits.

facebook photos newsfeedI think the new design features a cleaner look that’s customizable based on what you want to see. The stories and photos in your feed are bigger. You can also customize your news feed on the right hand side. You can select recent, all friends, or just photos. When you select photos only, your news feed is filled with large photos that your friends posted. The photos are vivid and large. It’s like a slideshow of your friends lives. It’s so customizable, you could view photos only from people you went to school with or your work colleagues. It’s all based on groups you create. You can also choose a news feed based on music or games. It’s all based on your interest or mood at the time.

new timeline 2 edited There is a sidebar full of icons that allow you to easily navigate to the other sections of Facebook like events, photos, and messages. There is even an icon to build a family tree.

News feed family tree icon The family tree is not an app, but you need to add it to your timeline. You can build it right on the web. You click add a family member, and Facebook automatically populates possible people. It’s pretty accurate, and based on your previous interactions and mentions. You can even get stats on your family, like age distribution, gender distribution, alive/deceased.

Facebook is trying to get you to spend more time on their site. While the family tree is an interesting feature, you need to consider what you are telling the social media site and all your friends. At some point, you need to consider what to share and what not to share. Privacy is becoming more of a privilege than a right, and we’re partly to blame. While social media sites make it easier to share and connect, the more we share the more we give up our right to privacy.

The family tree is a neat feature, because it makes it easy to see how you’re connected to loved ones. It’s visually laid out for you. However, think about what you’re doing and how much of your privacy you’re compromising.

privacy settings

Whenever changes are made, it’s a good idea to check your privacy settings. You can do this by clicking at the top of your Facebook page and choosing Settings. Then click privacy from the left hand column. You can also find privacy settings as a lock icon in the sidebar.

Most of these changes seem to effect your news feed only. The Timeline page looks the same, other than the icons that are on the left allowing you to navigate to different sections of Facebook.

My husband got the new look this weekend, but I still don’t have it. If you want to get it earlier than scheduled for your Timeline, you can add your name to the waiting list.

Facebook explains the new design here. What do you think of the changes?

Related links you may like: 
Facebook Timeline 101
How to use Facebook Graph Search
Facebook Timeline privacy

Tweet your way to customer satisfaction

airline lineThere is an art to complaining, and I’ve always tried to emphasize that to consumers who call me for help. If you don’t approach the situation properly, you may be your own worst enemy and end up with no resolution. How the times have changed. I started out in the business teaching people how to complain properly in writing, and then with online disputes, and now it’s turned to social media disputes. If used effectively, Twitter and Facebook are great tools to get customer satisfaction.

Facebook and Twitter have evolved into sounding boards and real time reflections of a company’s customer satisfaction. Companies are beginning to realize they need to manage their social media pages. Some businesses are better than others in dealing with this new frontier in customer service.

Recently, I put social media complaints to the test. We were flying back to Kansas City, and of course it was snowing in Cleveland. Many airline sites now allow you to track the history of your plane, so you can see if it’s on time or delayed in another part of the country. I noticed that our plane was delayed in Canada and still had to go to New York and New Hampshire before making its way to Cleveland. Based on the available data, I knew our plane was going to be four to five hours late.

I called the airline and tried to use the old fashioned version of customer service. After waiting on the phone for a half hour, I got a representative who offered me no help. She just repeated what the computer said. The plane was on a short delay, even though digging deeper on that same computer system showed at least a four hour delay based on all the cities that plane had to visit before Cleveland.

There was another plane leaving for Kansas City just two hours after our scheduled flight. I asked for seats on that plane. I was told that wasn’t possible.

Out of complete desperation, I got on Twitter and shared my travel story making sure I mentioned the airline. Within minutes, I got a direct message from the airline asking me for my reservation #. I sent it back to the airline, and they asked if I wanted to get on the 8 PM flight. Within 30-40 minutes, I had two seats on the 8 o’clock flight.

Once it was resolved, I tweeted my satisfaction showing the airline I appreciated what they did.

When we arrived at the airport to depart Cleveland, we saw long lines of frustrated passengers trying to rearrange their flights with customer service. People were waiting in line and on the phone. I wanted to get on the loud speaker and tell all those people to hang up and get out of line and get online. Sharing your travel nightmare on Twitter or Facebook is quick, easy, and the best way to get customer satisfaction.

Airline social media pages are full of customers who are asking for help, and full of responses from the airlines. While many airlines monitor their social media page, some companies don’t respond to these types of complaints. Some consumers say their complaints are even erased from some Facebook pages.

I think companies need to improve their social media response efforts, so the expectation of a response is more uniform. That being said, customers also need to improve their attitudes toward companies.

I’ve always found that you’re more likely to achieve a resolution if you put aside your deepest hatred for the company. Keep a level head, and share your story in a concise and friendly manner. Don’t be accusatory or sarcastic. Just use straight-forward language and sell yourself as an appealing and appeasble customer.

Next time you have a problem, try social media. You might be surprised at the response.

Facebook settlement email is legitimate, but there are some catches

facebookEmails are appearing in Inboxes alerting you to a cash settlement involving a Facebook lawsuit, but many people are dismissing the email thinking it’s a ripoff.  Before you hit delete, read the fine print. You are entitled for up to $10.

The lawsuit settles an issue with advertising of your photo in a sponsored story. As part of the deal, Facebook will pay $20 million up to $10 a person. You’ll get an email if your picture was used in this form of advertising.

The claim form asks for your bank account and routing number, so the $10 can be directly deposited. However, the paper form also says you can choose for a paper check instead. I suggest you do this if you have privacy concerns. The fine print says the personal information given will only be used for settlement purposes.

If there are too many claimants for a $10 payment, the amount will be reduced based on the number of claimants. If it’s economically unfeasible to pay anyone, the money will be given to charity.

You have to submit claims by May 2, 2013 on the settlement page.

Facebook Graph Search explained – will you use it?

Facebook Graph Search Ever try to search for something on Facebook and turn up with nothing? We provide so much information to the social media site, but it’s hard to get access to all that information in a way we can use. Facebook is trying to change the way we search for information by introducing Graph Search.

The name of the new search function seems a bit too technical for me. It appears to explain what’s happening behind the scenes with all the information you share. Look beyond the name, because there is some useful functionality to this search option that will eventually appear on the top of pages. Currently, it’s only in beta form as the social media powerhouse works on the bugs to this new tool.

The new search function will allow you to search for people in a whole new way. The first part of the roll-out will focus on your connections to people, photos, places and interests. For example, you can find people from your hometown who like hiking or have been to a certain place, photos of a certain location, restaurants in a town, tourist attractions in a country visited by your friends, or music your friends like. The search results will be based on the information others provide.

It’s a way to connect with new people based on your interests or find out who might be a good source of information for a city or restaurant you might be thinking about visiting. Want to find a good Chinese food in a new city? This new search bar may provide you some useful suggestions and even maybe some reviews from friends. Need someone to bike with that lives near you? Try Facebook’s new search tool once it’s rolled out.

My profile on Graph Search results

My profile on Graph Search results

This will only be as good as the information feeding it, or the information you feed into it. Based on the example I saw, most of the information is pulled from your “about” section and the pages you like. Here’s how my work profile appears in a the Graph Search tool. It contains mostly by bio information and the number of friends in common with the person searching.

It’s a way for you to search all the information people share about themselves and interests on Facebook. Currently it is a little tricky to search for specific people with interests and likes on Facebook. It will be much easier to find information people posted in the past rather than scrolling through their Timeline to find the content you are looking for. It will also be easier for you to see what you have in common with others.

This new search function brings up the issue of privacy once again. You need to be careful what you share on Facebook, as so much of it is searchable. Spend some time exploring the Facebook privacy settings so you know exactly what is private and what is not. Of course, some of it you can’t control as it depends on what your friends share about you as well. If you’re tagged in a photo you don’t want to be tagged in, delete the tag. Be proactive about your privacy. Don’t let others control it.

Facebook said it will honor the privacy settings of individuals so search results for the Graph Search will vary based on the settings you choose. “You can look up anything shared with you on Facebook, and others can find stuff you’ve shared with them, including content set to Public,” Facebook said.

I think it might be hard to figure out how to use this new search tool at first, and of course there will always be those who complain about all the changes. The good thing with this change — if you don’t like it don’t use it. It’s doesn’t appear as though your entire profile page will change much like we saw with the Timeline changes. Just understand your information that you input on this free site will be searchable now and used by others in a whole new way. Perhaps ways you can’t even imagine at this time. Be careful what you share if you’re worried about privacy.

What do you think about the new tool? Will you use it once it’s rolled out to everyone? Click comment below to join the conversation.

What were they thinking?

instagramWhen are companies going to learn the power of social media? People now use Twitter and Facebook to complain about their problems and get action on them. They also use social media to vent their opinion about new policies and procedures that impact all users. Yet time and time again we see companies making irrational changes that spark outrage among customers. Then, the company is forced to change their course of action to react to the outrage. It leaves me asking – what were they thinking?

Facebook, a social media company that knows the power of that medium, is the latest company to make a decision that upset many users. The company owns Instagram,  a photo sharing app that allows you to quickly treat your photos with filters. The new terms included some complicated and clumsy language which made it seem like the photos you upload through the app are up for grabs by advertisers without notifying you or paying you. Of course, that sparked outrage. Users threatened to delete their accounts before the changes in mid-January.

The negative publicity sparked Instagram to change the language and make their point more clear. The company now says you  own the photos you upload with their app and they won’t be used in advertising.

Maybe Facebook didn’t think the negative pressure would be that intense with Instagram. After all, they make decisions all the time that spark outrage. Remember, the growing pains with Timeline? Facebook usually continues on with their plan despite the negative comments. People predicted Google+ would take over as king of the social media world after repeated changes at Facebook. That never happened. This move was unique for the social media company. They don’t always cave to social media pressure.

netflixThis is not the first time a company took a beating in the social media world.  In 2011, Netflix was under fire for the decision to change its name and pricing structure. The name Netflix made the company famous; then it decided to split the company’s DVD and streaming business by adding Qwikster. The backlash led to a change in position weeks later.

On the Netflix blog; the CEO wrote, “It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words no Qwikster.”

What is wrong with these companies? Don’t they use focus groups to test new products and ideas? If these companies are so easily persuaded by social media pressure, which I would argue they have no choice, why don’t they propose the changes they are thinking about instead of announcing the implementation? That way they don’t need to apologize or backtrack if the Twittersphere or social media landscape reacts poorly.

Some companies don’t cave to public pressure as they’ve clearly evaluated their business decisions before announcing them. For example, the stores that opened on Thanksgiving evening around 8 PM received pressure for opening on a holiday. While the publicity was intense, these companies knew the majority of customers would still shop on Thanksgiving. The businesses even said their decision to open earlier was based on customer demand.

For a few weeks, the stores endured some negative attention. In the end, their cash registers rang and rang as they racked up unprecedented sales. Opening on Thanksgiving was a huge business win, and a win they expected because they obviously did their research before they made the decision.

Social media is powerful especially when your customer base is a tech savvy bunch as in the case of Instagram. One could make the argument that companies don’t think this through on purpose because they want any and all attention. Whatever the case may be, these crazy business decisions have me asking over and over: what were they thinking?

What do you think? Weigh in below by clicking comment.

Related links you may like:
Netflix changing DVD service to Qwikster
Netflix gets rid of Qwikster
Navigating Facebook Timeline
Facebook Timeline privacy

Consider Facebook to buy that perfect gift this holiday

Facebook GiftsStill undecided about a gift? Look beyond the traditional retailers and online shops. Consider the social network, Facebook, to find that perfect present. The company is adding a “gift” section, and you don’t even need the receiver’s address. The return policy is unique too.

Here’s how it works. You pick out the gift, and your friend is notified. Then, they enter their shipping information. If they don’t like the gift, they can trade it for a gift they’d rather enjoy. That’s perfect for the person who doesn’t give you any clues about what they might like for the holidays.

Before you can see the gift options, you need to enter your friend’s name. You can send everything from whoopie pies to whiskey rocks. There’s a lot of food and beverage options, but also a magazine subscription, fun quirky items like a harmonica necklace, gifts for the home or kitchen, bath and body products, kids items, fashionable things, kids products, and items that give back. You can give actual products or some are simply for gift cards.  The majority of products appear to be under $50, and the sender is charged for shipping if applicable.

It’s shopping for the lazy person who already is spending a lot of time on Facebook. It’s also a way for Facebook to make even more money, and get you to stay on its site longer.

Will you try Facebook Gifts? Click comment below.

Toss the paper coupons and pick up your smartphone

Mobile coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond

Mobile coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond

I have a refrigerator full of coupons from Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond. It seems these stores send the most coupons, and I hate to be in the store without a discount of some sort. However, it seems that always happens. Whenever I need a coupon, I don’t have one that’s not expired or I forget the savings at home. That’s why I’ve turned to paperless coupons. Now, I just pick up my smartphone and check my text messages to save.

The next time you are at the store, look near the register. Most will tell you to text an odd combination of numbers (5 or 6) to sign up for text message alerts that notify you of savings.

With Bed Bath & Beyond, you get a text message with a link to the latest 20% off coupon. The other benefit is that you can use it more than once. With the paper coupons, they take them. There is still a limit of one coupon per order or purchase, but you still have it for next time.

Some stores also alert you when the coupon expires so you can plan your purchases better to coincide with a deal.

If you get annoyed by the text messages, you can stop the alerts. I don’t think the stores abuse their privilege of having your phone number. I don’t get that many messages and I haven’t seen an increase in my spam texts.

AT&T is teaming up with several retailers to offer a similar service, only you’ll be notified when you are in the area of a store offering a discount. You need to be an AT&T customer, but it’s another sign that paper coupons will soon be replaced by digital ones.

After all, we never leave home without our smartphone. We do leave home without those coupons. Soon, we won’t have to worry about that.

Earn money while shopping on Cyber Monday

The focus is turning from retail stores to the Internet for Cyber Monday, and there are lots of ways to save on your online purchase.

1. Look for discount codes
Retailmenot shows promotional codes that will save you money your purchase and shipping. If there is a discount code, Retailmenot typically has it listed. You can also search the store you are shopping and “promotional code” in Google to find a discount.

2. Shop with Ebates
Ebates is one of my favorite sites. I earn money for shopping. Every quarter, I get a check in the mail. To qualify, sign up for an account. Then, when you’re ready to shop type in the name of the store. You’ll see if it participates in the program and the percentage you will earn back. Not every store participates in the money back program, but many do. When you find one, click on the link from Ebates and start shopping.

3. Get free shipping
Retailmenot will also let you know if free shipping is available. Also, Google your store and “free shipping” to find a discount code. Many stores require you spend $50 or $100 to earn free shipping.

If you are shopping Amazon, consider a monthly membership to Prime if you think you’ll do more shopping in the future. The membership was once only sold for a year, but recently the e-retailer began offering month long memberships. It might be worth it to join for a month or two at $7.99, and then cancel your membership after the holidays. You get two day free shipping in qualifying purchases.

4. Look for discounts on social media
If you’re looking to buy a certain product from a certain company, consider “liking” their Facebook page or following the business on Twitter. Exclusive deals are given to friends and followers on social media. Read more on publicizing your purchase to save money

Also, look in your Facebook news feed for deals. While some deals are only for followers, others are publicized through social media. Perhaps you’ve seen these coupons in your news feed when a friend of yours claims the offer. Toys “R” Us has an offer right now for 20% off a regular priced item.

Once you claim the offer, it shows up in your news feed so your other friends see it. It’s a way for businesses to promote their sales and deals and it’s a way for you to find out about sales.

Third, consider linking your credit card to your Facebook or Twitter page. American Express allows you to Tweet and Facebook your way to savings. These offers are limited, but offer more significant discounts like $10+ off your purchase.

Related links you may like:
Ebates pays you to shop
Publicize your purchase to save money
Tweet your way to savings

Saving money with Facebook: Offers and checking in to locations

There are lots of places to find digital coupons. You’ll find manufacturer coupons for the grocery store in one place, and free shipping codes for online purchases on another site. Now, you can save money just by logging into Facebook. These new ads are different from the ones you’re used to seeing on the right hand side of your Facebook page. Facebook “Offers” appear in  your news feed.

When you “Like” a business page, you are entitled to special promotions from that company. Some are providing their loyal “likers” an “offer” for money off a product. When a deal or promotion is underway from a company you liked, you’ll see it in y our news feed.

This is a way for businesses to promote themselves, but also a chance for them to get to know their customers. The advertiser has access to your information when you “Like” their page.  If this sounds interesting to you, you may consider “liking” a few more pages so you can take advantage of the deals.

These promotions may seem amazing on the surface. Just read the fine print so you know the limitations.

When you see an offer in your news feed, you simply hit “Get Offer” to claim it. The deal is emailed to your account on file.

If you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, perhaps you’ve seen a friend take advantage of an offer. When a friend gets an offer, it appears in your news feed.

The offers are for in store, in store or online, or online only.

Another way to cash in on deals is to check-in with Facebook. There are very few offered in downtown Cleveland, but it’s worth it to check your area. You can search by zip code to see if there are any worth using.

Facebook ads may be rogue

I’m always looking for stories, and told my producer recently about these ads appearing on my Facebook page. Some are borderline pornographic — they are woman in bikinis who want to chat. Who knows what that will lead to if you actually click on it. My producer looked at me kind of odd and told me she doesn’t have these ads all over her page. Then, I realized they weren’t on my Facebook page when I log in at work either. It got me thinking – what are these ads? I found it’s a problem many Facebook users are experiencing, but it’s easy to fix.

Facebook has a help page dedicated to this issue known as adware. The social media site says it likely happened when you clicked on a post with a headline like — click here to see who viewed your profile. If you click on the post, you end up with software installed on your computer that forces it to run slowly, compromises security, and may cause unwanted ads. I can assure you I’ve never clicked on posts like that, but I still ended up with adware. So, be aware.

You know these ads are not legitimate because Facebook ads will never appear as banners in the center, top or left columns. Ads in those locations are indicative of a problem.

If you downloaded the program or just have it on your account, it’s easy to clean up your account.

To get rid of these programs, you need to get into the extensions folder and check the plug-ins. In Mozilla Firefox, go to Tools, Add-ons, and then Extensions.  In Google Chrome, go to Window and then Extensions. If you use Internet Explorer 8, go to Tools, Manage Add-ons, and then Toolbars and Extensions. Sure enough, we followed these instructions and found a rogue plug-in.

Plus, clean your cache before you launch your browser and visit the site again to clear out any rogue programs.

It takes just a few minutes, and will enable you to browse Facebook again without being bothered by annoying ads and putting your security at risk.