Filter: Blog

Google+ For Business

Google+ for business does a unique job blurring the lines between personal social networks such as Facebook, and business networks like LinkedIn. We know what you’re thinking, “not another social media network I need to join and keep up with”. However, before you decide stop reading, checkout the list below. Here are just a few reasons why Google+ shouldn’t be ignored.

Facebook Difference & Search Engine Results:
The BIG difference between Facebook and Google + is that you can categorize your sharing. Lots of users have posts they want to share with workers and colleagues but don’t necessarily want to share with family and friends. This is a simple, yet genius difference between the two. Features within Google + allow profiles and posts to be seen by everyone, and each “post” has its own unique URL making Google + similar to Twitter for indexable shared content. This initiative from Google proves they are taking social seriously. Merging Google properties into Google + and integrating it with the Search Engines WILL have an impact on where you company appears in Search Engine Results pages. Commonsense leans towards Google serving (rewarding) companies in their search algorithm that have Google + pages.

Google+ Pages will help you build a more intimate relationship with your customers by sharing your thoughts, links, photos and promotions at the right time with the right target audience. You can initiate conversations with customers by publishing posts on your stream. You will be able to engage your followers by asking direct questions and you can tailor the discussions to certain circles of specific followers or make the discussion public. Hangouts is another great way to engage your customers and colleagues. It’s a high quality video chat that allows you to interact with your followers (aka customers) face to face. This face to face interaction will allow you to get to know them, answer questions as well as get live product/service feedback. Businesses can also use Hangouts for video conferencing, push live events and seminars to customers.

Use the Google+ badge and Google+ Direct connect to promote your site and your Google+ page. Google+ badge links your website with your Google+ page and lets others know you you’re here. It’s easiest to simply install the Google+ icon on your website and when someone likes your site and clicks the icon they will be taken directly to your Google+ page and will be able to share and follow your posts. Google+ Direct connect makes it automatic for people (your customers) to connect with you. A person simply enters a ‘+’ before your company name when searching in Google and will get directly to your Google+ page.

Others can help promote your business as well using your Google+ page. They can recommend by +1’ing your company to all their friends and followers. You can also connect your +1’s from your website to your +1’s on your Google+ page. This requires a small amount of code on your site. Installing the +1 on all your pages and your display ads is also a good way to get people to promote your company. People tend to trust recommendations from people they already know.

Social Media data can be overwhelming but Google’s measurements tools make it easier for you to understand your Google+ activity. Such as, how many +1’s your business receives and how this affects your site traffic and what people are saying about your company and the most popular information they are sharing from your site.

Here are some Google + shortcuts that might be handy:
J = scroll down
K= scroll up
Enter = Start commenting
@Username = links to the user so that they can see it in their profile/stream
“text” = makes the text inside the brackets bold
_text_ = makes the text italics
For more information on Google + check out these links:
Google’s official guide to using Google +
Google + Help Section
Google’s introduction blogpost to Google +

Blogging Matters!

How Blogs and Blogging Can Help Your Business

Blogs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. A blog can be a web log, a daily pulpit, a collaborative space, a breaking-news outlet, a collection of links or an online public diary or journal that is written for others to read. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them and there are no real rules. In simple terms, a blog is a website where you write informative articles (blog posts) on a continual basis. Most recent entries show up at the top so your visitors can read what’s new. You can even set up your blog so your visitors can comment or link to it.

Businesses can use blogs to promote their company, establish brand recognition and drive traffic to their website so visitors will buy their product or service. Blogging is also a great way to help your company or individual company leaders establish an identity as an “industry expert” by discussing relevant trends, news, events, etc.

As a marketing tool blogs are full of potential, have truly unique characteristics and are easy to use. (If you can update a WORD document you can operate a blog). Blog posts can be added or updated at any time and from virtually anywhere there is Internet access. Blogs also have long shelf lives, as they exist on the internet until you decide to remove them.

The cost of generating organic search traffic is much lower than traditional advertising. Search engine optimization has the lowest cost-per-lead and the highest return on investment (ROI). U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, estimated that the cost per lead was $0.29 for search engine optimization, $1.18 for yellow pages advertising, $2.00 for banner ads, and $9.94 for direct mail. Thus making search engine optimization the clear winner in ROI for marketing strategies.

When implementing an SEO campaign most SEO experts will tell you “content is king” and you must have relevant, fresh content on your website in order for search engines to continually index your site. Adding a blog scroll to the homepage of your website is a great way to accomplish this. You can also add keywords and tags to your blog posts making it easier for search engines to serve your blog when those keywords are searched for.

Additional Tips:

  • Add social media plugins to your blog allowing visitors to quickly share your blog with their followers to help grow your brand organically.
  • Visit industry related blogs and comment on them in the posts. Establish yourself as an industry expert in these blogs and create dialog with other readers.
  • Keep your business blog frank and with relative topics. More than likely your readers visit your blog for specific information. If you are a computer chipboard manufacturer keep your posts related to this industry. You would not want to write about the cosmetics or fashion.

A few common mistakes businesses make when blogging are listed below:

  • Not blogging on a consistent basis. People will loose interest while waiting for you to update and this loss of traffic may not return.
  • Poorly written content will make your blog unprofessional. Readers are looking for you to be the expert, so make sure your information is accurate and not full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
  • Allow comments, even negative ones (which should be left and addressed for all to read). People love to have the option to voice their opinion.
  • For SEO purposes and branding, your Blog must link to and have the same URL structure as your website.
  • Use keywords but don’t over use them. You don’t want your blog post to sound like a sales pitch or just be viewed as another piece of marketing material but as interactive communication.

Finally, have fun! Blogging is a great way for you to express yourself and show the world why your company is the best at what it does.

Happy blogging!

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

10 of Joomla!’s Popular Extensions

Joomla! has many extensions but here are 10 of the most popular ones.

JCE: JCE gives you the power to create and edit the kind of content you want without having to know HTML, CSS or XHTML etc. Below is a list of the key features:

  • Office-like functions and familiar buttons make formatting simple
  • Upload, rename, delete, cut/copy/paste images and insert them into your articles using an intuitive and familiar interface
  • Create Links to other Sections, Categories, Articles, Web links and Contacts in your site using a unique and practical Link Browser
  • Take control of your code with syntax highlighting in the Advanced Code editor and advanced style and element attribute editing
  • Integrated Spellchecking using Google™ Spellchecker (or PSpell and ASpell)

JCE is extendable and customizable….

Community Builder: Community Builder (CB) extends the Joomla! members’ management system. Below is a list of Key features:

  • extra fields in profile
  • enhanced registration workflows
  • user lists
  • connection paths between users
  • admin defined tabs and user profiles
  • image upload
  • front-end workflow management
  • integration with other components such as PMS, Newsletter, Forum, Galleries, Blogs.

CB Plugin logs all member profile changes made on your website. Changes are recorded in a new database table created by the plugin and notification emails are automatically sent to CB Moderators. Main features include:

  • Logs CB user profile changes in database
  • All CB field changes logged
  • Email notifications sent to CB moderators with details of changes made
  • ID and IP of requester logged
  • Date and Time stamp logged
  • Before and after value logged
  • Frontend and backend updates are logged
  • Change log is presented in a new tab in each profile (viewable only to CB Moderators)

For more information please visit…

Jumi: Jumi is the set of native custom code extensions for Joomla!. Jumi includes custom code into Joomla! by many ways: directly, from a file or from a database record. Jumi also includes custom code into many Joomla! places: modules position, articles or into its own pages. Below is a list of key features: Things Jumi can do:

  • include – quickly and easily – smart javascript, php, html, css, dhtml script files or plain txt files into your Joomla!,
  • quickly develop small and simple customized Joomla! extensions – component, modules and plugin – like flash shows, ads, scrollers, pictures presentation, etc., etc.,
  • rapidly develop even more sophisticated solutions for Joomla! including database manipulation like blogs, calendars, shopping carts, surveys, etc., etc.

Main features:

  • Proven & Reliable…many users with a vast range of satisfied needs, more than 200,000 downloads since 2006 among Joomla! users.
  • Slim & fast…the Jumi code is very slim and fast.
  • Reusable…the same script can be used many times in various places by any Jumi extension without the need of rewriting it.
  • Flexible…Jumi extensions can be used separately or they can collaborate between each other.

For more information please visit…

Kunena: Kunena is a fully integrated discussion forum extension for Joomla! Below are a few key features:


  • Kunena has been designed to be a simple to use, yet sophisticated CMS based forum platform that grows with your needs.
  • The tight integration with Joomla allows for cross customizations options that no bridged solution can ever offer.
    • The front end integrates into the Joomla template system and extends it with custom forum templates.
    • Kunena comes configured with a sample database that allows you to get up and running without having to make any changes at all. From the moment you install Kunena your forum is alive. All you need to do is create a menu item on your Joomla website and you are up-and-running immediately.

For more information please visit…

VirtueMart: A fully-featured eCommerce engine that is perfect to sell your items online and drive more business to your shop. Below are key features:

  • capable of using Secure Sockets Layer (https) Encryption (128-bit)
  • flexible Tax Models:
    • Model 1: Ship To Address-based Tax Calculation
    • Model 2: Store Address-based Tax Calculation
    • Model 3: EU Mode (Store Owner based Tax Calculation when Customer comes from an EU Country)
    • Shoppers can manage their User Accounts (registration required)
    • Shipping Address Management (Customers can enter their own Shipping Addresses)
    • Order History: Shopper can view all their previous Orders (and Order Details)
    • Order Confirmation Mail (customizable!) is sent to Shopper and Store Owner
    • Multiple Currencies (you can allow Customers to change the Currency and buy using an alternative Currency)
    • Multiple Languages (using the Joomla! Component Joom!Fish or Nooku).

For more information please visit…


AllVideos: AllVideos is truly the all-in-one media management solution for Joomla! and a classic must-have extension for any Joomla! based website. You can use the plugin to easily embed videos hosted on popular services like YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion (and many more) inside your Joomla! articles (content items). A few key features are below:

  • Dozens of video providers supported, including localized versions of YouTube and Google Video (e.g., Vimeo, Dailymotion, Metacafe, MySpace, Flickr Video and more.
  • Stream your own media content, using the 20 web compatible video and audio formats like flv, swf, mov, mp4, wmv, wma, mp3, 3gp, webm, ogv, ogg, divx and more.
  • Easily embed your media content either directly from your server or a remote server.
  • Simple controls inside the plugin’s parameters page provide layout consistency on all the videos shown in your Joomla! website. Set your preferences in seconds, publish the plugin and you’re
  • Easy, descriptive syntax for media embedding – to display videos at different dimensions!
  • Skinnable! AllVideos uses MVC templating. Just copy the /tmpl folder included in the plugin, move it to your template’s /html folder and rename it to “jw_allvideos”, then style the output as you wish. The good thing about MVC templating is you don’t have to worry about future updates breaking your styling.
  • Mobile-friendly: if you use MP4 for uploaded videos or services like YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion, your videos are mobile ready (see last screenshot).

For more information please visit…

JEvents: This is an events calendar for Joomla. JEvents consists of a Joomfish compatible Joomla component and a number of modules and plugins. Below are a few key features:

  • One-off Events and complex repeating patterns of events can be created and viewed in an attractive calendar and a variety of list formats.
  • Multiple design layouts possible.
  • Fully compatible with Joomla MVC framework iCal imports/exports.
  • Repeat exception handling.
  • Events can be categorized and calendar views can be customized to show all or some of these categories.
  • Layout editing tool to perfect the presentation on your site.
  • Optional checking for overlapping events globally or on a category specific basis.

For more information please visit…

Expose bridge: Exposé is a Flash-based tool which allows you to create eye-catching slide shows of your pictures on the web. A list of the key features supported by exposé includes the following:

  • direct linking to a photo or album.
  • slide show can be automatically started.
  • a background/foreground image can be loaded.
  • more interface elements can be now customized.
  • smoother Interface.
  • iframe has been removed, full php integration.
  • easier to adjust the size using only the expose.html.php.
  • improved background color adjustments.
  • Check system.php script added for trouble shooting
  • supports SEF URL’s (being re-worked currently, limited functionality).
  • upload/add background image through Joomla backend.

For more information please visit…


G Translate: This module uses Google power to translate your web page. With 58 available languages your site will be available to more than 98% of internet users. A few key features below:

  • Hides “Suggest better translation” pop-up.
  • Hides Google top frame after translation.
  • Mouse over effect.
  • Analytics feature.
  • Flags combined in one file to load faster.
  • Option to open translated page in new window.
  • Option to translate the page on fly.
  • Available styles Dropdown/Flags/flags with dropdown.
  • Valid XHTML.
  • Joomla! 1.0.x compatible, Joomla! 1.6.x compatible, Joomla! 1.7.x compatible

Supported languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish.

For more information please visit…


Simple Image Gallery: Using the “Simple Image Gallery PRO” plugin from JoomlaWorks you can quickly display a folder of images within Joomla! as a stylish image gallery within any article. A few key features are listed below:


  • Fully configurable thumbnails: Adjust the default width and height, set the thumbnail quality. You can even have different galleries displayed with thumbnails of different dimensions on the same page!
  • Captions in your galleries: Upload your images into Joomla! and edit the auto-generated .txt files that are generated per gallery. Now with full Joom!Fish support: for captions in multiple languages!
  • Smart thumbnail resize: If enabled, thumbnails are resized to fit the thumbnail viewport as set in the plugin parameters. This option is ideal when you want to display images of different aspect ratio in thumbnails of the same dimensions.
  • 6 amazing gallery layouts (themes)
  • Gallery layouts are based on MVC architecture, which means you can fully override all gallery layouts (both HTML and CSS) to match your needs – and without caring about future updates of the plugin breaking your unique gallery layout!
  • 9 popup engines, based on different JavaScript libraries or just core JavaScript – ensures you won’t be faced with nasty JavaScript conflicts caused by other poorly written Joomla! extensions.
  • Flickr Sets integration: This option makes Flickr Set embedding more practical as well, since your galleries are created with HTML/CSS and therefore are accessible by mobile devices like iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
  • Single thumbnail mode: only one thumbnail shows up in place of your normal gallery but once you click on it, you can browse through the entire source gallery folder! This mode is ideal for powerpoint-like presentations.
  • Large images can be HTML resized in the popup window (under certain popup engines), when their dimensions exceed the ones of the browser window.
  • Allow source image downloading: want your visitors to download the original images you uploaded? Just turn on the related plugin parameter and your visitors will see a download link the gallery popups.
  • Embed a module position in the popups: wanna serve banners in all your popup images? Just include a module position which fetches banners from some banner module and let Simple Image Gallery Pro do the rest!
  • Print stylesheet: A “print” stylesheet makes sure your galleries won’t look messed up when visitors print your articles (cause browsers don’t render background images when printing). Simple Image Gallery Pro hides all your galleries and puts an anchor link in place, when printing a page with galleries on it. So your visitors have a point of reference for their galleries and if they print your pages as PDFs, the get working links to click on when they view the PDF file!
  • Version 2.5.x puts additional focus into performance by fully using the Joomla! API to attach the various CSS and JS files required for the galleries. This makes it possible to use some of the many “compression” plugins in the JED to “mashup” all these files in just 1 CSS and 1 JS file. More over, the thumbnail creation engine is written from the ground up to consume the least possible resources from your server, making Simple Image Gallery Pro “shared hosting” friendly too!
  • Fully integrates with K2, the popular content component for Joomla!.
  • Mobile device friendly: tested on iPads, iPhones and Android devices.
  • Advanced features include the setting of different gallery layouts (themes) and/or popup engines per gallery on the same page!
  • New extended syntax for more flexibility. Use for example {gallery}mygallery:200:140:0:2{/gallery} to instruct the plugin to fetch the images inside the “mygallery” folder, resize them to 200px width and 140px height, display the gallery in normal (grid) mode, create and use a en-GB_labels.txt file inside the “mygallery” folder, ready for you to edit.
  • Backwards compatibility with the free version. You just uninstall the free version, install the PRO version and you’re done! No need to re-edit your existing content items (articles) that previously included image galleries, inserted with the free version. If you forget to uninstall the free version, Simple Image Gallery Pro will gently remind you.
  • Requirements auto-detect: if something is not set up properly in your site or server, preventing Simple Image Gallery Pro to operate properly, the plugin can detect any limitations and notify you accordingly.
  • Compatible (native) with Joomla! 1.5, 1.6 & 1.7.

For more information please visit…

Brennan Scurlock

In October 2011, we featured an article on a little boy named Brennan Scurlock. Brennan’s grandfather had submitted his website for our ‘Site of the Month’ contest. Brennan’s story touched all of us. Since Brennan and his family are in Texas and Lunarpages in California, we never had the opportunity to meet him, but from what we are told, he had an infectious laugh and made many people very happy. Sadly, Brennan succumbed to his battle with neuroblastoma on Wednesday April 25, 2012. He touched so many lives and didn’t even have the chance to realize it. He will be missed for sure, but thanks to his family, he will never be forgotten. Brennan’s Buddies was created to help create awareness for neuroblastoma.


All of us at Lunarpages send our deepest condolences to the Scurlock and McCowen families. We are some of the lucky ones who got to know a little about Brennan and are thankful for that opportunity.

We would like to encourage everyone to learn more about this devastating form of cancer. Please select from the links below:

Facebook – Brennan Scurlock


Texas Children’s Hospital

The Sierra Ryan Children’s Neuroblastoma Foundation

Battle For A Cure

Team Sophia

Facebook – Cards for Kids

Cure Search for Children’s Cancer

Neuroblastoma Awareness

American Cancer Society

Hyundai Hope On Wheels

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

Improve Your Online Brand Management Using Blog Monitoring Tools

To manage a successful online brand management campaign, it is essential to know when and where a conversation related to your website or company is sparked; if for nothing else so you can positively engage into the conversation, giving a “human feel” behind a virtual webpage. While many mainstream sites have made this process seamless by offering search services internally, blogs must adhere to a separate set of rules. Despite the fact that blogs are usually interconnected, they are largely viewed by the search engines as separate entities and therefore lack an integrated search feature.

To address this problem, specific online services have been developed to monitor not only the entire blogosphere, but specific weblogs as well; monitoring the Internet for buzz on your personal brand and related keywords. Utilizing these tools makes it easier than ever to respond to comments on blog posts, research material for new content or even arrange link exchanges to boost visibility.

Although there are several services available for use, here are the three that Lunarpages found to be the most beneficial:

Google Alerts

As one of the most popular tracking and monitoring tools online, Google Alerts allows individuals and companies to follow their brand across the entire Internet (news items, general searches, blogs, Google Groups, videos, etc.). When setting up the search preferences Google Alerts offers some easy customization features. Users can quickly choose their result type (blogs, news, videos, books or “everything”), frequency of alerts and finally how many results (only the best results or all results). All it takes is an email address and Google Alerts will deliver the news right to your inbox, as soon as it happens.


When dealing with strictly blogs, Technorati is presumably the most powerful means of searching the blogosphere for buzz phrases in new posts. In addition to indexing several thousands of blogs, Technorati will keep one update with news clippings containing related keywords. Because the database on Technorati is so large, it’s easy to quickly search for appearances of your brand name. It is even possible to create an RSS Feed that automatically updates a user when a post containing your brand is updated on the web.


If you’re only interested in monitoring a few select blogs, as opposed to the entire blogosphere, then WatchThatPage may prove more beneficial to you. This service gives users the opportunity to compile a list of weblogs to watch for updates ranging from general to very specific changes. In terms of online brand management, one can use this tool to monitor competing blogs and business pages so that you will be immediately notified should they try to generate a negative spin for your brand.

Sites for Web Designers Looking for a Free Alternative to Photoshop

While one has a very difficult time arguing against Photoshop as the top program for any photo manipulation or non-vector design job, the substantial investment required by a Photoshop license can be a scary thing—especially for web designers on a tight budget. Fortunately, designers with less funding can utilize some pretty decent free alternatives to Photoshop. Although these options won’t have nearly as many online help tutorials, they won’t cost a penny and can still produce and manipulate images successfully.


Listed first, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is likely both the most feature-rich and popular open source alternative to Photoshop that won’t break the bank. While Photoshop may have slightly more advanced features, nearly everything can also be done on GIMP as well. As a cross platform supported by a large community, the chances of finding answers to your questions (if needed) are greater here, as opposed to a lesser-known one.


Just like Adobe Photoshop, GIMPshop is a modified version of GIMP intended to make regular Photoshop users feel comfortable with navigating it. GIMPshop has all of the advantages found in GIMP (such as a long feature list or the ability to customize), but addresses common problems found in the program’s interface. Even though GIMPshop doesn’t support Photoshop plugins (or all of the GIMP plugins for that matter), it’s still a great open source alternative.

Pixlr Editor

A quick-fix alternative to Photoshop CS, this program has a good interface with a significant number of features, especially considering it’s a free web application. Users can modify photos with layers, filters, magic wand, styling, texting, editing, and plenty of other effects to achieve the desired result. And because Pixlr Editor doesn’t require signup, one can start editing a file right away.

As an active and growing online community, is a free image editing tool for computers that run on Windows software. (Sorry Mac users!) Among a variety of useful alteration tools, supports layers, unlimited undo, and special effects. And due to its increasing popularity, it’s also pretty easy to find friendly help, tutorials, and plugins that are compatible with


Like Pixlr Editor, Splashup is intended to give a user the feeling of working in Photoshop without actually doing so. Even though it’s not necessarily as strong of a tool as Pixlr, Splashup still offers many features and filters, while making sharing images on social media sites (Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, etc.) easier.


Originally a Japanese photo editing tool, Pixia has recently developed with English versions that are now available for Windows operating systems. Although little is currently known about this software’s interface and usability, its feature rich editor may be worth trying out.

Photoshop Express Editor

Don’t let the name fool you—even though this program was built on the pattern of Photoshop itself, the Express Editor comes with significantly less features, as well as the technicalities. This software is ideal for beginning photographers and digital artists who don’t want to get tangled in the tricky web of Photoshop tools, but the printing options are limited and it doesn’t support images from a higher mega pixel camera.


Likely the most basic open source photo editing software listed here, PhotoPlus enables a user to fix and enhance digital photos, create bitmap graphics and web animations. While it’s not nearly as powerful as Photoshop, PhotoPlus is a great fit for those with the simple image editing needs.


Phoenix is the photo editing software for Aviary, offing a breadth of tools for altering images such as layering and compositing. Like Splashup, Phoenix is also integrated with popular social media sites (Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, etc.) allowing a user to import and export images easily. For this reason, Phoenix is a good tool to investigate before making a large investment in commercial packages like Photoshop.

Lunarpages Achieves PCI DSS Level 1 Compliance

As part of their continuing commitment for ensuring the security of their core product and service offerings to clients, Lunarpages has recently successfully completed their annual PCI DSS assessment for Level 1 compliance. This achievement became effective on December 30, 2011.

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

Use New Facebook Changes to Help Promote Your Business Online

Just like the seasons, technology changes rapidly in today’s fast-paced world. Just like evolving technological devices, popular social media sites are also growing—adding new features while eliminating others. Facebook, in particular, has recently made several alterations to its “pages” in an effort to give webmasters more control over both the physical site and its analytical results.

Just like the seasons, technology changes rapidly in today’s fast-paced world. Just like evolving technological devices, popular social media sites are also growing—adding new features while eliminating others. Facebook, in particular, has recently made several alterations to its “pages” in an effort to give webmasters more control over both the physical site and its analytical results.

Because Facebook is switching up its game plan, businesses will also need to change their strategy in order to stay ecffective. To assist with this process, Lunarpages has highlighted some of the most major alterations to Facebook, and how you can use them to promote your site online.

Profile Image and Cover Photo

One of the most readily apparent changes Facebook has made is the addition of the cover photo, a large strip across the top meant to showcase your page. Although the cover picture is in addition to your profile image, the former is much larger and more likely to be eye-catching. The only catch: businesses aren’t allowed to have any calls to action in the cover photo—you’re not allowed to encourage people to “like” your page, or even provide any contact information such as a web address or phone number. Consequently, this requires more creativity in drawing attention to your business Facebook page without blatantly saying, “Come here and like us!”

Posts are Highlighted, Larger, and Pinned

Another thing Facebook is intent on changing is the way we share stories with others. In an effort to cut down actual text, Facebook is now making pictures and videos larger and more prominent on News Feeds. In addition to being eye-catching, putting a larger emphasis on visual media will help build a relationship with fans, as they can flip through your pictures or watch a posted video.

Should a company want to emphasize a specific post, it is possible to “highlight” the story so that it will span all the way across the Timeline, as opposed to staying in one spot. Also, Facebook has made it possible to pin a story to the top of your Timeline for up to a week—ultimately increasing the likelihood that your fans will see it.

Sharing Company Milestones

Facebook’s new feature that allows companies to share big events in the life of your brand or company is another way to make the Timeline on your business page more interesting and interactive. Any time something exciting or prominent happens, share your good fortune with your fans through Facebook Milestones. Not only will it post to the News Feeds of your fans, but it will also help focus the Timeline on just your company’s story and nothing else. Because posts from fans are now on a separate page, it’s likely that visitors will be spending more time on your Timeline than anywhere else. Simply put, the more visually stimulating and interactive you can make your Timeline, the more successful it will be.

Facebook Offers

Currently, only a few select companies have access to Facebook Offers, an application comparable to sites such as LivingSocial or Groupon. Yet it’s only a matter of time before the doors are opened to the public, making Facebook Offers like Facebook Deal on steroids.

Facebook Offers are sent through the News Feeds of your fans, increasing its visibility. Additionally, it’s pretty easy to share the Offer, whether it’s through the post itself or after the Offer is claimed. Because of this Facebook has made it easier to spread the word about a good deal or discount that is being offered, and can ultimately assist in increasing traffic to the page. This could be a real help to small businesses, who could offer things such as a “free webinar” or “free fifteen-minute consultation.” And if a time-limit is placed on the Offer, it will encourage people to act quickly rather than procrastinate and potentially forget.

Facebook Insights and Administrative Panel

Another way the Timeline has changed is with the location of the Insights, a tool that tells a site administrator of new notifications and gives them access to the “back-end” controls of a Facebook page. This administrative control provides an idea of how many people are visiting a Facebook page, where they’re from and what type of person they are, which can be valuable information for a business attempting to reach a specific market. Basic information from Facebook Insights is now also available publicly, making it possible to keep an eye on your competitors as well!

Facebook Reach Generator

For those who use (or are interested in) paid Facebook advertising, rest assured that pay-per-click marketing on this social media site hasn’t been forgotten. The newly announced Facebook Reach Generator is crafted to reach more fans than the News Feed can. According to Facebook’s director of global business marketing, Mike Hoefflinger, pages currently only reach about 16 percent of their audience every week with posts. By contrast, the Facebook Reach Generator ads can reach 50 percent of fans weekly and 75 percent monthly.

In addition to being streamed into mobile and news feeds, Facebook Reach Generator ads will always “be on,” as they’re placed on the right side of a business page helping to further the connection between an audience and a webmaster.

With so many changes being made, it could seem like advertising on Facebook (and other social media sites) is becoming more challenging. In order to keep up, devote a few minutes to reading Facebook Tutorial Guides available on the web or contact their Ads and Business Solutions page for additional help. This way, you’ll not only learn how to efficiently use Facebook’s new features, but you’ll know exactly how to tailor them to best suit your business.

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]